Its capital city, Tallinn, is known for free public transit and wifi, but Estonia's innovation extends far beyond that. Estonia, or E-Estonia as some call it, is completely reinventing the way government is done, opting to digitize many government functions like voting, setting up a business and paying taxes.
It all started in 1991. Estonia had just gained its independence from the Soviet Bloc. While most countries kind of had their stuff figured out by that point, Estonia didn't even have a government. Enter Mart Laar, Estonia's first prime minister.
Laar was also one of the youngest prime ministers. At just 32 years old, Laar ushered in a wave of young politicians to lead the nation and a string of new ideas. His first order of business: go paperless. The struggling country needed as much civic participation as possible at an efficient cost, so that seemed like the natural option.
But he couldn't do it alone. Granted, today, the country is small with a population of 1.3 million people, but he needed all the help he could get.
That's when he met the people at Cybernetica, the masterminds who would execute his vision.
Cybernetica came up with a cryptographic key card, a highly secure digital ID that allows Estonians to sign documents, pay taxes and vote online, among other things.
Despite a super efficient government, Estonia still had a population problem. It didn't have enough people living there or doing business, so it launched its e-Residency program, which basically allows anyone to register a business in Estonia.
Yes, that's "any world citizen." It takes just 15 minutes to do online and requires something like a personal statement and a fee of about $100. You can then perform business related actions, like pay taxes or file annual reports, using the cryptographic key card.