Estonia gained its independence from centuries of foreign rule at the end of World War I in 1918. The nation was subsequently forced to join the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1940, but again achieved independence when the union dissolved in 1991. Since that time, Estonia has steadily increased ties to the West, joining the European Union in 2004. By the 21st century, 69 percent of Estonians had become urbanized. Although the majority of the population is Estonian (67.9 percent), Russians (25.6 percent) are also well represented. Diversity reigns in religion, with Evangelical Lutherans (13.6) having a slight majority. With a per capita income of $18,800, Estonia is one of the richest countries in central Europe, in part because of an economy dependent on ...

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