Demographic and ethno-cultural characteristics of the population

Citizenship

The share of residents with Estonian citizenship has been on a similar level over the last 10 years. As at the end of 2021, 84.7% of the residents in Estonia have Estonian citizenship. In the previous census in 2011, the share of residents with Estonian citizenship was 85.2%. In the 2000 census, their share was 80%.

There has been a significant decline in the number of persons with undetermined citizenship. The number of residents with Russian citizenship has also decreased again: it was 86,067 in 2000, rose to 90,510 by 2011, and fell down to 81,695 in 2021. The biggest increase has occurred in the number of persons with Ukrainian citizenship: it was 2,867 in the 2000 census and 4,756 in the 2011 census, while as many as 15,935 Ukrainian citizens were enumerated in the 2021 census.

All in all, there are citizens of 151 countries living in Estonia. This is more than ten years ago, as there were 118 different citizenships enumerated in the 2011 census.

See the chart for more details.

Ethnic nationality

The number of ethnic nationalities represented among the population is bigger than ever, but the share of Estonians in the population has not decreased.

According to the 2021 census, there are people of 211 ethnic nationalities living in Estonia. This number was 180 in the 2011 census and 142 in the 2000 census. In earlier censuses, the registered number of ethnic nationalities was around one hundred: 108 in 1989, 109 in 1979, 107 in 1970 and 100 in 1959.

Naturally, Estonians constitute the largest share of the population in Estonia. Based on the 2021 census, 69.4%* of the residents are Estonians. In the 2011 census, this share was 0.4 percentage points higher – 69.8%*. However, the share of Estonians has been lower in several past censuses: in 2000 (68.3%*), in 1989 (61.5%), in 1979 (64.7%) and in 1970 (68.2%). Based on census data, the share of Estonians in the total population was the highest (74.6%) in 1959. (*The share of Estonians is calculated from the population whose ethnic nationality is known.)

Considering other ethnic nationalities, the biggest increase has occurred in the number of Ukrainians: compared to 2011, the number of Ukrainians has risen by 5,255, from 22,573 to 27,828. The fastest growth has occurred in the number of Igbo people – there was just one Igbo enumerated in the 2011 census, whereas in the 2021 census the number of Igbo people was already 152.

Explore the chart for more information.

In the national development strategy “Estonia 2035”, one of the key objectives is that the share of Estonians in the population should be about 67%. In Estonia as a whole, this indicator is currently 2.4 percentage points higher (69.4%), but there are considerable regional variations.

Explore the chart for more information.

Mother tongue

The share of the population whose mother tongue is Estonian has not increased, but there has been a significant rise in the number of languages spoken as the mother tongue in Estonia.

The number of mother tongues represented in Estonia has increased since the 2000 census. 109 different mother tongues were counted in 2000, while this number was 157 in the 2011 census and 243 in the 2021 census. The newly added languages with the highest number of native speakers include, for example, Iranian languages (62), Niger-Kordofanian languages (20), Sindhi (19) and Mandar (15).

See the figure for more information.

Based on the 2021 census, the share of the population whose mother tongue is Estonian has decreased by 0.9 percentage points compared to the 2011 census. On the other hand, the number of residents whose mother tongue is Estonian has risen by 8,277 compared to 2011. The fall in the share of native Estonian speakers despite the simultaneous rise in the total number of speakers is due to the fact that the overall population of Estonia has increased, but this has mostly been on account of native speakers of other languages.

Legal marital status

There are fewer marriages than 20 years ago.

As at the end of 2021, 37.8% of the population were legally married. The share of married residents was 39.4% in 2011 and 46.5% in 2000. It means that fewer people get married, but the sharpest decline in the number of marriages occurred already between 2000 and 2011.

The share of persons who are married has decreased the most in age group 20–35. On the other hand, in younger age groups, the fall in the share of people getting married also means that there is a smaller share of those who are divorced. Among residents aged 50 and over, the share of those who are divorced is actually bigger according to the 2021 census than 20 years before.

See the figure for more information.

Women and children

Women are having children later, but the average number of children has not changed.

Based on the 2000 census, women aged 25–29 had 1 child, on average, while in the 2021 census the corresponding indicator was just 0.6. This shows that the age of women at the birth of the first child has risen.

In 2000, women aged 35–39 had 1.8 children, on average, whereas now, in 2021, the average was 1.6 children per woman of this age. In the case of women aged 40–44 and women aged 45–49, the average number of children was the same in both 2000 and 2021 – 1.9 for either age group.

See the figure for changes in the average number of children in different age groups.

Let’s focus on the three older age groups (35–39, 40–44 and 45–49) and look at the average number of children per woman in these age groups.

In all three age groups, there has been a rise in the share of women who have not given birth. For example, in 2000, 9.9% of women aged 35–39 did not have any children, while in the 2021 census the share of such women was already 18.2%. However, in the age group 45–49, the differences are marginal: the share of women in this age group who had not given birth was 9% in 2000 and 11.8% in 2021.

In all three age groups, there has been a decrease in the share of women with two children and a slight increase in the share of women with three children.

See the figure for more information.