Tallinn is the capital city and main seaport of Estonia. It is located on Estonia's north coast to the Baltic Sea. It has been shaped by nearly a millennium of outside influence. Its name, derived from taani linnus , meaning "Danish Fort", is a reminder of the fact that the city was founded by the Danes at the beginning of the thirteenth century, and since that time political control has nearly always been in the hands of foreigners - Germans, Swedes and Russians. The Germans have undoubtedly had the most lasting influence on the city; Tallinn was one of the leading cities of the Hanseatic League, the German-dominated association of Baltic trading cities, and for centuries it was known to the outside world by its German name, Reval. Even when Estonia was ruled by the kings of Sweden or the tsars of Russia, the city's public life was controlled by the German nobility, and its commerce run by German merchants.