Tallinn castle flowers

Diversity in Tallinn

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CIEE wants all our students to feel welcomed, supported, and empowered to succeed while studying abroad. On this page, local CIEE staff have provided details about conditions and cultural attitudes that students with specific identities might encounter at their location.
The information below is just a broad overview so if you have specific questions or concerns not covered here, please email inclusion@ciee.org. We would be glad to have local staff share their perspectives, talk with you about accommodations, connect you with resources, and/or put you in touch with a program alum who could speak about their experiences navigating a program in this location.
No matter where you choose to study abroad with CIEE, our staff—all of whom receive regular and comprehensive training in diversity, equity, and inclusion—will be on hand throughout your program to provide advice, resources, and support regarding these issues.



Generally, in Estonia, people do not treat others differently based on their weight or physical appearance. While extreme weights might surprise some individuals, it's not common for such observations to be commented on out loud. In recent times, there has been a trend toward exercising, going to the gym, staying in shape, and adopting healthy eating habits. Despite this trend, it's noted that a portion of the Estonian population is somewhat overweight. The cultural attitude appears to prioritize overall well-being without overtly stigmatizing individuals based on their physical appearance.



In Estonian society, disabilities are generally taken care of and respected. However, not all facilities in Tallinn are easily accessible for those with disabilities, including some buildings lacking elevators and escalators. Moving around in certain areas, especially in the old town, can pose challenges due to the city's historical background and less modern planning. However, all universities and other public buildings are accessible, and city buses and cabs are typically equipped to accommodate movement-related disabilities. If you have a disability and would like more information on how assistance can be provided, please consult with your Study Abroad Advisor for further details.



The Estonian language is not gender-specific, meaning it doesn't inherently distinguish between genders in linguistic terms. However, the older generation in Estonia tends to adhere more to traditional gender stereotypes. In contrast, the younger generation is less inclined to accept traditional gender roles and expectations. There is an open discussion within the society about creating space for the expression of non-binary gender identities, especially in larger and more modern urban areas like Tallinn. This reflects a generational shift and a more progressive attitude towards gender diversity in Estonia.



Estonia is a relatively homogeneous country, with 70% of the population being Estonians and 20% being Russian. Other nationalities collectively make up 10%. While this homogeneity may potentially make some students with different racial and ethnic backgrounds feel uncomfortable, universities in Estonia host students from around the world, contributing to greater diversity on campus.

Estonians are generally reserved and do not typically comment on people's ethnic or racial origins. However, there may be instances where comments occur, especially in the case of a significantly different appearance from a European standard. It's noteworthy that Asian people are often regarded as very smart in Estonia, and this perception has persisted even amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Importantly, Estonians do not blame Asians for the outbreak of COVID-19, maintaining a level of understanding and sensitivity.



Historically, Estonia has been a Protestant country, but currently, only 14% of the population consider faith to be vital. The majority of believers in Estonia are Orthodox and Lutherans. Religion has not played a significant role in Estonian politics or ideology, and any trend toward stronger ties between the state and the Lutheran Church in the late 1930s was interrupted by the Soviet occupation in 1940.

During the Soviet period, many families in Estonia severed their connections with religion. However, there are churches in Estonia, and students have the opportunity to participate in the work of congregations. It's important to note that the Islamic faith is not widespread in Estonia.



Sexual orientation in Estonia is a complex and evolving topic, with the country generally considered one of the more progressive and LGBTQIA+ friendly nations in the Baltic region.

Same-sex partnerships are legalized, providing legal recognition and certain rights for same-sex couples, although full marriage equality is not yet recognized.

Estonia has anti-discrimination laws that specifically prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, covering various aspects of life, including employment and access to goods and services.

Attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ individuals and rights have become more accepting, especially among younger generations, and public Pride events are held in Tallinn and other cities with growing support and participation.

Estonia has an active LGBTQIA+ rights movement, with organizations like the Estonian LGBT Association playing a key role in promoting equality and rights for LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Despite progress, challenges and discrimination persist, particularly in more conservative and rural areas. Transgender individuals face specific challenges related to legal recognition and healthcare access.

Overall, while Estonia has made strides in LGBTQIA+ rights, there is ongoing work to address remaining issues and ensure full equality and acceptance across the country.



The cost of living in Estonia can vary significantly depending on the city or region, lifestyle, and personal circumstances. Estonia's overall cost of living is generally lower than in many Western European countries but may be higher than in some other Eastern European countries. Tallinn is the most expensive region.

The cost of groceries and dining out in Estonia is moderate. While you can save money by cooking at home, eating at restaurants and cafes is also relatively affordable compared to Western Europe. It's advisable to check the menu and prices before entering a restaurant. The more affordable food stores include Maxima and Grossi, but other well-known stores like Prisma, Rimi, and Selver are also reasonably priced. Markets offer a variety of seasonal local food, but these items may be more expensive as they often include eco-friendly goods from small producers.

The cost of entertainment and leisure activities, such as going to the cinema, theaters, or fitness centers, is relatively moderate. Prices are usually cheaper for students (with a valid student card) and, in some cases, until 4 pm on weekdays.



While the U.S. government issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee entry or transit through Estonia. Presently, Estonia does not have a specific policy in place for this identifier, which means that entry might be denied. Travelers are advised to stay informed about the latest travel regulations and consult with relevant authorities before planning their trip.

Programs in Tallinn