The Faroes or the Faroe Islands (Faroese: Føroyar, meaning "Sheep Islands") are a group of islands in the north Atlantic Ocean between Scotland and Iceland. They are an autonomous region of the kingdom of Denmark. Since 1948 they have been autonomous and have over the years taken over control over and responsibility of most matters except defence and foreign affairs.
The Faeroes give their name to one of the British Sea Areas.
Main article: History of the Faroe Islands
The early history of the Faroe Islands is not 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 or Sigmundur Brestirsson , whose family had flourished in the southern islands but had been almost exterminated by invaders from the northern, was sent from Norway, whence 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 and continued until 1386, when the islands became part of the Kalmar Union and later the double monarchy Denmark–Norway. Denmark retained possession of the Faroe Islands at the Treaty of Kiel in 1815.
On April 12, 1940, the Faroes were invaded and occupied by British troops. In 1942–43 the British Royal Engineers built the only Airport in the Faroes, the Vagar Airport.
Main article: Politics of the Faroe Islands
The islands are administratively parted in seven counties, which in turn are divided into 120 communities.
Faroe and Denmark
A high degree of self-government was attained in 1948 and the Faroese are supported by a substantial annual subsidy from Denmark. The islanders are about evenly split between those favoring complete independence and those who prefer continued presence in the Danish state. Within both camps there is, however, a wide range of opinion. Of those who favor independence some are in favor 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.
Faroe 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. Faroe is however covered by the Schengen free movement agreement.
Main article: Geography of the Faroe Islands
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 , and has 1,399 km² in area, and includes no major lakes or rivers. There are 1,117 km of coastline, and no land boundaries with any other country. The only island that is uninhabited is Lítla Dímun.
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 meters above sea level.
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, the Faroe Islands have come back in the last few years, with unemployment down to 5% in mid-1998. Nevertheless, the almost total dependence on fishing means the economy remains extremely vulnerable. The Faroese hope to broaden their economic base by building new fish-processing plants. Oil finds 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 IT and business projects have been fostered in the Faroe Islands to attract new business. The result from these projects is not yet known but is hoped to bring a better market economy to the Faroe Islands.
The low unemployment of the Faroes isn't a sign of a recovering economy as many young students travel to Denmark and other countries once finished with High School, leaving the middle aged and elderly population that lacks the knowledge to fill in IT positions on the Faroes.
Main article: Demographics of the Faroe Islands
See also: Faroese religion
Main article: Culture of the Faroe Islands
The phrase "Faroe Islands" is tautological, since øerne or oyar means islands in Danish and Faroese respectively. The Faroes have a culture very much their own but the closest cultural relatives are Norway, Iceland and Denmark.
They speak a Scandinavian dialect that is limited to a few thousand people. Linguistically, they are most similar to Icelanders.
Main article: Transportation in the Faroe Islands