Port of Tallinn
Review and History

The Port of Tallinn is the capital and biggest city in Estonia. Lying on the Estonia’s northern coast on the Gulf of Finland, it was known as Reval for many centuries. It is an important seaport as well as a cultural, political, and industrial center for the country. In 1997, the city’s center was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2007, the Port of Tallinn was home to almost 397 thousand people.

Modern Tallinn is a busy commercial fishing port and industrial city. It is home to many engineering industries led by ship- and machine-building as well as manufacturing of a range of consumer goods. Being Estonia’s cultural center, it is home to an academy of sciences, a music conservatory, many museums and theaters, and several institutes for fine arts, teacher training, and polytechnic disciplines. Its airport is the largest in the Baltics.

Port History

Archaeologists found evidence of human habitation in the center of the Port of Tallinn that suggest human habitation for five thousand years. Artifacts include pottery dating to 3000 BC and 2500 BC.

The first modern fortress was built on Toompea Hill in 1050. By the 12th Century, a town flourished there. In 1219, the Danes captured the Port of Tallinn and built a new fortress there. Trade grew quickly after 1285 when Tallinn joined the Hanseatic League.

The city was purchased by Teutonic Knights, who forced the population to convert to Christianity, in 1345 and passed to Sweden in 1561 when the order was dissolved. The medieval city was located on trade crossroads between Russia and Northern Europe, and well-fortified city walls with 66 towers for defense protected at least 8000 people.

Peter the Great conquered the Port of Tallinn in 1710, and it was part of Russia until Estonia’s independence from 1918 to 1940. Despite rule by the Russian Empire, local self-government as the Duchy of Estonia prevailed within Imperial Russia. In 1918, independence was proclaimed, and Imperial Germany occupied the city. In 1920, Russia acknowledged the country’s independence, which it retained until World War II. Estonia was part of the USSR until 1991. During World War II, German troops occupied the Port of Tallinn. It was seriously damaged during the war.

In 1940 and in the late 1940s, many Tallinn residents were imprisoned by the USSR for conspiracy and collaboration with Germany. Many exiled citizens of the Port of Tallinn went to Sweden or North America, and Russians moved into the city. Russians make up two-fifths of the city’s population today, while native Estonians represent half the population. When Estonia declared its independence in 1991, the Port of Tallinn became the new country’s capital.

The Port of Tallinn has restored many of its ancient relics, particularly in the old walled town and on Toompea Hill. It has been conquered many times throughout its history, and it was bombed heavily at the end of World War II. Despite that damage, its Old Town survives.

The modern Port of Tallinn has become an important center for information technology, called a “Silicon Valley on the Baltic Sea” by the New York Times in 2005. Skype is one if its most famous start-ups. It is home to the Institute of Cybernetics, which is housed in a Soviet-era building. However, its most important economic sectors continue to be the textile and food industries and public administration.

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