Independence Restoration Day 2017 and 2018
Independence Restoration Day in Estonia is marked on 20 August each year.
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After Estonia’s long and ancient history that included Viking and Teutonic influence, in 1629, Sweden took control of mainland Estonia. In 1710, Russia forced Sweden to hand over Estonia as a part of the Treaty of Nystad. In 1918, after the Bolshevik Revolution, Estonia gained independence from Russia only to lose it again to the Soviets then, in 1941, to the Germans.
In 1944, Soviet forces again took control of, and began to ravage, Estonia. Decades later, a large majority of western countries declared that Soviet occupation of Estonia was illegal and Estonia finally declared independence, again, on 20 August 1991.
The significance of Independence Restoration Day is that the independence of the Republic of Estonia appears now to be something to be celebrated but also nurtured and held tight. Independence is a huge relief to Estonia’s intense history, particularly around World War II.
When the Soviet Red Army reoccupied Estonia in 1944, up to 80,000 people fled the country and over 200,000 are believed to have been deported, many to Siberia. Only half of these ever returned, many years later, and the rest were reported as perishing during the deportation. World statistics report that there was over a 9 per cent drop in the population of Estonia in the mid-1940s.
Today on 20 August, Estonians mark the celebration with festive events and gatherings.