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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: 15 July 2024

The area of Estonia is 45,227 km². According to the data of the 2021 Population and Housing Census, there are 1,331,824  permanent residents in Estonia. Compared to 10 years ago, the number of permanent residents in Estonia has increased by 3%.

As of 1 January 2024, Estonian population is 1,374,687, which is 0.64% 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. The population is decreasing in all counties except Harju and Tartu county (the regions surrounding the capital and the 2nd biggest city). 

Estonia's net migration has been positive since 2015. Between 2015 and 2021, net migration averaged 4566. The biggest share of migrants are in their 30ies.

From 2022, the highest number of immigrants has come from Ukraine. A fifth of the immigrants who came to Estonia were persons with Estonian citizenship; the next largest group were EU citizens. Immigration of one previously larger group, Russian citizens, has decreased. 

The official state language of Estonia is Estonian. Other main spoken languages are Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian and Finnish. Estonian is spoken as a mother tongue by 67% of the population and as a foreign language by 17%. Estonian and Russian are used as languages of instruction in general education schools. From 2024, the transition to Estonian-language education will start in Russian-medium kindergartens and in grades 1 and 4 , and will be completed in all school levels in 2030. 

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 optional.