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, is a country on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe.
It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland with Finland on the other side, to the west by the Baltic Sea with Sweden on the other side, to the south by Latvia (343 km), and to the east by Lake Peipus and Russia (338.6 km).
The territory of Estonia has been inhabited since at least 9,000 B. Ancient Estonians were some of the last European pagans to be Christianized, following the Livonian Crusade in the 13th century.
After centuries of successive rule by Germans, Danes, Swedes, Poles and Russians, a distinct Estonian national identity began to emerge in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Chronicle of Henry of Livonia mentions Tharapita as the superior god of the Oeselians.
Spiritual practices were guided by shamans, with sacred groves, especially oak groves, serving as places of worship.
One hypothesis regarding the modern name of Estonia derives it from the Aesti, a people described by the Roman historian Tacitus in his Germania (ca. The historic Aesti were allegedly Baltic people, whereas the modern Estonians are Finnic.
The geographical areas of the Aesti and of Estonia do not match, with the Aesti living farther south.
The society, economy, settlement and culture of the territory of what is in the present-day the country of Estonia is studied mainly through archaeological sources.
At that time the country was covered with forests, and people lived in semi-nomadic communities near bodies of water.
Subsistence activities consisted of hunting, gathering and fishing.
A parish was led by elders and centred around a hill fort; in some rare cases a parish had multiple forts.
By the 13th century Estonia consisted of eight major counties: Harjumaa, Järvamaa, Läänemaa, Revala, Saaremaa, Sakala, Ugandi, and Virumaa; and six minor, single-parish counties: Alempois, Jogentagana, Mõhu, Nurmekund, Soopoolitse, and Vaiga.