|Archipelago||West Estonian archipelago|
|Area||989 km2 (382 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||68 m (223 ft)|
|County, parish||Hiiu County, Hiiumaa Parish|
|Largest settlement||Kärdla (pop. 3,287 [as of 1 January 2012])|
|Pop. density||9.1/km2 (23.6/sq mi)|
Hiiumaa (US: / /,, Estonian: [ˈhiːumɑː]) is the second largest island in Estonia and is part of the West Estonian archipelago, in the Baltic Sea. It has an area of 989 km2 and is 22 km from the Estonian mainland. Its largest town is Kärdla. It is located within Hiiu County.
Hiiumaa was controlled by the Brothers of the Sword in the early 1200s (known as the Teutonic Knights from 1237). During this time it was first settled by Swedes and Germans. The island was ruled first from Denmark, then from Sweden, in the 1500s, and from Russia in the 1700s. It gained independence as part of Estonia in 1920 before being occupied by the Soviet Union from 1940 until 1991, when Estonia regained its independence.
Hiiumaa is the main island of Hiiu County, called Hiiumaa or Hiiu maakond in Estonian. The Swedish and German name of the island is Dagö or Dagden ('Day' island) and Dagø in Danish. In modern Finnish, it is called Hiidenmaa, literally 'Hiisi's Land'. In Russian it is known as Hijumaa (Хийумаа). In Old Gutnish, it was Dagaiþ ('day isthmus'), from which the local North Germanic name Daë is derived.
Hiiumaa emerged from the Baltic Sea 8500 years ago due to isostatic uplift after the retreat of the ice cap. Mesolithic settlements are found on the island's Kõpu Peninsula from about 5500 BC. These settlements seem to be related mostly to seal hunting and extend into the earliest Neolithic. As Hiiumaa is constantly uplifting the local sea level was 20 m higher than today at this time. For this reason these settlements are located far from the modern coastline. The pottery found at these sites is of the Narva Type and is similar to that found on Saaremaa and the Estonian mainland.
The first documented record of the island of Dageida was made by contemporary chroniclers in 1228, when Hiiumaa and the rest of Estonia were conquered by Germanic crusaders. In 1254, Hiiumaa was divided between the Bishopric of Ösel-Wiek and the Livonian branch of the Teutonic Order, acting partly on behalf of the Hanseatic League.
Swedish and Russian era
The island was part of Swedish Estonia from 1563 to 1721, after which it passed to the Russian Empire as part of the Governorate of Estonia, though Dagö's Swedish population kept most of their privileges. Most of the island's previously numerous Swedish-speaking population emigrated or were "Estonianised" during the period of Imperial Russian rule, although a minority remains to this day. Estonian Swedes are also known as "aibofolke" (meaning island people in Swedish) or "rannarootslased" (meaning coastal Swedes in Estonian). Administratively the island of Hiiumaa belonged to Lääne County.
World War I
World War II
The waters near Hiiumaa were active during World War II:
- 23 June 1941- The Soviet destroyer Gnevny was sunk by a German seamine.
- 25 June- the Soviet minesweeper T-208 Shkiv was destroyed by a German seamine.
- 27 June- Two German motor torpedo boats, S43 and S106, were destroyed by Soviet seamines.
- 1 July- the Soviet submarine M-81 was destroyed by a German seamine north of Hiiumaa.
- 7 July- the Soviet minesweeper T-216 was sunk.
- 30 July- the Soviet minesweeper T-201 Zarjad was sunk.
- 10 August- the German submarine U-144 was sunk by a torpedo from the Soviet submarine SC-307.
- Hiiumaa Island was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940, by Nazi Germany in 1941, and by the Soviets again in 1944.
It was part of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. During the Soviet era, Hiiumaa was declared a restricted zone, closed to foreigners and to most mainland Estonians. Since 1991, the island has been a part of independent Estonia. A number of derelict Soviet era forts and communication towers are still present on the island's northern coast.
Hiiumaa is an island in Estonia located north of Saaremaa in the Baltic Sea. It is the northernmost island in the Muhu archipelago, which includes Saaremaa and Muhu. Hiiumaa has a low relief (up to 68 m above sea level) and is mostly formed of limestone, that is exposed in cliffs around parts of the island's coast. In the North of the island there are a series of fossilized beaches preserved as uplift has occurred. The modern beaches are primarily on the northern and western coast lines. The natural environment is protected within the Tahkuna Nature Reserve and West Estonian Archipelago Biosphere Reserve.
The Hiiu Shoal (Nekmangrund) is located off the northwestern shore of Hiiumaa Island. The Soela Strait separates Hiiumaa from Saaremaa to its south, and the Muhu Strait separates it from the mainland of Estonia.
The fauna and flora of Hiiumaa are similar to the Estonian mainland. The mammal fauna includes elk, red deer, roe deer, wild boars, foxes, lynxes and martens. Wolves have recently started to repopulate the island after being made locally extinct.
Minks were also reintroduced in 2000, after they were exterminated by trappers. Since the end of the 1990s the island shelters a conservation project aimed at restoring populations of European mink, an endangered species of which there is about only 1,000 individual specimens left in Europe as of 2017. This project started with removing from the island all American minks that had escaped from breeding farms, and reintroducing some European minks. The latter started breeding.
The bird species found on the island include black storks, golden eagles, cranes, avocets and swans. The forests are dominated by pine and deciduous trees, the rest of the uncultivated land is covered by swamps and dunes. The island has about 1000 species of large plants of which 50 are protected.
The exposed geology of Hiiumaa is composed of Paleozoic Limestone which dips towards the South, covered by glacial sediments. In the North of the island the limestones are Ordovician and they young upwards to the Silurian in the South. These limestones formed at 30 degrees South and have since been moving North with the rest of the Estonian block. Bore holes have found Cambrian sedimentary rocks and a crystalline basement.
In the Ordovician (c. 455 million years ago) the sea floor was hit by a meteorite forming the 4 km wide Kärdla Impact Structure. This structure was then filled with Paleozoic sediment. It located about 4 km west-southwest of Kärdla and is barely visible in the modern geomorphology. The crater is well preserved at depth, with a clear rim, breccia and minerals and rocks formed from the heat and pressure of the impact.
The limestone is overlain by Pleistocene glacial deposits that were deposited as the ice cap retreated 11 to 12 thousand years ago. These include terminal moraines, the two most prominent being one in the South of Island running towards the North-East and another forming the Kõpu Peninsula.
|Climate data for Hiiumaa (Ristna 1991–2020 normals and extremes 1922–present, western part of Hiiumaa)|
|Record high °C (°F)||8.4
|Average high °C (°F)||1.2
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−0.5
|Average low °C (°F)||−2.7
|Record low °C (°F)||−28.4
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||52
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||12||8||8||7||6||7||7||9||11||12||14||14||116|
|Average relative humidity (%)||86||86||83||81||79||81||80||80||81||83||86||85||83|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||28.2||59.3||119.4||190.9||293.1||297.6||303.2||251.0||166.2||96.1||36.3||19.0||1,864.4|
|Source: Estonian Weather Service (precipitation days and sun 1971–2000)|
Towns and buildings
The island has several villages, as well a small town of Kärdla (pop. 3,287) and small boroughs of Käina and Kõrgessaare. The oldest surviving church was built in Pühalepa in 1259, though it was rebuilt in the 18th century. The Hanseatic League built a lighthouse in Kõpu near the start of the 16th century. It is the third oldest continuously operating lighthouse in the world.
Employment and land-use
Road transport from Estonian mainland to Hiiumaa involves a 90-minute (28 km) ferry crossing from Rohuküla to Heltermaa, which is 25 km by road from Kärdla. There are about 10 ferry departures a day operated by TS Laevad. In the summer weekends, getting car space on the ferry usually requires advance booking. There are about 2 scheduled buses a day between Tallinn (the capital of Estonia) and Kärdla. In the winter, the island can be reached, conditions permitting, via a 26.5 km ice road (the longest in Europe) across the frozen Baltic Sea. A bridge to the mainland of Estonia has been occasionally proposed.
Culture and politics
The island is part of the B7 Network, a loose grouping of the major island of the Baltic Sea. Smoked cooked plaice is a traditional summertime delicacy. There is a friendly rivalry with the neighboring island of Saaremaa.
- Roman von Ungern-Sternberg (1885-1921), White military commander in the Russian Civil War.
- Juhan Maaker (1845-1930), Estonian folk musician
- Rudolf Tobias (1873-1918), Estonian composer
- Marie Under (1883-1980), Estonian poet, nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature several times
- Aleksander Maaker (1890-1968), the last traditional player of the torupill (Estonian bagpipe)
- Lydia Mei (1896-1965), Estonian artist
- Ivan Triesault (1898-1980), Estonian-American actor
- Natalie Mei (1900-1975), Estonian artist
- Elmar Tampõld (1920-2013), Estonian-Canadian architect
- Ülo Sooster (1924-1970), Estonian artist
- Ave Alavainu (b. 1942), Estonian poet
- Erkki-Sven Tüür (b. 1959), Estonian composer of contemporary classical music
- Heiki Nabi (b. 1985), Estonian Olympic champion Greco-Roman wrestler
Tahkuna lighthouse Church of Kassari Sõru museum Malvaste chapel
Cars boarding the ferry to mainland at Heltermaa
Avenue at Suuremõisa Park
Café at Orjaku Harbor
- List of islands of Estonia
- List of islands in the Baltic Sea
- Estonian Swedes
- Windtower Experience center
- Comparison of self-government units, Statistical Council's Regional Portal (checked 7 November 2012)
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- The Baltic coast, video by Free High-Quality Documentaries, on youtube.com. For the European mink conservation project on Hiiumaa, see 32'20 - 34-02. For the American mink having supplanted the European mink and the former's removal from the island, see 33'40 - 34'02.
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Hiiumaa travel guide from Wikivoyage
- Media related to Hiiumaa at Wikimedia Commons
- Hiiumaa County government Official site
- Hiiumaa at Curlie
- Pictures of Coastal batteries World War I and World War II in Hiiumaa Official site