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During World War II (1939–1945), Estonia was repeatedly contested and occupied by the Soviet Union and Germany, ultimately being incorporated into the former.After the loss of its de facto independence, Estonia's de jure state continuity was preserved by diplomatic representatives and the government-in-exile.At that time the country was covered with forests, and people lived in semi-nomadic communities near bodies of water.Subsistence activities consisted of hunting, gathering and fishing.Ancient Scandinavian sagas refer to an area called Eistland, as the country is still called in Icelandic, with close parallels to the Danish, German, Dutch, Swedish and Norwegian terms Estland for the country.
There is little known of early Estonian pagan religious practices.
One hypothesis regarding the modern name of Estonia derives it from the Aesti, a people described by the Roman historian Tacitus in his Germania (ca. The historic Aesti were allegedly Baltic people, whereas the modern Estonians are Finnic.
The geographical areas of the Aesti and of Estonia do not match, with the Aesti living farther south.
In the early centuries AD, political and administrative subdivisions began to emerge in Estonia.
Two larger subdivisions appeared: the parish (Estonian: kihelkond) and the county (Estonian: maakond), which consisted of multiple parishes.
Several Scandinavian sagas referred to major confrontations with Estonians, notably when "Estonian Vikings" defeated and killed the Swedish king Ingvar.