The UN classifies Estonia as a Northern European country

The United Nations has classified Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as Northern European countries instead of Eastern European.*

According to the United Nations, Northern European countries are Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Eastern European countries are, according to the classification, Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine.

nordic-mapThere has been some confusion as per when exactly the United Nations took the decision to classify Estonia and the Baltic states as Northern European countries.

The Latvian MEP and the country’s former foreign and defence minister, Artis Pabriks, commended the decision on Twitter on 8 January 2017. “This is where we belong,” he tweeted, after finding out.

The Estonian MP, Marko Mihkelson, echoed this in a Facebook post. “It’s well logical in both geographical and geopolitical sense,” he said, adding that this reclassification may make it easier for international journalists if they need to position Estonia geographically.

Since Estonian politicians and many Estonia’s international friends have for years argued that the country is in fact, “Nordic”, the news about the classification started to make rounds in the Estonian media. It then emerged, however, that the UN has classified Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as Northern Europe since at least 2002. Estonian World has contacted the United Nations for the clarification.

* The original version of this article said that the UN has reclassified Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as Northern Europe. The term “reclassify” is not an accurate phrase, since the UN has classified the three countries as Northern Europe since at least 2002. Estonian World apologises for the inaccuracy.


Read also: Adam Garrie: Nordic by Nordic East: Estonia’s regional identitySimpson Buglass: Estonia is Nordic, isn’t it? and Sir Malcolm Bruce: Estonia is clearly a Nordic country.

Enjoyed this article?
Please consider becoming a supporter.

About the author: Estonian World

Estonian World is a global independent online magazine, founded in London in 2012 and headquartered in Tallinn, Estonia. The magazine has editorial representations in London, New York, Toronto and Tallinn, and contributors all over the world, on every continent. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

  • Mver

    It is not a new classification! The UN area classification page has always looked like this. For years. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have always been listed there as Northern European countries. The fact that some idiot finally discovered that such a division and such a page exist does not mean it’s new or that we’ve been “reclassified”, the Baltic countries were never officially classified as Eastern Europe in the first place. I’d really like to know what the sources are on this and if it started from the Latvian MP because he finally discovered the page and thought it was new…this is just embarrassing.

    • Tauno Kangur

      I totally concur with Mver: Mr. Pabriks ha probably never seen this UN website before and nowhere is a UN official announcement of any “reclassification”. Since their joining UN in 1991 Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been part on Northern-Europe on this economic activity classification of UN Statistical Division.

    • Fritz Wunderlich

      Due to the official website of the United Nations, Estonia is categorized in Eastern Europe Group.

  • Sanna

    I’ve been trying to google this decision in all possible ways, but I don’t find an article with UN annoncement. Could you offer any other source other than Estonian?

  • Peedu Tuisk

    This “news” is spreading like wildfire, but actually UN Geoscheme has listed Estonia as Northern-Europe for ever.

  • Alan Tallmeister

    Much less so in the past but still on occasion even to this day some Canadians ask whether Estonians are Slavs, Germans or Swedes. I explain they’re closest to the Finns but many think Finland is a sort of more obscure Sweden. This classification announcement won’t help much in this regard.

  • M

    the map in the article doesn’t show all Northern Europe Countries: Northern Europe

    Åland Islands, Channel Islands, Denmark, Estonia, Faeroe Islands, Finland, Guernsey, Iceland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sark, Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands, Sweden, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

  • Russia exitCrimea

    As long putin stays out of it .

  • Oskar L Mujika

    Since 2002

  • Peeter Susi

    I want Estonia to be classified to be a part the regions of India and Pakistan

    Picture an Indian restaurant selling pirukad

    • Heldur Bender

      Maybe Baltic countries are related to Baltistan region in India-Pakistan?!?!

  • Victor_D

    So when will the U.N. finally wake up and smell the 21st century reality of Central Europe? Associating the Czech Republic (historically a Western country with EU membership and a developed economy as well as democratic governance) with Belarus (the exact opposite) is a bad joke bordering on slander.

  • Astian

    Northern European does not necessarily mean “Nordic”.

  • John

    All Northern Europeans I have met associate Estonia either with eastern Europe, or, sometimes with central Europe. And that makes sense, who could consider Estonia as part of the same world with England? not to mention that it’s a Uralic speaking country