Estonians in Siberia: over a century abroad
The Estonians settling in Russia built their villages in Siberia, the region of the Volga River and elsewhere in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Here we introduce the villages that have existed for over a hundred years, their fate, living conditions, national culture and people. The page is compiled in Estonia and you can go here to view the authors.
In the 18th century the first persons to arrive in Siberia from Estonia and Livonia were convicts sentenced to forced labour and exile. Nevertheless, the majority of the expatriates were volunteers. The resettlers founded almost 500 villages in Russia, with over 100 of them built in Siberia. In 1926 there lived approximately 30,000 Estonians. The total amount of Estonians in Russia at that time reached 200,000. Go here to read about the emigration and the earlier history of the Siberian Estonians.
According to the population census of 2002, 28,113 Estonians resided in Russia, 11,400 of them in Siberia and 986 in the Far East, whereas a sizeable part lived in the cities of Russia. Yet we can still meet Estonians in a few villages dating back a whole century. The largest number of the Estonian villages outside Estonia can be found in Siberia – approximately 40. Go here to view the map and the villages existing today.
The road taken by the Siberian Estonians is simultaneously long and short. The shortness of their history is evident in several manifestations. The people remember the stories of the long journeys of their ancestors from Estonia and of how the villages were founded. The fields and the hills around the village are named after their ancestors and those ancestors are sometimes still remembered. On the other hand, it has been a long while – the people have lived away from Estonia for over a hundred years, six generations have passed.
We would like to invite the reader to retrace the route chosen by those who journeyed to Siberia one century ago and wrote a new page in the book of history of the world, especially in the history of their own lives and the life of their nation.