How did Estonia become a leader in technology? “By ditching legacy technology and betting on education.”

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It’s been a year. Can we go back?

It’s one of the few instances where being so very far behind turns out to be an advantage.

The Economist explains: How did Estonia become a leader in technology?

By ditching legacy technology and betting on education

WHEN Estonia regained its independence in 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, less than half its population had a telephone line and its only independent link to the outside world was a Finnish mobile phone concealed in the foreign minister’s garden. Two decades later, it is a world leader in technology. Estonian geeks developed the code behind Skype and Kazaa (an early file-sharing network). In 2007 it became the first country to allow online voting in a general election. It has among the world’s zippiest broadband speeds and holds the record for start-ups per person. Its 1.3m citizens pay for parking spaces with their mobile phones and have their health records stored in the digital cloud. Filing an annual tax return online, as 95% of Estonians do, takes about five minutes. How did the smallest Baltic state develop such a strong tech culture?

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