Estonians

Estonians and Latvians are neighboring but extremely different nations. Estonians speak a non-Baltic and non-Indo-European language, more similar to Finnish.

Despite such differences, Estonia and Latvia were ruled by the same powers for centuries and before 1918 there was never any official border between the two countries.

Border delimitation was difficult and at heart of these difficulties laid the Walk city. Populated by both Latvians and Estonians, it was partitioned in two: Estonian Valga and Latvian Valka. Despite such careful considerations and radical measures, thousands of Latvians and Estonians remained on the “wrong sides of the border”. Latvia had some 7000 Estonians in 1935, or 0,4% of population.

A map of Valka/Valga city with Estonian/Latvian boundary crossing in the middle
A map of Valka/Valga city with Estonian/Latvian boundary crossing in the middle. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Throughout the 20th century, however, the numbers of Estonians were on a constant decline, both due to assimilation and migration to Estonia. There were 4334 Estonians in 1970 (0,2%) and only 2652 in 2000 (0,1%).

Recently though the numbers of Estonians may have somewhat risen again, as Riga reasserted its role as the capital of the Baltics and European Union removed migration restrictions.

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