Baltic states

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Baltic states
Location of  Baltic states  (dark green)on the European continent  (dark grey)  —  [Legend]
Location of  Baltic states  (dark green)

on the European continent  (dark grey)  —  [Legend]

CapitalsTallinn; Riga; Vilnius
Official languages Estonian; Latvian; Lithuanian
Membership  Estonia
 Latvia
 Lithuania
Area
 -  Total 175,015 km2 (91st)
67,523 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 2.23 % (3,909 km²)

The Baltic states or Baltic countries, sometimes the Baltics, are three member states of the European Union [1]: the sovereign states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, located in Northern Europe. All three countries are also members of the New Hanseatic League (established in February 2018), an informal group of northern EU states formed to advocate a common fiscal position.

History

Estonians and the Livonian people in Latvia are descended from the Finnic peoples, sharing closely related languages and a common cultural ancestry. The Latvians and Lithuanians, linguistically and culturally related to each other, are descended from the Balts, an Indo-European people and culture. The peoples comprising the Baltic states have together inhabited the eastern Baltic coast for millennia, although not always peacefully in ancient times, over which period their populations: Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, have remained remarkably stable within the approximate territorial boundaries of the current Baltic states. While separate peoples with their own customs and traditions, historical factors have introduced cultural commonalities across and differences within them.

Latvia's capital city Riga, founded in 1201 by Germans at the mouth of the Daugava, became a strategic base in a papally-sanctioned conquest of the area by the Livonian Brothers of the Sword. The powerful German Teutonic Knights gained control over most of the southern and eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, while fighting the Poles, the Danes, the Swedes, the Russians of ancient Novgorod, and the Lithuanians (the last Europeans to convert to Christianity). Riga was to be the first major city of the southern Baltic and, after 1282, a principal trading centre in the Hanseatic League. Tallinn (Reval) was given the Lübeck Rights in 1248 and joined the Hanseatic League at the end of the 13th century. Despite local rebellions and Muscovian invasions in 1481 and 1558, the local Low German-speaking upper class continued to rule the Baltics. By the end of the Middle Ages, these Baltic Germans (Baltendeutsche) had established themselves as the governing elite, both as traders and the urban middle-class in the cities, and as landowners in the countryside, through a network of manorial estates. The Baltic states became independent in the aftermath of World War I in 1918.

The term "Baltic republics" can sometimes refer in historic context to the Baltic republics of the Soviet Union. At the same time the three countries were considered under the Soviet occupation by the Western democracies: e.g. the USA [2] and the UK.[3] After the collapse of the Soviet Union the Baltic States' struggle for independence came to a conclusion. The sovereignties of the countries were restored in 1991 and the last Russian troops withdrew from the Baltic States in August 1994.[4]

21st century

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been members of the European Union and NATO since 2004. Today the three countries are liberal democracies and their market economies have in recent years undergone rapid expansion.

External links

Encyclopedias

References