Nr. 12-2011 Published monthly by:
The Swedish Chamber of Commerce
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The Minorities’ Days - There are 142 ethnic minorities living in Estonia, said the Estonian Union of National Minorities as The Minorities’ Days were celebrated at Tallinn’s Town Hall Square during a recent September weekend.

As per January 1st last year, about 420 000 people, or 31,4% of Estonia’s population belonged to other ethnic groups than Estonians according to estonia.eu, with Russians (25,5%), Ukrainians (2,1%) and Belarussians (1,2%) being the largest minority groups. The Swedish minority in Estonia is included under “Others” in this 2010 census being 0,68% of the population.

Different nationalities have always lived in Estonia and in 1925 the Estonian Parliament passed a Law on Cultural Autonomy for National Minorities. It was the first such law in Europe and it was internationally regarded as very progressive. Before World War II, Estonia was a relatively homogeneous society – national minorities constituted about 12% of the population. The war and the deportations during the occupation changed the demography considerably which this statistics show:

Nationality Census of 1934 Census of 1989 Census of 2000
Estonians 992 520 88,1% 963 281 61,5% 930 219 67,9%
Russians 92 656 8,2% 474 834 30,3% 351 178 25,6%
Ukrainians 92 0,008% 48 271 3,083% 29 012 2,1%
Belarussians *) ‘) 27 711 1,769% 17 241 1,3%
Swedes 7 641 0,7% 297 0,019% 300 0,021%
Others 33 504 2,992% 51 268 3,329% 42 102 3,079%
Total population 1 126 413 100% 1 565 662 100% 1 370 052 100%
*) Included in “Others”
Source: estonia.eu

Following Estonia’s restored independence in 1991, the 1925 Law on Cultural Autonomy for National Minorities became valid again. The law aims to guarantee opportunities for the preservation of the minorities’ language and cultural distinctiveness, above all through the organization of education and social activities in their mother tongue. The Estonian-Swedes established their cultural autonomy in 2007 with Kulturrådet för den Svenska Minoriteten i Estland (Rootsi Vähemusrahvuse Kultuurinõukogu Eestis) as its autonomy organization.

As for the Swedish minority, the Minorities’ Days were not only celebrated at Tallinn’s Town Hall Square.

- We had an extensive program during the weekend in the Swedish S:t Michael’s Church at Rüütli 9 in Tallinn’s old town, says Reverend Patrik Göransson. The church and the church’s museum were open, and we had both concerts and worships. All in all we had 1 540 persons visiting us during the weekend. An impressive number including not only Estonian-Swedes but also Swedish-Estonians, Swedes living in or visiting Estonia, Estonians as well as other nationalities.

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The Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Estonia - Rootsi Kaubanduskoda Eestis MTÜ | Reg: 80010024
Rüütli 9 | 10130 Tallinn | Estonia – Eesti | Tel: (+372) 501 9813 | info[at]swedishchamber.ee
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