Estonia is a low, flat country covering 45,226 square kilometers. It is about the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined. Estonia has a long, shallow coastline (1,393 kilometers) along the Baltic Sea, with 1,520 islands dotting the shore. The two largest islands are Saaremaa (literally, island land), at 2,673 square kilometers, and Hiiumaa, at 989 square kilometers. The two islands are favorite Estonian vacation spots. The country's highest point, Suur Munamägi (Egg Mountain), is in the hilly southeast and reaches 318 meters above sea level. Estonia is covered by about 1.8 million hectares of forest. Arable land amounts to about 926,000 hectares. Meadows cover about 252,000 hectares, and pastureland covers about 181,000 hectares. There are more than 1,400 natural and artificial lakes in Estonia. The largest of them, Lake Peipsi (3,555 square kilometers), forms much of the border between Estonia and Russia. Located in central Estonia, Võrtsjärv is the second-largest lake (270 square kilometers). The Narva and Emajõgi are among the most important of the country's many rivers.
Estonia has a temperate climate, with four seasons of near-equal length. Average temperatures range from 16.3°C on the Baltic islands to 17.1°C inland in July, the warmest month, and from -3.5°C on the Baltic islands to -7.6°C inland in February, the coldest month. Precipitation averages 568 millimeters per year and is heaviest in late summer.
Estonia's land border with Latvia runs 267 kilometers; the Russian border runs 290 kilometers. From 1920 to 1945, Estonia's border with Russia, set by the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty, extended beyond the Narva River in the northeast and beyond the town of Pechory (Petseri) in the southeast (see fig. 2). This territory, amounting to some 2,300 square kilometers, was incorporated into Russia by Stalin at the end of World War II. Estonia is now disputing that territorial loss (see Relations with Russia, this ch.).
Data as of January 1995