Farøe Islands

Autonomous Island Group
Total area: 1,400sq.km/540sq.mi
The Farøe Island (Danish "Færøerne", Farøese "Forøyar"), meaning "Sheep Islands", is a group of 18 islands and several skerries which together form an autonomous part of Greater Denmark. They lie some 600km/373mi west of the Norwegian coast, in latitude 62° north.
The islands can be reached by air all the year round from Copenhagen, the airport being on the island of Vågar. In the summer months (June to August) there are ferries from Esbjerg and other Danish ports to TÓrshavn on the island of Streymoy.
Topography and climate
The islands, of volcanic origin, are of basalt with a thin layer of tufa. They have steep rocky coasts and fjords which bite deep inland. The landscape consists chiefly of meadows, fen and heathland. Trees and bushes are found in only a few places. The animal life of the islands consists of birds (including puffins), fish, seals and whales. Many of the birds live on the rocky coasts.
As the islands lie within the sphere of the Gulf Stream precipitation is considerable; rain falls on 280 days a year and the annual rainfall totals 1,200-1,700mm/47-66in. The oceanic climate means that summers are cool (11°C/52°F) and winters relatively mild (3°C/47°F). The influence of the Gulf Stream ensures that the sea temperature in summer and winter varies little and the sea remains free of ice.
The Faroes were settled from the 7th C. by Irish monks but were conquered around 800 by Norwegian Vikings and from 1035 onwards they belonged to Norway. In 1380 both Norway and the Faroes came into the possession of Denmark. After the break-up of the union between Norway and Denmark in 1814 the Faroes remained Danish.
During the Second World War British troops occupied the islands. In 1848 they acquired autonomous status with internal self-government under the Danish Crown; the Danish parliament is responsible only for their interests in the fields of foreign policy and defense. They do not belong to the EU.
The Farøes have their own coat-of-arms - a ram argent on a blue ground - and, since March 23, 1948, their own flag.
The legislative body of the country is the parliament (Logting), consisting of 32 elected representatives; parliamentary elections are held every four years. Executive power is in the hands of the government (Landsstyret), the members of which are appointed by the Logting. The Faroes send two members to the Danish parliament.
Population and economy
The language of the Farøes is one of the Germanic family of languages. Like Icelandic, to which it is closely related, it was originally derived from the old Nordic tongue, to be succeeded by a number of dialects. Modern Faroese spelling rules were laid down by V. U. Hammershaimb in 1846, and this has brought in its wake a unique and original form of Faroese literature. Danish is a compulsory second language in the schools.
Sheep-rearing has long been important on the islands, which are indeed named after the sheep. Today the principal source of income for the inhabitants is fishing. Some of the people work in shipyards and spinning-mills. Pullovers in beautiful colors and designs are popular souvenirs with tourists.

Farøes - Places of Interest

The largest islands are Streymoy, Eysturoy, Suøuroy, Sandoy and Vágar. Most are separated by narrow sounds.


A runic stone can be seen near Sandavágur, on the island of Vágar to the west of Streymoy. The Bosdalafossur Waterfall is scenically most impressive. The unique rock formation known as the "Trøllkonfingur" (Witch's Finger), on the extreme east coast, stands 350m/1,150ft high; King Frederik VII, who visited the island in 1844, was most impressed by it. There is a Folklore Museum in Miøvágur, a small village south of Vágar.


From Sorvágur on the west coast of Vágar there is a boat service in summer to the little island of Mykines, where the rocks inhabited by birds are easily accessible and extremely attractive. Seagulls, guillemots and puffins abound; the inhabitants catch birds for food.


East of Streymoy lies Eysturoy. These two islands, the largest in the Farøes group, are linked by a bridge. Between Gjógy and Eiøi in the north of Eysturoy tower the highest cliffs in the Faroes, reaching heights up to 882m/2,895ft above sea-level. They can be climbed in clear weather and from the top there is an extensive view over the sea and the islands. At the northern tip of Eysturoy the Rison and Kellingin rocks tower up out of the water.


To the north and northeast of Eysturoy lie many sizable and smallish islands. Klaksvik, on Bordoy, has a population of 5,000, making it the second largest town in the Farøes. The town began to grow when fishing became more important than agriculture, for Klaksvik has a good natural harbor surrounded by hills. Note the History Museum and St Christians Church, from the roof of which hangs a boat which was the only one of four to return safely to land on a stormy winter's night in 1923.


Vidareidi, in the middle of a hilly area on the island of Vidoy, is the northernmost point in the Farøes. From Cape Enniberg (750m/2,460ft) there is a fine view of several islands. The cliffs to the north of Viøareiøi are home to immense colonies of sea birds.


To the south of Streymoy lie Sandoy and Suduroy, between which flows the Suduroyar Fjord. Sandoy ("Sand Island"), named after the sandy beaches near Sandur and Húsavik, is the flattest of the islands. The land is used for agriculture and there is excellent fishing. In the pretty village of Húsavik can be seen an old house with an open fireplace and chimney; until a few years ago this house was inhabited.


Sumba on Suduroy is the most southerly of the Farøe Islands. The road to it passes the impressive Beinisvord Cliffs on the west coast, a nesting-place for numerous sea-birds. The most modern fish-processing plant on the Farøes is to be found in Vágur on the east coast. Note also the votive church which was a gift from a Norwegian lady.
Faroe Islands - Floor plan map Faroe Islands Map

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