Tallinn conurbation

Tallinn is a magnet for the entire country, incorporating 28 per cent of the whole population; when the population of surrounding Harju county is taken into account, the percentage rises to 37. This disproportionately large number is typical of capital cities: a similar situation can be encountered in most developed countries. A major part of the financial and governmental sector is situated in Tallinn; a qualified workforce has a better chance to find a high-paying job there, so the influx continues. Additionally, many people commute to Tallinn from quite distant parts of the country. Compared with the first period of independence, the settlement density has primarily grown in Harju county, Tallinn and the surrounding areas, together with the increased construction business.

The formation of urban sprawl (unplanned and uncontrolled urban expansion along the network of transport routes) along all major roads actually constitutes one of the most characteristic features of the development of Tallinn. The area within a radius of 50 km of Tallinn is turning into the city’s dormitory: people move away to small towns and to the country, seeking a higher-quality and more private environment. Tallinn’s satellites now include Keila, Saue, Maardu, Kehra, Aegviidu, Loksa and Paldiski, where a considerable part of the Harju rural population now lives; this is also true of the coastal areas within a radius of 50 km of Tallinn.

A highly valued residential district is also the Tallinn city centre; prices are also going up in the old wooden-house area, increasingly rare in Europe. The inhabitants of those districts, which largely turned into slums during the Soviet period, are gradually being replaced by people who restore old houses and build new ones. At the same time the population at the high-rise apartment complex districts like Lasnamäe, Mustamäe and Õismäe has not diminished. In the mostly Russian-speaking Lasnamäe, the population is practically the same as that of Tartu. The Russian community now constitutes about 40 per cent of the population of Tallinn; an entire Russian-language infrastructure has developed there: Russian-language schools, cultural centres and entertainment establishments abound. Cheap prices have turned Tallinn into an important recreation and shopping centre for neighbouring Helsinki. Despite Tallinn’s increasingly significant role, there is still no reason to expect the entire Estonian population to concentrate in the capital city. This is ensured by the well-established settlement system, and state and regional interests. Growing prosperity and the government-initiated administrative-territorial reform should diminish regional differences.

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