Global Estonian Report: September 15–22

The statue commemorating those who fled in 1944 at Puise in Lääne County.
The statue commemorating those who fled in 1944 at Puise in Lääne County. Source: Juhan Hepner/ERR

Between 165,000 and 200,000 Estonians are estimated to live outside the country right now, making around 15-20 percent of the total number of Estonians. With many communities being found worldwide, both in English-speaking countries and beyond, ERR News, in conjunction with the Integration Foundation (Integratsiooni Sihtasutus), has launched a weekly Global Estonian Report, which will give a weekly window into Estonian communities and culture from around the globe.

Commemorating the Great Refugee Flight to the West

One of the main reasons there is such a large and widespread global Estonian community is a result of the Great Refugee Flight to the West (Suur põgenemine) in 1944.

In the late summer and autumn of 1944 (peaking from September 19-23), when the Red Army was advancing, around 75 000-80 000 people fled from Estonia, and a total of nearly 300 000 people left the Baltic States. This year marks the 77th anniversary of those events.  Many people used small boats to cross the Baltic Sea to Sweden and Finland. This is why the refugees became known as boat refugees (paadipõgenikud). Many people who left and never saw their homeland again.

People were convinced they were leaving temporarily, for a few months or years at the most. When it became obvious over time that there was no going back, people settled or went on to other countries across the world. The largest Estonian communities formed in Sweden, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.

In these countries, Estonians formed various organizations of expatriate Estonians that focused on preserving Estonian culture and fighting for the restoration of Estonia's independence.

Click here for upcoming commemoration events (in Estonian):

Participate in the survey of Estonian communities abroad and diaspora members

Estonians and those with Estonian roots abroad – make your voice heard!

Are you from Estonia but live abroad? Or were you born outside of Estonia, but have Estonian roots or citizenship? If yes, we invite you to participate in a survey of people connected to Estonia!

The Institute of Baltic Studies is carrying out the largest study of people with a connection to Estonia! The study has been commissioned by the Estonian state and aims to gain a detailed understanding of their experiences, needs and expectations.

It will take you 15-25 minutes to complete the survey and the survey closes on the 30th of September 2021. All respondents will have a chance to win prizes worth up to 1000 euros.

Estonian community in Canada honors former PM

On the 30th anniversary of Canada's reestablishment of diplomatic relations with The Republic of Estonia, The Estonian Central Council in Canada presented former Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney, with its Award of Merit for service to the Estonian community in Canada. Mr. Mulroney was a key figure in advocating for the recognition of Baltic independence among Western world leaders.

Canada was one of the first Western countries to re-recognize Baltic independence on August 26, 1991. The United States recognized Baltic independence on September 2nd. Iceland was the first country to do so on August 22nd.

Quiz: How well do you know Estonian history and culture?

Test your knowledge of Estonian history and culture, and win a prize! The prize to be drawn is a trip to Estonia for two nights worth up to 800 euros. The quiz on the Visit Estonia website lasts until October 4th.

Join the Global Estonian Business Network

The Global Estonian Business Network brings together business-focused Estonians around the world who can support each other in their global business endeavours and who have an interest in contributing with their professional skills and knowledge to the success of Estonian exports and the Estonian economy.

The Global Estonian Business Network is an initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Public Sector Innovation Team.


Upcoming Events

ESTO|Raiser 2021 – Fundraiser Festival (September 16-26, online)

Estonian American National Council is proud to present the 2021 Fundraiser Festival featuring a 10-day online auction, creative program, and networking opportunities to support the continuation of Estonian culture and heritage in the United States.

6th BaltHerNet conference "No Topic Conference" (September 15-16, online)

2021 marks 15 years since the first conference focused on the archives of Baltic people abroad. On our two-day conference we will discuss in what position has the pandemic situated memory institutions and communities of Baltic people abroad, including their archives groups, and what could we take from this experience.

The conference is supported by the Compatriots Program (Estonian Ministryof Education and Research), the National Archives of Estonia, and the Museum of Estonians Abroad (VEMU).

Language Roulette: learn Estonian in virtual conversations (September 21, online)

Language Roulette is a series of virtual meetings coorganized by teachers and mentors of the Estonian language houses of the Integration Foundation, which brings together people who want to practice Estonian in a new format of short conversations in the Zoom environment.

All you need to know about starting your company in Estonia with e-Residency (September 21, online)

Part 2 of e-Residency's introductory webinar series. If you have already applied for e-Residency, now is the right time to transform your business idea into a reality by opening a company in Estonia. 

What is Global Estonian?

Global Estonian is an online portal, in Estonian and English, and network for Estonians and friends of Estonians around the world.

Managed by the Integration Foundation, Global Estonian brings together news, events, culture, organizations, support programs, learning opportunities, and a wealth of other information from Estonian communities abroad, all in one central gateway.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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