Seventh United Nations Conference on the
Standardization of Geographical Names
New York, 13-22 January 1998
Document E/CONF.91/L.5
Item 13
of the Provisional Agenda

Homepage of the Place Names Board of Estonia*

On the first meeting of the newly formed Place Names Board of Estonia in June 1997 it was decided to seek for greater openness in publishing information on geographical names. Press releases and other attempts of publicizing names decisions had been inadequate in the sense that for the wide public only short and generally-worded summaries appeared in some newspapers but for those taking closer interest in name matters it was not easy to get the authentic and full information.

With the spread of the Internet and computer technology in Estonia it became possible to reach the audience via world wide web. On 9 September 1997 the Place Names Board opened its very first homepage

that was provided by a server at the Institute of Estonian Language.

Currently most of the documents of the Board have been converted into HTML documents and displayed on the homepage. These include the main legal acts (the Law on Place Names and other regulations, with explanations of terms), minutes of the Board's meetings, and currently discussed names lists. The structure and composition of the pages is still under discussion and therefore possible users are invited to give suggestions and advice.

One of the positive effects of the homepage has been that it can reduce significantly the amount of paper needed for bureaucracy. E.g. when the list of populated places with about 4,500 names will be discussed by the Board they will not receive with the invitation the tens of pages of paper with names, working group suggestions, etc. Instead they can view the same documents on the Board's homepage. Preliminary query has established that about three-quarters of the Board's members can access the Internet directly from their working place, the others will also be able to find points of access.

The same applies to other institutions interested in name matters: local governments, mapping enterprises, researchers into local history etc. Through the homepage they can benefit from the activities of the Place Names Board and also contribute to its work.

Although the main texts of the homepage are in Estonian there is also an English title page ( giving short information on the Board's activities and a summary or titles of documents available in Estonian. Some of the documents will be translated into English as well.

A separate page is devoted to the activities of the Baltic Division of UNGEGN, the information is in English, Estonian and Russian. There are also "Links to other information on geographical names" where references to names authorities and toponymic data all over the world are included. We would like to make this list of links as exhaustive as possible.

* prepared by Peeter Päll, Institute of Estonian Language