The republic of Estonia is a small country of 45000 km² in the Baltic region northern Europe with 1.3 million inhabitants. Estonia first achieved independence in 1918, after centuries of Danish, Swedish, German and Russian rule. This lasted until 1940, when Estonia was incorporated into the Soviet Union. Estonia became independent again in 1991, initiating the collapse of the Soviet Union. Estonia is a mostly flat country along the Baltic sea, with a number of islands and bordering Russia to the east and Latvia to the south. Its capital is Tallinn.