Saaremaa grows by nearly 1,000 hectares in 2016
Estonia’s nearly 3,800 km of coastline are in a state of constant change. In some places landmass is gained, in others the sea claims it. The western island of Saaremaa, Estonia’s largest, gains up to 1,000 hectares (ha) every year.
ETV’s “Aktuaalne Kaamera” interviewed the head of the Land Board’s geoinformatics department, Mariliis Aren. Aren said that Saaremaa had gained some 5,000 ha over the last four years.
Up-to-date cadastre maps show how the coastline has changed over time. While the border of a plot might have ended where the land meets the water a few years ago, the same point may now be several meters out in the sea. This again means that the landowner would pay tax for land that they don’t actually have. At the same time, no landowner has the legal obligation to keep measuring their plots.
As Saaremaa has grown by 5,000 ha in four years, the total territory of Estonia has increased as well. “We are gaining land all the time. The last calculation of this increasing area was done in 2014, when we found that we had gained 112 square kilometers,” Aren said.
Length of Estonia’s coastline
There is no single definite length of any country’s coastline, as measuring it depends on the intervals at which points are set to measure the distance. The shorter the distance between measuring points, the longer the coastline gets. According to the CIA’s World Factbook, Estonia’s coastline is 3,794 km long.
The World Resources Institute, an independent global research organization, sets the length of Estonia’s coastline at 2,956 km, calculated using a geographic information system (GIS) at a scale of 1:250,000. Domestic publications generally prefer the World Factbook’s higher number.