Facts and figures of Haapsalu and Läänemaa

Did you know?

  • Lääne County is the westernmost mainland county in Estonia, with an area of 2413 km2 or 5.6% of the total area of Estonia.
  • The county’s coastline measures 375,5 km.
  • The county boasts 434 islands and islets, the biggest of which are Vormsi and Osmussaar.
  • 17 rivers flow through the county, with the biggest catchment area belonging to the Kasari.
  • Trees cover 51,4% of the county, while its forests and meadows are pitted with 77 lakes.
  • Lääne County is Estonia’s most protected county, with around a quarter of its total area under protection as 16 separate sites, the biggest of which is Matsalu National Park.
  • As at 1 January 2014 the county was home to 25 953 people.
  • Administratively, the county is divided into two towns (Haapsalu and Lihula), six hamlets and 235 villages, forming 10 local governments, 9 of which are municipalities are one a city.
  • The symbols of the county are the roe-deer (animal), the sea eagle (bird), the oak (tree), the Military Orchid (flower), the roach (fish) and the parasol (mushroom).
  • The county capital, Haapsalu, was awarded town rights in 1279.
  • The total area of the town is 10.6 km2 and it has a population of 10 811 (01.01.2014)
  • Haapsalu is 101 km from Tallinn, 184 km from Helsinki, 292 km from Riga,
    399 km from St. Petersburg, 554 km from Stockholm, 593 km from Vilnius,
    966 km from Moscow and 2280 km from Brussels.
  • The town’s border measures 25 km, of which 14 are along the coast.
  • Haapsalu is Estonia’s oldest resort, famous for its therapeutic mud – in which 51 people simultaneously bathed on the Promenade in 2010, setting a new world record.
  • All of the tsars who ruled Russia in the 19th century visited Haapsalu, inspiring such cultural giants as Tchaikovsky to do the same.
  • For almost 300 years (between 1279 and 1559) Haapsalu was the capital of an extensive bishopric directly linked to Rome and many other key European centres.
  • Sound in Haapsalu’s cathedral enjoys a duration of 11 seconds, providing outstanding acoustics for concerts.
  • The 216-metre platform at the historical railway station is completely covered from one end to the other.
  • The Haapsalu shawl is a true work of art, with a knit so fine that the entire article can fit through a person’s ring.
  • Ronja castle, from the illustrations of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s children’s books as drawn by Ilon Wikland, is similar to Haapsalu’s castle.
  • At Lääne County Museum you’ll see the world’s oldest preserved monument to Friedrich Schiller.
  • The world’s largest collection of circular crosses can be found in the graveyard at St. Olaf’s church on Vormsi – there are more than 300 in total.
  • At just 13.6 x 7.1 metres, the church in Nõva is one of the smallest in Estonia.
  • The sands on Nõva beach are said to sing – when you step on them, the friction between the grains produces a sound similar to that made when playing a violin.
  • The altar paintings in Lääne-Nigula church (The Last Supper and The Resurrection) are copies of paintings of the same name by Leonardo da Vinci.
  • The Neugrund meteorite crater on the sea bed just off the island of Osmussaar measures 7 km in diameter, making it the biggest in the country.
  • 36 species of orchid grow in the wild in Estonia, more than in any neighbouring country – and more than half of which are found in Lääne County.
  • Millions of aquatic birds make stops along the coast of the county in spring and autumn on their way to and from their nesting sites in the Arctic.
  • Matsalu National Park is the oldest Ramsar site of international importance in Estonia.


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European Union Regional Development Fund