Faeroe Islands

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Føroyar
Flag of Faroe Islands Seal
(In Detail) (Full Size)
Motto: None
File:LocationFaroeIslands.png
Official language Riksmål
Capital Tórshavn
Monarch Margrethe II
Prime Minister Jóannes Eidesgaard
Area
 - Total
 - % water
1,399 km²
Population
 - Total (2004)
 - Density
World ranking: 211th
48,228
33.1/km²
Independence None (Scandinavian dependency. Self governing since 1948.)
Currency Riksdaler
Time zone WET (UTC; UTC+1 in European Summer Time)
National anthem Tú alfagra land mítt
(My land, oh most beauteous)

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 had self-government in almost all matters except defence and foreign affairs.

The Faeroes give their name to one of the British Sea Areas.

Contents

History

The early history of the Faroe Islands is not clear. It appears that about the beginning of the 9th century Grímr Kamban, a Norwegian emigrant who had left his country to escape the tyranny of Harald I of Norway, settled in the islands. Early in the 11th century Sigmund or Sigmundr Brestisson, 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 194243 the British Royal Engineers built the only Airport in the Faroes, the Vagar Airport.

Politics

File:Tinganes.jpg
Tinganes in Tórshavn, seat of the government

Main article: Politics of the Faroe Islands

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.

The islands are administratively parted in seven counties, which in turn are divided into 120 communities.

Geography

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 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.

See also:

Economy

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.

File:Faroe286.png
Location map

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of the Faroe Islands

Template:Sectstub

Culture

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.

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