The European country where Skype was born made a conscious decision to embrace the web after shaking off Soviet shackles
Patrick Kingsley, guardian.co.uk, Sunday 15 April 2012
In 1995, four years after Estonia broke free from the USSR, Toomas Hendrik Ilves read a "very Luddite" book by Jeremy Rifkin called The End of Work. "It argued that with greater computerisation there would be fewer jobs," remembered Ilves, then a senior diplomat, now the country's president, "which from his point of view was terrible."
Ilves and many of his colleagues saw it differently. In a tiny (population: 1.4 million) and newly independent country like Estonia, politicians realised computers could help quickly compensate for both a minuscule workforce and a chronic lack of physical infrastructure.
Seventeen years on, the internet has done more than just help. It is now tightly entwined with Estonia's identity. "For other countries, the internet is just another service, like tap water, or clean streets," said Linnar Viik, a lecturer at the Estonian IT College, a government adviser and a man almost synonymous in Estonia with the rise of the web.
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How tiny Estonia stepped out of USSR's shadow to become an internet titan