The Baltic states are three countries in Northern Europe to the east of the Baltic Sea and the south of the Gulf of Finland. They are, from north to south, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The languages that are spoken in these countries are different: while Lithuanians and Latvians speak Baltic languages (Latvian and Lithuanian), Estonians speak an Uralic language (Estonian).
By their culture and history, the Baltic countries are close to the Nordic countries. The biggest difference in the history was that the Baltic countries incorporated to the Soviet Union in 1940 (during the Second World War), but not the Nordic countries (with the exception of Karelia, a part of Finland which later joined the Russian SFSR). The three countries would become republics of the Soviet Union as the Estonian SSR, Latvian SSR, and Lithuanian SSR.
All three Baltic states had their freedom back in 1991, when the Soviet Union came to an end. However, the states all consider the Soviet occupation to be illegal, which has been supported by the United States, European Union, and United Nations. Today, the Baltic countries are some of the richest and most advanced countries which were part of the Soviet Union. They became members of the European Union and NATO in 2004, joined the Schengen Area in 2007, and became part of the eurozone by 2015.