History and National Character
The ancestors of Estonians settled in northeastern Europe as early as 10,000 years ago. The descend from the same core racial-stock as the other Finnic peoples. As such, their national characters are quite similar. Their culture has also developed concurrently with the Finns' and the Germanic West for most of the past thousand years.
Estonians generally share the characteristics of the Nordic race and are genetically related to Scandinavians, especially to the Finnish people. They speak a language mutually-intelligible with Finnish.
Finnics, not Baltics
Although Estonia is popularly grouped as one of the "Baltic states", this is not valid except politically. Estonians are linguistically unrelated to the Baltic peoples of Latvia and Lithuania. They share the Lutheran faith with Latvians, and pro-western tendencies with all, but they are a separate people.
Northern, not Eastern
Another common misconception is that Estonians are "eastern Europeans"m "former Soviets", etc. This is understood to mean Slavs, Russians, or closely related to Russians. Culturally, linguistically, ethnically, religiously, politically, and in terms of outlook and temperament of the people, Estonians are far more "northern" (Scandinavian) than "eastern" (Slavic).
Population Growth Wiped Out
There are approximately 1.1 million Estonians in the world, with 950,000 in Estonia itself. This is approximately the same as the number as in the 1910s just before independence: 1.) Population losses in the 1940-1949 communist terror period, and 2.) Low birth rates because of cultural pessimism during the 1950s-1980s inspired by the Soviet-occupation -- The effect of these was so severe that they cancel out all natural Estonian population growth.
During the Soviet occupation of 1945-1991, Estonians were a minority in their own capital city of Tallinn.