Estonia has 800 islands more than hitherto believed (1)

New scans revealed that Estonia has hundreds of more sea islands than previously thought. The officials number of Estonian islands now stands at 2,355. Pictured: Auklaid, Öakse, Saarnaki and Hanikatsi islets (Hiiumaamudeliklubi/Wikimedia Commons)
8/25/2015 12:30 PM
Category: Environment

Many schoolbooks need to be rewritten as new, more precise surveys have risen the number of islands Estonia boasts to 2,222, or 2,355 if you count islands in lakes.

This is one third more than previously believed, Postimees reported the findings of the Estonian Land Board.

The change in the official number of islands in Estonian territorial waters is due to improved survey methods. The Land Board used aerial photography and laser scanning to update its topographical maps in 2012. The collected data, which was inserted into the Estonian Environment Agency's databases this year, shows that Estonia has a total of 2,355 islands and islets, instead of the previously held 1,521.

Saarnaki islet off the northeastern coast of the island of Hiiumaa. With a total area of 140 hectars, it is the largest of the islands that make up the Hiiumaa Islets Landscape Reserve (Photo: Hiiumaamudeliklubi/Wikimedia Commons).

However, only 318 of these are larger than 1 hectare, or 10,000 square meters.

Agnes Jürjens from the Land Board told Postimees that improved technology allows researchers to succesfully map small, previously unaccounted for islets and holms. "In addition, the ground has risen in northern and western Estonia, and the changing water level, as well as storms, can also alter the coastline," she explained.

In July, the Estonian Land Board discovered that the total area of Estonia's landmass is actually 45,339 square kilometers, over 100 square kilometers more than believed.

The news might come as further blow to neighboring Latvia, which has a famously low number of islands, officially at one, and that too is man-made. Latvia did issue claims to Ruhnu at the beginning of last century, but the island, which lies closer to Latvia than Estonia, was added to Estonia in 1919.

M. Oll

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