A Finno-Ugric language and a member of the Balto-Finnic group, spoken by c. 1 million people mostly in Estonia, where it is the official language, as well as in nearby parts of Latvia, Russia and Finland and also by a number of émigré bilingual communities in many other countries, such as Sweden, the UK and the USA.

The earliest written record dates from the early 13th century, when German and Scandinavian crusaders reached Estonia. It is the Latin chronicle Heinrici Chronicon Livoniae, containing words and fragments of sentences in Estonian. Modern Estonian is spoken in two main sets of dialects, Northern and Southern. Modern Standard Estonian has been based on the Northern dialects.

Estonian has a very rich nominal and verbal morphology. It is spelt in the Roman alphabet consisting of 32 letters. The orthography of the language, introduced by Eduard Ahrens by the end of the 19th century, is based on the Finnish conventions and is still in use.

CLASSIFICATION = Finno-Ugric family, SCRIPT = Roman

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