How Expo 2020 is set to change the perception of this small digital-first European country.
The much-anticipated Expo 2020 was delayed for over a year while the COVID-19 pandemic raged around the world, but it eventually moved forward in Dubai from October 1st, 2021 to March 31st, 2022.
One country amongst the many participating nations – Estonia – ‘wowed’ visitors with its surprisingly advanced technology. Little-known Estonia and its Expo 2020 pavilion informed and educated visitors on Estonia's many technological initiatives, all while serving up some of its hearty delicacies. Presented across two floors, the Estonia pavilion’s first floor was open to every kind of visitor, while the second floor was for those looking for even more information about Estonia. Here’s the lowdown on this small country’s big showcase at the Expo 2020.
ESTONIA, LIVING IN AN ONLINE FUTURE
How’s this for a pleasant surprise? At Expo 2020, Estonia’s pavilion shed light on how the country is the most advanced digital society in the world. While you might think of Japan, Silicon Valley, or South Korea when you think of technology – maybe it’s time to introduce a new entry to that list – because the Baltic nation of Estonia is here to prove its case.
With Estonia’s rapid advancement in technology at the forefront of the pavilion’s themes, Expo 2020 will impress audiences with a plethora of ‘Estonian e-solutions’. As being online is a part of Estonians’ lives now more than ever, Estonia boasts that their locals do almost everything online. Going far beyond the usual online shopping and e-banking, Estonians can gain ‘e-Residency’. The first country to offer any kind of e-Residency, this online functionality allows digital entrepreneurs to get on top of their businesses from anywhere in the world. As recently as July 2020, Estonia announced the launch of a ‘digital nomad visa’, as the COVID-19 pandemic rendered remote working the norm in the country.
Leading the world in public sector technology, developments such as e-Residency ensures that Estonians have access to transparency, and are digitally and financially included in Estonia’s ‘information society’. ‘e-Residency’, however, is far from Estonia’s first foray into cutting-edge public sector technology. ‘e-Tax’ was famously launched in 2000, ‘i-Voting’ in 2005, and blockchain technology in 2008. It’s quite astonishing what Estonians have been able to achieve – long before some of their more famous European counterparts. With Estonians being experts in international data exchange, cybersecurity, and e-Transportation, the Estonia pavilion aims to demonstrate and educate visitors about many of its e-Solutions.
This tech movement has been labeled ‘e-Estonia’, as the government continues to help Estonian citizens interact with the government in a more efficient, dynamic way. Expect to learn more about e-services such as e-Business, e-Banking, e-School, e-Governance, and ‘University via internet’ at Estonia’s Expo 2020 pavilion, with live presentations, seminars, and events taking place every day.
A WHOLESOME FEAST IN ESTONIA
During the Expo, you could absorb Estonia’s tech-savvy solutions over some of its local culinary treats. We didn't leave on an empty stomach when visiting the Estonia Expo 2020 pavilion, as delicacies such as traditional rye bread and sweet local deserts are planned to be on the tasting platter too. Nordic cuisine with a sprinkling of unique, Estonian flair – Estonia’s gastronomical delights can be best described as warm, wholesome, and hearty. Luckily, visitors can dine at a Nordic street food restaurant on the first floor, as well as go for a drink at the pavilion’s robot bar. Tasty and technologically advanced – what could be better?
Other Estonian delights include smoked fish, aspic, beets and potatoes, curd cheese, and blood sausage. While not the most accessible cuisine in the world, the Expo 2020 is the perfect place to try your first Estonian meal.
VISION OF BLUE: HOMAGE TO ESTONIA’S X-ROAD SOFTWARE
Capitalizing on the technology theme, Estonia’s Expo 2020 pavilion will feature a striking, neon blue design adorning a large rectangular hall. Termed ‘data clouds’, the edgy digital design was inspired by the X-Road, Estonia’s most well-known data exchange information system. The X-Road has been around since 2001, and to this day, continues to develop new technologies that provide solutions for Estonians every day. Everything e-Estonia is stored on X-Road, which connects information between the government and Estonia’s citizens.
Remarkably, the X-Road has been designed in a way that the government of Estonia could still function, even if one day, another country invaded Estonia – no wonder the Estonian pavilion is paying homage to it!
INTERESTING ESTONIA AT A GLANCE
With a population of only 1.33 million, Estonia is often overlooked in favor of other European countries. Keen to know more about this fascinating bite-sized nation? Let’s reel off some interesting facts that you might learn at the Estonia Expo 2020 pavilion.
According to tests, Estonia reportedly has the best education in all of Europe. UNESCO has also announced that Estonia’s adult literacy rate is at an astoundingly high 99.8% – one of the highest globally. In that same vein, Estonia has become so forward-thinking that you can create a whole new company in just 18 minutes using an app on your phone. Another fun fact: we knew Estonia loved the internet a long time ago – but they’ve since actually declared it to be a human right.
Sticking with technology titbits, the video-call app Skype was partially founded by Estonians, and 44% of Skype's employees are located in the Estonian cities of Tallinn and Tartu. Tallinn, the nation’s capital, actually has Europe’s highest number of start-up companies per capita.
Something to think about for all guys out there – Estonia is primarily made up of females. There are only 84 men for every 100 females in Estonia, and, the women in Estonia live 10 years longer on average than the men. Pretty wild, right?
Being a Nordic country, Estonia excels at all things winter. This includes being fantastic at scoring Olympic gold medals at the Winter Olympics. Estonia has managed to win 25.5 medals for every 1 million residents – which is incredibly high compared to other countries. Estonia’s thick snow season lasts from mid-December to around late March every year.
Curious about Estonia yet? You can learn about some of these interesting facts, and more, by visiting Estonia’s pavilion at the former Expo 2020 grounds in Dubai.
Truly a trailblazer in online technology, the Estonia pavilion at the Expo 2020 in Dubai is the place to learn all about the forward-thinking initiatives this country is up to. The Estonia pavilion was at Expo 2020 in Dubai, which ran from October 2021 to March 2022.