Pärnu is the fourth-largest city in Estonia. Located in southwestern Estonia on the coast of Pärnu Bay, an inlet of the Gulf of Livonia in the Baltic Sea. It is a popular summer holiday resort with many hotels, restaurants, and large beaches. The Pärnu River flows through the city and drains into the Gulf of Riga. The city is served by Pärnu Airport.
Today Pärnu is an economically balanced region with a comprehensive range of industries. Foreign investments and new businesses with up-to-date technologies have enhanced job creation and higher competitiveness of the businesses in the world markets. Several enterprises of Pärnu region stand out as the best in Estonia.
Significant flows of exports from Pärnu region and South-Estonia pass through the Port of Pärnu which lies at the mouth of the Pärnu River. In recent years, the port has developed into an important regional harbour for south-western and southern Estonia.
Pärnu’s fame as a rehabilitation and holiday resort dates back to the middle of the 19th century. The foundation of the first bathing facility in 1838 is considered the birth date of Pärnu resort. Today Pärnu has all desirable qualities of a modern holiday resort – it has spas and rehabilitation centres, hotels, conference and concert venues, golf courses and tennis courts, restaurants and pubs. Long tradition of as a resort has made Pärnu well known in Finland and other Scandinavian countries. Majority of the tourists in Pärnu are Finns, Swedes and Russians.
In 1837, a tavern near the beach was made into a bathing establishment. The establishment accommodated 5–6 bathrooms that provided hot seawater baths in summer and operated as a sauna in winter. The wooden building was burnt down in the course of World War I. In 1927, the present stone building of Pärnu Mud Baths was erected at the same site.
Since 1996 Pärnu has been known as Estonia's Summer Capital.