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When the ice from the last glacial era melted away, the exposed lands here turned green and fertile, wildlife returned in large numbers, and early man arrived to hunt for food in a land now known as Estonia.
The exact origin of the name Estonia is still disputed, however, the oldest known settlement in Estonia is the Pulli settlement, which according to radiocarbon dating was settled around 11,000 years ago.
Following the cultural changes of the Bronze Age and Iron Age, and the land grabs and turmoil of the Middle Ages, Estonia entered into a long period of total Swedish control, beginning in 1629.
The population expanded into the mid-17th century until the European Plague
and a devastating famine came calling. Death was on every corner and Estonia's population was decimated.
had long-contested Swedish
control over this land along the Baltic Sea
, and from 1700-1721 the Great Northern War raged. In the end Russia was the victor and Estonia was now in their hands.
And like all peoples put under the thumb of a foreign power, nationalism was on the front burner as Estonia began to develop its own identity, including its language and cultural traditions.
Over time Estonian nationalism took on more political tones, with more and more Estonians calling for greater autonomy and complete independence from Russia.
Then, in a stroke of luck, the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution of 1917 overthrew the Russian Provisional Government and the powers that be in Estonia (seeing an opening) issued a Declaration of Independence in 1918.
At that time the Estonian army had only 13,000 men to face the Soviets. Well, that small army stopped the Red Army's advance more than once, and after winning their "War of Independence" a treaty was signed and endorsed by Finland, Poland and by the Western Allies.
This new country of Estonia remained independent for twenty-two years, but political unrest eventually followed and Konstantin Pats, an influential politician of the day, organized a coup d'etat and created his own regime.
This unelected authoritarian government, with political power concentrated with Pats, established a new constitution in 1938, after which he became the first President of Estonia.
As World War II approached, the German-Soviet powerbase (Stalin and Hitler) in an effort to control the continent literally divided eastern Europe
, and the Soviets had their greedy eye on Estonia.