Tallinn is the capital of Estonia. It is situated on the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland, only 53 miles by sea from Helsinki. It is the Republic’s largest industrial and cultural center and an important Baltic harbor. Tallinn is inhabited by 400,000 people. It is very well-known as one of the prettiest cities in the Baltic and was once one of the largest towns in Europe. Set on a hillock above the Port, the old town is a medieval enclave with old walls, towers, winding cobbled lanes and buildings dating back to the Middle Ages. Today the City’s main industries include; electrical and oil drilling machinery, textile and paper manufacturing.
History of Tallinn
The first settlement in Tallinn began around 2,500 B.C. by tribes who drifted across Europe from Asia. Around 800 A.D. Estonian Vikings began trade here between the east and the west and in the 10th century, a stronghold was built on Toompea (Castle Hill). In 1219 the Danes conquered the area and rebuilt the Fort. The Estonians called it Taanillin, ‘the City of Danes’. The City became powerful Hanseatic League port from 1248, when the town wall was being constructed. The City, then, was sold by Denmark to Teutonic Knights in 1346, resold yet a year later, it continued to flourish as guilds became properous and merchant’s wealthy.
Tallin took an oath of allegiance in 1561 to King Eric XIV of Sweden to protect itself from an invasion by Russia, an 70 years later Sweden founded the City’s first high school. At the end of the Great Northern War in 1710, Russia took control of the country and turned Tallinn into a garrison town. In 1870 the City was connected by railway to Saint Petersburg and became one of the principal ports for Russian Imperial trade. Consequently, Tallinn began to be industrialized and grew outward from the medieval center. In 1918 the Estonians managed to get their country and capital back, but in 1940 it was annexed to the Soviet Union. Shortly after that, it was invaded and occupied by German forces and Tallinn was heavily bombed by Soviet airplanes in 1944. During and after the war, many Estonians, mostly women and children, were deported by the Soviets to Siberia. At this time Russian nationals migrated into Estonia and large suburbs were built. Today about half of the population is Russian. In 1991 Estonia became independent from the Soviet Union and joined the United Nations.