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(17,505 sq mi) of land and water, and is influenced by a humid continental climate.Ethnic Estonians are a Finnic people, sharing close cultural ties with their northern neighbour, Finland, and the official language, Estonian, is a Finno-Ugric language closely related to Finnish and the Sami languages, and distantly to Hungarian.Since restoration of its independence, Estonia has been a democratic unitary parliamentary republic divided into fifteen counties. With a population of 1.3 million, it is one of the least-populous member states of the European Union, Eurozone, OECD, Schengen Area, and of NATO.
Two larger subdivisions appeared: the parish (Estonian: kihelkond) and the county (Estonian: maakond), which consisted of multiple parishes.
After successful democratic rule from 1918 to 1934, Estonia became increasingly autocratic during the Era of Silence.
During World War II, Estonia was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940, then by Nazi Germany a year later and was again annexed by the Soviets in 1944, after which it was reconstituted as the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic.
One hypothesis regarding the modern name of Estonia is that it originated from the Aesti, a people described by the Roman historian Tacitus in his Germania (ca. The historic Aesti were allegedly Baltic people, whereas the modern Estonians are Finno-Ugric.
The geographical areas between Aesti and Estonia do not match, with Aesti being farther south.