Political and administrative order. – According to the constitution of 21 December 1920, Estonia is an independent republic. Sovereign power resides in the people, who exercise it: 1. by means of a referendum: 25,000 citizens can ask for a law, approved by the national assembly, to be subjected to popular vote; 2. by legislative initiative: 25,000 citizens can ask for a law to be approved, amended or repealed by popular vote; 3. with the election of the members of the national assembly. The National Assembly (Riigikogu) exercises legislative power: it is made up of 100 members, elected on the basis of proportional representation, by universal, direct and secret suffrage for a term of three years. All those who are twenty years old and have held Estonian citizenship for at least one year are eligible for election. The government is made up of the head of state (Riigivanem) and ministers: it prepares and presents the draft budget to the assembly; appoints and dismisses senior civil and military officials; concludes treaties with foreign states and issues ordinances for the execution of laws; decides on appeals in pardon. The government or members of the government, to whom the assembly denies trust, must resign.
The supreme judicial power belongs to the state court, made up of state judges elected by the national assembly. The state court appoints the other judges. Some crimes are deferred to the assize court.
The government ensures the local administration by means of autonomous institutions; the representative assemblies of the autonomous communities are elected with the same system that applies to the national assembly.
The state language is Estonian, but in the locality where the foreigners are in the majority, the organs of the autonomous administration can use the language of the largest ethnic minority. Citizens of German, Russian or Swedish nationality have the right to use their language in written relations with the central administrations of the state. With the law of February 12, 1925 on the cultural autonomy of national minorities, every ethnic group, made up of 3000 people, was recognized the right to ask for autonomy.
All changes to the constitution must be submitted to a referendum.
Religious organization. – The beginnings of Christianity in Estonia date back to the time of St. Ansgario (died 865), the first bishop of Hamburg. However, to completely tame those riotous populations attached to their traditions, it took the expeditions of the so-called crusaders and the constant work of the Sword-holders and the Teutonic Order (see below: history). The two dioceses in which the country was ecclesiastically divided were Dorpat (present-day Tartu) founded in 1224 and Reval (present-day Tallinn) created in 1218 and both subject to the metropolitan of Riga. The Lutheran reform, favored by local princes, succeeded to supplant Catholicism; Russian rule contributed to complete its ruin. According to the latest statistics (1929) the Lutheran evangelicals (Estonians, Germans, Swedes) represent 78.6%, the Orthodox (Estonians and Russians) 19%; other Christians (Estonians and foreigners) 1.7%, Jews 0.4%, without confession 0.3%. Of the 19% of Orthodox, only 8.2% are real Estonians. A psychological reason explains the significant number of Orthodox Estonians: the immense hatred against the German barons, which induced many to convert with the promise of land made to them by the Russian government. Evangelicals under the direction of a Lutheran bishop are organized into 16 provost, of which 14 are for Estonians,i for the Germans, 1 for the Swedes. The Orthodox were, during the ancient regime, subject to the metropolitan of Riga, who had his own vicar in Reval.
Armed forces. – Army. – It was established permanently after the Tartu peace treaty with Russia. It comprises a balanced force (1930) of 13,000 men, including 1,500 officers. The budget of the Ministry of War is (1930) of 18,500,000 crowns. The supreme command of the army rests with the government, which exercises it in peace through the Minister of War, in war through a commanding general in chief.
Military service is compulsory from 20 to 55 years of age (12 months in the active army, 24 years in the reserve, remaining years in the territorial army). There will be calls to arms, for instruction, of the military on leave, for a total duration not exceeding 9 months.
The army includes: infantry 6 regiments; cavalry 1 regiment and an autonomous squadron; 6 artillery groups (3 field and 3 heavy field); genius 3 sapper battalions and 1 connections battalion. Armored trains, 1 regiment, of 2 trains. Tanks and armored cars, 1 group (2 tank companies, 2 armored car companies, 1 car company). Air Force Regiment 1 (the fighter squadron, one reconnaissance and bombing, the first seaplane, 1 school). Military schools Cases 3 (the higher of war; 1 officers, one non-commissioned officers); also courses for reserve officer students; 1 physical education course; thesenior officers course. The troops are grouped into three infantry divisions and in air and coastal defense. Each corps has: education units (recruits) and effective units (elders). There is also a civic guard, organized militarily, with the task of competing together with the army, in peace and in war; it is made up of about 29,000 men and 8,000 women, grouped in territorial units similar to those of infantry.
Navy. – Born at the foundation of the republic, it is made up of ex-Russian and Germanic ships, that is: 2 destroyers: Lennuk (ex-Russian), launched in 1915, of 1800 tons. and 32 knots, armed with 5 pieces of 100 and 3 triple launch tubes of 450; and Wambola (ex-Russian), launched in 1915, of 1585 tons. and 30 knots, armed with 4 pieces of 100 and 3 triple launch tubes of 450; a Sulew torpedo boat (ex-German, sunk during the war and recovered in 1924), launched in 1915, of 230 tons. and 25 knots; 4 gunboats, of which the most important is the Lembit (ex-Russian), launched in 1907, of 1100 tons. and 12 knots; 3 minesweepers of 50 tons. There is also a small flotilla on Lake Peipus, made up of 3 armed steamers. The navy has 2100 men, including officers, non-commissioned officers and municipalities.
Military aviation. – The Estonian Air Force reports directly to the Army Staff, whose general funds also include the sums allocated to it. There is no maritime aviation; the terrestrial one is made up of various squadrons of 6 aircraft each. Each infantry division has a mixed group under its command. Overall, Estonia has around 60 aircraft (including training aircraft).
Finances. – Estonia’s financial revenue exceeds expenditure (see table). And it is precisely this favorable budgetary situation that has facilitated the economic reconstruction of the country, despite the initial difficulties and the inevitable errors. Only in April 1927, when the Estonian mark, heavily depreciated following direct fiduciary inflation before and after bank inflation, was stationary for over two years at the level of 100 marks = 1 Swedish krona, the government proceeded to bring the country to the gold standard, creating a new monetary unit, entry into circulation with 1 January 1928, the crown whose value is equivalent to the value 100 / 284NS. of fine gold and is divided into 100 sent, each equal to an ancient mark. It also provided for the unification of circulation, putting an end to the issue of state notes (which were gradually replaced on the market by bank notes) and attributing the exclusivity of the issue to the Bank of Estonia, founded since 1919, but subsequently reorganized and with the possibility of control by the government.
At the end of 1930, notes in circulation amounted to 32 million crowns and reserves reached 23 million, of which 7 in gold and 16 in foreign currencies.
The internal public debt of Estonia was 7.3 on 31 March 1930 and the external debt of 119.2 million crowns, which includes the loan of 1,350,000 pounds taken in June 1927 under the auspices of the League of Nations in correlation with the monetary reform and located in London, Amsterdam and New York.
I public education. – Intellectual life in Estonia is highly developed. Primary education is compulsory and free. In 1927-28 there were 1286 schools of which only 47 were private. There were 80 middle schools, of which 28 were private. There are also many technical and professional schools. For higher education there is the Technical Institute of Tallinn and Tartu the old university founded in 1632 by the King of Sweden, Gustavo Adolfo. With the end of the Russian domination, the Estonians try to make up for lost time, with commendable tenacity. In the university city and in the capital there are rich libraries.