The Republic of Estonia is the northernmost of the Baltic states, located in northeastern Europe bordered by Lake Peipus, Russia, Latvia, the Gulf of Finland. The country consists of the mainland, the Saaremaa and Hiiumaa islands, and some other 2,000 islands and islets dotting the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. In 1940, the country became of the constituent republics of the USSR until 1991, when it declared independence along with other Baltic states.
Estonia entered the European Union in 2004 and possesses a modern market-driven economy. Its per capita income is among the higher levels in the Baltic region and even in Central Europe. The country profits from established electronics and telecommunications sectors along with strong ties with other leading economies such as Finland, Germany, and Sweden. In 2008, Estonia was impacted by the global recession which dropped its economy. In 2009, the country’s GDP plunged about 14% and is one of the world’s highest contraction rates. It began to recover in 2010 with the growing exports to Sweden and Finland. However, its unemployment rate is still above 17%.
Prior to the euro, the official currency of Estonia was the kroon. It was introduced in 1928 and in use until 1940 when the country joined the USSR. The country was the first former Soviet member state to issue its own currency with the reintroduction of the kroon in 1992, replacing the Soviet ruble. The kroon is derived from the Latin term for the crown, “corona” and was subdivided into 100 cents. Estonian kroon banknotes issued by the Bank of Estonia in 1992 featured significant personalities in the fields of education, sports, science, arts, and literature. These paper bills are equipped with holographic security features, various security threads, portrait watermarks with denominations in electrotype, and tactile Morse code. In 2011, the kroon was replaced by the euro.