Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Hiiumaa, Estonia

Speaking of holidays... My parents are going to Prague next week for a few days. I'm so jealous, Prague is one of those cities I'd really love to visit as well. It's quite funny though, my parents are going because my sister had told them they need to go on a holiday somewhere else than to their caravan where they always spend their holidays :D I do agree with my sister, though, I think my parents need this. ...although it's not like they spend ALL their holidays at their caravan - they've been to Estonia a few times as well. One of those visits was in 2005 when they visited Hiiumaa. ..and sent me this postcard from there :) I like it how my family have always been into sending postcards from holidays, even way before I had heard of Postcrossing.

The lighthouse is the Kõpu Lighthouse, I think. I've already written about it here so I won't repeat myself again here. The other pictures I'm not sure of, it doesn't say anything on the card (which seems quite unusual for an Estonian postcard; most of the ones I have seem to have some kind of description of the pictures at the back of the card).

Hiiumaa is the second largest island (989 km²) belonging to Estonia. It is located in the Baltic Sea, north of the island of Saaremaa, a part of the West Estonian archipelago. Its largest town is Kärdla.

Archaeological evidence of the first human settlement in Hiiumaa dates to as early as the 4th century BC. The first documented record of the island of Dageida was made by contemporary chroniclers in 1228, at the time when Hiiumaa, along with the rest of Estonia, had been conquered by Germanic crusaders. In 1254, Hiiumaa was divided between the Bishopric of Ösel-Wiek and the Livonian branch of the Teutonic Order, who were also partly acting on behalf of the Hanseatic League.

 The island was part of Swedish Estonia from 1563 to 1721, after which it passed to the Russian Empire as part of the Governorate of Estonia, although Dagö's Swedish population kept most of their privileges. Most of the island's previously numerous Swedish-speaking population emigrated or were "Estonianised" during the period of Imperial Russian rule, although a small minority remains to this day. Estonian Swedes are also known as "aibofolke" (meaning island people in Swedish) or "rannarootslased" (meaning coastal Swedes in Estonian).

Hiiumaa was occupied during World War I by the Imperial German Army, in Operation Albion. After the war, it became a part of independent Estonia. It was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940, by Nazi Germany in 1941, and by the Soviets again in 1944. It was then a part of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic until the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991. During the Soviet era Hiiumaa was declared a restricted zone, closed to foreigners and to most mainland Estonians. Since 1991, the island has been a part of independent Estonia.

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