Estonian is a Finnic language from the Uralic language family. Its regional distribution is in and around the nation of Estonia and Eastern Europe, but with a growing diaspora worldwide. Recent estimations state Estonian is spoken by at least 1.1 million people within the Estonian region, but potentially that number could be much higher due to the large numbers of Estonian speakers in various migrant communities.
The Estonian language is severed into two distinct dialects, the North and South Estonian languages. This is based on the ancestors of modern Estonians' migration into the territory of Estonia in at least two different waves, both groups speaking different Finnic vernaculars. These eventually formed into Northern and Southern dialects. Modern standard Estonian has evolved on the basis of the dialects of Northern Estonia.
The oldest written records of the Finnic languages of Estonia date from the 13th century. Earliest writings focused on religious materials, often Lutheran versions of the Bible. In the early 19th century, a robust literature canon developed from earlier writings, this time focusing on non-religious themes. Estonian writing uses the traditional Latin letter and number system.