The medieval district of Tallinn, seen from the 390-foot-tall spire of St. Olav's Church; before the Berlin wall fell, the KGB used the church tower as a surveillance center.
Estonia is a complicated place. Ruled by foreigners for nearly its entire history, it gained independence in 1920, only to be invaded by Germany during World War II and subsequently ceded to the USSR.
In 1991, Estonia regained its independence. Tallinn, the capital city, has since become a popular destination for tourists; it's a few hours by boat from Finland and Sweden, it's cheaper than most Nordic countries, and the medieval town center is remarkably well preserved.
Beyond the old city walls, though, lies the real Estonia: new glass high-rises clash with Soviet-era apartment blocks, mothballed USSR uniforms hang in shops next to t-shirts ridiculing Joseph Stalin, and the rapid economic progress of the past two decades contrasts with scars from half a century of hardship, decay, and suppression.