Government does not have data on how many Estonians live abroad ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas met with the Toronto Estonian community on Saturday. 26 May, 2018.
Prime Minister Jüri Ratas met with the Toronto Estonian community on Saturday. 26 May, 2018. Source: (Government Office)

The government does not have any data about people of Estonian-origin living abroad and recently closed an office which kept these records, ERR reported on Tuesday.

The country is generally aware of the number of Estonian citizens living abroad, but there is no complete overview of Estonian origin or foreign Estonians, ERR wrote. The Foreign Ministry has also recently closed an office that kept records of the number of people of Estonian origin. 

Ruth Annus, Head of the Citizenship and Migration Policy Department at the Ministry of the Interior, said they had received information from the Foreign Ministry that they no longer have an office to monitor people of Estonian-origin.

"Therefore, it is not yet possible to take even estimated data on
the number of persons of Estonian origin living abroad ," Annus said.

In order to keep records of Estonian citizens living abroad, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs uses the data of Estonian citizens in the population register, observing the number of people with a foreign address.

Migration data is difficult to gather accurately as not everyone is required to register or deregister when they leave their home country.

As of September 1, 2019, foreign address in the population register shows that Finland has 52, 358 Estonian citizens. Followed by Russia with 18,476, Great Britain 9,452, Germany with 5344, Sweden with 4754, USA with 4361, Canada with 2877, Australia with 2892 and Ireland with 2478 Estonian citizens. 

There are several other countries with less than 2000 registered addresses.

Estonian-origin estimates

In 2013, the Ministry of the Interior stated that although they did not have the complete numbers of Estonian refugees or persons of Estonian origin living abroad, it is still possible to estimate communities in each country.

According to the Ministry, Finland, Russia, the United States, and Canada have the largest Estonian communities with more than 20,000 persons each.

They are followed by Sweden, Great Britain, and Australia with fewer than 15,000 persons. Then, with less than 5,000 people, Germany, Norway, Ireland, Belgium, Spain, Israel, and France.

The majority of people with Estonian citizenship live in Finland, which has a population of over 50,000 Estonians.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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