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In 1987 the peaceful Singing Revolution began against Soviet rule, resulting in the restoration of de facto independence on 20 August 1991.
The sovereign state of Estonia is a democratic unitary parliamentary republic divided into fifteen counties. With a population of 1.3 million, it is one of the least populous members of the European Union, the Eurozone, OECD, the Schengen Area, NATO, and from 2020, the United Nations Security Council. The land inhabited by Estonians was called Maavald meaning "Country Realm" or "Land Realm".
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.
After the loss of its de facto independence, Estonia's de jure state continuity was preserved by diplomatic representatives and the government-in-exile.This culminated in independence from Russia in 1920 after a brief War of Independence at the end of World War I.