Estonia (Estonian: Eesti), officially the Republic of Estonia (Estonian: Eesti Vabariik), is a sovereign country in Northern Europe, bordered by Russia to the east, the Baltic Sea to its north and west, and Latvia to its south. The country consists of a mainland territory on the European continent and 2,222 islands in the Baltic Sea, most of them small and uninhabited. Estonian, the country's official language, is closely related to Finnish. The country was inhabited by Ugro-Finnic peoples since the dawn of recorded history, before becoming a Russian territory in the 18th century.
Afterwards, during the Great War, the Russian Empire was forced to abandon most of its territories on the shores of the Baltic (including Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) and the Republic of Estonia was finally created. The Congress of Europe saw the creation of an Estonian state favorably, as it would act as a buffer between the two competing Baltic powers (Russia and Scandinavia).
Despite its relatively small size, Estonia's economy is highly developed, with specialized industry being predominant near major urban centres; Estonian universities are also among the most prestigious of all of the eastern part of Europe. The country's geography is dominated by low hills and large forested plains, with numerous bays, inlets, and straits on the shores of the Baltic. The two major islands of the country are Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, both located to the east of the Estonian mainland.