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Estonia on the frontline of tech

Estonia: overall ranking: #1

According to researchers and tech journalists, Estonia has invested heavily in its digital infrastructure since 1991. The government-sponsored e-Estonia programme has introduced e-voting, e-health and e-banking programmes, and even e-residency, which allows even non-citizens to apply for a virtual residency that entitles them to benefits like an identity card, banking services, payment processing and the ability to form a company. The programme today is geared to appeal to digital nomads and foreign business people looking to start an EU-based company, which in turn brings new opportunities for the Estonian economy.

“It’s seen as a basic human right here in Estonia to have access to the internet. Even the remote Estonian islands, like beautiful Saaremaa, have internet access,” said Austrian entrepreneur Alexandra Nima who currently lives in the Estonian capital of Tallinn. “Here, everything from registering as a resident to opening a company (online of course), is fast as can be.

It’s seen as a basic human right here in Estonia to have access to the internet

The connected nature means that even phone calls are becoming antiquated. “It is far easier for me to ask something from chat,” said Tallinn resident Tarmo Annus, a developer at cryptocurrency platform Obyte. “Instead of calling a shop if they are open during holidays, I just write to them on [messaging app] Viber.”The deeply digital infrastructure isn’t without some downsides, however.

Estonia was the first sovereign nation to be attacked via cyberwarfare in 2007. “The attack blocked websites and paralysed the country’s entire internet infrastructure. Bank cards and cell phone networks were frozen, setting off alarms everywhere,” said Dave Phillips, who served as the US ambassador to Estonia during the attacks and was recently the subject of a book about his experience. As a result of the attacks, Nato created a manual to address international cyberwarfare and the Nato Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence was proposed by Estonia to prevent and address future attacks.

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