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The Baltic states ( et, Balti riigid, Baltimaad; lv, Baltijas valstis; lt, Baltijos valstybės), also known as the Baltic countries, Baltic republics, Baltic nations, or simply the Baltics, is a geopolitical term, typically used to group the three sovereign states on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea: Estonia,
Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ), officially known as the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is one of the Baltic states; and is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lith ...

Latvia
, and
Lithuania Lithuania ( ; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. It is one of the Baltic states, and lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the sout ...
. The term is not used in the context of cultural areas, national identity, or
language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed of glyphs to inscribe the original soun ...

language
, because while the majority of people in
Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ), officially known as the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is one of the Baltic states; and is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lith ...

Latvia
and
Lithuania Lithuania ( ; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. It is one of the Baltic states, and lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the sout ...
are Baltic people, the majority in Estonia are
Finnic
Finnic
. The three countries do not form an official union, but engage in intergovernmental and parliamentary cooperation. The most important areas of cooperation among the three countries are foreign and security policy, defence, energy, and transportation. All three countries are members of NATO, the
eurozone
eurozone
, 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 economic organisation with 37 member c ...

OECD
, and the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million ...
. Estonia is also a non-permanent member of the
United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
. All three are classified as high-income economies by the World Bank and maintain a very high Human Development Index.


Etymology

The term ''Baltic'' stems from the name of the Baltic Sea – a hydronym dating back to the 3rd century B.C. (Eratosthenes, Erastothenes mentioned in Ancient Greek) and earlier. Although there are several theories about its origin, most ultimately trace it to the Proto-Indo-European language, Indo-European root ''*bhel'' meaning 'white, fair'. This meaning is retained in modern Baltic languages, 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, the Baltic Sea has appeared on maps in Germanic languages 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, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The term was also used historically to refer to Dominions of Sweden, Baltic Dominions of the Swedish Empire ( sv, Östersjöprovinserna) and, subsequently, the Baltic governorates of the Russian Empire (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 elite adopting terms derived from to refer to themselves. The term ''Baltic states'' was, until the early 20th century, used in the context of countries neighbouring the Baltic Sea: 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, the new sovereign states that emerged on the east coast of the Baltic Sea – Estonia,
Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ), officially known as the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is one of the Baltic states; and is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lith ...

Latvia
,
Lithuania Lithuania ( ; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. It is one of the Baltic states, and lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the sout ...
, and Finland – became known as the ''Baltic states''.


History


Summary

After the World War I, 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,
Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ), officially known as the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is one of the Baltic states; and is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lith ...

Latvia
and
Lithuania Lithuania ( ; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. It is one of the Baltic states, and lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the sout ...
, and originally also included Finland, which later became grouped among the Nordic countries. The areas of the Baltic states have seen different regional and imperial affiliations during their existence. They were first included under the same political entity when the Russian Empire expanded in the 18th century. The territories of Estonia and Latvia were joined into the Russian Empire at the end of the Great Northern War in 1721, while the territory of Lithuania came under the Russian rule after the Third Partition of Poland in 1795. The territories of the Baltic states were ruled by the Russian Empire until the end of the World War I when Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania gained their sovereignty. They remained independent until the Occupation of the Baltic states, occupation and annexation by the Soviet Union and briefly, Nazi Germany during World War II before the Soviets regained control of the Baltic states. Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Soviet rule ended when the three countries declared the occupation illegal and culminated with the restoration of independence to their pre-war status in 1990–1991 when the Revolutions of 1989, communist rule collapsed in Eastern Europe.


Wars of Independence

As World War I came to a close, Act of Independence of Lithuania, Lithuania declared independence and Latvian Provisional Government, Latvia formed a provisional government. Estonia had already Autonomous Governorate of Estonia, obtained autonomy from tsarist Russia in 1917, but was subsequently occupied by the German Empire; they fought Estonian War of Independence, an independence war against Soviet Russia and Baltic nobility before gaining true independence History of Estonia (1920–39), from 1920 to 1939. Latvia and Lithuanians followed a similar process, until the Latvian War of Independence and Lithuanian Wars of Independence were extinguished in 1920.


The first period of independence, 1918–1939

During the interwar period 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 Clemenceau considered a strategic Cordon sanitaire (politics), cordon sanitaire, the entire territory from Finland in the north to Romania in the south, standing between Western Europe and potential Bolshevik territorial ambitions. Prior to World War II Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania each experienced an authoritarian head of state who had come to power after a bloodless coup: Antanas Smetona in Lithuania (1926 Lithuanian coup d'état, December 1926), Konstantin Päts in Estonia (Era of Silence, March 1934), and Kārlis Ulmanis in Latvia (1934 Latvian coup d'état, May 1934). Some note that the events in Lithuania differed from its two more northerly neighbors, 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 Finnish Civil War, 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 Kārlis Ulmanis#Later assessments, later assessments of Kārlis Ulmanis.


Soviet and German occupations

In accordance with a secret protocol within the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 that divided Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence, the Red Army, Soviet Army Soviet invasion of Poland, entered eastern Poland in September 1939, and then coerced Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania into mutual assistance treaties which granted them the right to establish military bases in these countries. In June 1940, the Red Army Occupation of the Baltic states, occupied all of the territory of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and installed new, pro-Soviet governments in all three countries. Following elections (in which only pro-communist candidates were allowed to run), the newly elected parliaments of the three countries formally applied to join the Soviet Union in August 1940 and were incorporated into it as the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic, Estonian, Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic, Latvian, and Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republics. Repressions, executions and mass deportations followed after that in the Baltics. The Soviet Union attempted to Sovietization, 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 Baltic to remote locations in the Soviet Union. In addition, at least 75,000 were sent to Gulags. 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 control of the Baltic states was interrupted by Nazi Germany, Nazi German invasion of this region in 1941. Initially, many Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians considered the Germans as liberators. The Baltic countries hoped for the restoration of independence, but instead the Germans established a civil administration, known as the ''Reichskommissariat Ostland''. During the occupation the Germans carried out Nazi ghettos, ghettoisations and mass killings of the countries' Jewish populations. Over 190,000 Lithuanian Jews, nearly 95% of Lithuania's pre-war Jewish community, and 66,000 Latvian Jews were murdered. The German occupation lasted until late 1944 (in Courland, 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 and United Kingdom, Britain (see Yalta Conference and Potsdam Agreement). 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 partisan (military), partisans, known colloquially as the Forest Brothers, Latvian national partisans, and Lithuanian partisans, 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 Occupation of the Baltic states, Soviet occupation by the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, NATO, 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. 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 against Soviet rule, known as the Singing revolution, began. On 23 August 1989, the Baltic Way, a two-million-strong human chain, stretched for 600 km from Tallinn to Vilnius. In the wake of this campaign, Mikhail Gorbachev, 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, setting a precedent for the other Soviet republics to secede from the USSR. 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 Parliamentary system, parliamentary democracies, with unicameral parliaments elected by popular vote for four-year terms: Riigikogu in Estonia, Saeima in Latvia and Seimas 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 members of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million ...
(EU) and the NATO, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (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 occupation of the Baltic states (1940), Soviet domination over the Baltic nations during the Cold War 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 Australian Labor Party, Labor government of Australia did recognize Soviet dominion, but this decision was reversed by the next Parliament of Australia, Australian Parliament. 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 Dissolution of the Soviet Union, restored their independence, integration with Western Europe became a major strategic goal. In 2002, the Baltic nations applied for membership of NATO and the EU. All three became NATO members on 29 March 2004, and joined the EU on 1 May 2004. The Baltic states are currently the only Post-Soviet states, former Soviet states to have joined either organization.


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 in 1992, and the EuroFaculty in 1993. Between 1994 and 2004, the Free trade areas in Europe#BAFTA, 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 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 Nordic council or Visegrad Four, Baltic cooperation is rather limited. Possible explanations include the short history of restored sovereignty and fear of losing it again, along with an orientation toward Nordic countries and Baltic-Nordic cooperation in NB8, The Nordic-Baltic Eight. Estonia especially has attempted to construct a Nordic Estonia, Nordic identity for itself and denounced Baltic identity, despite still seeking to preserve close relationship with other countries in the region. All three countries are members of the New Hanseatic League, a group of Northern European countries in the EU formed to advocate a common fiscal position.


Current leaders

File:Vabariigi Presidendi ametisse astumise tseremoonia 2016, crop.jpg, Estonia
Kersti Kaljulaid
President of Estonia File:Egils Levits.jpg,
Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ), officially known as the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is one of the Baltic states; and is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lith ...

Latvia

Egils Levits
President of Latvia File:Gitanas Nauseda (cropped).png,
Lithuania Lithuania ( ; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. It is one of the Baltic states, and lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the sout ...

Gitanas Nausėda
President of Lithuania
File:RE Kaja Kallas (cropped).jpg, Estonia
Kaja Kallas
Prime Minister of Estonia File:Krišjānis Kariņš 2019 (cropped).jpg,
Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ), officially known as the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is one of the Baltic states; and is bordered by Estonia to the north, Lith ...

Latvia

Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš, Krišjānis Kariņš
Prime Minister of Latvia File:Ingrida Simonyte 2019 crop 2.jpg,
Lithuania Lithuania ( ; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. It is one of the Baltic states, and lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the sout ...

Ingrida Šimonytė
Prime Minister of Lithuania


Energy security of Baltic states

Usually the concept of Energy security and renewable technology, energy security 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.


Assessment

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, 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

Firstly, there is a major risk of energy supply disruption. Even if there are several electricity interconnectors that connect the area with electricity-rich states (Estlink, Estonia-Finland interconnector, LitPol Link, Lithuania-Poland interconnector, NordBalt, 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.


Economies

Economically, parallel with the political changes, and the democratic transition, – as a rule of law states – the 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 2004 enlargement of the European Union, 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 set stricter rules through national legislation by implementing the regulations and directives of the Sixpack, because the financial crisis was a shocking milestone. File:Baltic Queen Tallinn 2009-04-23.JPG, Tallink is the largest passenger shipping company in the Baltic sea region in Northern Europe. All three countries are members of the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million ...
, and the Eurozone. They are classified as high-income economy, high-income economies by the World Bank and maintain high Human Development Index. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are also members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD. Estonia adopted the Euro currency, euro in January 2011, Latvia in January 2014, and Lithuania in January 2015.


Culture


Ethnic groups

Estonians are Baltic Finns, Finnic people, together with the nearby Finland, Finns. The Latvians and Lithuanians, linguistically and culturally related to each other, are Balts, Baltic and Proto-Indo-Europeans, Indo-European people. The peoples in the Baltic states have together inhabited the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea 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 commonalities across 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 to the north and Catholicism to the south is the remnant of Swedish Empire, Swedish and Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Polish hegemony, respectively, with Russian Orthodox Church, Orthodox Christianity remaining the dominant faith 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 Commonwealth, Polish–Lithuanian, to German (Hanseatic League, Hansa and Holy Roman Empire), and before independence in the Russian sphere of influence. The Baltic states have a considerable Slavs, Slavic minority: in Latvia: 33.0% (including 25.4% Russians in Latvia, Russian, 3.3% Belarusians, Belarusian, 2.2% Ukrainians, Ukrainian, and 2.1% Polish language, Polish), in Estonia: 27.6% and in Lithuania: 12.2% (including 5.6% Poles in Lithuania, Polish and 4.5% Russians in Lithuania, 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 Baltic Republics. Today, ethnic Baltic Russians, Russian immigrants from the former Soviet Union and their descendants make up a sizable minority in the Baltic states, particularly in Latvia (about one-quarter of the total population and close to one-half in the capital Riga) and Estonia (one-quarter of the population). Because the three Baltic states were independent states prior to their Occupation of the Baltic states, occupation by the Soviet Union, there was a strong feeling of national identity (often labeled "bourgeois nationalism" by Soviets) 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 free will of peoples) in limits allowed by the Communist "internationalist" (but in effect pro-Russification) 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 Soviet Union.


Languages

The languages of Baltic nations belong to two distinct language families. The Latvian language, Latvian and Lithuanian language, Lithuanian languages belong to the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family and are the only extant (widely-recognized) members of the Baltic languages, Baltic language group (or more specifically, Eastern Baltic subgroup of Baltic). Latgalian language, Latgalian and Samogitian dialect, Samogitian are considered either separate languages or dialects of Latvian and Lithuanian, respectively. The Estonian language is a Finnic language, together with neighboring Finland's Finnish language. 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 language, Polish served a similar function in Lithuania. Numerous Swedish language, 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 of Aiboland, northern Estonia and the islands (though many fled to Sweden as the Soviet Union Baltic Offensive, invaded and Occupation of the Baltic states by the Soviet Union (1944), re-occupied Estonia in 1944). There is also significant proficiency in Finnish in Estonia owing to its closeness to the native Estonian and also the widespread practice of listening to Finnish broadcasts during the Soviet era. Russian also achieved significant usage, particularly in commerce. Russian was the most commonly studied foreign language at all levels of schooling during the Soviet era. Despite schooling available and administration conducted in local languages, Russian settlers were neither encouraged nor motivated to learn the official local languages, so knowledge of Russian became a practical necessity in daily life. Even to this day, the majority of the population of the Baltic states profess to be proficient in Russian, especially those who lived during Soviet rule. Meanwhile, the minority of Russian origin generally do not speak the national language. The question of their assimilation is a major factor in social and diplomatic affairs.


Sports

Basketball is a notable sport across the Baltic states. Teams from the three countries compete in the respective national championships and the Baltic Basketball League. The Lithuanian teams have been the strongest, with the BC Žalgiris winning the 1999 FIBA Euroleague. The Lithuania men's national basketball team has won the EuroBasket on three occasions and has claimed third place at the 2010 World Cup and three Olympic tournaments. Meanwhile, the Latvian national basketball team, Latvia men's national basketball team won the 1935 Eurobasket and finished second in 1939, but has performed poorly since the 1990s. Lithuania hosted the Eurobasket in 1939 and 2011, whereas Latvia was one of the hosts in 2015. The historic Lithuanian basketball team Kauno Žalgiris won the Euroleague in 1999. However, the Latvia women's national basketball team finished fourth at the 2007 Eurobasket. Ice hockey is also popular in Latvia. Dinamo Riga is the country's strongest hockey club, playing in the Kontinental Hockey League. The 2006 Men's World Ice Hockey Championships were held in Latvia. Association football is popular in the Baltic states, but the only appearance of a Baltic team in a major international competition was Latvia national football team, Latvia's qualification for UEFA Euro 2004, Euro 2004. The national teams of the three states have played in the Baltic Cup (football), Baltic Cup since 1928. Estonian and Soviet chess grandmaster Paul Keres was among the world's top players from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s. He narrowly missed a chance at a World Chess Championship match on five occasions. Estonian Markko Märtin was successful in the World Rally Championship in the early 2000s, where he got five wins and 18 podiums, as well as a third place in the 2004 World Rally Championship, 2004 drivers' championship. Ott Tänak of Estonia won the 2019 World Rally Championship. Latvian tennis player Jeļena Ostapenko won the 2017 French Open, another Latvian tennis player Ernests Gulbis was a semi-finalist at the 2010 Rome Masters and 2014 French Open.


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, Latvia's largest and oldest national park 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 near Nida, Lithuania, Nida, which are the highest drifting sand dunes in Europe (UNESCO World Heritage Site).


Statistics


General statistics

All three are Unitary state, Unitary republics, joined the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European Union, member states that are located primarily in Europe. Its members have a combined area of and an estimated total population of about 447million ...
on 1 May 2004, share Eastern European Time, EET/Eastern European Summer Time, EEST time zone schedules and euro currency.


Cities


See also


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 Baltic states, Baltic region, States Geography of Eastern Europe Geography of Northern Europe