Estonia is mostly a plain or a low plateau that rarely goes higher than 100 meters, with an average height of 61 meters. The highest peak reaches Haanja in the southeast with Suur Munamägi (317 meters) as the highest point and at the same time the highest in the entire Baltic. The lowest areas are in the west and in the middle parts of the country. It is highest in the north and in the southeast. In addition to the mainland, Estonia includes 2222 islands in the Baltic Sea. The three largest Estonian islands in the Baltic are Hiiumaa, Saaremaa and Vormsi.
The bedrock consists mostly of almost horizontal layers, in the north Ordovician limestone that forms a steep slope towards the coast, in the south especially devon rocks. The limestone in the north contains Estonia’s largest mineral riches; oil shale and phosphorite. The landscape is characterized by the recent ice age, with low moraine slopes, rounded drum lines and piles of glassy fluvial material. The waterways are small, except for the river Narva at the eastern border; it is a drain for Lake Peipus and its continuation in the south, Pihkva (Pskov). Many of the rivers that flow into the Gulf of Finland have cut into the limestone in the lower course and the race is due to karstsome places inside the ground. The longest river is the Pärnu River (Pärnu jõgi) in the south, which measures 144 km. Lakes cover 4.7 percent of the total area and have a normal depth of about 4 meters. Only a few places are deeper than 20 meters. In the lakes there are a total of 133 islands. Of the total area, 22 per cent consists of marshes, while forests, which have had marked growth during the 1990s, cover almost half of the area. The uplift is relatively rapid, in the northwest more than 25 cm in a hundred years (2-3 mm per year).
The climate is temperate, but the weather changes. Estonia lies in a transition belt between maritime and continental climate. The average temperature for the coldest month, February, varies from –3 °C on the islands in the west to –7.6 °C in the southeastern regions. The average July temperature is 16.3 ° C in the west and 17.1 ° C inland. The highest and lowest measured temperatures are 35 °C and –43.5 °C.
The annual rainfall is moderate; about 500 mm in the western islands and 750 in some of the higher lying areas inland. The registered annual rainfall is 1157 mm. Normally there will be 150–200 rainy days a year, driest in spring and humid in August. Temperatures below zero can normally be measured about 100 days a year. The snow arrives in December and is until the end of March. Snow cover is deepest (over 50 cm) inland in the southeast. The variation from year to year can be quite large.
Plant life in Estonia
Estonia is located in the southern coniferous zone, the southern boreal region, and the natural vegetation consists mostly of coniferous forests with high trees. About. 48% of the land is covered by forest, most spruce and pine, the rest birch, aspen, oak, elm and several other deciduous species. There are also large areas covered with marshes. On chalky bedrock in the west, i.a. the islands of Hiiumaa and Saaremaa, it is a steppe-like vegetation similar to that found on Öland and Gotland.
Wildlife in Estonia
The Bay of Riga is important for ring seals and migratory and wintering seabirds, including pockets, white-cheeked goose, sea trout and havelle. 225 bird species have been found nesting in Estonia. Along the coast, waders, seagulls, terns (including prey and dwarfs ) and duck birds (including squid, scandal and ewe bird) are common. The forests are rich in forest chickens, owls and woodpeckers. 1600 pairs of stork and 200 pairs black stork nest here. Of large birds of prey there are both sea eagles, king eagles (250 pairs) and large scream eagles.
Bear, wolf and yawning occur in the forests. Of deer, there are moose and deer. Wild boar is common (an estimated 15,000). The beaver is widely distributed (3000 individuals) and avian grains are found in the forest areas in the northeast.