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Faroe Islands Förøyar; Faerøene The Faroe Islands is an archipelago of 17 inhabited islands and one uninhabited island, and 4 uninhabited islets. The Faroe Islands is strategically located along important sea lanes in northeastern Atlantic with its precipitous terrain which limits habitation to small coastal lowlands, the largest being the capital town of Tórshavn. The population of the Faroe Islands is largely descended from Viking settlers who arrived in the 9th century. The islands have been connected politically to Denmark since the 14th century. A high degree of self-government was attained in 1948.

Area: Archipelago of 18 islands, of which 17 are inhabited. The largest island of Streymoy (375 sq km) is where the capital Tórshavn is located. Highest point; Slættaratindur, 882 m. Land: 1 399 sq. km Water: 3 nm (Territorial) 200 nm (or agreed boundaries or median line) Total Coast line: 1000 km

Approximately 430 km southeast of Iceland, 600 km west of Norway, 300 km northwest of Scotland in the North Atlantic. Sailing distance to Copenhagen is 1500 km.

Latitude and Longitude:
62 N 7W

Time Zone:
GMT +1

Total Land Area:


The climate is typically oceanic; the weather is moist, changeable and at times windy. Due to the influence of the Gulf Stream, there is little variation between winter and summer. Average temperature in degrees Celsius: February 3 July 11

Natural Resources:
Rich Fishing stocks.


Total GDP:
2001 1,000,000,000.00 USD

Per Capita GDP:
2001 31,000.00 USD

% of GDP per Sector:
  Primary Secondary Tertiary
2003 33% 33% 34%

% of Population Employed by Sector
  Primary Secondary Tertiary

External Aid/Remittances:

Major Public accounts for the Faroe Islands (DDK thousands): Accounts 2002*; Appropriations accounts of the “Lagting” 2003: Revenue, total 3 762 060; 3 870 939; Income taxes 1 675 348; 1 796 000; Customs, excise- and production duties 1 239 550; 1 267 500; Interest, dividends 138 955; 102 700; Share of net profit- of Danmarks Nationalbank 21 000; 21 000; Transfers from- the Danish Government 629 327; 629 739; Other revenue 57 880; 54 000; Expenditure, total 3 586 220; 3 630 758; of which investment 240 268; 283 200; The “Lagting” 31 010; 33 445; Central government 39 589; 30 141; Financial matters 218 673; 218 585; Fishing, shipping etc. 146 385; 160 846; Economic services 376 133; 316 259; Education- and research, culture 631 311; 674 933; Health and social welfare 1 670 250; 0; Quarrying 23 712; 29 496; Autonomy affairs 13 708; 0; Family and health welfare 0; 487 896; Social welfare 0 ; 1 188 509; Legal matters 0; 17 494; Interest paid- and other expenditure 195 181; 189 954; Overall surplus 175 840; 240 181;

Labour Force:
2003 27,000
2000 24,250

Year: Unemployment Rate (% of pop.)
1990 1%
1995 15%
2000 5%
2002 3%
2006 2.1%


Niche Industry:
Fishing and fish processing



Imports and Exports:

Tot. Value of Imports 639,000,000.00 USD (2004)
From Eu:
Import Partners (EU:)
Partners Outside EU:
Import Partners: Denmark 53%, Norway 20.7%, Iceland 6%, Sweden 4.3% (2006)
Tot. Value of Exports 598000000 USD (2005)
To Eu:
Export Partners:
Partners Outside EU::
Export Partners: Denmark 32%, UK 27%, Norway 10.2%, Nigeria 9.3%, Netherlands 5.5% (2006)
Main Imports: consumer goods 36%, raw materials and semi-manufactures 32%, machinery and transport equipment 29%, fuels, fish, salt (1999)
Main Exports: fish and fish products 94%, stamps, ships (1999)



Number of Airports: 1
Regular flights are available all year round to Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Great Britain. The flight time to Copenhagen (Denmark) is 2 hours and 15 min.

Number of Main Ports:
Regular car and cargo ferries are available all year round to Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Great Britain.



The Faroe Islands have a modern infrastructure with good roads and tunnels. The roads are mainly asphalted dual track carriageways and a bridge connects the two largest islands. total: 458 km note: no roads between towns (2003)


Other Forms of Transportation:

Economic Zones:

Energy Policy:

Year Total Energy Production (Mwh) Thermic (Mwh) Geothermic (Mwh) Other (Mwh) Total Energy Consumption (Mwh) Domestic (Mwh) Commercial (Mwh) Public Service (Mwh) Industry (Mwh) Public Lighting (Mwh)
2005 290,000 0 0 0 269,700 0 0 0 0 0


Official Currency:
Danish krone (DKK)

Banking and Insurance:
Number of Banks and Credit Unions:
Number of Agricultural Credit Unions:
Number of Insurance Companies:


Financial Services:
On 1 January 1997, the Faroese parliament passed a new insurance industry law. The monopoly was abolished and a Faroese insurance supervisory body was appointed. Now, any Faroese company that complies with the statutory requirements may enter the insurance business on the condition that they obtain permission from the Faroese government.


Public Ownership:

Land Use:

Farming in the Faroe Islands is not a major sector of trade. Only about one percent of GDP in factor prices is derived from farming. The seven and a half million litres of milk produced in 2002 meets the domestic demand. The production of mutton corresponds to 60% of the total demand and the production of beef and beef products amounts is just a small percentage of the total consumption; meat imports, therefore, remain at a comparatively high level.

Marine Activity:


Marine Life:

Critical Issues:



Political System:
The Faroe Islands is a autonomous state within the Kingdom of Denmark Political System. The fundamental principle of the Home Rule Act is that the administration of all local matters should be transferred to Faroese authorities. On the other hand, matters of common interest for the realm are handled by the High Commissioner, who represents the Kingdom's authority in the Faroe Islands. Matters relating to the Faroe Islands are divided as follows: 1) Special matters: In these areas, the Løgting (Faroese parliament) has legislative authority and the Landsstýri (the Faroese government) has executive power. 2) Joint matters: These are administered by the Danish government according to the laws of the Kingdom of Denmark. Foreign policy and judicial matters are primarily joint matters. As a part of the Home Rule Act, the Faroe Islands receives State block grants from Denmark. The Logting: The Faroe Islands is governed by the Løgting, which is the legislative body dealing with special matters and joint matters, etc. The Faroese Parliament is elected every four years. The executive or administrative body is called the Landsstýri. The principal goal of this government is to make the Faroe Islands more economically independent and self-supportive, so that the Faroese people, without economic or administrative restrictions, can decide their constitutional future. The Faroese Parliament elected in 1994 was the first parliament to function under a new system of governing based upon ministerial directorates. The executive currently is divided into nine ministries. Joint Issues: These are administered by the Danish Government according to the laws of the Kingdom of Denmark. Foreign policy, judicial matters and social legislation are primarily joint matters. The provisions of the Act stipulate, however, that the administration of certain matters of common concern can be wholly or partly assigned to the Faroese Government or undertaken by the Danish and Faroese authorities jointly. The Faroese Government now administers the social welfare system and the health services, etc. The legislative authority still lies with the Danish Government, but legislation has to be ratified by the Faroese Parliament for it to be applicable to the Faroe Islands. To cover joint matters, the Faroe Islands receives State block grants from Denmark. Areas that generally concern the Faroe Islands only, especially matters concerning Home Rule procedures, rest with the Department of the Danish Prime Minister. The Office of the High Commissioner is under this department. The main rule, however, is that Faroese matters managed by the Danish Government are handled by the relevant Danish ministry.

Political Parties:
The Faroese political parties came into being in the first half of the 20th century as a result of the desire for more or less extensive autonomy. The first were Sambandsflokkurin (The Union Party) and Sjálvstýrisflokkurin (The Autonomist Party). In the 1920s and 1930s, there was a further division on the basis of social class with the Social Democratic Javnaðarflokkurin and the conservative-nationalist Fólkaflokkurin (The People’s Party), which mainly represented commercial interests. 1946 saw the foundation of Tjóðveldisflokkurin (The Republicans), who demanded a Faeroese republic. The Faeroe Islands elect two members to the Folketing. In the 1998 general election, the two seats went to Fólkaflokkurin and Javnaðarflokkurin, which in Demark collaborate with the Conservatives and the Social Democrats respectively. Faroese Parliament (Føroya Løgting) Political Party 2002 % Vote (# Seats) 2004 % Vote (# Seats) Fólkaflokkurin (Conservatives, mod. autonomists): 20.8 (7); 20.6 (7) Sambandsflokkurin (Conservatives, unionists): 26.0 (8); 23.7 (7) Javnaðarflokkurin (Social Democrats, mod. unionists): 20.9 (7); 21.8 (7) Sjálvstýrisflokkurin(Conservatives, mod. autonomists): 4.4 (1); 4.6 (1) Tjóðveldisflokkurin (Republicans, for independence): 23.7 (8); 21.7 (8) Miðflokkurin (Christian Center Party): 4.2 (1); 5.2 (2)

Important Legislation:
Act No. 137 of the Kingdom of Denmark (the Home Rule Act) promulgated on 23 March 1948 accorded Home Rule to the Faroe Islands, whereby it obtained the status of a self-governing community within the Kingdom of Denmark. The provisions of the Act stipulate, however, that the administration of certain matters of common concern can be wholly or partly assigned to the Faroese government or undertaken by the Danish and Faroese authorities jointly.

Principal Taxes:

Associated Power:

The Faroes make up the Danish Kingdom, along with the Kingdom of Denmark and Greenland (Kalaallit- Nunaat).



Island Area (km sq.) Population % of Total Population

Births 15 Deaths 8 Excess of Births 7

Year Resident Population

Age of Population: 0-14 15-24 25-49 50-64 65 and up
2003 11246 0 0 0 6,384
2007 9786 0 0 31,021 6,704


2002 Immigration 36 Emigration 28 Net Migration 9 Increase in Pop.15

Crude Birth Rate:
2007 1.412%

Life Expedctancy:
total population: 79.49 years male: 76.06 years female: 82.93 years (2007 est.)

Crude Death Rate:
2007 0.869%

Faroese: 95% Danish: 5%

Class Division:


Evangelical Lutheran Church: 85% Christian Brethren: 10% Other: 5%


Education System:
Mandatory from 7 to 16 years of age. Primary school is compulsory up to the ninth class, after which education can be continued in a High School, Business, Technical, Industrial Fishing, or Mariners school. There are also colleges for Marine Engineering, Nautical, Teacher, Business and Nurse training. There is one University in the Faroe Islands -Fróðskaparsetur Føroya.

Total Pre-schools:()
Total Primary Schools  
First Level:
Second Level:
Third Level:
Total Secondary Schools:
Total Professional Schools


Number of Schools per Island:


Students Enrolled:


Medical Services:
There are three hospitals on the Faeroe Islands. The largest is the central hospital in Tórshavn, Landssjúkrahúsið, with 225 beds. The hospitals in Klaksvík and Tvøroyri have 36 and 16 beds respectively. The larger towns and settlements have general practitioners, called borough medical officers, and private dentists. There are health visitor and domestic help schemes. The schools are covered by both medical and dental services.


 The islands, inhabited in ancient times by Celts from mainland Europe, were colonized by Norwegian Vikings between the eighth and tenth centuries. In 1035, the islands became part of the Norwegian kingdom. They were devastated by the plague that swept Europe in the fourteenth century with renewed immigration from the mainland. With Norway, the islands passed to Danish rule in 1386. Under Danish rule, the isolated Faroese retained their language and culture; however, they accepted the Lutheran doctrine brought to the islands by Danish reformers in 1540. The inhabitants of the remote islands, ignored by the Danish government, developed a strong tradition of self-reliance. Sparsely populated and underdeveloped, the islands became almost wholly dependent on fishing. In the eighteenth century, the islands discovered a new use for their large fishing fleet. The islands became a notorious centre for smuggling goods between the British isles and Scandinavia. The Swedish kingdom took control of Norway in 1814, but the Faroes, long considered part of Norway, remained under Danish rule. Between 1814 and 1856, all island trade came under the control of a Danish royal monopoly, which the islanders circumvented by returning to their traditional smuggling activities. The Danish language, the only official language of government and education, replaced Faroese as the first language in the nineteenth century. The decline of Faroese language became a major issue of the Faroese cultural revival of the 1880s. The development of a distinct alphabet, based on that of the Icelanders to the northwest, spurred the development of an extensive Faroese literature. Faroese nationalism, growing out of the cultural revival, led to demands for political autonomy. In 1912, as a concession to growing Faroese nationalism, the Faroese language was made the second official language. Faroese self-awareness, and a renewed appreciation of their unique culture and history, advanced rapidly during World War I. In the first decade after the war, the Faroese experienced a rapid population growth, but for the first time, the islanders rejected emigration to the Danish mainland and began to inhabit the formerly uninhabited islands of the archipelago. The British occupied the Faroes following the fall of Denmark to the Nazis in 1940. Allowed to govern themselves, the islanders provided three-quarters of the fish consumed in Britain during the war. The effort cost the Faroese over a third of their fishing fleet. Pro-independence sentiment grew rapidly with the end of the war. Nationalists pressed for the islands to follow Iceland, which had declared its independence from Demark in 1944. Following a plebiscite, the Faroese parliament, the Lagting, declared the islands independent on 18 September, 1946. The Danish authorities moved quickly to dissolve the Lagting and to nullify the declaration. Faced with continuing separatist sentiment, the Danish government granted extensive autonomy in 1948. The Faroese took over all aspects of the island’s administration except for defence and foreign relations. The modernizing of the fishing fleet in the 1950s and 1960s raised the standard of living to mainland levels. The prosperous Faroese, their language firmly established as the predominant language, became increasingly confident and assertive. Nationalist demands brought separate Faroese representation in the Nordic Council. Denmark’s entry in the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973 increased competition by the fishing fleets of the other member states. Threats to their one important industry, and therefore their unique culture, reopened the autonomy versus independence debate. As a result, the Faroese massively overextended the fishing fleet in the 1980s which led to an industry collapse in 1992. Accompanied by a severe recession and high unemployment, the failure of the fishing industry affected the island’s autonomous financial institutions. Falling marine stocks and fish prices brought economic hardship to the prosperous islands. In January 1993, for the second time in months, the Faroese government faced the prospect of compromising its independence by accepting a loan from the Danish government. The economic crisis left many Faroese angry with fishing quotas and austerity measures imposed by the European Union and the Danish government. The economic crisis has left many Faroese angry with fishing quotas and austerity measures imposed by the European Union and the Danish Government. The revitalized national movement has again begun to call for independence. The Faroese are already recognized as separate Scandinavian people, and the nationalists are determined to win official recognition as a separate, independent European people.


Recent Significant Events:

Music, Dance, Handicraft and Patrimony:


CIA World Factbook 2004. Faroe Islands. Online November 2004. http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/fo.html Felt, Lawrence F. Royal Commission on Renewing and Strengthening Our Place in Canada. ‘Small, Isolated and Successful: Lessons from Small, Isolated Societies of the North Atlantic.’ Online November 2004. www.gov.nl.ca/royalcomm Landsbanki Føroya (Governmental Bank). Information Memorandum; Faroe Islands, November 2004. Online November 2004. http://landsbank.fo/infomem.pdf Landisbanki Føroya. Prospect November 2003. Online November 2004. http://landsbank.fo/Prospekt2003.pdf Minihan, James. Faroe Islands. Nations Without States: a historical dictionary of contemporary national movements. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. 1996 Statistics Denmark. Statistical Yearbook 2004. ‘Faroe Islands.’ Online November 2004. http://www.dst.dk/yearbook.aspx Statistics Faroe Islands. Faroe Islands in Figures 2003. Online November 2004. http://www.hagstova.fo/pls/portal/docs/PAGE/HAGSTOVA_FOROYA_FO/HEIM_VERS_03/PUBL_NEW/FAROE_ISLAND_IN_FIGURES/UPPSETING_GRON_ENDALIGT_0404.PDF The Government of Denmark. The Faroe Islands. Online November 2004 http://www.denmark.dk/servlet/page?_pageid=80&_dad=portal30&_schema=PORTAL30&_ fsit eid=175&_fid=94660&page_id=1&_feditor=0&folder.p_show_id=94660


Useful Links:

Please address queries to:
Institute of Island Studies
University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI)
550 University Ave
Charlottetown, PE, Canada, C1A 4P3

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