Estonia is a country on the Baltic sea with a population of only 1.3 million people. Despite its small population, this country can be called one of the most innovative in the world. For example, to participate in elections there, it’s enough to just do it over the internet by using an electronic ID card and children learn programming in elementary school.
GIGGAG would like to tell you why Estonia can be called a true country of the future.
In 2012 Estonia launched a pilot project to teach children computer programming from Grades 1 through 12. Twenty schools participate in this project. From the age of 6, children begin to learn math and logic to apply their knowledge in a Scratch visual programming environment.
Since 2002, Estonia began to distribute electronic IDs. They look like a card and they verify the individual identity in both real and digital environments. There is information about the citizen built into its chip, and an electronic signature which is legally equal to a manual one. One can attach different documents to the card and, when travelling within EU, it works as a foreign passport as well.
Since 2005, when municipal elections took place in Estonia, citizens of the country have been able to vote for one candidate or another via the internet by verifying their identity with an electronic signature from their ID card. Estonia was the first country that established an electronic voting system for parliamentary elections in 2007. During the elections for the European Parliament, 31% of Estonians voted through this system.
In 2013, Tallinn became the first city in the world where all public transport became free for everyone. The authority came out with this solution to move the citizens from their cars to buses and trolleybuses. Before eliminating transport charges, a referendum was held where 3/4 of the city population voted for free public transport. A year later, Tallinn authorities announced that due to the program, traffic intensity on the main streets of the city was significantly reduced.
According to recent data, Estonia ranks third in Europe regarding the highest number of start-ups per capita: there are 31 start-ups per 100,000 residents.
The country created favorable conditions for start-ups. New business registration lasts for 15 minutes only, and there is no corporate income tax on retained earnings.
Can you imagine connecting to the internet while deep in the woods? It’s possible in Estonia. You can get connected to free Wi-Fi in the majority of hotels and public places like parks, alleys, cafes, restaurants, railway stations, airports, and even beaches.
Anyone can become an e-resident of Estonia without much effort. This provides others the opportunity to open a business there without visiting the country, to manage your company while traveling, to sign your documents, and to declare taxes. All you have to do is apply online. E-residency is especially advantageous for businessmen because they have to pay taxes only on assets moved out of the country.
Those businessmen who live outside EU gain a great opportunity to establish new business in Estonia and therefore open pathways to the EU. If you would like to become an e-resident, you can apply here.
Nowadays, 4,000 types of services are available electronically in Estonia — from taxes declaration to a deforestation request. In about 20 minutes, any Estonian can open a new company with their ID card and thanks to this system, people don’t need to wait in lines, collect papers, documents, signatures, or stamps. They can spend this saved time on their family and loved ones.
Which fact about Estonia did you find the most surprising? Tell us in the comments below.