Võru County – Gateway between EU and Russia
Population: 33,452 (31.12.2011).
Population density: 14.5 inhabitants/km².
Size: 2,305 km² – 5.1 of the total territory of Estonia.
Labour force: 16,200 (01.01.2012), unemployment rate 5,1.
Main industries: wood, furniture, food, tourism.
Distances from Võru:
- to Tallinn – 252 km, about 3h by car (intl. airport, intl. ferry port),
- to Tartu – 72 km, about 50 min by car (R&D and educational centre, intl. airport),
- to Riga – 225 km, about 3h and by car (capital of Latvia, intl. airport and port),
- to St.Petersburg – 388 km, about 5 h by car.
Võru County is located in South-Eastern Estonia sharing the border with Russian Federation to the East and Latvian Republic to the South. Located 260 km from Tallinn by road, Võru is the most peripheral county center in Estonia. However the county enjoys an advantageous location due to its relative proximity to Pskov in Russia (100 km) and Riga in Latvia (220 km). Accessibility is provided by several transport corridors running through the county. One of the most important transit routes in Estonia, Tallinn-Tartu-Pskov, passes the county. The south-east corner of the county is crossed by the Riga-Pskov-St Petersburg major road. County is strategically placed on trade routes between the East and West. It is a prime location for industry and investment.
The area of region is 2305.44 km2 constituting 5.1% total area of Estonia. Today Võru County consists 13 local government units that work together to facilitate the county’s balanced and sustainable development. 13 government units are divided for one urban – Võru town – and 12 rural municipalities (parishes) – Antsla, Haanja, Lasva, Meremäe, Misso, Mõniste, Rõuge, Sõmerpalu, Urvaste, Varstu, Vastseliina, Võru. In Võru County there are two towns (Võru and Antsla) and 575 villages.
Võru county’s main economic sectors are forestry and wood processing, furniture and food industry and also tourism. According to statistics of 2011, there are 1852 SMEs in Võru County. 47% of enterprises in the county belong to primary sector (agriculture, forestry), 38% of enterprises work in tertiary sector (trade, services) and 15% of enterprises are involved in secondary sector (processing industry). The biggest foreign owned companies based in Võru County are AS Toftan (wood processing), AS Barrus (wood processing), AS Antsla Inno (furniture production), AS Rauameister (metal processing), AS Võru Juust (food processing) and Danpower GmbH (energy production).
In recent years there have been many public investments to the development of education network, roads, streets and culture. Several new shopping centers, hotels and sport centers have been established. There is a modern and up to date Võru County Vocational Training Centre where contemporary study programmes offer secondary school graduates an opportunity to master a professional higher education or vocational education.