Counties (Estonian : maakond, plural maakonnad) are the state administrative subdivisions of Estonia. Estonian territory is composed of 15 counties, including 13 on the mainland and 2 on islands. County governments (maavalitsus) were abolished at the end of 2017, with their duties split between state authorities and local governments, and nowadays counties have no noteworthy independent competences. Counties are composed of municipalities of two types: urban municipalities (towns, linnad) and rural municipalities (parishes, vallad), which are by law required to cooperate in development of their county.
Population figures as of 2023.The sum total of the figures in the table is 42,644 km2, of which the land area is 42,388 km2, so that 256 km2 of water is included in the figures.
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In the first centuries AD,[ citation needed ] political and administrative subdivisions began to emerge in Estonia. Two larger subdivisions appeared: the parish (kihelkond) and the county (maakond). The parish consisted of several villages. Nearly all parishes had at least one fortress. The defence of the local area was directed by the highest official, the parish elder. The county was composed of several parishes, also headed by an elder. By the 13th century the following major counties had developed in Estonia: Saaremaa (Osilia), Läänemaa (Rotalia or Maritima), Harjumaa (Harria), Rävala (Revalia), Virumaa (Vironia), Järvamaa (Jervia), Sakala (Saccala), and Ugandi (Ugaunia). Additionally there were several smaller elderships in central Estonia where danger of war was smaller – Vaiga, Mõhu, Nurmekund and Alempois. The exact number and borders of some elderships are disputed.
The first documented mentioning of Estonian political and administrative subdivisions comes from the Chronicle of Henry of Livonia, written in the 13th century during the Northern Crusades.
The autonomy of the Estonian counties and parishes ended after conquered and divided between Denmark, Livonian Order, Bishopric of Dorpat and Bishopric of Ösel-Wiek. The name of Rävala became Reval, replacing the name of an Estonian town Lindanisse, later Tallinn. Ugandi, Sakala and the smaller elderships disappeared from common usage.
In the 1580s, after the Livonian war as Sweden had conquered Northern Estonia, Harju, Järva, Lääne and Viru counties were officially formed there. Southern Estonia, which belonged to Poland 1582–1625, was divided into voivodships of Pärnu and Tartu; the island of Saaremaa belonged to Denmark until 1645. They all became counties as they went under Swedish rule.
This administrative system mostly remained as Estonia went under Russian rule due to the Great Northern War, ending circa 1721. In 1793 were formed Võru County in the south of Tartumaa, Viljandi County between Tartu and Pärnu counties, and Paldiski County in the west of Harjumaa. In 1796 Paldiski County was joined with Harjumaa again. Until 1888 Võrumaa and Viljandimaa were not wholly independent from Tartumaa and Pärnumaa, respectively.
Several changes were made to the borders of counties after Estonia became independent, most notably the formation of Valga County (from parts of Võru, Tartu and Viljandi counties) and Petseri County (area acquired from Russia with the 1920 Tartu peace treaty).
During Soviet rule, Petseri County became a part of Russia in 1945. Hiiumaa seceded from Läänemaa in 1946, Jõgevamaa from Tartumaa in 1949 and Jõhvimaa (modern Ida-Virumaa) from Virumaa in 1949. Counties were completely dissolved in 1950 as Estonian SSR was divided into raions (rajoonid) and (until 1953) oblasts. Until the 1960s, the borders of raions often changed until 15 of them were left. Out of them, Põlva and Rapla regions became separate, while the others were roughly corresponding to the pre-1950 counties.
Counties were re-established on 1 January 1990 in the borders of the Soviet-era raions. Due to the numerous differences between the current and historical (pre-1940) layouts, the historical borders are still used in ethnology, better representing cultural and linguistic differences.
County governments were abolished at the end of 2017, with their duties split between state authorities and local governments. Nowadays counties have no noteworthy independent competences, but local governments are required by law required to work together in developing their county.
A municipality is the smallest administrative subdivision of Estonia. Each municipality is a unit of self-government with its representative and executive bodies. The municipalities in Estonia cover the entire territory of the country.
Harju County, is one of the fifteen counties of Estonia. It is situated in Northern Estonia, on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, and borders Lääne-Viru County to the east, Järva County to the southeast, Rapla County to the south, and Lääne County to the southwest. The capital and largest city of Estonia, Tallinn, is situated in Harju County. Harju County is the largest county in Estonia in terms of population, as almost half (45%) of the Estonia's population lives in Harju County.
Ida-Viru County is one of 15 counties of Estonia. It is the most north-eastern part of the country. The county contains large deposits of oil shale - the main mineral mined in Estonia. Oil shale is used in the production of shale oil and in thermal power plants. The capital of the county is the town of Jõhvi which is administratively united with the Jõhvi Parish; nevertheless, Narva is the largest town in the county in terms of population and at the same time the third largest city in Estonia after Tallinn and Tartu.
Järva County is one of 15 counties of Estonia. It is situated in the central part of the country and borders Lääne-Viru County to the east, Jõgeva County to the south-east, Viljandi County to the south, Pärnu County to the south-west, Rapla County to the west, and Harju County to the north. In January 2009, Järva County had a population of 29,940 – constituting 2.7% of the total population in Estonia.
Saare County is one of 15 counties of Estonia. It consists of Saaremaa, the largest island of Estonia, and several smaller islands near it, most notably Muhu, Ruhnu, Abruka and Vilsandi. The county borders Lääne County to the east, Hiiu County to the north, and Latvia to the south. In 2022 Saare County had a population of 31,292, which was 2.4% of the population of Estonia.
Lääne County is one of the 15 counties of Estonia. It is located in western Estonia and borders the Baltic Sea to the north, Harju County to the north-east, Rapla County to the east, Pärnu County to the south, and the island counties of Saare and Hiiu to the west. In January 2009 Lääne County had a population of 23,810 – constituting 2.0% of the total population in Estonia.
Jõgeva County is one of 15 counties of Estonia. It is situated in eastern part of the country and borders Ida-Viru County to the north-east, Lake Peipus to the east, Tartu County to the south, Viljandi County to the south-west, Järva County to the north-west and Lääne-Viru County to the north.
Valga County is a first-level administrative unit and one of 15 counties of Estonia. It comprises the former area of Valga District. The present-day county was created on 1 January 1990. The capital and largest town of Valga County is Valga, followed by Tõrva and Otepää. It is situated in the southern part of the country and borders Põlva and Võru County to the east, Latvia to the south and west, and Viljandi and Tartu County to the north. 27,650 people live in Valga County as of 2022.
Ugandi was an independent county between the east coast of Lake Võrtsjärv and west coast of Lake Pskov, bordered by Vaiga, Mõhu, Nurmekund, Sakala, Tālava, and The Principality of Pskov. Ugandi had an area of approximately 3000 hides. Ugandi corresponded roughly to the present Estonia's territory of Võru County, Põlva County and half of Tartu County and Valga County, as well as Petseri County.
The coats of arms of the 15 counties of Estonia are presented below.
Ancient Estonia refers to a period covering History of Estonia from the middle of the 8th millennium BC until the conquest and subjugation of the local Finnic tribes in the first quarter of the 13th century during the Teutonic and Danish Northern Crusades.
The Estonian Declaration of Independence, also known as the Manifesto to the Peoples of Estonia, is the founding act which established the independent democratic Republic of Estonia on 24 February 1918. Since then the 24 February has been celebrated as the Estonian Independence Day, the national day of Estonia.
Revel Governorate, also known as Tallinn Governorate, was an administrative division of the Russian Empire from 1719 to 1783.
The Omakaitse was a militia organisation in Estonia. It was founded in 1917 following the Russian Revolution. On the eve of the occupation of Estonia by the German Empire, the Omakaitse units took over major towns in the country allowing the Salvation Committee of the Estonian Provincial Assembly to proclaim the independence of Estonia. After the German Occupation the Omakaitse became outlawed.
The Estonian Border Guard was the national security agency responsible for the border security of Estonia. It was subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior. The Border Guard also assisted with Search and Rescue missions. In 2010, the organization was superseded by the Police and Border Guard Board.
The following is an alphabetical list of articles related to the Republic of Estonia.
The 2nd Infantry Brigade is an infantry brigade of the Estonian Land Forces. It is the primary military unit in Southern Estonia. The brigade headquarters is currently based at Sirgu village, Luunja Parish, Tartu County. The brigade is tasked with planning and organizing military operations, planning and organizing mobilization, ensuring the readiness and support of its subordinate units, preparing wartime reserve units and their formation, organizing the training and participation in international military operations.
Anton Lembit Soans was an Estonian architect, urban planner and lecturer. He was one of the founding members of the Estonian Architects Union.
The 2021–22 Estonian Cup was the 32st season of the Estonian main domestic football knockout tournament. Paide Linnameeskond won their first title and qualified for the 2022–23 UEFA Europa Conference League.