Estonia, a small country in northern Europe had a population of about 1.325 million people in 2012. When Estonia joined the European Union in 2004, healthcare workers began leaving Estonia for other countries with better pay and working conditions, such as Finland, where physician salaries were as much as four times greater. The ageing and shrinking healthcare force had become increasingly overburdened with the country’s healthcare demands.
Since the 1920s, phosphorite mining has polluted the air and water of Estonia. The former Soviet Union republic is rich in phosphorite deposits, which can be used to make phosphorus fertilizers. In the 1960s, the Soviet Union began exploiting Estonia’s deposits with large-scale mining operations. The ensuing problems were caused not by the phosphorite, but by the layers of oil shale that were removed in the process of extraction. The excess shale was typically dumped close to the mine, where it would continually catch fire and pollute the groundwater.
Estonians have long held a tradition of singing. Beginning in 1869, Estonians have held a song festival every five years called the Laulupidu during which thousands of Estonians gather to sing together.