North Estonia includes two diverse counties – Harju and Rapla. The total area of this region is around 7,000 sq km, and the population in 2022 was about 210,000 (and 638,000 if Tallinn, which in this page’s context is considered a separate region, included).
Harju County offers an advanced and rapidly developing production infrastructure – roads, telecommunications, warehouse facilities, etc.; and a compatible transportation network with easy access to the Tallinn international airport, railway, and several passenger and cargo ports (the largest cargo port being Muuga Harbour). The region´s beneficial business environment for industrial, global business services and supply chain sectors attracts foreign direct investments from global multinationals as well as European companies of different sizes.
Harju County surrounding the capital Tallinn focuses on manufacturing, energy and electronics. The northwestern-most part of Estonia is known for its renewable energy production sources – the wind energy park at Pakri peninsula, and Balticconnector (the bi-directional natural gas pipeline between Ingå, Finland and Paldiski, Estonia). An LNG terminal, a hydrogen production plant, and a 500 MW pumped hydroenergy storage are planned future developments in the region.
Rapla County is mainly focused on smaller, environmentally friendly businesses, with clean and green food production being a good example. Nevertheless, there are many large production companies in the region as well.
Harju County is situated in Northern Estonia, on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland. The capital and largest city of Estonia, Tallinn (see separate region page), is located in Harju County, making it the largest county in Estonia in terms of population. With Tallinn included, almost half (45%) of Estonia’s population lives in Harju County, without Tallinn, the population is around 176,000.
Harju County is the heart of the smart economy of Northern Europe, it has an excellent living environment, sustainable infrastructure and fast and convenient connections with the whole world.
Harju County’s population and economy keep growing and the economic growth in the region is also a major contributor to Estonia’s overall international competitiveness. The people in Harju County stand out for their entrepreneurial mindset. Over 50% of the enterprises created in Estonia each year are established in Harju County (with Tallinn included) and the same applies to the number of already existing companies. Harju County ranks first among Estonian counties in terms of living standards.
There is a wide choice of business locations available – various industrial parks and tech villages, including but not limited to Keila Industrial Park in Keila, Pakri Science and Industrial Park and Baltic Sea Industrial Hub in Paldiski.
The labour force in Harju County is highly skilled, well-educated and motivated. The labour market can be described by a broad range of engineering excellence with international experience and multi-lingual skills (in addition to English and Russian, Scandinavian languages are widely represented as well). The development of labour force is supported by Estonian universities and several educational and professional colleges located in Tallinn.
Harju County offers an excellent logistical location and efficient transport connections via sea, rail and road networks. The following infrastructural objects of importance are situated in the region:
You can find more detailed information on investing in Harju County here.
Rapla County is located in the central part of North Estonia. Rapla has an excellent geographical location – the centre of Rapla County is only 50 km from the capital Tallinn, which gives fast access to the international airport, cargo and passenger ports. It is also near other transport nodal points like the North and South ports of Paldiski and the Port of Pärnu. Via Baltica and ongoing railway infrastructure project Rail Baltica pass through Rapla County (in addition to existing railway connections with the area and with a possible regional station in the town of Rapla).
Rapla County has always had a diverse economic structure. This is the county’s strength, as the economy as a whole is, therefore, less vulnerable and the development more consistent. Traditionally, entrepreneurship in Rapla County is diverse and the region is rich in SMEs. Still, many large international corporations like Lallemand (Canada), OI Production (USA), Lindström (Sweden), etc. have set up their production units here.
Most companies operate in the manufacture of timber products, furniture, metals, plastics and building materials. The abundance and variety of small enterprises is the main strength of the economic life in the region.
Rapla County has 5 industrial parks. Forests cover almost 50 % of the county, while swamps and bogs cover 30 %. There is an airfield in Rapla County with a size of 177 ha that was built in 1939 as an airfield for the Soviet Army but is one of Estonia’s largest recreational aviation centers today. Another possible spot for further real estate development in the region is OCTA Centrum.
The beautiful, safe and peaceful living environment with a rich and active cultural scene attracts many people from the capital, who are tired of the hustle and bustle of the big city and want to build their homes elsewhere. So, that is why the region shares a big part of its workforce with Tallinn.
The county capital Rapla is also called the basketball capital of Estonia due to its long traditions and strong local team. Basketball is very important for the residents of Rapla county. The first Estonian Basketball Museum established by the Basketball School will add special importance to this sports field in the region.
Estonia is a cashless society with over 99% of financial transactions occurring digitally. Electronic ID and Blockchain are widely used in FinTech applications. 80+ FinTechs ranging from innovative startups such as Wise to Blockchain leader Guardtime make Estonia a global centre of excellence for FinTech.
Estonia is the world’s most digitally enabled nation, offering a unique combination of talent, environment, and innovation. Our IT R&D ecosystem enjoys global proof of concept, being trusted by global organisations such as Kuehne+Nagel and NATO and producing unicorn startups like Wise and Bolt.
Estonia has a sizeable food industry which benefits from ecological raw materials, skilled workers and modern production facilities. With an established export capability and growing application of food science and technology, Estonia is the ideal location for export and R&D oriented investment.
Estonia is not only a pioneering digital society, which has found convincing answers to the challenges of digitalization, but it also is a very green country. There is a strong societal and political will to utilize the capabilities and ecosystems. These have been developed to tackle the challenges of decarbonization of the economy and to become once again a leading player – in CleanTech and GreenTech.
Defence systems have always been a focal point for Estonia. The country has built a small but very capable defence army consisting of a professional army, conscription service, and national defence league, complimented by NATO allied forces. Over the years technology entrepreneurs and engineers have teamed up with the army to develop world-class solutions for the global defence industry. When we mean defence, we mean business.
Metaverse is the parallel universe or a unified universal virtual world, facilitated by the use of virtual and augmented reality headsets. In addition to the fact that existing products and services can be transferred to the Metaverse, it achieves a completely new economic environment and opportunities to create and market products and services that are unique to the Metaverse. Simply said, Metaverse has no limits in Estonia.
Estonia developed X-Road, its proprietary decentralised, distributed system in 2001 and has utilised Blockchain since 2008. World-class technical skills supported by practical experience implementing public and permissioned Blockchain’s place Estonia at the forefront of the emerging Blockchain economy.
Patient records in Estonia are digitised and secured by the Blockchain, providing a single immutable data source for healthcare professionals. With a unique digital platform and collaborative ecosystem, Estonia is positioned to lead on preventative medicine, patient self-treatment and industry efficiency.
Estonia has a diversified energy sector which comprises long-standing expertise in oil shale, a sizeable renewables sector and growing CleanTech capability. World-class expertise within a highly digital, pro-business environment will see Estonia play a leading role in the energy revolution
Estonia has one of Europe’s largest bioeconomies, including world leading expertise in forest-based activity. Supported by high-quality natural resources, ultra-high use of IT and supportive policy making, Estonia offers a range of production and innovation opportunities.
Estonia’s marine sector specialises in the design and build of small and medium-sized commercial and leisure vessels. Centuries long expertise, cutting-edge application of IT and a flexible approach make Estonia a competitive location for innovation and export-oriented production.
What is it like to run a business in Estonia? How to benefit from the e-solutions and the efficiency of our business culture? What are the opportunities in specific sectors? Who to partner up with?
The Estonian Investment Agency’s team is happy to help you via its complimentary e-Consulting service, organize online or offline follow-up events such as virtual investment visits and guide you through the fairly simple process of investing in Estonia.