A trip to the future … is it possible? Estonians claim so. If you have never heard about Estonia, you are missing out because the future is now. But how come you might not have heard of it?
That’s simply because Estonia is one of the least populous of all the European Union member states. Even though the country is the same size as the Netherlands, it has 17 times fewer inhabitants.
However, having to only manage 1.3 million people, Estonia has very quickly introduced new technology and implemented it country-wide while remaining a Green, sustainable country.
No. 5 – Estonia is a forest nation
Estonians love their forests.
For such an advanced country, it is impressive to see how much we care about the nature. In fact, about 50 percent of the country is covered by forests. It is one of Europe’s greenest countries where lynxes, wolves, foxes, rabbits and deer can be seen in their natural habitat living together with humankind in peace.
We take initiatives such as spending free time with friends camping in the forest or joining volunteering campaigns very seriously. World Cleanup Day was born in 2008 in Estonia when more than 50,000 strangers volunteered to go to the forests all over the country and collect litter together.
Since then, 113 countries have participated in this event to make the world a better place.
Speaking of making the world a better place, Estonians live an almost waste-free life. Which is not that hard, since most of the plastic bags in the large shops and malls have been replaced with cloth, paper or biodegradable bags. Estonians also do not support extra packaging for unnecessary products and heavily support local bioproduction.
No. 4 – Forget Uber Eats
Everyone knows Uber Eats by now, and we believe it is one of the most efficient ways to get your food delivered right at you doorstep. If you agree with that, take a look at Estonian invention.
For two years, pizza delivered by a human has been so last century in Estonia. Starship Technologies’ self-driving robots are booming in Estonia. In Tallinn, these little delivery machines have been independently delivering groceries from supermarkets for more than four years, which allowed the technology to develop further. Soon, robots will start delivering take-out food as well.
Coming from Tallinn, I remember we started seeing autonomous robots five years ago. At first, people were curious about them. Nowadays delivery robots are so common nobody in my neighbourhood is surprised when waiting for a green light, they come up, stop, wait together with pedestrians, then continue on when the light goes green.
At first they were relatively slow, but now you can see that as soon as there are no people around, they drive insanely fast in the pedestrian zones to get to their end destination as quickly as possible.
No. 3 – Estonia is the Silicon Valley of the Baltics
It is not surprising that so many innovations come from Estonia since local schools start teaching programming in primary grades. In fact, Estonia has the largest number of startups per person in the world, most of which specialize in software, creative tech and deep-tech fields.
Local startups are big not only within Estonia. They quickly expand to nearby countries, and a great example of that is Bolt, which started in Tallinn as Taxify. Bolt is Europe’s answer to Uber, already operating in 20 European countries … the fastest growing rides-sharing platform on the continent.
Besides that, every Estonian knows that the cluster of successful technologies started in 2005 when Skype was sold to eBay.
Yes, that’s right, Skype was developed in Estonia!
No. 2 – Estonia is a totally digital society
Estonia is the most digitally advanced country in the world. Everyone who owns an Estonian ID card acquires a so-called “digital identity,” meaning no more subscription cards in the shops, no standing in the queue for appointments – everything can be done with an ID card. Estonians simply plug in their ID card to the pin ATM machine in the shop to get the discount or in the pharmacy to get their prescription – no additional cards and no papers that can be lost.
Best of all, no information ever gets lost. At any point, an Estonian can connect their ID with a computer using the ID-reader and see everything that is connected to their identity – subscriptions, online banking, health notes, diplomas, driving license. Moreover, the ID provides a person with a digital signature, meaning wherever the person is, he or she can fill in any official document or even vote on online elections.
It also grants a person rights for using the Smart-ID, which secures the bank transactions for any citizen in the country.
In fact, anyone can become an e-resident of Estonia. All it takes is filling in the details, and two weeks after it is approved, the e-residency card will be delivered to the specified embassy.
What can I do with that? E-residency can help you establish and manage an EU company digitally – no more travelling and all of the services can be provided digitally. In addition. you will be operating within the most stable and transparent business environment in the European Union. Besides that, founding a company in Estonia only takes five minutes and is extremely cheap to do.
No. 1 – Flawless Internet access everywhere you go
Can you imagine having fast and reliable internet access everywhere you go? Even while hiking in the forest, we Estonians can find our way back home with the 4G – and sometimes even free – Wi-Fi connection. Not only do we get a flawless Internet connection but all of the citizens of Tallinn also get a free Wi-Fi connection almost anywhere within the capital.
Estonia is a very Internet-focused country and claims the world’s best Internet connection. Telecommunications company Tele2 has been a leader in this area, covering 99 percent of Estonia with cellular networks and up to 90 percent of Estonia with Internet access.
Being an Estonian I was really surprised when travelling in Germany that I could not get any Internet access via Wi-Fi at all. Of course, I had heard not all EU countries have amazing internet coverage, but we were in Frankfurt – a metropolis! We could not find our way around the city because of the poor connections. And free Wi-Fi? This is just not a thing.
While in Tallinn I was able to get free Wi-Fi at any location, without any subscription or payment. AND you can even choose between different networks.
Trust me … Estonia – and especially Tallinn – really are the future, a tech future you can experience now. Check us out!
About the author:
Anna Bubnova currently lives in the Netherlands where she studies international business. She’s in her third year, doing her internship in Fontys Consultancy at High Tech Campus.
Anna is passionate about meeting new people every day with genius ideas and collaborating with them to solve their business issues. She believes that everyone is responsible for their future, moving to the Netherlands to seize on new opportunities.
Anna from Estonia and she speaks Russian, Estonian and English fluently as well as some Finnish.