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Counties were independent entities and engaged only in a loose co-operation against foreign threats.

A more troubled and war-ridden middle Iron Age followed, with external threats appearing from different directions.Several Scandinavian sagas referred to major confrontations with Estonians, notably when Estonians defeated and killed the Swedish king Ingvar.Please consider converting them to full citations to ensure the article remains verifiable and maintains a consistent citation style.Several templates and the re Fill tool are available to assist in formatting.The territory of Estonia has been inhabited since at least 9000 BC.

Ancient Estonians were some of the last European pagans, and were Christianized during a crusade in the 13th century.

Similar threats appeared in the east, where Russian principalities were expanding westward.

In 1030 Yaroslav the Wise defeated Estonians and established a fort in modern-day Tartu; this foothold lasted until an Estonian tribe, the Sosols, destroyed it in 1061, followed by their raid on Pskov.

Since restoration of its independence, Estonia has been a democratic unitary parliamentary republic divided into fifteen counties. With a population of 1.3 million, it is one of the least-populous member states of the European Union, Eurozone, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Schengen Area, and of NATO.

Estonia is a developed country with an advanced, high-income economy that as of 2011 is among the fastest growing in the EU. The land inhabited by Estonians was called Maavald meaning "Country Realm" or "Land Realm".

In the early centuries AD, political and administrative subdivisions began to emerge in Estonia.