Estonia (officially the Republic of Estonia) is the northernmost of the three Baltic states. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland with Finland on the other side, to the west by the Baltic Sea with Sweden on the other side, to the south by Latvia, and to the east by Lake Peipus and Russia.
Estonia has been dominated by foreign powers through much of its history. In 1940 it was incorporated into the U.S.S.R. as one of its constituent republics. Estonia remained a Soviet republic until 1991, when, along with the other Baltic states, it declared its independence. Estonia set about transforming its government into a parliamentary democracy and reorienting its economy towards market capitalism. It sought integration with greater Europe and in 2004 joined NATO and EU.
In the period immediately following independence, Estonia continued to use the Russian ruble as its currency. Beginning in June 1992, the republic issued its own currency, the kroon, which was replaced by the Euro in January 2011.
The Estonian landscape is largely the product of glacial activity. The south is covered with moraine hills, lakes and the central part of the country abounds in elongated hills with flat tops.
The temperate and humid climate of Estonia differs sharply from the climates of regions to the east (in Russia) at the same latitude. The country lies in the path of air masses borne by cyclonic winds that originate in the North Atlantic Ocean and carry warm air in the winter and cool air in summer. The northern and western coastal areas tend to be milder than the country’s inland regions, while the eastern and southeastern regions tend to have a continental climate. The temperature is -8 to -5 °C (17 to 23 °F) in January and 16 to 17 °C (61 to 63 °F) in July.