Philosophicum, University of Tartu, Estonia
The Estonian Republic lies on the coast of the Baltic Sea, just 40 miles south of Finland. It shares mainland-borders with Russia (to the east) and Latvia (to the south). With its 1.350.000 inhabitants, Estonia’s population ranks amongst the smallest in the world. The official language, Estonian, belongs to the Finno-Ugric language group, and is one of the world’s smallest cultural languages to include contemporary terminology for all major fields of life.
Estonia has recently seen rapid economic development, and a surprising reverence for science and technology. Mobile phone networks now cover almost 100% of the country’s territory, and Estonia was also the first country in the world to introduce internet voting during its elections for the Parliament in March 2007.
As in other northern countries, seasons vary widely in Estonia. The length of the longest day in summer is over 19 hours, while the shortest winter day lasts only six hours. The average daily temperature in the summer months (June–September) is typically 15…18ºC.
Tartu, a town of ca 100,000 inhabitants, is the second largest city of Estonia and the oldest one in the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. River Emajõgi which connects the two largest lakes of Estonia flows for the length of 10 kilometres within the city limits and adds colour to the city.
The University of Tartu is not the only academic insitution of the city. Tartu has a total of 16 institutions of higher education and is an internationally renowned research centre. Moreover, since 2001, Tartu has been the seat of the Ministry of Education of Estonia.
The University of Tartu
Tartu is most proud to be a university town, with its oldest university having been founded in 1632. The University of Tartu (UT), in addition to being the oldest, is also the most venerable higher education institution in Estonia and one of the oldest and best-known universities throughout Northern and Eastern Europe. With its eleven faculties, UT is the only classical university in Estonia.
There are nearly 3,000 staff members and 20,000 students at UT. Just a few examples of famous scientists with connections to UT are Karl Ernst von Baer, Friedrich G.W. Struve, Wilhelm Friedrich Ostwald, Jüri Lotman, and Jaan Einasto. Taking all this into account, it is little wonder that UT is the only Baltic university admitted to the Coimbra Group of reputable research universities of long-standing tradition. In 2007, the University and the Estonian people alike celebrate the 375th anniversary of tertiary education in Estonia.