|Conventional Long Name:||Faroe Islands|
|Common Name:||Faroe Islands|
|National Anthem:||Tú alfagra land mítt|
Thou, my most beauteous land
|Official Languages:||Faroese, Danish|
|Ethnic Groups:||91.7% Faroese|
0.2 % Norwegian
|Government Type:||Parliamentary democracy within a constitutional monarchy|
|Leader Name1:||Margrethe II|
|Leader Title2:||Prime Minister|
|Leader Name2:||Kaj Leo Johannesen|
|Sovereignty Type:||Autonomous province|
|Established Event1:||Home rule|
|Established Date1:||1 April 1948|
|Area Magnitude:||1 E9|
|Area Sq Mi:||540|
|Population Estimate:||48 778|
|Population Estimate Rank:||202nd|
|Population Estimate Year:||January 2009|
|Population Census Year:||2007|
|Population Density Km2:||34|
|Population Density Sq Mi:||88|
|Population Density Rank:||176th|
|Gdp Ppp:||$2.2 billion|
|Gdp Ppp Rank:||not ranked|
|Gdp Ppp Year:||2006|
|Gdp Ppp Per Capita:||$45,250 (2006 estimate)|
|Gdp Ppp Per Capita Rank:||not ranked|
|Time Zone Dst:||EST|
|Utc Offset Dst:||+1|
|Footnote1:||Information for Denmark including the Faroe Islands and Greenland.|
|Footnote2:||The currency, printed with Faroese motifs, is issued at par with the Danish kroner, incorporates the same security features and uses the same sizes and standards as Danish coins and banknotes. Faroese krónur (singular króna) use the Danish ISO 4217 code "DKK".|
The Faroe Islands or Faeroe Islands or simply Faroe(s) or Faeroes (Faroese: Føroyar, meaning "Sheep Islands", Danish: Færøerne, Norwegian: Færøyene, Old Norse/Icelandic: Færeyjar) are an island group situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately half way between Scotland and Iceland.
They have been an autonomous province of Denmark since 1948. The Faroese have, over the years, taken control of most matters except defence (though they retain their own coast guard), foreign affairs and law, which remain the responsibility of Denmark.
The Faroes have close traditional ties to Iceland, Norway, Shetland, Orkney, the Outer Hebrides and Greenland. The archipelago was politically detached from Norway in 1814. The Faroes are represented in the Nordic Council as a part of the Danish delegation.
See main article: History of the Faroe Islands.
The early history of the Faroe Islands is not well known. Irish hermits (monks) settled in the sixth century, introducing sheep and oats and the early Irish language to the islands. Saint Brendan, who lived circa 484–578, is said to have visited the Faroe Islands on two or three occasions (512-530 AD), naming two of the islands Sheep Island and Paradise Island of Birds.
Later (~650 AD) the Vikings replaced the early Irish and their settlers, bringing the Old Norse language to the islands, which locally evolved into the modern Faroese language spoken today.The settlers are not thought to have come directly from Norway, but rather they were Norwegian settlers from Shetland and Orkney, and Norse-Gaels from the areas surrounding the Irish Sea and Western Isles of Scotland.
According to Færeyinga Saga, emigrants who left Norway to escape the tyranny of Harald I of Norway settled in the islands about the end of the ninth century. Early in the eleventh century, Sigmund, whose family had flourished in the southern islands but had been almost exterminated by invaders from the northern islands, escaped to Norway and was sent back to take possession of the islands for Olaf Tryggvason, king of Norway. He introduced Christianity and, though he was subsequently murdered, Norwegian supremacy was upheld. Norwegian control of the islands continued until 1380, when Norway entered the Kalmar Union with Denmark, which gradually evolved into Danish control of the islands. The reformation reached the Faroes in 1538. When the union between Denmark and Norway was dissolved as a result of the Treaty of Kiel in 1814, Denmark retained possession of the Faroe Islands.
The trade monopoly in the Faroe Islands was abolished in 1856 and the country has since then developed towards a modern fishing nation with its own fleet. The national awakening since 1888 was first based on a struggle for the Faroese language, and thus more culturally oriented, but after 1906 was more and more politically oriented with the foundation of the political parties of the Faroe Islands.
On 12 April 1940, the Faroes were occupied by British troops. The move followed the invasion of Denmark by Nazi Germany and had the objective of strengthening British control of the North Atlantic (see Second Battle of the Atlantic). In 1942-43 the British Royal Engineers built the only airport in the Faroes, Vágar Airport. Control of the islands reverted to Denmark following the war, but in 1948 a home-rule regime was implemented granting a high degree of local autonomy. The Faroes declined to join Denmark in entering the European Community (now European Union) in 1973. The islands experienced considerable economic difficulties following the collapse of the fishing industry in the early 1990s, but have since made efforts to diversify the economy. Support for independence has grown and is the objective of the republican party.
See main article: Politics of the Faroe Islands. The government of the Faroes holds the executive power in local government affairs. The head of the government is called the Løgmaður or prime minister in English. Any other member of the cabinet is called a landsstýrismaður.Today, elections are held in the municipalities, on a national level for the Løgting, and inside the Kingdom of Denmark for the Folketing. For the Løgting elections there are seven electoral districts, each one comprising a sýsla, while Streymoy is divided into a northern and southern part (Tórshavn region).
Faroe islands has been under control from Denmark since 1388, but in the Treaty of Kiel in 1814 terminated the Danish-Norwegian union. Norway came under the rule of the King of Sweden, but the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland remained as possessions of Denmark. Subsequently, the Løgting was abolished 1816, and the Faroe Islands were to be governed as a regular Danish amt, with the Amtmand as its head of government. In 1851 the Løgting was resurrected, but served mainly as an advisory power until 1948.
At the end of the Second World War a portion of the population favoured independence from Denmark, and on 14 September 1946 a public election was held on the question of secession. It is not considered a referendum, as the parliament was not bound to follow the decision of the vote. This was the first time that the Faroese people were asked if they favoured independence or if they wanted to continue as a part of the Danish kingdom. The outcome of the vote produced a small majority in favour of secession, but the coalition in parliament could not reach a resolution on how this election should be interpreted and implemented, and because of these irresolvable differences the coalition fell apart. A parliamentary election was held just a few months later, in which the political parties that favoured staying in the Danish kingdom increased their share of the vote and formed a coalition. Based on this increased share of the votes, they chose to reject secession. Instead, a compromise was made and the Folketing passed a home-rule law, which came into effect in 1948. The Faroe Islands' status as a Danish amt was brought to an end with the home-rule law; the Faroe Islands were given a high degree of self-governance, supported by a substantial annual subsidy from Denmark.
The islanders are about evenly split between those favouring independence and those who prefer to continue as a part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Within both camps there is, however, a wide range of opinions. Of those who favour independence, some are in favour of an immediate unilateral declaration. Others see it as something to be attained gradually and with the full consent of the Danish government and the Danish nation. In the unionist camp there are also many who foresee and welcome a gradual increase in autonomy even as strong ties to Denmark are maintained.
As explicitly asserted by both Rome treaties, the Faroe Islands are not part of the European Union. Moreover, a protocol to the treaty of accession of Denmark to the European Communities stipulates that Danish nationals residing in the Faroe Islands are not to be considered as Danish nationals within the meaning of the treaties. Hence, Danish people living in the Faroes are not citizens of the European Union (other EU nationals living there remain EU citizens). The Faroes are not covered by the Schengen free movement agreement, but there are no border checks when travelling between the Faroes and any Schengen country since the Faroes have been part of the Nordic Passport Union since 1966 and since 2001 there have been no border checks between the Nordic countries and the rest of the Schengen area as part of the Schengen agreement.
Traditionally, there are also the six sýslur ("regions"; Norðoyar, Eysturoy, Streymoy, Vágar, Sandoy and Suðuroy). Although today sýsla technically means "police district", the term is still commonly used to indicate a geographical region. In earlier times, each sýsla had its own ting (assembly), the so-called várting ("spring ting").
See main article: Geography of the Faroe Islands. The Faroe Islands are an island group consisting of eighteen islands off the coast of Northern Europe, between the Norwegian Sea and the north Atlantic Ocean, about halfway between Iceland and Norway; the closest neighbours being the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland.Its coordinates are .
Its area is 1,399 square kilometres (540 sq. mi), and has no major lakes or rivers. There are 1,117 kilometres (694 mi) of coastline, and no land boundaries with any other country. The only island that is uninhabited is Lítla Dímun.The islands are rugged and rocky with some low peaks; the coasts are mostly bordered by cliffs. The highest point is Slættaratindur, 882 metres (2,894 ft) above sea level. There are areas below sea level.
See main article: Economy of the Faroe Islands.
After the severe economic troubles of the early 1990s, brought on by a drop in the vital fish catch and poor management of the economy, the Faroe Islands have come back in the last few years, with unemployment down to 5% in mid-1998. In 2006 unemployment declined to 3%, one of the lowest rates in Europe. Nevertheless, the almost total dependence on fishing means that the economy remains extremely vulnerable. Petroleum found close to the Faroese area gives hope for deposits in the immediate area, which may provide a basis for sustained economic prosperity. 20% of its national budget comes as supply from Denmark.
Since 2000, new information technology and business projects have been fostered in the Faroe Islands to attract new investment. The introduction of Burger King in Tórshavn was widely publicized and a sign of the globalization of Faroese culture. It is not yet known whether these projects will succeed in broadening the islands' economic base. While having one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, this should not necessarily be taken as a sign of a recovering economy, as many young students move to Denmark and other countries once they are finished with high school. This leaves a largely middle-aged and elderly population that may lack the skills and knowledge to fill newly developed positions on the Faroes. In 2008, the Faroes made a $52 million dollar loan to Iceland, in light of the country's banking woes. 
Due to the rocky terrain and relatively small size of the Faroe Islands, its transportation system was not as extensive as other places of the world. This situation has changed, and today the infrastructure has been developed extensively. Some 80% of the population in the islands is connected by under-ocean tunnels, bridges, and causeways which bind the three largest islands and three other large islands to the northeast together, while the other two large islands to the south of the main area are connected to the main area with new fast ferries. There are good roads that lead to every village in the islands, except for seven of the smaller islands, six of which only have one village.
Of the approximately 48,000 inhabitants of the Faroe Islands (16,921 private households (2004)), 98% are realm citizens, meaning Faroese, Danish, or Greenlandic. By birthplace one can derive the following origins of the inhabitants: born on the Faroes 91.7%, in Denmark 5.8%, and in Greenland 0.3%. The largest group of foreigners is Icelanders comprising 0.4% of the population, followed by Norwegians and Polish, each comprising 0.2%. Altogether, on the Faroe Islands there are people from 77 different nationalities.
Faroese is spoken in the entire country as a first language. It is not possible to say exactly how many people worldwide speak the Faroese language. This is for two reasons: Firstly, many ethnic Faroese live in Denmark and few who are born there return to the Faroes with their parents or as adults. Secondly, there are some established Danish families on the Faroes who speak Danish at home.
The Faroese language is one of the smallest of the Germanic languages. Faroese grammar is most similar to Icelandic and Old Norse. In contrast, spoken Faroese differs much from Icelandic and is closer to Norwegian dialects from the west coast of Norway. In the twentieth century, Faroese became the official language and since the Faroes are a part of the Danish realm Danish is taught in schools as a compulsory second language.
Faroese language policy provides for the active creation of new terms in Faroese suitable for modern life.
If the first inhabitants of the Faroe Islands were Irish monks, then they must have lived as a very small group of settlers. Later, when the Vikings colonised the Islands, there was a considerable increase in the population. However, it never exceeded 5,000 until the eighteenth century. Around 1349, about half of the islands' people died of the plague.
Only with the rise of the deep sea fishery (and thus independence from difficult agriculture) and with general progress in the health service was rapid population growth possible in the Faroes. Beginning in the eighteenth century, the population increased tenfold in 200 years.
At the beginning of the 1990s, the Faroe Islands entered a deep economic crisis with heavy, noticeable emigration; however, this trend reversed in subsequent years to a net immigration.
The Faroese population is spread across most of the country; it was not until recent decades that significant urbanization occurred. Industrialisation has been remarkably decentralised, and the country has therefore maintained quite a viable rural culture. Nevertheless, villages with poor harbour facilities have been the losers in the development from agriculture to fishing, and in the most peripheral agricultural areas, also known as the the outer islands, there are scarcely any young people left. In recent decades, the village-based social structure has nevertheless been placed under pressure; instead there has been a rise in interconnected "centres" that are better able to provide goods and services than the badly connected periphery. This means that shops and services are now relocating en masse from the villages into the centres, and in turn this also means that slowly but steadily the Faroese population concentrates in and around the centres.
In the 1990s the old national policy of developing the villages (Bygdamenning) was abandoned, and instead the government started a process of regional development (Økismenning). The term "region" referred to the large islands of the Faroes. Nevertheless the government was not able to press through the structural reform of merging the small rural municipalities in order to create sustainable, decentralized entities that could drive forward the regional development. As the regional development has been difficult on the administrative level, the government has instead made heavy investments in infrastructure, interconnecting the regions.
Altogether it becomes less meaningful to perceive the Faroes as a society based on various islands and regions. The huge investments in roads, bridges and sub-sea tunnels (see also Transportation in the Faroe Islands) have tied together the islands, creating a coherent economic and cultural sphere that covers almost 90% of the entire population. From this perspective it is reasonable to perceive the Faroes as a dispersed city or even to refer to it as the Faroese Network City.
See main article: Faroese religion. According to Færeyinga Saga, Sigmundur Brestisson brought Christianity to the islands in 999. However, archaeology from a site in Leirvík suggests that Celtic Christianity may have arrived 150 years earlier, or more. The Faroe Islands' church Reformation was completed on 1 January 1540. According to official statistics from 2002, 84.1% of the Faroese population are members of the state church, the Faroese People's Church (Fólkakirkjan), a form of Lutheranism. Faroese members of the clergy who have had historical importance include V. U. Hammershaimb (1819-1909), Frederik Petersen (1853-1917) and, perhaps most significantly, Jákup Dahl (1878-1944), who had a great influence in making sure that the Faroese language was spoken in the church instead of Danish.
In the late 1820s, the Christian Evangelical religious movement, the Plymouth Brethren, was established in England. In 1865, a member of this movement, William Gibson Sloan, travelled to the Faroes from Shetland. At the turn of the nineteenth century, the Faroese Plymouth Brethren numbered thirty. Today, approximately 10% of the Faroese population are members of the Open Brethren community (Brøðrasamkoman). About 5% belong to other Christian churches, such as the Adventists, who operate a private school in Tórshavn. Jehovah's Witnesses also number four congregations (approximately 80 to 100 members). The Roman Catholic congregation comprises approximately 170 members. The municipality of Tórshavn operates their old Franciscan school. There are also around fifteen Bahá'ís who meet at four different places. Unlike Denmark with Forn Sidr, the Faroes have no organized Ásatrú community, but there is a fair share of pagan lore, song and ritual performed in individuals' houses or in public spaces rather than in church buildings.
The best known church buildings in the Faroe Islands include St. Olafs Church and the Magnus Cathedral in Kirkjubøur; the Vesturkirkjan and the Maria Church, both of which are situated in Tórshavn; the church of Fámjin; the octagonal church in Haldarsvík; Christianskirkjan in Klaksvík and also the two pictured here.
In 1948, Victor Danielsen (Plymouth Brethren) completed the first Bible translation. It was translated into Faroese from different modern languages. Jacob Dahl and Kristian Osvald Viderø (Fólkakirkjan) completed the second translation in 1961. The latter was translated from the original Biblical languages (Hebrew and Greek) into Faroese.
See main article: Culture of the Faroe Islands. Culture of the Faroe Islands has its roots in the Nordic culture. The Faroe Islands were long isolated from the main cultural phases and movements that swept across parts of Europe. This means that they have maintained a great part of their traditional culture. The language spoken is Faroese. It is one of three insular Scandinavian languages descended from the Old Norse language spoken in Scandinavia in the Viking Age, the others being Icelandic and the extinct Norn, which is thought to have been mutually intelligible with Faroese. Until the 15th century, Faroese had a similar orthography to Icelandic and Norwegian, but after the Reformation 1538, the ruling Danes outlawed its use in schools, churches and official documents. This maintained a rich spoken tradition, but for 300 years the language was not written down. This means that all poems and stories were handed down orally. These works were split into the following divisions: sagnir (historical), ævintyr (stories) and kvæði (ballads), often set to music and the mediaeval chain dance). These were eventually written down in the 19th century.
The national holiday Ólavsøka, is on the 29 July, commemorating the death of Saint Olaf. The celebrations are held in Tórshavn. They really commence on the evening of the 28th, and carry on until the 31 July.
The official part of the celebration starts on the 29th, with the opening of the Faroese Parliament, a custom which dates back some 900 years. This begins with a service held in Tórshavn Cathedral, all members of parliament as well as civil and church officials walk to the cathedral in a procession. All of the parish ministers take turns giving the sermon. After the service, the procession returns to the parliament for the opening ceremony.
Other celebrations are marked by different kind of sports competitions, the rowing competition (in Tórshavn harbour) being the most popular, art exhibitions, pop concerts, and the famous Faroese dance. The celebrations have many facets, and only a few are mentioned here.
Another way many people mark the occasion is to wear the national Faroese dress.
The Nordic House in the Faroe Islands (in Faroese Norðurlandahúsið) is the most important cultural institution in the Faroes. Its aim is to support and promote Nordic and Faroese culture, locally and in the Nordic region. Erlendur Patursson (1913-1986), Faroese member of the Nordic Council, brought forward the idea of a Nordic cultural house in the Faroe Islands. A Nordic competition for architects was held in 1977, in which 158 architects participated. Winners were Ola Steen from Norway and Kolbrún Ragnarsdóttir from Iceland. By staying true to folklore, the architects built the Nordic House to resemble an enchanting hill of elves. The house opened in Tórshavn in 1983. The Nordic House is a cultural organization under the Nordic Council of Ministers. The Nordic House is run by a steering committee of eight, of which three are Faroese and five from the other Nordic countries. There is also a local advisory body of fifteen members, representing Faroese cultural organizations. The House is managed by a director appointed by the steering committee for a four-year term.
See main article: Music of the Faroe Islands. The Faroe Islands have a very active music scene. The islands have their own symphony orchestra, the classical ensemble Aldubáran and many different choirs; the most well-known being Havnarkórið. The most well-known Faroese composers are Sunleif Rasmussen and the Dane Kristian Blak. Blak is also head of the record company Tutl.
The first Faroese opera ever was by Sunleif Rasmussen. It is entitled Í Óðamansgarði (The Madman´s Garden), and it opened on the 12 October 2006, at the Nordic House. The opera is based on a short story by the writer William Heinesen.
The festival for contemporary and classical music, Summartónar, is held each summer. Large open-air music festivals for popular music with both local and international musicians participating are G! Festival in Gøta in July and Summarfestivalurin in Klaksvík in August.
Traditional Faroese food is mainly based on meat and potatoes and uses few fresh vegetables. Mutton is the basis of many meals, and one of the most popular treats is skerpikjøt, well aged, wind-dried mutton which is quite chewy. The drying shed, known as a hjallur, is a standard feature in many Faroese homes, particularly in the small towns and villages. Other traditional foods are ræst kjøt (semi-dried mutton) and ræstur fiskur, matured fish. Another Faroese specialty is Grind og spik, pilot whale meat and blubber. (A parallel meat/fat dish made with offal is garnatálg). Well into the last century meat and blubber from the pilot whale meant food for a long time. Fresh fish also features strongly in the traditional local diet, as do seabirds, such as Faroese puffins, and their eggs. Dried fish is also commonly eaten.
There is one brewery situated in the Faroes Islands called Föroya Bjór, which has produced beer since 1888 with exports to mainly Iceland and Denmark. Hard alcohol like the snaps is not allowed to be produced in the Faroe Islands.
Whaling events, known as grindadrap, occur annually in the Faroe Islands. Pilot whales and some other small whale species are harvested in strictly regulated non-commercial hunts. Around 950 long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melaena) are killed annually, mainly during the summer.
The Faroe Islands compete in the biannual Island Games, which were hosted by the islands in 1989. 10 football teams contest the Faroe Islands Premier League Football, currently ranked 48th by UEFA's League coefficient. The Faroe Islands national football team is one of the weakest members of UEFA, currently ranked 50th of 53, and one of the weakest members of FIFA, currently ranked 185th of 207 national teams.
See also: Public holidays in Denmark
The climate is technically defined as Maritime Subarctic according to the (Köppen climate classification:Cfc). The overall character of the islands' climate is determined by the strong cooling influence of the Atlantic Ocean, which here produces the North Atlantic Current. This, together with the remoteness of any sources of warm airflows ensures that winters are mild (mean temperature 3.0 to 4.0°C) while summers are cool (mean temperature 9.5 to 10.5°C).The islands are windy, cloudy and cool throughout the year with over 260 rainy days in the year. The islands lie in the path of depressions moving northeast and this means that strong winds and heavy rain are possible at all times of the year. Sunny days are rare and overcast days are common.
See main article: Flora of the Faroe Islands.
The natural vegetation of the Faroe Islands is dominated by Arctic-alpine plants, wild flowers, grasses, moss and lichen. Most of the lowland area is grassland and some is heath, dominated by shrubby heathers, mainly Calluna vulgaris.
See main article: Fauna of the Faroe Islands.
The bird fauna of the Faroe Islands is dominated by sea-birds and birds attracted to open land like heather, probably due to the lack of woodland and other suitable habitats. Many species have developed special Faroese sub-species: Common Eider, European Starling, Winter Wren, Common Guillemot, and Black Guillemot. The Pied Raven was endemic to the Faroe Islands, but has now become extinct.
Only a few species of wild land mammals are found in the Faroe Islands today, all introduced by humans.
Grey Seals (Halichoerus grypus) are very common around the Faroese shores.
Several species of cetacean live in the waters around the Faroe Islands. Best known are the Short-finned Pilot Whales (Globicephala melaena), but the more exotic Killer whales (Orcinus orca) sometimes visit the Faroese fjords.
A collection of Faroese marine algae resulting from a survey sponsored by NATO, the British Museum (Natural History) and the Carlsberg Foundation, is preserved in the Ulster Museum (catalogue numbers: F3195—F3307). It is one of ten exsiccatae sets.