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What Languages Are Spoken In Estonia?

Estonian, a Uralic language, is the official language of Estonia.

Official Language Of Estonia

Standard Estonian is the official language of Estonia. The language is an Uralic language and is completely distinct from the Indo-European languages spoken in neighboring Russia and Latvia. The Estonian language has several dialects. The North Estonian language is closer to the standard Estonian than the South Estonian. The latter has several dialects like the Võro, Tartu, and Mulgi.

Minority Languages Of Estonia

Russian

Russian is the most popular minority language spoken in Estonia. There are several towns in the country with large populations of ethnic Russians. In some places, the number of Russian speakers outnumbers the number of Estonian speakers. This is especially true in the northeast of the country like Narva.

German

In the past, the Baltic region hosted a significant population of Baltic Germans who constituted about 10% of the population of the region. These German-speaking people were an elite group in the region and played important roles in the culture, politics, military, and social life of the Baltics. However, after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed in 1939, there was a Nazi-Soviet population transfer where most of the Baltic Germans were resettled to other parts of Europe. Only a small population remained and today the descendants of these ethnic Germans constitute the German-speaking minority group in the country. Temporary residents from Germany also speak the German language in Estonia.

Swedish

The Estonian Swedes are a small Swedish-speaking minority group in Estonia. The Estonian Swedes arrived in the country at about the 13th and 14th centuries and mostly settled in the islands and coastal areas of northern and western Estonia. During the World War II, most of these ethnic Swedes fled Estonia to settle in their homeland. However, only a few chose to stay back and today this group constitutes the Swedish-speaking minority in Estonia.

Regional Languages Of Estonia

There are several dialects of the Estonian language that are spoken in different parts of Estonia. These are:

Võro

The Võro language is recognized as a dialect of Estonian belonging to the South Estonian dialect group. It is a Uralic language of the Finnic branch. Around 74,499 people speak Võro in Estonia. The Võro speaking people are mainly concentrated in south-eastern Estonia. Scattered speakers are also found in other parts of the country.

Seto

Seto is regarded as a dialect of the South Estonian group that is spoken by about 12,549 Estonians. The Seto speakers are mainly found in the Setomaa county of the country near the country’s border with Russia.

Mulgi and Tartu

Mulgi and Tartu are the two other regional languages of Estonia. According to the 2011 census, there are 9,698 The Mulgi language speakers and 4,109 Tartu language speakers in Estonia.

Foreign Languages Spoken In Estonia

Russian, English, and German are the three most popular foreign languages spoken in Estonia spoken by about 66%, 50%, and 22% of the population, respectively.

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