Tallinn (// or //, Estonian pronunciation: ; names in other languages) is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland in Harju County. From the 13th century until 1918 (and briefly during the Nazi occupation of Estonia from 1941 to 1944), in languages other than Estonian, the city was known as Reval. Tallinn occupies an area of 159.2 km2 (61.5 sq mi) and has a population of 450,305.
Tallinn, first mentioned in 1219, received city rights in 1248, but the earliest human settlements date back 5,000 years. The initial claim over the land was laid by the Danes in 1219, after a successful raid of Lyndanisse led by Valdemar II of Denmark, followed by a period of alternating Scandinavian and German rule. Due to its strategic location, the city became a major trade hub, especially from the 14th to the 16th century, when it grew in importance as part of the Hanseatic League.
Tallinn's Old Town is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tallinn is the major political, financial, cultural and educational center of Estonia. Often dubbed the Silicon Valley of Europe, it has the highest number of startups per person in Europe and is a birthplace of many international companies, including Skype. The city is to house the headquarters of the European Union's IT agency. Providing to the global cybersecurity it is the home to the NATO Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. It is ranked as a global city and has been listed among the top 10 digital cities in the world. According to the Global Financial Centres Index Tallinn is the most competitive financial hub in Northern Europe and ranks 42nd internationally. The city was a European Capital of Culture for 2011, along with Turku in Finland.
In 1154, a town called Qlwn or Qalaven (which may be derivations of Kalevan or Kolyvan) was put on the world map of the Almoravid by the Arab cartographer Muhammad al-Idrisi, who described it as "a small town like a large castle" among the towns of 'Astlanda'. It was suggested that Quwri may have denoted a predecessor of the modern city. The earliest names of Tallinn include Kolyvan (Russian: Колывань), which is known from East Slavic chronicles and which may have come from the Estonian mythical hero Kalev.
Up to the 13th century, the Scandinavians and Henry of Livonia in his chronicle called the town Lindanisa (or Lyndanisse in Danish, Lindanäs in Swedish and Ledenets in Old East Slavic. According to some poetical suggestions, this name was derived from Linda, the mythical wife of Kalev and the mother of Kalevipoeg, who in an Estonian legend carried rocks to her husband's grave, which formed the Toompea hill. It has been also suggested that the archaic Estonian word linda is similar to the Votic word lidna, meaning a castle or town. According to this suggestion, nisa would have the meaning 'niemi' (or 'peninsula'), producing Kesoniemi, the old Finnish name for the city. Another ancient historical name for Tallinn in Finnish is Rääveli. The Icelandic Njal's saga mentions Tallinn and calls it Rafala, which is probably based on the primitive form of Revala (same kind of adaptation such as Gaelic Dubhlinn > Old Norse Dyflin "Dublin", Ireland)
After the Danish conquest in 1219, the town became known in the German, Swedish and Danish languages as Reval (Latin: Revalia). The name originated from (Latin) Revelia (Estonian) Revala or Rävala, the adjacent ancient name of the surrounding area.