Estonia, officially the Republic of Estonia, is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia (343 km), and to the east by Lake Peipus and Russia (338.6 km). Across the Baltic Sea lies Sweden in the west and Finland in the north. The territory of Estonia consists of a mainland and 2,222 islands in the Baltic Sea, covering 45,339 km² of land and water, and is influenced by a humid continental climate. Ethnic Estonians are a Finnic people, sharing close cultural ties with their northern neighbour, Finland, and the official language, Estonian, is a Finno-Ugric language closely related to Finnish and the Sami languages, and distantly to Hungarian.
Estonia is a developed country with an advanced, high-income economy that as of 2011 is among the fastest growing in the EU. It ranks very high in the Human Development Index of the United Nations, and it performs favourably in measurements of economic freedom, civil liberties and press freedom (3rd in the world in 2012 and 2007). The 2015 PISA test places Estonian high school students 3rd in the world, behind Singapore and Japan. Citizens of Estonia are provided with universal health care, free education and the longest-paid maternity leave in the OECD. Since independence the country has rapidly developed its IT sector, becoming one of the world's most digitally-advanced societies. In 2005 Estonia became the first nation to hold elections over the Internet, and in 2014 the first nation to provide e-residency.
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