Faroe Islands

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{{Infobox_Country |native_name = Føroyar (Faroese)
Færøerne (Danish) |conventional_long_name = Faroe Islands |common_name = Faroe Islands |image_flag = Flag of the Faroe Islands.svg |image_coat = Faroe Coat of Arms 4.png |image_map = LocationFaroeIslands.png |national_motto = |national_anthem = Tú alfagra land mítt
(You, my most beauteous land) |official_languages = Faroese, Danish |capital = Tórshavn |latd = 62 |latm = 00 |latNS = N |longd = 06 |longm = 47 |longEW = W |largest_city = Tórshavn |government_type = |leader_titles = Monarch
Prime Minister |leader_names = Margrethe II
Jóannes Eidesgaard |area_rank = 189th |area_magnitude = 1 E9 |area = 1,399 |areami² = 540 |percent_water = 0.5 |population_estimate = 46,962 |population_estimate_rank = 212th |population_estimate_year = July 2005 |population_census = 48,228 |population_census_year = 2004 |population_density = 33.1 |population_densitymi² = 85.7 |population_density_rank = ~138th |GDP_PPP = $1.0 billion |GDP_PPP_rank = 191st |GDP_PPP_year = 2005 |GDP_PPP_per_capita = $22,000 (2001 est.) |GDP_PPP_per_capita_rank = not ranked |sovereignty_type = Independence |established_events = |established_dates = None (part of the Kingdom of Denmark).
Home rule was established in 1948.
|HDI = n/a |HDI_rank = n/a |HDI_year = n/a |HDI_category = n/a |currency = Faroese króna1 |currency_code = DKK |country_code = |time_zone = GMT |utc_offset = |time_zone_DST = summer |utc_offset_DST = +1 |cctld = .fo |calling_code = 298 |footnotes = 1The currency is issued at par to the Danish kroner printed with Faroese motifs, but following same standard (size and security features of the danish coins and banknotes). Faroese krónur (singular króna) use the Danish ISO 4217 code DKK. }}

The Faroe Islands or simply Faroes (Faroese: Føroyar, meaning "Sheep Islands", Danish: Færøerne) are a group of islands in the north Atlantic Ocean between Scotland, Norway and Iceland. They have been an autonomous region of the Kingdom of Denmark since 1948 and have, over the years, taken control of most matters, except defence (they have no organized native military, which remains the responsibility of Denmark, except for a small Police Force and Coast Guard) and foreign affairs.

The Faroes give their name to one of the British Sea Areas. They have close traditional ties to Iceland, Shetland, the Orkney Islands, the Outer Hebrides and Greenland. The archipelago was detached from Norway in 1814. The Faroes have their own representatives in the Nordic Council.



Main article: History of the Faroe Islands

The early history of the Faroe Islands is very clear. According to Færeyinga Saga emigrants who left Norway to escape the tyranny of Harald I of Norway settled in the islands about the beginning of the 9th century. Early in the 11th century Sigmund, whose family had flourished in the southern islands but had been almost exterminated by invaders from the northern islands, was sent from Norway, from which he had escaped, 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 into a union with Denmark, which gradually evolved into the double monarchy Denmark–Norway. The reformation reached the Faroes in 1538. When Norway was taken away from Denmark at the Treaty of Kiel in 1814, Denmark retained possession of the Faroe Islands.

The monopoly trade over the Faroe Islands was abolished in 1856. Since then, the country developed towards a modern fishery 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 after the foundation of the political parties of the Faroe Islands.

On April 12, 1940, the Faroes were occupied by British troops following the invasion of Denmark by Nazi Germany. This action was taken to avert a possible German occupation of the islands, which would have had very grave consequences for the course of the Battle of the Atlantic. In 194243 the British Royal Engineers built the only airport in the Faroes, the Vagar 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 government.


Image:Faroe map with villages, streets, straits, firths, ferry harbours and major moutains.png Image:Tinganes.jpg Main article: Politics of the Faroe Islands

The islands are administratively divided into 34 municipalities with about 120 cities and villages.

Traditionally, there are also the 6 sýslur (Norðoyar, Eysturoy, Streymoy, Vágar, Sandoy and Suðuroy). Sýsla means district and although it is only a police district today, it is still commonly understood as a geographical region. In earlier times, each sýsla had an own ting, the so called várting (spring ting).

Today, elections are held in the municipalities, on national level for the Løgting, and inside the Kingdom of Denmark for the Folketing. For the Løgting elections there are 7 electoral districts, each one comprehending asýslur, while Streymoy is divided in a northern and southern part (Tórshavn region).

The Government of the Faroes holds the executive power in locally 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.

The Faroes and Denmark

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. In continuation of this 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 September 14 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 before the decision could be implemented the coalition in parliament fell apart and in the parliament election just a few months later, the political parties who favored staying in the Danish Kingdom went up in votes and formed a coalition. Based on their growth in votes they chose not to pass the secession. Instead there was made a compromise, and the Folketing passed a home-rule law which came into effect in 1948. The Faroe Islands status as an Danish amt was brought to an end with the home-rule law, instead the Faroe Islands were given a high degree of self-government, 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 in full consent with 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.

The Faroes and the EU

The Faroe Islands are not part of the EU, as explicitly asserted by both Rome treaties. 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 (However, other EU nationals living there remain EU citizens). The Faroes are however covered by the Schengen free movement agreement.


Main article: Geography of the Faroe Islands Image:Faroe Islands.png Image:Litla-dimun-photo.jpg

The Faroe Islands are an island group consisting of 18 islands, off the coast of Northern Europe, between the Norwegian Sea and the north Atlantic Ocean, about one-half of the way from Iceland to Norway. Its coordinates are Template:Coor dm, and has 1,399 square kilometres (540 sq. mi) in area, and includes 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. Image:Faroes030417-nasa(2).jpg

The Faroe Islands generally have cool summers and mild winters, with a usually overcast sky and frequent fog and heavy winds. The fog often causes delays of airplanes. 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.

See also:


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 the economy remains extremely vulnerable. The Faroese hope to broaden their economical base by building new fish-processing plants. Petroleum found close to the Faroese area give hope for deposits in the immediate area, which may lay the basis to sustained economic prosperity.

Since 2000, new information technology and business projects have been fostered in the Faroe Islands to attract new investment. The result from these projects is not yet known but is hoped to bring a better market economy to the Faroe Islands.

The Faroes have a low unemployment rate, but this is not necessarily 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 take IT positions on the Faroes.


Main article: Transportation in the Faroe Islands

Vágar Airport has scheduled service to destinations from island Vágoy. 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 underocean tunnels, bridges and embankments which binds the 3 largest islands and 3 comparatively 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 brand new modern, fast ferries. There are good roads that lead to every village in the islands except 7 of the smaller islands with only one village each.


Main article: Demographics of the Faroe Islands

The vast majority of the population are ethnic Faroese, of Norse and Celtic descent.

Faroese is spoken in the entire country and the majority also speaks Danish. Many Faroese people are fluent in English as well, particularly those in larger cities and the youth, who are taught English in school.

According to official statistics from 2002 84.1% of Faroese people are members of the state church, the Faroese People's Church (Fólkakirkjan), a form of Lutheranism.

The Faroese population is spread across most of the country, and it is not until the later decades that there has been a significant urbanisation. The industrialization of the country has been remarkably decentralized and has therefore maintained a quite living rural culture. Nevertheless, those villages with bad harbour facilities have been the losers of the development from agriculture to fisheries, and in the most peripheral agricultural areas there are scarcely any young people left. Such areas are e.g. Fugloy, Svínoy, Mykines, Skúvoy and Dímun, which have extremely bad connections to the rest of the country, and can often not be reached every day due to bad weather. In the past decades, the village-based social-structure has nevertheless been placed under pressure, and instead there has been a rise in "centres" that are able to provide goods that are in demand in the periphery. This has meant that shops and services are now heavily being relocated from the villages and into the centres.


Main article: Culture of the Faroe Islands

Technically, the phrase "Faroe Islands" is a pleonasm, since the suffixes øerne and oyar mean "islands" in Danish and Faroese, respectively. The Faroes have a culture very much their own, but it holds elements in common with Norway, Iceland, and Denmark.

The Faroese language, spoken by Faroese people, is most similar to Icelandic and Old Norse.

Faroese Scientific Society

Føroya Fróðskaparfelag, the Faroese scientific society was founded in 1952 with the object of promoting co-operation in all fields of learning, collecting scientific literature, and publishing the results of research on or carried out in the Faroe Islands. A yearly periodical, Fróðskaparrit, came to be published annually. It was through the work of the society that the Faroese university, Fróðskaparsetur Føroya, came to be founded.

Traditional food

Image:Faroese buffet.jpg 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. Other traditional foods are rast kjøt (semi-dried mutton) and rastan fisk, matured fish. After the bloody grindadráp, a speciality is grind og spik, whale and blubber. Fresh fish also features strongly in the traditional local diet, as do seabirds, such as puffin, and their eggs.

The Faroe Islands in popular culture

In the book Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, a Floating Fortess has been anchored between the Faroe Islands and Iceland on ca. 4 April 1984. The climax of John Buchan's novel "The Isle of Sheep" takes place on the Faroes.

Miscellaneous topics

Template:Faroese topics

See also

External links


Template:Islands of the Faroe Islands
Template:Danish overseas empire

Image:Nordic countries in black.gif Nordic Council Image:Nordic.gif
Denmark | Finland | Iceland | Norway | Sweden
Associate members:
Åland | Faroe Islands | Greenland


Template:Link FA

Template:Link FA

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