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The Baltic states, et, Balti riigid or the Baltic countries is a geopolitical term, which currently is used to group three countries:
Estonia Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe, Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, sea across from Sweden, to ...

Estonia
,
Latvia
Latvia
, and
Lithuania
Lithuania
. All three countries are members of
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental military alliance between 30 Member sta ...
, the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational union, supranational political union, political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe, Europe. The union has a total area of ...

European Union
, the
Eurozone
Eurozone
, and the
OECD
OECD
. The three sovereign states on the eastern coast of the
Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
are sometimes referred to as the "Baltic nations", less often and in historical circumstances also as the "Baltic republics", the "Baltic lands", or simply the Baltics. All three Baltic countries are classified as high-income economies by the World Bank and maintain a very high
Human Development Index The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistic composite index of life expectancy, Education Index, education (mean years of schooling completed and expected years of schooling upon entering the Educational system, education system), ...
. The three governments engage in intergovernmental and parliamentary cooperation. There is also frequent cooperation in foreign and security policy, defence, energy, and transportation. The term "Baltic states" ("countries", "nations", or similar) cannot be used unambiguously in the context of cultural areas, national identity, or . While the majority of the population both in and are indeed Baltic peoples ( Latvians and Lithuanians), the majority in
Estonia Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe, Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, sea across from Sweden, to ...

Estonia
( Estonians) are culturally and linguistically .


History


Summary

After the
First World War World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll, one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe, the Russian Empire, ...

First World War
the term "Baltic states" came to refer to countries by the Baltic Sea that had gained independence from the Russian Empire. The term includes
Estonia Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe, Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, sea across from Sweden, to ...

Estonia
, and , and originally also included
Finland Finland ( fi, Suomi ; sv, Finland ), officially the Republic of Finland (; ), is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the northwest, Norway to the north, and Russia Russia (, , ), or the Ru ...

Finland
, which later became grouped among the . The areas of what are now the independent Baltic countries have seen different regional and imperial affiliations during their existence. The greater part of the three modern states' territory was for the first time included in the same political entity when the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire was an empire and the final period of the List of Russian monarchs, Russian monarchy from 1721 to 1917, ruling across large parts of Eurasia. It succeeded the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad, which ended th ...
expanded in the 18th century. Estonia and northern part of Latvia were ceded by
Sweden Sweden, formally the Kingdom of Sweden,The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names states that the country's formal name is the Kingdom of SwedenUNGEGN World Geographical Names, Sweden./ref> is a Nordic countries, Nordic c ...

Sweden
, and incorporated into the Russian Empire at the end of the
Great Northern War The Great Northern War (1700–1721) was a conflict in which a coalition led by the Tsardom of Russia successfully contested the supremacy of the Swedish Empire in Northern Europe, Northern, Central Europe, Central and Eastern Europe. The i ...

Great Northern War
in 1721, while most of the territory of what is now Lithuania came under the Russian rule after the Third Partition of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795. Large parts of the Baltic countries were controlled by the Russian Empire until the final stages of
World War I World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll, one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe, the Russian Empire, ...

World War I
in 1918, when Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania gained their sovereignty. The three countries were independent until the outbreak of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
. In 1940, all three countries were invaded, occupied and annexed by the Stalinist
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former transcontinental countries#Since 1700, transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, ...
. In 1941 followed the invasion and occupation of Lithuania, Latvia and
Estonia Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe, Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, sea across from Sweden, to ...
by , before the Red Army reinvaded in 1944–1945 and the Soviet Union was able to regain control over the three countries until 1991. Soviet rule ended in the Baltic countries in 1989–1991 as the newly elected parliaments of the three nations declared the Soviet occupation illegal, culminating with the full restoration of the independence of the three countries in August 1991.


The first period of independence, 1918–1940

As World War I came to a close, Lithuania declared independence and Latvia formed a provisional government. Estonia had already obtained autonomy from tsarist Russia in 1917, and declared independence in February 1918, but was subsequently occupied by the
German Empire The German Empire (),Herbert Tuttle wrote in September 1881 that the term "Reich" does not literally connote an empire as has been commonly assumed by English-speaking people. The term literally denotes an empire – particularly a hereditary ...
until November 1918. Estonia fought a successful war of independence against Soviet Russia in 1918–1920. Latvia and Lithuania followed a similar process, until the completion of the Latvian War of Independence and Lithuanian Wars of Independence in 1920. During the
interwar period In the history of the 20th century, the interwar period lasted from 11 November 1918 to 1 September 1939 (20 years, 9 months, 21 days), the end of the First World War World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated a ...
these countries were sometimes referred to as '' limitrophe states'' between the two World Wars, from the French, indicating their collectively forming a rim along Bolshevik Russia's, later the Soviet Union's, western border. They were also part of what considered a strategic '' cordon sanitaire'', the entire territory from Finland in the north to Romania in the south, standing between Western Europe and potential Bolshevik territorial ambitions. All three Baltic countries experienced a period of authoritarian rule by a head of state who had come to power after a bloodless coup: Antanas Smetona in Lithuania ( 1926–1940), Kārlis Ulmanis in Latvia ( 1934–1940), and during the " era of silence" (1934–1938) in Estonia, respectively. Some note that the events in Lithuania differed from the other two countries, with Smetona having different motivations as well as securing power 8 years before any such events in Latvia or Estonia took place. Despite considerable political turmoil in Finland no such events took place there. Finland did however get embroiled in a bloody civil war, something that did not happen in the Baltics. Some controversy surrounds the Baltic authoritarian régimes – due to the general stability and rapid economic growth of the period (even if brief), some commenters avoid the label "authoritarian"; others, however, condemn such an "apologetic" attitude, for example in later assessments of Kārlis Ulmanis.


Soviet and German occupations, 1940–1991

In accordance with a secret protocol within the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 that divided Europe into German and Soviet , the Soviet Army invaded eastern Poland in September 1939, and the Stalinist Soviet government coerced Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania into "mutual assistance treaties" which granted USSR the right to establish military bases in these countries. In June 1940, the Red Army occupied all of the territory of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and installed new, pro-Soviet puppet governments. In all three countries simultaneously, rigged elections (in which only pro-Stalinist candidates were allowed to run) were staged in July 1940, the newly assembled "parliaments" in each of the three countries then unanimously applied to join the Soviet Union, and in August 1940 were incorporated into the USSR as the Estonian SSR, Latvian SSR, and Lithuanian SSR. Repressions, executions and mass deportations followed after that in the Baltics. The Soviet Union attempted to Sovietize its occupied territories, by means such as deportations and instituting the Russian language as the only working language. Between 1940 and 1953, the Soviet government deported more than 200,000 people from the Baltics to remote locations in the
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former transcontinental countries#Since 1700, transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, ...
. In addition, at least 75,000 were sent to s. About 10% of the adult Baltic population were deported or sent to labor camps. (See June deportation, Soviet deportations from Estonia, Sovietization of the Baltic states) The Soviet occupation of the Baltic countries was interrupted by invasion of the region in 1941. Initially, many Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians considered the German army as liberators, while having hoped for the restoration of each of the three countries' independence, but instead the Nazi German invaders established a civil administration, known as the ''''. During the occupation the Nazi authorities carried out ghettoisations and mass killings of the Jewish populations in Lithuania and Latvia. Over 190,000
Lithuanian Jews Lithuanian Jews or Litvaks () are Jews with roots in the territory of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania (covering present-day Lithuania, Belarus, Latvia, the northeastern Suwałki Region, Suwałki and Białystok regions of Poland, as well as ...
, nearly 95% of Lithuania's pre-war Jewish community, and 66,000
Latvian Jews The history of the Jews in Latvia dates back to the first Jewish colony established in Piltene in 1571. Jews contributed to Latvia's development until the Great Northern War, Northern War (1700–1721), which decimated Latvia's population.R. ...
were murdered. The German occupation lasted until late 1944 (in
Courland Courland (; lv, Kurzeme; liv, Kurāmō; German and Scandinavian languages: ''Kurland''; la, Curonia/; russian: Курляндия; Estonian: ''Kuramaa''; lt, Kuršas; pl, Kurlandia) is one of the Historical Latvian Lands in western Lat ...
, until early 1945), when the countries were reoccupied by the Red Army and Soviet rule was re-established, with the passive agreement of the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
and
Britain Britain most often refers to: * The United Kingdom, a sovereign state in Europe comprising the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands * Great Britain, the largest island in the United King ...
(see
Yalta Conference The Yalta Conference (codenamed Argonaut), also known as the Crimea Conference, held 4–11 February 1945, was the World War II meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union to discuss the post ...
and
Potsdam Agreement The Potsdam Agreement (german: Potsdamer Abkommen) was the agreement between three of the Allies of World War II: the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union on 1 August 1945. A product of the Potsdam Conference, it concerned th ...
). The forced collectivisation of agriculture began in 1947, and was completed after the mass deportation in March 1949 (see Operation Priboi). Private farms were confiscated, and farmers were made to join the collective farms. In all three countries, Baltic partisans, known colloquially as the
Forest Brothers The Guerrilla war in the Baltic states was an armed struggle which was waged by the Latvian partisans, Latvian, Lithuanian partisans, Lithuanian, and Estonian partisans, Estonian Partisan (military), partisans, called the Forest Brothers (also: ...
, Latvian national partisans, and
Lithuanian partisans The Lithuanian partisans () were partisans who waged a guerrilla warfare Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare in which small groups of combatants, such as paramilitary personnel, armed civilians, or Irregular military, irregul ...
, waged unsuccessful guerrilla warfare against the Soviet occupation for the next eight years in a bid to regain their nations' independence. The armed resistance of the anti-Soviet partisans lasted up to 1953. Although the armed resistance was defeated, the population remained anti-Soviet. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were considered to be under Soviet occupation by the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada,
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental military alliance between 30 Member sta ...
, and many other countries and international organizations. During the Cold War, Lithuania and Latvia maintained legations in Washington DC, while Estonia had a mission in New York City. Each was staffed initially by diplomats from the last governments before USSR occupation.


Restoration of independence

In the late 1980s, a massive campaign of
civil resistance Civil resistance is political action that relies on the use of nonviolent resistance by ordinary people to challenge a particular power, force, policy or regime. Civil resistance operates through appeals to the adversary, pressure and coercion: it ...
against Soviet rule, known as the
Singing revolution The Singing Revolution; lv, dziesmotā revolūcija; lt, dainuojanti revoliucija) was a series of events that led to the restoration of independence of the Baltic states, Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania from the Soviet Union a ...
, began. On 23 August 1989, the
Baltic Way The Baltic Way ( lt, Baltijos kelias, lv, Baltijas ceļš, et, Balti kett) or Baltic Chain (also "Chain of Freedom") was a peaceful political demonstration that occurred on 23 August 1989. Approximately two million people joined their hands to ...
, a two-million-strong human chain, stretched for 600 km from
Tallinn Tallinn () is the most populous and capital city of Estonia. Situated on a Tallinn Bay, bay in north Estonia, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland of the Baltic Sea, Tallinn has a population of 437,811 (as of 2022) and administratively lies in t ...
to
Vilnius Vilnius ( , ; see also #Etymology and other names, other names) is the capital and List of cities in Lithuania#Cities, largest city of Lithuania, with a population of 592,389 (according to the state register) or 625,107 (according to the munic ...
. In the wake of this campaign, Gorbachev's government had privately concluded that the departure of the Baltic republics had become "inevitable". This process contributed to the
dissolution of the Soviet Union The dissolution of the Soviet Union, also negatively connoted as rus, Разва́л Сове́тского Сою́за, r=Razvál Sovétskogo Soyúza, ''Ruining of the Soviet Union''. was the process of internal disintegration within the Sov ...
, setting a precedent for the other Soviet republics to secede from the USSR. The Soviet Union recognized the independence of three Baltic states on 6 September 1991. Troops were withdrawn from the region (starting from Lithuania) from August 1993. The last Russian troops were withdrawn from there in August 1994. Skrunda-1, the last Russian military radar in the Baltics, officially suspended operations in August 1998.


21st century

All three are today liberal democracies, with
unicameral Unicameralism (from ''uni''- "one" + Latin ''camera'' "chamber") is a type of legislature, which consists of one house or assembly, that legislates and votes as one. Unicameral legislatures exist when there is no widely perceived need for multic ...
parliaments elected by popular vote for four-year terms:
Riigikogu The Riigikogu (; from Estonian language, Estonian ''riigi-'', of the state, and ''kogu'', assembly) is the unicameral parliament of Estonia. In addition to approving legislation, the Parliament appoints high officials, including the Prime Minis ...
in Estonia,
Saeima The Saeima () is the parliament of the Latvia, Republic of Latvia. It is a unicameral parliament consisting of 100 members who are elected by proportional representation, with seats allocated to political parties which gain at least 5% of the po ...
in Latvia and
Seimas The Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublikos Seimas), or simply the Seimas (), is the unicameralism, unicameral parliament of Lithuania. The Seimas constitutes the legislative branch of government in Lithuania, enacting la ...
in Lithuania. In Latvia and Estonia, the president is elected by parliament, while Lithuania has a semi-presidential system whereby the president is elected by popular vote. All are part of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational union, supranational political union, political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe, Europe. The union has a total area of ...

European Union
(EU) and members of the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental military alliance between 30 Member sta ...
(NATO). Each of the three countries has declared itself to be the restoration of the sovereign nation that had existed from 1918 to 1940, emphasizing their contention that Soviet domination over the Baltic states during the
Cold War The Cold War is a term commonly used to refer to a period of Geopolitics, geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc. The term ''Cold war (term), co ...
period had been an illegal occupation and annexation. The same legal interpretation is shared by the United States, the United Kingdom, and most other Western democracies, who held the forcible incorporation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania into the Soviet Union to be illegal. At least formally, most Western democracies never considered the three Baltic states to be constituent parts of the Soviet Union. Australia was a brief exception to this support of Baltic independence: in 1974, the Labor government of Australia did recognize Soviet dominion, but this decision was reversed by the next
Australian Parliament The Parliament of Australia (officially the Federal Parliament, also called the Commonwealth Parliament) is the legislature, legislative branch of the government of Australia. It consists of three elements: the monarch (represented by the ...
. Other exceptions included Sweden, which was the first Western country, and one of the very few to ever do so, to recognize the incorporation of the Baltic states into the Soviet Union as lawful. After the Baltic states had restored their independence, integration with Western Europe became a major strategic goal. In 2002, the Baltic governments applied to join the European Union and become members of NATO. All three became NATO members on 29 March 2004, and joined the EU on 1 May 2004.


Regional cooperation

During the Baltic struggle for independence 1989–1992, a personal friendship developed between the (at that time unrecognized) Baltic ministers of foreign affairs and the Nordic ministers of foreign affairs. This friendship led to the creation of the
Council of the Baltic Sea States The Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) is a regional intergovernmental organisation working on three priority areas: Regional Identity, Safe & Secure Region and Sustainable & Prosperous Region. These three priority areas aim to address ...
in 1992, and the
EuroFaculty EuroFaculty was an educational institution in the Baltic states in reforming higher education in Economics, Law, Public Administration and Business Administration. History At the founding meeting of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) in ...
in 1993. Between 1994 and 2004, the BAFTA free trade agreement was established to help prepare the countries for their accession to the EU, rather than out of the Baltic states' desire to trade among themselves. The Baltic countries were more interested in gaining access to the rest of the European market. Currently, the governments of the Baltic states cooperate in multiple ways, including cooperation among presidents, parliament speakers, heads of government, and foreign ministers. On 8 November 1991, the Baltic Assembly, which includes 15 to 20 MPs from each parliament, was established to facilitate inter-parliamentary cooperation. The
Baltic Council of Ministers The Baltic Council of Ministers (BCM) ( lt, Baltijos Ministrų Taryba, lv, Baltijas Ministru padome, et, Balti Ministrite Nõukogu) is an institution for intergovernmental cooperation between the Baltic states: Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia estab ...
was established on 13 June 1994 to facilitate intergovernmental cooperation. Since 2003, there is coordination between the two organizations. Compared with other regional groupings in Europe, such as the
Nordic Council The Nordic Council is the official body for formal inter-parliamentary Nordic cooperation among the Nordic countries. Formed in 1952, it has 87 representatives from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden as well as from the autonomou ...
or Visegrád Group, Baltic cooperation is rather limited. All three countries are also members of the New Hanseatic League, an informal group of northern EU states formed to advocate a common fiscal position.


Economies

Economically, parallel with political changes and a transition to democracy – as a rule of law states – the nations' previous command economies were transformed via the legislation into market economies, and set up or renewed the major macroeconomic factors: budgetary rules, national audit, national currency and central bank. Generally, they shortly encountered the following problems: high inflation, high unemployment, low economic growth and high government debt. The inflation rate, in the examined area, relatively quickly dropped to below 5% by 2000. Meanwhile, these economies were stabilised, and in 2004 all of them joined the European Union. New macroeconomic requirements have arisen for them; the Maastricht criteria became obligatory and later the
Stability and Growth Pact The Stability and Growth Pact (SGP) is an agreement, among all of the 27 member states of the European Union, to facilitate and maintain the stability of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union, Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). B ...
set stricter rules through national legislation by implementing the regulations and directives of the Sixpack, because the financial crisis was a shocking milestone. All three countries are member states of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational union, supranational political union, political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe, Europe. The union has a total area of ...

European Union
, and the . They are classified as high-income economies by the World Bank and maintain high
Human Development Index The Human Development Index (HDI) is a statistic composite index of life expectancy, Education Index, education (mean years of schooling completed and expected years of schooling upon entering the Educational system, education system), ...
. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are also members of the
OECD The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques, ''OCDE'') is an intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental organisation with 38 member countries ...
. Estonia adopted the
euro The euro (currency symbol, symbol: euro sign, €; ISO 4217, code: EUR) is the official currency of 19 out of the Member state of the European Union, member states of the European Union (EU). This group of states is known as the eurozone o ...
currency in January 2011, Latvia in January 2014, and Lithuania in January 2015.


Energy security of Baltic states

Usually the concept of
energy security Energy security is the association between national security and the availability of natural resources for energy consumption. Access to (relatively) cheap energy has become essential to the functioning of modern economies. However, the uneven d ...
is related to the uninterruptible supply, sufficient energy storage, advanced technological development of energy sector and environmental regulations. Other studies add other indicators to this list: diversification of energy suppliers, energy import dependence and vulnerability of political system. Even now being a part of the European Union, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are still considered as the most vulnerable EU member states in the energy sphere. Due to their Soviet past, Baltic states have several gas pipelines on their territories coming from Russia. Moreover, several routes of oil delivery also have been sustained from Soviet times: These are ports in Ventspils, Butinge and Tallinn. Therefore, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania play a significant role not only in consuming, but also in distribution of Russian energy fuels extracting transaction fees. So, the overall EU dependence on the Russia's energy supplies from the one hand and the need of Baltic states to import energy fuels from their closer hydrocarbon-rich neighbor creates a tension that could jeopardize the energy security of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. As a part of the EU from 2004, Baltic states must comply with the EU's regulations in energy, environmental and security spheres. One of the most important documents that the EU applied to improve the energy security stance of the Baltic states are European Union climate and energy package, including the Climate and Energy Strategy 2020, that aims to reduce the greenhouse emissions to 20%, increase the energy production from renewables for 20% in overall share and 20% energy efficiency development. The calculations take into account not only economic, but also technological and energy-related factors: Energy and carbon intensity of transport and households, trade balance of total energy, energy import dependency, diversification of
energy mix The energy mix is a group of different primary energy, primary energy sources from which secondary energy for direct use - such as electricity - is produced. Energy mix refers to all direct uses of energy, such as transportation and housing, and s ...
, etc. It was stated that from 2008, Baltic states experiences a positive change in their energy security score. They diversified their oil import suppliers due to shutdown of Druzhba gas pipeline in 2006 and increased the share of renewable sources in total energy production with the help of the EU policies. Estonia usually was the best performing country in terms of energy security, but new assessment shows that even though Estonia has the highest share of renewables in the energy production, its energy economy has been still characterized by high rates of carbon intensity. Lithuania, in contrast, achieved the best results on carbon intensity of economy but its energy dependence level is still very high. Latvia performed the best according to all indicators. Especially, the high share of renewables were introduced to the energy production of Latvia, that can be explained by the state's geographical location and favorable natural conditions. Possible threats to energy security include, firstly, a major risk of energy supply disruption. Even if there are several electricity interconnectors that connect the area with electricity-rich states ( Estonia-Finland interconnector, Lithuania-Poland interconnector, Lithuania-Sweden interconnector), the pipeline supply of natural gas and tanker supply of oil are unreliable without modernization of energy infrastructure. Secondly, the dependence on single supplier – Russia – is not healthy both for economics and politics. As it was in 2009 during the Russian-Ukrainian gas dispute, when states of Eastern Europe were deprived from access to the natural gas deliveries, the reoccurrence of the situation may again lead to economic, political and social crisis. Therefore, the diversification of suppliers is needed. Finally, the low technological enhancement results in slow adaptation of new technologies, such as construction and use of renewable sources of energy. This also poses a threat to energy security of the Baltic states, because slows down the renewable energy consumption and lead to low rates of energy efficiency.


Culture


Ethnic groups

Estonians are Finnic people, together with the nearby
Finns Finns or Finnish people ( fi, suomalaiset, ) are a Baltic Finnic ethnic group native to Finland Finland ( fi, Suomi ; sv, Finland ), officially the Republic of Finland (; ), is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land ...
. The Latvians and Lithuanians, linguistically and culturally related to each other, are Baltic
Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to the languages of Europe, overwhelming majority of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and the northern Indian subcontinent. Some European languages of this family, English language, Englis ...
people. In Latvia exists a small community of Finnic people related to the Estonians, composed of only 250 people, known as Livonians, and they live in the so-called
Livonian Coast Livonian Coast ( liv, Līvõd Rānda, italic=no; lv, Lībiešu krasts, italic=no) is a territory of Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ; ltg, Latveja; liv, Leţmō), officially the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no ...
. The peoples in the Baltic states have together inhabited the eastern coast of the for millennia, although not always peacefully in ancient times, over which period their populations, Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian, have remained remarkably stable within the approximate territorial boundaries of the current Baltic states. While separate peoples with their own customs and traditions, historical factors have introduced cultural similarities in and differences within them. The populations of each Baltic country belong to several Christian denominations, a reflection of historical circumstances. Both Western and Eastern Christianity had been introduced by the end of the first millennium. The current divide between
Lutheranism Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism, identifying primarily with the theology of Martin Luther, the 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology and practice of the Cathol ...
to the north and Catholicism to the south is the remnant of Swedish and Polish hegemony, respectively, with
Orthodox Christianity Orthodoxy (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) is adherence to correct or accepted creeds, especially in religion. Orthodoxy within Christianity refers to acceptance of the doctrines defined by various creeds and ecumenical councils in Late antiquity, A ...
remaining the dominant religion among Russian and other East Slavic minorities. The Baltic states have historically been in many different spheres of influence, from Danish over Swedish and Polish–Lithuanian, to German ( Hansa and
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire was a Polity, political entity in Western Europe, Western, Central Europe, Central, and Southern Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its Dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, dissolution i ...
), and before independence in the Russian sphere of influence. The Baltic states are inhabited by several ethnic minorities: in Latvia: 33.0% (including 25.4% Russian, 3.3% Belarusian, 2.2% Ukrainian, and 2.1% Polish), in Estonia: 27.6% and in Lithuania: 12.2% (including 5.6% Polish and 4.5% Russian). The Soviet Union conducted a policy of Russification by encouraging Russians and other Russian-speaking ethnic groups of the Soviet Union to settle in the Baltics. Today, ethnic Russian immigrants from the former Soviet Union and their descendants make up a sizable particularly in Latvia (about one-quarter of the total population and close to one-half in the capital Riga) and Estonia (nearly one-quarter of the total population). Because the three countries had been independent nations prior to their occupation by the Soviet Union, there was a strong feeling of national identity (often labeled "bourgeois nationalism" by the
Communist Party A communist party is a political party that seeks to realize the Socioeconomics, socio-economic goals of communism. The term ''communist party'' was popularized by the title of ''The Communist Manifesto, The Manifesto of the Communist Party'' (1 ...
) and popular resentment towards the imposed Soviet rule in the three countries, in combination with Soviet cultural policy, which employed superficial multiculturalism (in order for the Soviet Union to appear as a multinational union based on the free will of its peoples) in limits allowed by the communist "internationalist" (but in effect pro-
Russification Russification (russian: русификация, rusifikatsiya), or Russianization, is a form of cultural assimilation Cultural assimilation is the process in which a minority group or culture comes to resemble a society's Dominant culture, ma ...
) ideology and under tight control of the Communist Party (those of the Baltic nationals who crossed the line were called "bourgeois nationalists" and repressed). This let Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians preserve a high degree of Europe-oriented national identity. In Soviet times this made them appear as the "West" of the Soviet Union in the cultural and political sense, thus as close to emigration a Russian could get without leaving the USSR.


Languages

The languages of the three Baltic peoples belong to two distinct language families. The Latvian and Lithuanian languages belong to the
Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to the languages of Europe, overwhelming majority of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and the northern Indian subcontinent. Some European languages of this family, English language, Englis ...
language family A language family is a group of languages related through Genetic relationship (linguistics), descent from a common ''ancestral language'' or ''parental language'', called the proto-language of that family. The term "family" reflects the tree m ...
and are the only extant (widely recognized) members of the Baltic language group (or more specifically, Eastern Baltic subgroup of Baltic). Latgalian and Samogitian are considered either separate languages or dialects of Latvian and Lithuanian, respectively. The
Estonian language Estonian ( ) is a Finnic language, written in the Latin script The Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic writing system based on the letters of the classical Latin alphabet, derived from a form of the Greek alphabet wh ...
(including its divergent Võro and Seto dialects) is a Finnic language, together with neighboring Finland's
Finnish language Finnish (endonym: or ) is a Uralic languages, Uralic language of the Finnic languages, Finnic branch, spoken by the majority of the population in Finland and by Finns, ethnic Finns outside of Finland. Finnish is one of the two official langu ...
. It is also related to the now near-extinct
Livonian language The Livonian language ( liv, līvõ kēļ, link=no or ; et, liivi keel, link=yes) is a Finnic languages, Finnic language whose native land is the Livonian Coast of the Gulf of Livonia, located in the north of the Courland, Kurzeme peninsula in ...
spoken as a second language by a few dozen people in Latvia. Apart from the indigenous languages, German was the dominant language in Estonia and Latvia in academics, professional life, and upper society from the 13th century until World War I. Polish served a similar function in Lithuania. Numerous Swedish loanwords have made it into the Estonian language; it was under the Swedish rule that schools were established and education propagated in the 17th century. Swedish remains spoken in Estonia, particularly the Estonian Swedish dialect of the
Estonian Swedes The Estonian Swedes, or Estonia-Swedes ( sv, estlandssvenskar, colloquially ''aibofolke'', "island people"; et, eestirootslased), or "Coastal Swedes" ( et, rannarootslased) are a Swedish language, Swedish-speaking minority traditionally residi ...
of northern Estonia and the islands (though many fled to Sweden as the USSR invaded and re-occupied Estonia in 1944). There is also significant proficiency in Finnish in Estonia owing to its linguistic relationship with Estonian and also widespread exposure to Finnish broadcasts during the Soviet era. Russian was the most commonly studied foreign language at all levels of schooling during the period of Soviet rule in 1944–1991. Despite schooling available and administration conducted in local languages, Russian-speaking settlers were neither encouraged nor motivated to learn the official local languages, so knowledge of some Russian became a practical necessity in daily life in Russian-dominated urban areas. Even to this day, most of the three countries' adult population can understand and speak some Russian, especially so the elderly people who went to school during the Soviet rule. Since the decline of Russian influence and integration into the European Union economy, English has become the most popular second language in the Baltic states. Although Russian is more widely spoken among older people the vast majority of young people are learning English instead with as many as 80 percent of young Lithuanians professing English proficiency, and similar trends in the other Baltic states. Baltic Romani is spoken by the Roma.


Etymology of the word ''Baltic''

The term ''Baltic'' stems from the name of the – a
hydronym A hydronym (from el, ὕδρω, , "water" and , , "name") is a type of toponym that designates a proper name of a body of water. Hydronyms include the proper names of rivers and streams, lakes and ponds, swamps and marshes, seas and oceans. A ...
dating back to at least 3rd century B.C. (when Erastothenes mentioned in an
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Greek Dark ...
text) and possibly earlier. There are several theories about its origin, most of which trace it to the reconstructed
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European language family. Its proposed features have been derived by linguistic reconstruction from documented Indo-European languages. No direct record of Proto-Indo-E ...
root ''*bhel'' meaning 'white, fair'. This meaning is retained in the two modern
Baltic languages The Baltic languages are a branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family spoken natively by a population of about 4.5 million people mainly in areas extending east and southeast of the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe. Toget ...
, where in Lithuanian and in Latvian mean 'white'. However, the modern names of the region and the sea that originate from this root, were not used in either of the two languages prior to the 19th century. Since the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the Post-classical, post-classical period of World history (field), global history. It began with t ...
, the has appeared on maps in
Germanic languages The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family spoken natively by a population of about 515 million people mainly in Europe, North America, Oceania and Southern Africa. The most widely spoken ...
as the equivalent of 'East Sea': german: link=no, Ostsee, da, Østersøen, nl, Oostzee, sv, Östersjön, etc. Indeed, the Baltic Sea lies mostly to the east of
Germany Germany,, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central Europe. It is the second most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. Germany is situated between ...
,
Denmark ) , song = ( en, "King Christian stood by the lofty mast") , song_type = National and royal anthem , image_map = EU-Denmark.svg , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Danish Realm, Kingdom of Denmark ...
,
Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic countries, Nordic country in Northern Europe, the mainland territory of which comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula. The remote Arctic island of ...
, and
Sweden Sweden, formally the Kingdom of Sweden,The United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names states that the country's formal name is the Kingdom of SwedenUNGEGN World Geographical Names, Sweden./ref> is a Nordic countries, Nordic c ...

Sweden
. The term was also used historically to refer to Baltic Dominions of the Swedish Empire ( sv, Östersjöprovinserna) and, subsequently, the
Baltic governorates The Baltic governorates (russian: Прибалтийские губернии), originally the Ostsee governorates (german: Ostseegouvernements, russian: Остзейские губернии), was a collective name for the administrative units ...
of the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire was an empire and the final period of the List of Russian monarchs, Russian monarchy from 1721 to 1917, ruling across large parts of Eurasia. It succeeded the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad, which ended th ...
(russian: link=no, Остзейские губернии, translit=Ostzejskie gubernii). Terms related to modern name ''Baltic'' appear in ancient texts, but had fallen into disuse until reappearing as the adjective in German, from which it was adopted in other languages. During the 19th century, ''Baltic'' started to supersede as the name for the region. Officially, its Russian equivalent () was first used in 1859. This change was a result of the
Baltic German Baltic Germans (german: Deutsch-Balten or , later ) were Germans, ethnic German inhabitants of the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea, in what today are Estonia and Latvia. Since their coerced resettlement in 1939, Baltic Germans have markedly ...
elite adopting terms derived from to refer to themselves. The term ''Baltic countries'' (or ''lands'', or ''states'') was, until the early 20th century, used in the context of countries neighbouring the : Sweden and Denmark, sometimes also Germany and the Russian Empire. With the advent of Foreningen Norden (the Nordic Associations), the term was no longer used for Sweden and Denmark. After
World War I World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll, one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe, the Russian Empire, ...

World War I
, the new sovereign states that emerged on the east coast of the Baltic Sea –
Estonia Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe, Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, sea across from Sweden, to ...

Estonia
, , , and
Finland Finland ( fi, Suomi ; sv, Finland ), officially the Republic of Finland (; ), is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the northwest, Norway to the north, and Russia Russia (, , ), or the Ru ...

Finland
– became known as the ''Baltic states''. Since
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
the term has typically been used to group the three countries Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.


Geography


Nature

File:Pine forest in Estonia.jpg, Forests cover over half the landmass of Estonia File:Ergeljuklintis424aug037qg.jpg, Devonian sandstone cliffs in
Gauja National Park __NOTOC__ Gauja National Park ( lv, Gaujas nacionālais parks) in Vidzeme is the largest national park in Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ; ltg, Latveja; liv, Leţmō), officially the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, ...
, Latvia's largest and oldest national park File:Jägala Juga (Jägalafallet).JPG, Jägala waterfall is the highest natural waterfall in Estonia File:Kauno mariu pakrante.jpg, Gastilionys cliffs in Kauno Marios Regional Park near
Kaunas Kaunas (; ; also see other names) is the second-largest city A city is a human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social S ...
File:Žemaitėjė nug Bėliuoniu pėliekalnė 2.JPG, View from the Bilioniai forthill in Lithuania File:Nida sand dunes (14573723178).jpg, Sand dunes of the
Curonian Spit The Curonian (Courish) Spit ( lt, Kuršių nerija; russian: Ку́ршская коса́ (Kurshskaya kosa); german: Kurische Nehrung, ; lv, Kuršu kāpas) is a long, thin, curved sand-dune Spit (landform), spit that separates the Curonian Lagoo ...
near Nida, which are the highest drifting sand dunes in Europe (
UNESCO World Heritage Site A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the UNESCO, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNES ...
).


Current leaders

File:Alar Karis December 2021 (3) (cropped).jpg,
Estonia Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe, Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, sea across from Sweden, to ...

Estonia

Alar Karis Alar Karis (; born 26 March 1958) is an Estonian Molecular genetics, molecular geneticist, Developmental biology, developmental biologist, civil servant and politician who, since 11 October 2021, has served as the sixth President of Estonia. P ...

President of Estonia The president of the Republic of Estonia ( et, Eesti Vabariigi President) is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110–11 " ...
File:Sergio Mattarella and Latvian President Levits at the 16th Arraiolos meeting (2) (cropped).jpg,
Egils Levits Egils Levits (born 30 June 1955) is a Latvian politician, lawyer, Political science, political scientist and jurist who has served as the tenth president of Latvia since 8 July 2019. He was a List of members of the European Court of Justice, memb ...

President of Latvia The president of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Valsts prezidents ) is head of state and commander-in-chief of the Latvian National Armed Forces, National Armed Forces of the Latvia, Republic of Latvia. The term of office is four years. Before 1999, it w ...
File:Gitanas Nauseda crop.png,
Gitanas Nausėda
President of Lithuania The President of the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublikos Prezidentas) is the head of state of Lithuania. The officeholder has been Gitanas Nausėda since 12 July 2019. Powers The president has somewhat more executive authority tha ...
File:Kaja Kallas (cropped).jpg,
Estonia Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe, Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland across from Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, sea across from Sweden, to ...

Estonia

Kaja Kallas Kaja Kallas (; born 18 June 1977) is an Estonian politician who has been serving as the prime minister of Estonia since 2021. The leader of the Estonian Reform Party, Reform Party since 2018, she was a Riigikogu, Member of Parliament from 2019 ...

Prime Minister of Estonia The Prime Minister of Estonia (Estonian language, Estonian: ''peaminister'') is the head of government of the Republic of Estonia. The prime minister is nominated by the President of Estonia, president after appropriate consultations with the p ...
File:Krišjānis Kariņš 2019 (cropped).jpg,
Krišjānis Kariņš
Prime Minister of Latvia The prime minister of Latvia ( lv, ministru prezidents) is the most powerful member of the Government of Latvia, who presides over the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers. The officeholder is nominated by the president of Latvia, but must be able to obta ...
File:Ingrida Simonyte 2019 crop 2.jpg,
Ingrida Šimonytė
Prime Minister of Lithuania


General statistics

All three
unitary Unitary may refer to: Mathematics * Unitary divisor * Unitary element * Unitary group * Unitary matrix * Unitary morphism * Unitary operator * Unitary transformation * Unitary representation * Unitarity (physics) * E-unitary inverse semigroup, ''E ...
republic A republic () is a "sovereign state, state in which Power (social and political), power rests with the people or their Representative democracy, representatives; specifically a state without a monarchy" and also a "government, or system of gov ...
s, which simultaneously joined the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational union, supranational political union, political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe, Europe. The union has a total area of ...

European Union
on 1 May 2004, share EET/
EEST Eastern European Summer Time (EEST) is one of the names of the UTC+03:00 time zone, which is 3 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time. It is used as a summer daylight saving time in some Europe, European and Middle East, Middle Eastern countri ...
time zone schedules and the
euro The euro (currency symbol, symbol: euro sign, €; ISO 4217, code: EUR) is the official currency of 19 out of the Member state of the European Union, member states of the European Union (EU). This group of states is known as the eurozone o ...
currency.


See also

* Ethnic cleansing of the Baltics: ** Soviet deportation from the Baltics in 1941 ** Soviet deportation from the Baltics in 1949 ** Soviet deportations from Estonia ** Soviet deportations from Latvia ** Soviet deportations from Lithuania


Notes


References


Further reading

* * * Clerc, Louis; Glover, Nikolas; Jordan, Paul, eds. ''Histories of Public Diplomacy and Nation Branding in the Nordic and Baltic Countries: Representing the Periphery'' (Leiden: Brill Nijhoff, 2015). 348 pp. . for an online book review se
online review
* * * * * * * Malowist, M. “The Economic and Social Development of the Baltic Countries from the Fifteenth to the Seventeenth Centuries.” ''Economic History Review'' 12#2 1959, pp. 177–189
online
* * * * * * * * Palmer, Alan. ''The Baltic: A new history of the region and its people'' (New York: Overlook Press, 2006; published in London with the title '' Northern shores: a history of the Baltic Sea and its peoples'' (John Murray, 2006)) * * Vilkauskaite, Dovile O. "From Empire to Independence: The Curious Case of the Baltic States 1917-1922." (thesis, University of Connecticut, 2013)
online
Bibliography pp 70 – 75. *


International peer-reviewed media

* On the Boundary of Two Worlds: Identity, Freedom, and Moral Imagination in the Baltics (book series) * '' Journal of Baltic Studies'', journal of the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (AABS)
Lituanus
a journal dedicated to Lithuanian and Baltic art, history, language, literature and related cultural topics
The Baltic Course
International Internet Magazine. Analysis and background information on Baltic markets
Baltic Reports
, English-language daily news website that covers all three Baltic states
The Baltic Review
the independent newspaper from the Baltics
The Baltic Times
an independent weekly newspaper that covers the latest political, economic, business, and cultural events in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
The Baltics Today
news about The Baltics


External links




vifanord
– a digital library that provides scientific information on the Nordic and Baltic countries
Baltic states
– The article about Baltic states on Encyclopædia Britannica. * Richter, Klaus
Baltic States and Finland
in


Official statistics of the Baltic states


Statistics Estonia

Statistics Latvia

Statistics Lithuania
{{Authority control States Geography of Eastern Europe Geography of Northern Europe Regions of Europe Regions of Eurasia Bottom-up regional groups within the European Union