Tallinn is the largest city of Estonia, and also serves as its capital. Located on the northern coast in Harju County on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, Tallinn’s population in 2019 is estimated at 434,500.
From the 13th century until 1918 (and again during the Nazi occupation of Estonia from 1941 until 1944) the city was known as Reval.
According to data gathered from the 2017 Estonian census, the nationality and ethnic groups of Tallinn break down as follows.
- 51.21% Estonian
- 36.68% Russian
- 2.89% Ukranian
- 1.34% Belarus
- 0.52% Finnish
- 0.34% Jewish
- 0.24% Tatar
- 0.18% Polish
- 0.18% Latvian
- 0.16% German
- 2.19% unknown
The official spoken language in Talinn is Estonian. In 2011, half of citizens spoke Estonian as their native language, while 46.7% spoke Russian. Other languages spoken in Tallinn are Finnish, Belarusian and Ukranian.
According to figures released by Eurostat, Tallinn in 2004 had one of the largest demographics of non-EU nationals of all the EU member states’ capital cities, with Russians forming 37% of the populous. Ethnic Estonians made up around 55% of the population.
Archeological evidence shows the area of Tallinn was occupied going back about 5,000 years. The first fortress was built in Tallinn around the year 1050.
Tallinn was originally a port, thriving from trade between Scandinavia and Russia. The Teutonic Knights and the Kingdom of Denmark began to expand into Estonia during the Northern Crusades in 1200s and imposed Christianity on the locals. In 1219, Danish rule in Tallinn and the rest of Northern Estonia began.
The city of Reval, as it was then known, changed hands various times between the Teutonic Knights, Sweden, and eventually the German Empire early in the 19th century. In 1920, Soviet Russia acknowledged the independence of the Estonian Republic, and Reval, now known as Tallinn, became the capital city of independent Estonia.
This was not to last, as with the breakout of WWII, Estonia acceded to the Soviet Union, and was later occupied by Nazi Germany. After the Nazis retreated in 1944, Estonia was annexed by the USSR.
1991 saw Estonia once again established as an independent democratic state, returning Tallinn to its position as the capital.
Records go back as far as 1372, and show Tallinn, then Reval, with a population of 3,250. 400 years later, in 1772, this had slightly more than doubled to 7,000.
Growth continued steadily over the following 200 or so years, until the city started to see a decline at the start of the 1990s. Between 1989 and 2000, the population saw a decrease of almost 80,000, going from 479,000 to 400,000.
The population has continued to steadily grow since then, and today sits at 434,500 people.