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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Population: demographic situation, languages and religions


1.Political, social and economic background and trends

1.3Population: demographic situation, languages and religions

Last update: 27 November 2023

The area of Estonia is 45,227 km². According to the data of the 2021 Population and Housing Census, there are 1,126,440 permanent residents in Estonia. Compared to the previous 2011 census, the number of permanent residents in Estonia had decreased by 168,015 or 13%.

As of 1 January 2022, Estonian population is 1,331,796, which is 0.12% more than the same time previous year. In recent years the population has decreased due to a fall in natural growth but increased due to a positive net migration.

Estonian net migration has been positive for several years. In 2021, the number of people who settled in Estonia was higher by 7043 people compared to the number of those who left. The more active immigrants and emigrants are in their 30s.

Nearly half of the immigrants who came to Estonia were persons with Estonian citizenship; the next largest groups were EU citizens, Ukrainian and Russian citizens. A half of the leavers were Estonian citizens, the citizens of EU majored among the rest.

The official state language of Estonia is Estonian. Other main spoken languages are Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian and Finnish. According to the data of 2021 census, the major minority language is Russian with 382 155 speakers, i.e., 29% of the population. Estonian and Russian are used as languages of instruction in general education schools; also English, French, German, Finnish and Swedish in schools with profound language studies. Representatives of the German, Russian, Swedish and Jewish national minorities as well as representatives of other national minorities in Estonia, of which there are more than 3,000, may establish their minority cultural autonomies.

Freedoms of conscience, religion and thought are valid in Estonia. Belonging to churches and religious unions is free, no state church exists. Larger religios groups are Lutherans and Orthodox, the number of Evangelical Christians and Baptists is almost equal. Smaller religious groups are Methodists, Adventists, Raskolniki, Jehova's Witnesses, Roman Catholics, Jews and others. Religious studies at school are voluntary but a school has to guarantee the opportunity for religious study provided the number of applicants at the same stage of study is at least 15.