Estonia, the northernmost of the Baltic states is very linked to the surrounding regions. It's language is similar to Finnish and there is an important Russian minority. It has historic ties linking it to all its neighbours as well as to Germany and to Sweden. It can be considered as one of the ex-soviet countries that has best adapted to the post-soviet conditions.
During the viking era, it was the home of the Estonian vikings, the Island of Saaremaa in particular was a viking stronghold and it is there that was uncovered the second largest viking trove in the Baltic. So powerful were the Estonian Vikings that they became a threat to Baltic trade. As the trading centre of the Baltic, the Danish crown was particularly concerned and put together fleets to attack Estonia throughout the 12th Century. The capital of what then became Danish Estonia was set up in Tallinn where they built a fortress. In fact the name Tallinn seemingly derives from Taani Linna which means Danish town or castle. During the 17th Century, the territory was under Swedish occupation.
Estonian language is an Ularic language closely related o Finnish. It is one of the few languages spoken in Europe which does not belong to the Indo-European family of languages. Interestingly, it is one of the least religious countries in the world. In 2005 a Eurobarometer poll showed that only 16% of people in Estonia profess a belief in a god, the lowest in the EU.
The Iron Curtain Trail follows the Estonian national route 1 around the Baltic coast, apart from a 'shortcut' on the east coast, avoiding the islands and instead following national route 11 through the Matsalu nature reserve. It takes in beautiful scenery in the Lahemaa National Park, and the UNESCO-listed Old Town of Tallinn. If you have time an optional and beautiful detour to the islands is possible via route 1/EuroVelo 10.
The landscape is varied. From the limestone cliffs of the northern coast, the pine forests and the bogs of Laheema National Park to the many islands and splintered coastline of the west from which you can find meandering sheep and is home to local marine wildlife. All this makes for a thoroughly interesting ride!