Geographically, Estonia is on the north-eastern edge of the European Union, bordering Russia and Latvia. The country is a democratic parliamentary republic, divided into 15 counties. The capital and largest city is Tallinn. Estonia is a Baltic gem offering visitors the chance to see an ex-Soviet occupied country that is now part of the European Union. Traces of the Soviet era are still there to be seen — e.g. Paldiski, a deserted Soviet army base that was once off-limits to Estonians themselves, can easily be visited on a day trip from the capital, Tallinn. Tallinn’s medieval old town was built by the Germans in Middle Ages and is in magnificent condition, with the medieval city walls and towers almost completely intact and it rates as one of Europe’s best medieval old towns. Glorious beaches pepper the extensive coastline, although the swimming season is short. After all, the Baltics are not renowned for warm weather – something that any visitor to Estonia must be aware of — the summer is short and the winter is severe.