TRAMES 3, 1, 1997 

 Hill Kulo. The Estonian diaspora


The present article focuses on the Estonian diaspora. Firstly, an overview of the formation of the diaspora is given, and then the changes in Estonian identity of the diaspora Estonians are analysed, and finally, the possible future trends for the diaspora are outlined. The census data from different countries are used for these purposes. The Estonian diaspora developed as a result of two waves of emigration. In the second half of the 19th and in the beginning of the 20th century, about 200,000 Estonians left for Russia, and during World War II at least 70,000 Estonians fled to western countries as political refugees. Nowadays there are 160,000 Estonians living abroad, which represents 14% of the total number of Estonians. The older generations in the diaspora are of single Estonian origin and are Estonian-speaking, while the younger generations are of multiple origin and are non-Estonian-speaking. Although the number of those having strong Estonian identity is continuously decreasing in the diaspora, the number of those having weaker ties to Estonian identity will remain considerable in the near future.

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Hill Kulu
The Center for Estonian Diaspora Studies
Institute of Geography
University of Tartu
Vanemuise 46
EE2400 Tartu
Phone: + 372 7 465 817