What You Need To Know
Tartu is the second largest city of Estonia, after Estonia’s political and financial capital Tallinn. Tartu is often considered the intellectual centre of the country, especially since it is home to the nation’s oldest and most renowned university, the University of Tartu. The city also houses the Supreme Court of Estonia, the Ministry of Education and Research and the new impressive building of the Estonian National Museum opened to public on October 2016. It is also the birthplace of Estonian Song Festivals. Situated 186 kilometres (116 miles) southeast of Tallinn and 245 kilometres (152 miles) northeast of Riga, Tartu lies on the Emajõgi (“Mother river”), which connects the two largest lakes of Estonia. The city is served by Tartu Airport.
Population: Estimate 95, 876
Area: 38.8 km²
The Estonian Kroon is the currency of Estonia.
Mostly known as a university town, Tartu is also a site of heavy industry. The food industry has traditionally been important for the town’s economy and some bigger companies in the field include A. Le Coq, Tartu Mill and Salvest. Kroonpress is the leading printing press company the Baltic States. In the beginning of the 21st century, many ICT enterprises and other high-tech companies have taken a foothold in Tartu. Notable examples include Playtech Estonia, Nortal (formerly Webmedia Group), ZeroTurnaround, Tarkon, Regio and Raintree Estonia. Skype has an office in Tartu. The university is one of the largest employers, which explains the large proportion of highly skilled professionals – researchers, professors, doctors, and Tartu University Clinic has been considered the largest employer of Tartu.
Education and culture
The city is best known for being home to the University of Tartu, founded under King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden in 1632. Mainly for this reason, Tartu is also – tongue-in-cheek – known as “Athens of the Emajõgi” or as “Heidelberg of the North”. Tartu is also the seat of the Estonian University of Life Sciences, the Baltic Defence College, Estonian Aviation Academy (formerly known as Tartu Aviation College), and the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research. Other notable institutions include the Supreme Court of Estonia(re-established in Tartu in autumn 1993), the Estonian Historical Archives, Estonian National Museum, Estonian Sports Museum as well as the oldest and renowned theatre in the country, Vanemuine, where they have a well-respected ballet company as well as theatre, opera and musical productions. In music, there exists the Tartu school of composition.
There are 49 members on the town council, elected by residents every four years using a proportional system of representation. The executive branch of the town government consists of a mayor and five deputy mayors. The current mayor is Urmas Klaas. Andrus Ansip, Prime Minister of Estonia from 2005 to 2014, was mayor of Tartu from 1998 to 2004. The position was later served by other politicians who eventually became ministers of government, Laine Jänes and Urmas Kruuse. All of them are members of the Estonian Reform Party, which has dominated in Tartu since 1998.
The official language of Estonia and Tartu is Estonian.
Tartu has been an intellectual centre of both Estonia and Baltic countries for several centuries. Scholars hailing from Tartu include the pioneer of embryology Karl Ernst von Baer, a pioneer of animal behaviour studies Jakob von Uexküll, and a cultural theorist and semiotician Juri Lotman. Tartu School is one of the leading scientific schools in the field of semiotics.
Tartu lies within the temperate humid continental climate zone. The climate is rather mild considering the high latitude, largely due to the proximity of the Baltic Sea and warm airflows from the Atlantic. Nevertheless, continental influence can be felt on hot summer days and cold spells in winter, when temperature can occasionally (but rarely) drop below −30 °C (−22 °F). Generally, summers are cool to warm and winters are cold.