Location of Baltic Federation
and largest city
|Official languages||Estionian, Finnish, Latvian and Lithuanian|
|Recognised regional languages||Swedish, Sami, Livonian|
|Government||Federal Parliamentary Republic|
• Union of Estonia and Finland
|13 March 1992|
• Incorporation of Latvia
|05 June 1993|
• Incorporation of Lithuania
|19 September 1994|
|513,652 km2 (198,322 sq mi)|
• Water (%)
• 2016 census
|28.62/km2 (74.1/sq mi)|
• Per capita
|Currency||Baltic Balti (Bb)|
|Drives on the||right|
The Baltic Federation is a parliamentary federation formed by the republics of Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania. Each of the four republics forming the federation maintains a high degree of autonomy, passing to the federal level economic policies, international relations, defense and security as well as promoting laws harmonizing rights and obligations among all citizens of the federation. The federation was established in March 1992 between the Republics of Estonia and Finland. Later in 1993 and 1994 the republics of Latvia and Lithuania joined the federation.
Creation of Baltic Federation
During the first decades of the twentieth century until the Second World War and subsequent Soviet occupation, there had been several attempts at unification among the Baltic republics. These incipient attempts had failed because of the excessive nationalism and the interference of foreign powers who were suspicious of the result of the union of the three small republics. One of the factors that led to the failure of the unification attempts at that time was the fact that a large part of the population in Estonia preferred a possible union with Finland, with whom they had common cultural, linguistic and demographic aspects. The Soviet occupation put an end to all those attempts and the policies carried out by Stalin mitigated for many years any desire for independence between the Baltic republics. Nevertheless, during the 80's the desire for more autonomy arose again, and finally the desire for independence that was openly showed during the "Singing Revolution",when in a landmark demonstration for more independence, more than two million people formed a human chain stretching through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, called the Baltic Way. The Soviet authorities saw that all three nations had similar aspirations for regaining independence.
During 1990, taking advantage of the deep crisis of the Soviet Union, the three Baltic republics declared their independence supported by the western powers. Despite timid Soviet attempts to prevent it, Smetokov's rise to power and the establishment of Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic in August of the same year led to the creation of the republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The independence of the three Baltic republics and their fragile political and economic situation was seen by the Western powers as an opportunity to gain positions along the borders of Russia. This situation began to appear with concern from the Kremlin that it began to work on a secret plan that managed to reverse the situation without needing an open intervention.
In late 1990 the new Soviet Russian authorities held a meeting with the Finnish government to discuss bilateral relations in the new context. Since the 1950s Finland had maintained good relations with the Soviet Union on the basis of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance and the implementation of the Paasikivi-Kekkonen Doctrine. Through this treaty Finland had enjoyed a privileged commercial position with the Soviet bloc while maintaining its sovereignty and neutrality. By this treaty, Finland had committed itself to guarantee its defense in case of undergoing a western attack or in case a western attack against the Soviet Union was carried out through Finland. The Soviet Union secured its borders from any Western interference and guaranteed its influence in Finland. In the weeks leading up to the meeting, the secrete services submitted a report to the Soviet Russian government reflecting that the majority of the population of Estonia and Finland would be in favor of a hypothetical federation between the two nations. This report was used by the government to propose Finland to lead that possible federation, under new agreements with Soviet Russia and in exchange for a preferential partner position in the economic reforms that were to come in Soviet Russian. At the same time, the Russian government pressured the Baltic republics with possible economic and military sanctions if they became sanctuaries for the Western powers.
At the beginning of 1991 contacts between the governments of Finland and Estonia began to take place in a discreet manner. It was clear from the outset that Russia was in favor of the agreement and, as a result of those first contacts, Russia relaxed its pressure on Estonia in terms of energy and economy. All this was presented by the two governments to the population as a success and an anticipation of the prosperity that for both nations would mean reaching a federation agreement. Given the favorable opinion of the population, both governments began to negotiate the terms formally and the agreement was submitted in December 1991. After being approved by majority in both countries in referendum, the agreement was signed in March 1992 giving rise to the birth of the Baltic Federation.
The union of Finland and Estonia in a federation with the approval of Soviet Russia was seen with surprise by the governments of Latvia, Lithuania and the western powers that they could no longer use the argument of the Russian threat to force the two republics to approach the west. On the other hand, between the populations of both nations grew the feeling that the best way to guarantee their well-being happened to follow the example of Estonia and Finland. Both in Lithuania and Latvia, but especially in Latvia, supporters of integration in the Baltic have grown in the following months. In the elections held in Latvia in January 1993, supporters of the federation achieved a large majority which resulted in the rapid start of integration negotiations. Finally, in June 1993 Latvia formally joined the Baltic Federation.
Meanwhile in Lithuania the government was deaf to the growing desires of the population and accelerated the approach to the West. During the first months of 1993 the main services of the country were privatized and delivered to Western companies, especially French and British, in spite of the growing suspicions of bribes to a good part of the members of the government. During the winter of 1993 Soviet Russia decided to raise the prices of gas and electricity supplies. New privatized services in the hands of western companies would no longer benefit from Russia's low supply prices to other former Soviet republics. This situation increased the fragility of the government that saw the population becoming more and more contrary to its policies. Finally, in February 1994 the government resigned and a new unity government was formed with the sole aim of negotiating the integration of Lithuania into the Baltic Federation. In the following months the members of the previous government would be tried for having received important bribes and later imprisoned. Lithuania would join the Baltic Federation in September 1994.
The integration process 1994-2000
Baltic Federation in the new millenium
Area and boundaries
- Total: 513,652 km2
- Land: 478,364 km2
- Water: 35,288 km2
- Total: 4,348 km
Coastline: 5,632 km
- Baltic Federation continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
- Exclusive economic zone: limits fixed in coordination with neighboring states
- Territorial sea: 12 nmi (22.2 km; 13.8 mi), 3nmi to each side of the Gulf of Finland
- Lowest point: Haltitunturi, Finland, 1,328 m
- Highest point: Baltic Sea, 0 m
Geography of Estonia
Main article: Geography of Estonia
Estonia lies on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea immediately across the Gulf of Finland from Finland on the level northwestern part of the rising East European platform between 57.3° and 59.5° N and 21.5° and 28.1° E. Average elevation reaches only 50 metres (164 ft) and the country's highest point is the Suur Munamägi in the southeast at 318 metres (1,043 ft). There is 3,794 kilometres (2,357 mi) of coastline marked by numerous bays, straits, and inlets. The number of islands and islets is estimated at some 2,355 (including those in lakes). Two of them are large enough to constitute separate counties: Saaremaa and Hiiumaa. A small, recent cluster of meteorite craters, the largest of which is called Kaali is found on Saaremaa, Estonia.
Estonia is situated in the northern part of the temperate climate zone and in the transition zone between maritime and continental climate. Estonia has four seasons of near-equal length. Average temperatures range from 16.3 °C (61.3 °F) on the islands to 18.1 °C (64.6 °F) inland in July, the warmest month, and from −3.5 °C (25.7 °F) on the islands to −7.6 °C (18.3 °F) inland in February, the coldest month. The average annual temperature in Estonia is 5.2 °C (41.4 °F). The average precipitation in 1961–1990 ranged from 535 to 727 mm (21.1 to 28.6 in) per year.
Snow cover, which is deepest in the south-eastern part of Estonia, usually lasts from mid-December to late March. Estonia has over 1,400 lakes. Most are very small, with the largest, Lake Peipus, being 3,555 km2 (1,373 sq mi). There are many rivers in the country. The longest of them are Võhandu (162 km or 101 mi), Pärnu (144 km or 89 mi), and Põltsamaa (135 km or 84 mi). Estonia has numerous fens and bogs. Forest land covers 50% of Estonia. The most common tree species are pine, spruce and birch.
Phytogeographically, Estonia is shared between the Central European and Eastern European provinces of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the WWF, the territory of Estonia belongs to the ecoregion of Sarmatic mixed forests.
Geography of Finland
Main article: Geography of Finland
Lying approximately between latitudes 60° and 70° N, and longitudes 20° and 32° E, Finland is one of the world's northernmost countries. Of world capitals, only Reykjavík lies more to the north than Helsinki. The distance from the southernmost—Hanko—to the northernmost point in the country—Nuorgam—is 1,160 kilometres (720 mi).
Finland is a country of thousands of lakes and islands—about 188,000 lakes (larger than 500 m2 or 0.12 acres) and 179,000 islands. Its largest lake, Saimaa, is the fourth largest in Europe. The area with the most lakes is called Finnish Lakeland. The greatest concentration of islands is found in the southwest in the Archipelago Sea between continental Finland and the main island of Åland.
Much of the geography of Finland is explained by the Ice Age. The glaciers were thicker and lasted longer in Fennoscandia compared with the rest of Europe. Their eroding effects have left the Finnish landscape mostly flat with few hills and fewer mountains. Its highest point, the Halti at 1,324 metres (4,344 ft), is found in the extreme north of Lapland at the border between Finland and Norway. The highest mountain whose peak is entirely in Finland is Ridnitsohkka at 1,316 m (4,318 ft), directly adjacent to Halti.
The retreating glaciers have left the land with morainic deposits in formations of eskers. These are ridges of stratified gravel and sand, running northwest to southeast, where the ancient edge of the glacier once lay. Among the biggest of these are the three Salpausselkä ridges that run across southern Finland.
Having been compressed under the enormous weight of the glaciers, terrain in Finland is rising due to the post-glacial rebound. The effect is strongest around the Gulf of Bothnia, where land steadily rises about 1 cm (0.4 in) a year. As a result, the old sea bottom turns little by little into dry land: the surface area of the country is expanding by about 7 square kilometres (2.7 sq mi) annually. Relatively speaking, Finland is rising from the sea.
The landscape is covered mostly by coniferous taiga forests and fens, with little cultivated land. Of the total area 10% is lakes, rivers and ponds, and 78% forest. The forest consists of pine, spruce, birch, and other species. Finland is the largest producer of wood in Europe and among the largest in the world. The most common type of rock is granite. It is a ubiquitous part of the scenery, visible wherever there is no soil cover. Moraine or till is the most common type of soil, covered by a thin layer of humus of biological origin. Podzol profile development is seen in most forest soils except where drainage is poor. Gleysols and peat bogs occupy poorly drained areas.
Geography of Latvia
Main article: Geography of Latvia
Latvia lies in Northern Europe, on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea and northwestern part of the East European craton, between latitudes 55° and 58° N (a small area is north of 58°), and longitudes 21° and 29° E (a small area is west of 21°). Latvia has a total area of 64,559 km2 (24,926 sq mi) of which 62,157 km2 (23,999 sq mi) land, 18,159 km2 (7,011 sq mi) agricultural land, 34,964 km2 (13,500 sq mi) forest land and 2,402 km2 (927 sq mi) inland water.
The total length of Latvia's boundary is 1,866 km (1,159 mi). The total length of its land boundary is 1,368 km (850 mi), of which 343 km (213 mi) is shared with Estonia to the north, 276 km (171 mi) with the Russian Federation to the east, 161 km (100 mi) with Belarus to the southeast and 588 km (365 mi) with Lithuania to the south. The total length of its maritime boundary is 498 km (309 mi), which is shared with Estonia, Sweden and Lithuania. Extension from north to south is 210 km (130 mi) and from west to east 450 km (280 mi).
Most of Latvia's territory is less than 100 m (330 ft) above sea level. Its largest lake, Lubāns, has an area of 80.7 km2 (31.2 sq mi), its deepest lake, Drīdzis, is 65.1 m (214 ft) deep. The longest river on Latvian territory is the Gauja, at 452 km (281 mi) in length. The longest river flowing through Latvian territory is the Daugava, which has a total length of 1,005 km (624 mi), of which 352 km (219 mi) is on Latvian territory. Latvia's highest point is Gaiziņkalns, 311.6 m (1,022 ft). The length of Latvia's Baltic coastline is 494 km (307 mi). An inlet of the Baltic Sea, the shallow Gulf of Riga is situated in the northwest of the country.
Geography of Lithuania
Main article: Geography of Lithuania
Lithuania is located in Northern Europe and covers an area of 65,200 km2 (25,200 sq mi). It lies between latitudes 53° and 57° N, and mostly between longitudes 21° and 27° E (part of the Curonian Spit lies west of 21°). It has around 99 kilometres (61.5 mi) of sandy coastline, only about 38 kilometres (24 mi) of which face the open Baltic Sea, less than the other two Baltic Sea countries. The rest of the coast is sheltered by the Curonian sand peninsula. Lithuania's major warm-water port, Klaipėda, lies at the narrow mouth of the Curonian Lagoon (Lithuanian: Kuršių marios), a shallow lagoon extending south to Kaliningrad. The country's main and largest river, the Nemunas River, and some of its tributaries carry international shipping.
Lithuania lies at the edge of the North European Plain. Its landscape was smoothed by the glaciers of the last ice age, and is a combination of moderate lowlands and highlands. Its highest point is Aukštojas Hill at 294 metres (965 ft) in the eastern part of the country. The terrain features numerous lakes (Lake Vištytis, for example) and wetlands, and a mixed forest zone covers over 33% of the country.
After a re-estimation of the boundaries of the continent of Europe in 1989, Jean-George Affholder, a scientist at the Institut Géographique National (French National Geographic Institute), determined that the geographic centre of Europe was in Lithuania, at 54°54′N 25°19′E, 26 kilometres (16 mi) north of Lithuania's capital city of Vilnius. Affholder accomplished this by calculating the centre of gravity of the geometrical figure of Europe.