The Faroe Islands are an island group and archipelago under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Denmark, situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Norway and Iceland.
The total area is approximately 1,400 km2 (540 sq mi) with a 2010 population of almost 50,000 people. The Faroe Islands have been a self-governing country within the Danish Realm since 1948. Over the years, the Faroese have taken control of most domestic matters.
Areas that remain the responsibility of Denmark include military defence, police, justice, currency and foreign affairs. The Faroe Islands also has representatives in the Nordic Council as members of the Danish delegation. The islands were associated with and taxed by Denmark and Norway up to 1814, when Norway fell under the rule of Sweden. Scandinavia was in political turmoil following the Sixth Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars, when the Treaty of Kiel granted Denmark control over the Faroes, Iceland and Greenland in 1814. The Danish trade monopoly ended in 1856. 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 (although 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. (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. Demographics of the Faroe Islands The vast majority of the population are ethnic Faroese, of Norse and Scottish descent. Recent DNA analyses have revealed that Y chromosomes, tracing male descent, are 87% Scandinavian. The studies show that mitochondrial DNA, tracing female descent, is 84% Scottish. Of the approximately 48,500 inhabitants of the Faroe Islands (16,921 private households (2004)), Faroese are 91.7%, Danes 5.8%, Greenlanders 0.3%. The largest group of foreigners is Danes, comprising 5.8%, followed by Greenlanders, Icelanders, Norwegians and Poles.
The Faroe Islands have people consisting of 77 different nationalities. Faroese is spoken in the entire area as a first language. It is difficult to say exactly how many people worldwide speak the Faroese language, as many ethnic Faroese live in Denmark, and few who are born there return to the Faroes with their parents or as adults. The Faroese language is one of the least-spoken of the Germanic languages. Faroese grammar and vocabulary are most similar to Icelandic and to their ancestor Old Norse. In contrast, spoken Faroese is very different from Icelandic and is closer to Norwegian dialects of the west coast of Norway. While Faroese is the main language in the islands, both Faroese and Danish are official languages. Faroese language policy provides for the active creation of new terms in Faroese suitable for modern life.
Geography of the Faroe Islands The Faroe Islands are an island group consisting of 18 major islands about 655 kilometres (407 mi) 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 62°00′N 06°47′W. Its area is 1,399 square kilometres (540 sq. mi), and it has no major lakes or rivers. There are 1,117 kilometres (694 mi) of coastline. The only significant uninhabited island is Lítla Dímun. The islands are rugged and rocky with some low peaks; the coasts are mostly cliffs. The highest point is Slættaratindur, 882 metres (2,894 ft) above sea level. The Faroe Islands are dominated by tholeiitic basalt lava, which was part of the great Thulean Plateau during the Paleogene period. Distances to nearest countries and islands: North Rona, Scotland (uninhabited): 260 kilometres (160 mi) Shetland (Foula) (Scotland): 285 kilometres (177 mi) Orkney (Westray) (Scotland): 300 kilometres (190 mi) Mainland Scotland: 320 kilometres (200 mi) Iceland: 450 kilometres (280 mi) Ireland: 670 kilometres (420 mi) Denmark: 990 kilometres (620 mi) Climate of the Faroe Islands The climate is classed as Maritime Subarctic according to the (Köppen climate classification: Cfc). The overall character of the islands’ climate is influenced by the strong warming influence of the Atlantic Ocean, which produces the North Atlantic Current. This, together with the remoteness of any source of warm airflows, ensures that winters are mild (mean temperature 3.0 to 4.0 °C or 37 to 39°F) while summers are cool (mean temperature 9.5 to 10.5 °C or 49 to 51°F). The islands are windy, cloudy and cool throughout the year with over 260 annual rainy days. 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. Hurricane Faith struck the Faroe Islands on 5 September 1966 with sustained winds over 100 mph (160 km/h) and only then did the storm cease to be a tropical system. The registration of meteorologic data on the Faroe Islands started in 1867.
Transport in the Faroe Islands Vágar Airport has scheduled services from Vágar Island. The largest Faroese airline is Atlantic Airways. Due to the rocky terrain and relatively small size of the Faroe Islands, its transport system was not as extensive as in other places of the world. This situation has now changed, and the infrastructure has been developed extensively. Some 80% of the population of the islands is connected by tunnels through the mountains and between the islands, bridges and causeways that link 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 to every village in the islands, except for seven of the smaller islands, six of which only have one village.
1986 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) introduced “zero catch limits for commercial whaling”; however, the IWC’s rules still allow for subsistence hunting in some parts of the world, and the application of their regulations to long-finned pilot whales is somewhat ambiguous since (despite their name) those animals are not whales proper; they are (like dolphins) small cetaceans, and they belong to the same biological family (Delphinidae) as dolphins. In late 2008, chief medical officers of the Faroe Islands advised that they no longer considered pilot whales to be fit for human consumption because the animals’ meat and blubber had been found to contain too much mercury, PCBs and DDT derivatives. As noted above, the Faroe Islands are an autonomous province of Denmark and not a part of Denmark itself; essentially a self-governing country within the Kingdom of Denmark, with their own prime minister and legislature.