Living in the age of digital technology, humans are constantly looking for a better way to use technology. Estonia, a small country in northern Europe has already reached a digital milestone where every country wants to reach one day. Estonia gained independence from Soviet Union in 1991. Soon after they embarked on their digital journey.
Estonia is the most digitally advanced country in the world. This baltic nation has a population of 1.3 million people. It has become a centre of attention for the world leaders because of their smooth transition to technology .
The Estonian government has a strong belief in e-solutions of the daily life problem in the system. This advancement did not happen overnight. The government made a sketch of a digitally advanced society in 1994 and since then working tirelessly on the idea. In the last 26 years Estonia kept on innovating and building an aspiring future.
How it started
Estonian government made the first draft of ‘Estonian Information Policy’ back in 1994. The Estonian parliament took four years to approve this road map of a digitally advanced country. It was made clear that information technology is the future of the country. Politically it was an unstable time for Estonia so this was an important venture for governments. Government assigned 1 percent of GDP to this project.
Estonian private banks launched the first online banking in 1996. The crisis of low population was a challenge because they had to maintain a high cost system for a smaller number of consumers. But they did it anyway and today they are fetching the fruit from the decision which was made 24 years ago. Estonian are very used to of e-banking and get services online. 99 percent of bank transactions are made online in the country. They have also smoothly accepted the government e-solutions and use their e-ID in daily life.
The online services which Estonians use are:
- E- cabinet meeting
- E- tax board
- Blockchain technology
- Public service green station
- Road administration’s e-portal
All of these daily life services were gradually made part of the system from 1996 to 2014.
E-residency and Data Embassy
In 2014 Estonia embarked on a new journey of a border free digital society. Estonia introduced the world with the e-residency. Using this service anyone in the world could start a business in Estonia and open an estonian bank account from anywhere in the world. The first year Estonia received ten thousand applications from 127 countries of the world. This innovative idea made Estonia stand out from the rest of the world. This service not only provides opportunities to any global citizen to start business but a very profitable venture for Estonia too.The e-community is slowly increasing everyday.
2015 was the year Estonia launched the world’s first ever data embassy. To make sure that their security does not get compromised even in the worst times. The database is backed up in a highly secured center in another small european country Luxembourg.
Estonian Education System
Education in Estonia is pretty much dependent on technology. Estonian teachers get training in internet security and digital education . This feature of education turned out to be most useful during pandemic. When the whole world was trying to figure how to do schooling online, Estonia was covered. They started an online schooling system back in 2015, 87 percent of schools were already using electronic solutions. Teachers and students are accustomed to it already. Transition from physically going to school to sitting at home in front of a computer was not hard for Estonia. University of Taru in the capital of Estonia literally switched to remote learning in a day because the system was established.
Let’s talk about some interesting facts about the world’s most digitally advanced country.
Estonians invented Skype
Skype started as a small startup in Estonia in 2003. It was created by three Estonian software designers. Skype now has 300 million users globally. Though now it is owned by Microsoft, you can not take credit away from Estonia because estonians are very proud of it.
One of the best internet connections
Estonia is one of the few countries, which started giving free wifi in most places from back in 2002. They never looked back and now has one of the fastest internet connections in the world. If you are visiting Estonia, going out of wifi signals is almost impossible. It is heaven for digital nomads.
Estonia has the world record of most startups per person. People are so inclined towards their own business that they have more startups per person than Silicon Valley.
Found your own company in five minutes
Yeah, that’s right. You don’t even have to leave your house, just use the e-ID card and make a setup online. It is very cheap too and you don’t have to go to banks to get heavy loans.
Cafe culture in Estonia
With the high speed of the internet and influx of startups, cafe culture is also very popular in Estonia. As wifi is free in the whole country, cafes are very much admired by the people. You can find a cafe in every street. They are very cozy and homelike. All you have to do is grab your laptop and you can sit and work in cafes while enjoying food.
Pandemic and Estonia
During the early lockdown of the pandemic, every country was trying to figure out ways to run the country while people stay at home. Estonia was sorted way before the pandemic. Every system was in place. During lockdown 99 percent of government services were available online.
The way Estonia has pulled off technology is commendable. While every other developed country is trying to sell the idea how far they have come, a small country like Estonia has already taken the cake. Quietly working and paving the way for future generations to enjoy the advancement of society. This tiny country with a small population has surely left a mark to follow for others.