The Faeroe Islands

Europe - Editor - 16 July 2007

The Faeroe Islands

The Faeroe or Faroe Islands are a group of eighteen islands located between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Norwegian Sea in Northern Europe. The name Faeroe Islands means “Sheep Islands”, which was a name given to them by Saint Brendan, an Irish Monastic Saint. True to its name, visitors to the Faroe Islands will probably meet up with more sheep than people when exploring the countryside.

The Faroe Islands take up an area of 1,399 square kilometers, or 540 square miles, of which 1,117 kilometers or 694 miles of it is coastline. Out of the eighteen islands there is only one island that is uninhabited, called Lítla Dímun. The geography of the Faeroe Islands consists of low mountain peaks, rocky outcrops, cliffs bordering the coast and limited water sources. The islands' climate is generally temperate with mild winters and cool summers. Most of the time there is an overcast sky and often-strong winds and fog conditions are experienced.

Before 1380 the Faeroe Islands were under Norwegian control. In the late 14th century the Danes took over control and retained possession until the 20th century. Since 1948 the Faroe Islands have been an independent region of the Kingdom of Denmark, a small Nordic country. Denmark assists the islands of Faeroe with matters pertaining to foreign affairs, legal systems and defense, but apart from that the Faroese look after everything else.

The inhabitants of the islands speak a modern Faroese language, which originated from the Old Norse language that was spoken by earlier Viking settlers. These Norwegian settlers came from the Orkney Islands, the Shetland Islands and from Norway. On the islands Faroese is spoken as a first language and all schools teach Danish as a second language. Today the 48,000 people inhabiting the islands consist of mainly ethnic Faroese, Celtic origins and of Norse decent. There is however seventy-seven nationalities found on the Faroe Islands.

Many of the people living in Faeroe used to fish as a means of sustaining themselves. The fishing industry began to develop and soon the Faeroe Islands were known as a successful fishing nation with their own fleet of fishing ships. Then in the early 1990’s the fishing industry collapsed due to economic problems and since then the Islands have attempted to diversify the economy.


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