If you are like me, you have a tendency to lump the Baltic States together indiscriminately. More often than not, the importnat differences between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania get overlooked. Thankfully, my very first regular reader V. is from Estonia, so he was kind enough to send me the following list of major differences between these countries. Thank you, V.! This is really priceless.
The main differences between the Baltic States can be subdivided into:
a) linguistic. Latvian and Lithuanian belong to the same group of Baltic languages within the Indo-European family. Estonian is not even Indo-European, but Fenno-Ugric. As a result, Estonians have very close ties with Finland.
b) religious. Estonians are currently the least religious people, Lithuanians are devout catholics, and Latvians are in between. Historically, Estonians are lutherans, Lithuanians - catholics and Latvians are a mixture of the two.
d) recent history. Although all were annexed by Soviet Union as a result of Molorov-Ribbentrop pact, in the 90s Lithuania could not claim being a descendant of the previous Lithuanias. Because between the world wars Vilnius belonged to Poland, and Lithuania would have to return it. Estonia and Latvia both claimed continuity with respect to the pre-war Republics. As a result, they could adopt citizenship laws not automatically granting citizenship to Soviet era migrants. Latvia actually has the highest percentage of them among all the Baltic states.
In the 90s, Estonia adopted the most ultra-Friedmanite policies, which, surprisingly, were supported by a large enough fraction of the population. Unlike in most other countries, it seemed to work.