Relief and morphology. – Constituting the extreme part of the lowlands of Eastern Europe, very modest elevations are noted in Estonia. The average absolute height of the village is 50 m. and the highest elevation reaches only 317 m. Taking this into account, the country can be divided into two parts. Northern Estonia consists of a low surface area which limits the Gulf of Finland by forming a steep bank, the so-called Glint. Southern Estonia is a higher and less monotonous terrain with three different zones (Viljandi, Otepää, Haanja districts); in the south-east is the aforementioned highest elevation of the country, the Suur Munamägi (Great Egg Mountain). The hilly terrain of northern and southern Estonia is then separated by a hollow (20-50 m.) Which extends from the Gulf of Riga to Lake Peipus and which consists of three fairly wide and interconnected plains. The orography is mostly related to the petrographic and stratigraphic conditions. Taking into account the fact that only the oldest and most recent geological formations come to light on the Estonian territory, while the intermediate ones are missing (Tertiary),
The soils of northern Estonia consist of limestone rocks and siluric dolomites in flat horizontal layers, while in southern Estonia the sandstones of Middle Devonico prevail, also arranged in horizontal layers. The coast of northern Estonia deserves special mention, where the layers (of the lower Silurico) of the steep coast rise on a base of clay and Cambrian sandstone. The Paleozoic base is today hidden by a diluvial, and also alluvial, cover.
From the petrographic character of the country we can understand the reason why in the geological past the glacial had more destructive effects in the north and more reconstructive in the south. To the north, the diluvial ice smoothed the pre-glacial relief and then covered it with a thin veil of glacial deposits, so that northern Estonia belongs to the territory of glacial erosion, while southern Estonia is part of the territory of glacial accumulation; in this respect, Estonia would therefore be a transitional region between Finland and Latvia.
If the geological construction of Estonia is basically very simple, the same can be said of the geomorphological framework. The geographer Finnish Granö has established three different glacial landscapes, to which you can add three different kinds of coasts: 1. northern and western islands belong to the region of Asar, elevation, which often have an extension of several kilometers, and which form a curious landscape of hills of fluvio-glacial origin. These Åsars constitute in the marshy landscape of the communication routes, lines of colonization and defense. 2. Average Estonia is the typical region of the Drumlins, with a particular imprint, all with elliptical hills, of glacial origin, which line up parallel and often surround long and narrow lakes. 3. Southeast Estonia is very different in nature. There we find a rough terrain of moraines, which offers a pleasant sight to the eye and which is at the same time of great advantage to economic life. The uneven topography suggests that the retreating glacial margin was not stationary and that in the intermediate stops large quantities of materials were deposited in those places; this is the most fertile region of Estonia. 4. A characteristic of Estonia is also its steep coast (Glint), which forms the fracture limit between the archaic Fennoscandia and the Paleozoic plain of Eastern Europe; only in the east and west does this line coincide with the sea, while elsewhere it is also ten km away. of distance. The destructive work of the sea on this coast which is up to 57 meters high, the picturesque ravines on the rivers that cross the Glint and the small waterfalls attract many tourists. The falls are then exploited as a source of electricity. 5. The NE coasts have a special character. facing the Gulf of Finland, the western coast of Lake Peipus and the one on the Gulf of Riga, due to the dunes, which also allow the formation of a sandy beach, used for sea bathing. 6. Finally, there are also marshy coasts at the OR.
Communications and ports. – Communications in Estonia can be said to be good when compared with those of the other two Baltic countries, although the roadways are underdeveloped and rather mediocre in terms of depth. As a strategic artificial road, only the Estonian part of the road connecting Riga to Pskov is notable. Winter communications are carried out by means of sledges. The snow cover is of great economic importance for swampy and muddy soils; it gives the cities the opportunity to supply themselves with timber and ensures the livelihoods of many people, who live off the sleigh traffic. The railway network of Estonia in the year 1930 had a development of 1257 km., Ie 2.6 km. per 100 km., and 1.1 kmq. for every 1000 residents.
The main railway junction is Tallinn, in a peripheral position. The lack of a line between the Gulf of Riga and Lake Peipus is felt, which would favor the transit trade in the country and it is very damaging to traffic that the Pärnu-Valga railway was cut from the Estonian-Latvian border line. Petseri. Water communications are currently of little importance: in 1924 about 530 km. of river routes could be used for navigation. A waterway is planned between the Gulf of Riga and the Peipus, using the Pärnu, Viljandi, Virts järv and Ema jõgi rivers. On the northern coasts, navigation during the winter is hampered by ice even more than on the western coasts, where it is made difficult and dangerous by the presence of rocks and shoals.
Since the 4 / 5 of the Estonian Foreign Trade take the sea route, the ports are of great importance for the economic life and traffic. The main port is that of Tallinn; 74% of total trade is concentrated there: more precisely, 56.6% of exports, 90.8% of imports and 80.3% of transit trade. Pärnu (10.4%, 20.3%, 4.2%, 0.7%) and Narva (8.3%, 9%, 2.5%, 19%) have some importance. Baltiski (Baltic Port), and Haapsalu (Hapsal) are secondary ports (0.4% and 0.1% of total trade).
Civil aviation is underdeveloped; the only national company had to suspend its operations following the abolition of government subsidies. Air traffic is entrusted to foreign companies: the Finnish “Aereo”, which manages the line: Helsinki-Tallinn km. 85 (daily); and the Russian “Derulurt”, which manages the Riga-Tallinn-Leningrad line, km. 570 (daily).