The National Audit Office's annual report presents a map revealing the reality of Estonia's scarcely populated countryside.
The red coloring on the map represents areas having no more than four residents per square kilometer. Altogether, the red area is home to 18,404 people, or 1.4 percent of Estonia's population.
"Estonia's reality is that, in the long term, it will become increasingly more difficult for both the state and local governments to get by. We are facing the challenge of how the economy will manage to bring revenue into the state budget in a situation where the workforce is significantly declining. At the same time pressure to raise social costs is growing," Auditor General Alar Karis said in his annual report to Parliament today.
Estonia's population of 1.3 million is mostly concentrated in a few cities, with the majority of the remaining roughly 45,000 square kilometers in the red, so to say.
The map was produced by University of Tartu geoinformatics doctor Erki Saluveer and is based on data from the 2011 population census.