By the 13th century Estonia consisted of eight major counties: Harjumaa, Järvamaa, Läänemaa, Revala, Saaremaa, Sakala, Ugandi, and Virumaa; and six minor, single-parish counties: Alempois, Jogentagana, Mõhu, Nurmekund, Soopoolitse, and Vaiga.
Counties were independent entities and engaged only in a loose co-operation against foreign threats.
Two larger subdivisions appeared: the parish (Estonian: kihelkond) and the county (Estonian: maakond), which consisted of multiple parishes.
A parish was led by elders and centred around a hill fort; in some rare cases a parish had multiple forts.
There is little known of early Estonian pagan religious practices.