World Facts

What Do the Colors and Symbols of the Flag of Estonia Mean?

The flag of Estonia first appeared in 1881 as a symbol of the student movement.

A Brief History of Estonia

Estonia is a European nation with a coastline on the Baltic Sea. The country is composed of a mainland and 2,222 islands, which cover a total area of 45,227 square km. Estonia has been inhabited since ancient times, and the earliest records of human habitation date back to 9000 BC. The early Estonians were pagans who later converted to Christianity during a 13th-century crusade. For centuries, the area that is now Estonia was ruled by several major European powers like the Danish, Swedish, Germans, and Russians. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Estonians wanted an independent land of their own, free of foreign rule. The struggle for independence began during this time, and Estonia was declared independent on February 24, 1918. However, this freedom was short-lived. During World War II, country was occupied by the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and later the Soviet Union again. The de facto independence of the country was again restored on August 20, 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union.

History of Estonia's Flag

The current flag of Estonia first appeared in 1881, when it was used as a symbol of the Estonian Students Society student in Tartu. The design was used as the country’s national flag on February 24, 1918, when the Estonian Declaration of Independence was issued, and then formally adopted as the national flag of Estonia on November 21, 1918. However, the flag was banned when the Soviet Union invaded Estonia in 1940, and replaced by the Estonian SSR flag. During the German occupation of Estonia, the country’s flag was recognized only as the ethnic flag of the people of the nation. Once more, under Soviet rule, the flag of Estonia was banned again. It was only after the Soviets retreated from Estonia that the flag was readopted as the national flag of the newly independent nation on August 7, 1990.

Flag Design

The current flag of modern-day independent Estonia is a tricolor of three horizontal bands equal in size. From top to bottom, the colors of the bands are blue, black, and white.

Symbolism

The color blue on the Estonian flag represents the sky, sea, and lakes of the country. According to some beliefs, the color also represents honesty. The color black on the flag symbolizes the sorrows that the people of the country had to experience for years, while the color white represents the country’s desire for freedom, as well as the snow that covers much of Estonia for a large part of the year.

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