Tallinn's population increasing (4)
Although Estonia as a whole has seen a decline in population numbers, the trend is opposite in the capital.
The population of Estonia is currently estimated to be over 1.3 million and in recent times, each new statistics shows that the country has lost a few thousand residents every year.
According to the latest United Nations projection, Estonia is expected to lose 184,000 people between now and 2050. At 14 percent, the decrease is the 14th highest in the world.
But there is one area which doesn't need to worry as much. Harju County – the one surrounding the capital - was the only region where population increased last year, by more than 3,000 people, and this was mainly due to an increase in the number of residents in Tallinn.
This year might bring even more inhabitants to the capital, as in the first 6 months, over 2,000 people have made Tallinn their home.
The reasons are obvious – there are more opportunities, better salaries, a more cosmopolitan vibe in the capital. Some also cite the free public transport – at first criticized by political opponents of the Center Party, but now widely accepted as a success story – as one of the reasons why more people want to be residents of Tallinn. The scheme is only free for those who have been registered with the city government.
However, Tallinn's population, now standing at over 436,000, is still smaller than in its peak during the Soviet occupation – in 1989, almost half a million lived here. But this was due to a larger Russian-speaking population, many of whom left after Estonia regained independence and Russian troops withdrew.
Ethnic Estonians now account for approximately 55 percent of the capital, while Russian-speakers comprise 37 percent, and Ukrainians and Belorussians make up roughly about 4 percent. The expat community of Finns is also increasing, but still only numbers a few thousand people, compared to tens of thousands Estonians who work in Helsinki and its vicinity.
Taking into account Tallinn's suburbs – many new residential areas have sprung up within last 20 years, the metropolitan area is almost 550,000-strong.
Tallinn also compares favorably with Riga which has lost major chunk of its population since 1991. When in the late 1980s Riga's population was approaching a million and there was already a speculation in the air about building a subway in the Latvian capital, then it now stands at just 641,000.