The history of Hiiumaa, or the Scandinavian Dagö – Day island – began 455 million years ago, when a round archipelago with a diameter of around 10 km formed as a result of a meteorite impact in the vicinity of present-day Kärdla. These were the first islands in Hiiumaa’s present location, and Hiiumaa can thus be considered one of the oldest islands in the world. It is true that people found their way here just over 7000 years ago and, back then, due to the circumstances, the island was inhabited only seasonally. The first inhabitants of Hiiumaa were seal hunters.

The native fields of Hiiumaa only date back to the 11th to 12th centuries, but local communities probably existed much earlier.

Hiiumaa was first mentioned in a document in 1228. In the document, which was used to enfeoff (pledge) the newly established Saare Bishopric to Bishop Gottfried, Hiiumaa, as a part of that fiefdom, is referred to as an empty island: ‘Quadam insula deserta, quae dicitur Dageida’ (‘Some empty island named Dageida’). However, despite its initially sparse settlement, Hiiumaa’s history is quite diverse.

In the 14th century, a Swedish settlement formed in the northern part of Hiiumaa. 1628. In 1628, the first glass factory in Estonia was established in Hüti. During the Great Northern War, the island passed from Sweden to the Russian Empire. In 1829, Kärdla broadcloth factory was established, which remained the island’s most important industrial plant until World War II. Before World War I, construction began on Peter the Great’s naval fortress on Tahkuna Peninsula, but as the troops of the German occupation left in the autumn of 1918, the island was taken over by the Republic of Estonia. 1939. In 1939, USSR military bases began to be established on Hiiumaa. As a result of World War II, Hiiumaa became a part of the USSR, where it remained until Estonia regained independence in 1991.

Historical events

1228 – Hiiumaa is first mentioned in writing as Dageida, an empty island
1254 – Hiiumaa is divided between the Bishopric of Ösel-Wiek and the Teutonic Order. First geographical names such as Soela Strait, Orjaku, Sarwo (Sõru, Sarve), Reigi and Pihla island are mentioned
ca. 1255 – Construction of the Pühalepa stone church begins
1470s – The winged altarpiece, dedicated to Saint Anne, of Pühalepa Church is completed
1490s – The Hanseatic League repeatedly requests the construction of a sea marker on Hiiumaa
1500 – Käina stone church, permission to build Kõpu lighthouse
1504/1505 – The great plague
1504-31 – Construction of the Kõpu beacon
1524 – Sören Norby robs several ships in Kõrgessaare
1559-63 – The Bishopric of Ösel-Wiek, i.e. a part of Hiiumaa now belongs to Magnus of Denmark
1563 – The Swedes conquer Hiiumaa, Estonia is under Swedish rule
1564 – First mention of several villages, including Kärdla
1582-94 – Operational saltworks in Reigi
1603 – Plague and famine
1612 – Danish plundering raid to Hiiumaa
1624 – Count Jakob De la Gardie purchases a large part of the island
1627 – Reigi Parish forms after the independence of Reigi Church
1628-64 – Estonia’s first glass factory begins operating in Hüti, Hiiumaa
1710 – Hiiumaa essentially becomes a part of the Russian Empire, peace treaty
1716/20 – The island is subject to the Russian Admiralty
1755/58 – Ebba Margaretha Stenbock (1704-1775) reclaims her land rights on Hiiumaa, where construction of the Suuremõisa manor begins. The Stackelbergs move to Kassar
1779 – The current building of the Reigi pastorate is completed
1779/82 – Emmaste manor is completed (currently a schoolhouse)
1781 – The Swedes of Reigi are sent to live in Southern Ukraine
1781 – After the purchase of the estates in Northern Hiiumaa, Otto Reinhold Ludwig von Ungern-Sternberg (1744-1811) settles on Hiiumaa
1782 – A brick factory firing 200,000 bricks per year is built in Baron Ungern-Sternberg’s livestock manor in Reigi
1796 – Ungern-Sternbergs purchase Suuremõisa, thus owning most of the island
1793 – Pastor of Reigi, Carl Forsmann establishes a hat factory
1802 – Reigi stone church is completed
1803/04 – Otto Reinhold Ludwig von Ungern-Sternberg is convicted of killing Captain Malm and is sent to Siberia
1819 –The main building of Putkaste manor is completed (the manor was mentioned as Saulepa as early as 1524)
1820 – Paluküla stone church is built
1829 – The broadcloth factory founded by brothers Ungern-Sternberg, i.e. Hiiu-Kärdla broadcloth factory, starts operating
1848 – The sailboat Hioma, which was the first Estonian boat to cross the equator and sail around Cape Horn, is built in Suursadama harbour
1851 – Karl Ernst von Baer visits Hiiumaa
1863 – Johann Köler is in Vaemla manor and completes around ten works of Hiiumaa. The new stone church in Kärdla is consecrated
1866 – Emmaste Parish is formed, a new stone church is completed a year later
1873 – Rudolf Tobias is born in the parish clerk’s house of Käina
1874/75 – Ristna and Tahkuna lighthouses are built
1884 – Baptism becomes more common on Hiiumaa
1890s – Three orthodox churches are completed
1908 – Mänspe gets a new church
1911 – Estonia’s first artificial silk factory (La Viscosa) is built in Kõrgessaare
1913 – Electricity reaches Hiiumaa, cinema in Kärdla
1917/18 – German occupation
1918 – Hiiumaa becomes a part of the independent Republic of Estonia
1919 – In accordance with the Estonian Land Reform Act, all lands and assets belonging to manors are expropriated
1924 – People of Hiiumaa hear their first radio show
1924 – The first bus line is opened
1926 – The first Hiiumaa Song Day
1934 – The first Hiiumaa Day of Rural Women in Käina
1937 – The beginning of the peat industry
1938 – Kärdla is granted town privileges
1939 – Construction of Soviet military bases begins
1940 – Estonia, including Hiiumaa, is occupied by the Soviet Union
1941 – June deportation. War reaches the island and the broadcloth factory is burnt down. German occupation begins
1944 – Soviet troops reoccupy the island
1948 – The first kolkhoz Käina Säde (The Spark of Käina) is established. The first issue of the local newspaper Nõukogude Hiiumaa (“The Soviet Hiiumaa”) is published
1949 – March deportation. The fishing kolkhoz Hiiu Kalur (The Fisherman of Hiiumaa) is established
1961 – A fish factory starts operating in Kõrgessaare
1989 – Major repairs of the Kõpu lighthouse. The West Estonian Archipelago Biosphere Reserve is established
1990 – The first international Day of the Hiiumaa People. Hiiu County is restored
1991 – Estonia declares independence
1993 – The last Soviet troops leave the island
1996 – The flag and coat of arms of Hiiu County are registered at the Government Office
2017 – During the administrative reform in Estonia, four Hiiumaa municipalities join and form the Hiiumaa Municipality

slider prev slide slider next slide