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Narva's Estonian population has increased

Signs in Narva, Ida-Viru County.
Signs in Narva, Ida-Viru County. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Before the Second World War, Estonians made up 65 percent of Narva's population; however, since regaining independence, their population has dropped to 4 percent. According to the most recent census, the proportion of Estonians in Narva has now risen to 6 percent.

Ants Liimets, the head of the Estonian Society of Narva, said the Estonian-speaking population of Narva has grown mostly because due to young people, who have completed secondary education, passed the citizenship exam and consider themselves to be Estonians.

"From the age of 16, everyone has the right to choose their nationality," he explained.

According to Liimets, it is noteworthy that while the number of Estonians in Narva increases, the percentage of native Estonian speakers is on the decline.

"However, there is a bright side to this. A person's identification as an Estonian shows their appreciation of the Estonian state and the Estonian language. And as the number of Estonians grows, there is no need to use other languages in city councils and government organizations."

Irene Kaosaar, the head of the Integration Foundation and principal of the Estonian-language school in Narva, referred to native Russian-speaking Estonians as the "model" of integration.

"I am among those for whom nationality is a deeply personal matter. Many Estonians living outside of Estonia do not speak Estonian as their first language. If a person feels Estonian, then that's how it is," she said.

According to Statistics Estonia, there are 3,100 Estonians living in Narva, which is 6 percent of the city's population. Of those, there are 1,200 whose native tongue is Estonian, about 2 percent of the population.

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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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