Kihnu, an island ruled by happy women

The tiny island of Kihnu is found in Parnü County in Estonia. The island is very small, but it is still the biggest in Riga Bay and the seventh largest in the country, with a surface of 16 km². 604 people live on the island, including 69 schoolchildren. There are four villages on the island named Saare, Lemsi, Rootsikula and Linakula.

Women rule the island

In the Western culture and among feminists, female rule is associated with powerful women. However, on the island the reality is different.

Men work on the sea

Since ancient times, the men living on the island have spent more time on the sea than on land; they work every day from dawn till dusk to catch as many fish as possible, as this is their main source of income. This is the main reason why the women were forced to lead the island’s everyday life and undertake all responsibilities. And they do it well! They cook, bake, ride their scooters and raise children, but they also have plenty of time for fun, dance and community programs. Of course, men participate in these too.

The heritage of the island

The local folk costumes, especially the richly ornate skirts are famous worldwide. In November 2003, UNESCO included the island on the list of spiritual world heritage sites. Music has the greatest tradition on the island. The women dress in folk costumes, sing and recite poems on the festivities organized on the island. During national holidays, the inhabitants of the four villages celebrate together. The community house of the island also serves as a museum, and this is where people usually gather.

Road traffic is practically nonexistent

There are no cars on the island of Kihnu. People use scooters and bicycles for travel, and the roads are not paved. Children learn to play traditional musical instruments and speak the Kihnu dialect. The island can be approached by ship or plane, but during winter the ferry service to the island is restricted to once a day.

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