Faroe Islands

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The population of the Faroe Islands is largely descended from Viking settlers who arrived in the 9th century. The islands have been connected politically to Denmark since the 14th century. A high degree of self-government was granted the Faroese in 1948, who have autonomy over most internal affairs while Denmark is responsible for justice, defense, and foreign affairs. The Faroe Islands are not part of the European Union.



Northern Europe, island group between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, about halfway between Iceland and Norway

Geographic coordinates

62.00° N, 7.00° W

Area 183/257

total: 1,393 sq km

land: 1,393 sq km

water: 0 sq km (some lakes and streams)

Area - comparative

eight times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km


1,117 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 3 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm or agreed boundaries or median line

exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm or agreed boundaries or median line


mild winters, cool summers; usually overcast; foggy, windy


rugged, rocky, some low peaks; cliffs along most of coast


mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

highest point: Slaettaratindur 882 m

Natural resources

fish, whales, hydropower, possible oil and gas

Land use

agricultural land: 2.1%

arable land 2.1%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 0%

forest: 0.1%

other: 97.8% (2011 est.)

Natural hazards


Environment - current issues


Environment - international agreements

party to: Marine Dumping - associate member to the London Convention and Ship Pollution

Geography - note

archipelago of 17 inhabited islands and one uninhabited island, and a few uninhabited islets; strategically located along important sea lanes in northeastern Atlantic; precipitous terrain limits habitation to small coastal lowlands

People and Society


noun: Faroese (singular and plural)

adjective: Faroese

Ethnic groups



Faroese (derived from Old Norse), Danish


Evangelical Lutheran 83.8%, other and unspecified 16.2% (2006 census)

Population 212/238

50,196 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 20.1% (male 5,224/female 4,866)

15-24 years: 14.96% (male 3,848/female 3,662)

25-54 years: 37.04% (male 10,090/female 8,502)

55-64 years: 11.73% (male 3,033/female 2,854)

65 years and over: 16.17% (male 3,926/female 4,191) (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 37.7 years

male: 37.1 years

female: 38.4 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 158/233

0.51% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 142/224

13.77 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 72/225

8.71 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 97/222

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)


urban population: 42% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 0.47% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

TORSHAVN (capital) 21,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.07 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1.19 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.94 male(s)/female

total population: 1.09 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 170/224

total: 5.6 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 5.86 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 5.32 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 37/224

total population: 80.24 years

male: 77.73 years

female: 82.93 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 84/224

2.37 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Hospital bed density

4.7 beds/1,000 population (2012)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths



Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Faroe Islands

local long form: none

local short form: Foroyar

etymology: the archipelgo's name may derive from the Old Norse word "faer," meaning sheep

Government type



name: Torshavn

geographic coordinates: 62.00° N, 6.46° W

time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative divisions

none (part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 34 municipalities


none (part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)

National holiday

Olaifest (Olavsoka), 29 July


5 June 1953 (Danish Constitution), 23 March 1948 (Home Rule Act), and 24 June 2005 (Takeover Act) serve as the Faroe Islands constitutional position in the Unity of the Realm (2015)

Legal system

the laws of Denmark, where applicable, apply


see Denmark


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen MARGRETHE II of Denmark (since 14 January 1972), represented by High Commissioner Dan Michael KNUDSEN, chief administrative officer (since 2008)

head of government: Prime Minister Aksel V. JOHANNESEN (since 15 September 2015)

cabinet: Landsstyri appointed by the prime minister

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; high commissioner appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually elected prime minister by the Faroese Parliament; election last held on 14 November 2011 (next to be held no later than November 2015)

election results: Aksel V. JOHANNESEN elected prime minister; Parliament vote - NA

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Faroese Parliament or Logting (33 seats; members directly elected in a single nationwide constituency by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)

note: election of 2 seats to the Danish Parliament was last held on 1 September 2015 (next to be held no later than September 2019); percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Social Democratic Party 1, Republic 1

elections: last held on 1 September 2015 (next to be held no later than October 2019)

election results: percent of vote by party - Social Democratic Party 25.1%, Republic 20.7%, People's Party, 18.9%, Union Party 18.7%, Progressive Party 7.0%, Center Party 5.5%, Self-Government Party 4.1%; seats by party - Social Democratic Party 8, Republic 7, People's Party 6, Union Party 6, Progressive Party 2, Center Party 2, Self-Government Party 2

Judicial branch

the Faroese Court or Raett (Rett - Danish) decides both civil and criminal cases; the Court is part of the Danish legal system

Political parties and leaders

Center Party (Midflokkurin) [Jenis av RANA]

Independence (or Self-Govenment) Party (Sjalvstyrisflokkurin) [Jogvan SKORHEIM]

People's Party (Folkaflokkurin) [Jorgen NICLASEN]

Progressive Party (Framsokn) [Poul MICHELSEN]

Republic (Tjodveldi) (formerly the Republican Party) [Hogni HOYDAL]

Self-Government Party [Kari P. HOJGAARD]

Social Democratic Party (Javnadarflokkurin) [Aksel JOHANNESEN]

Union Party (Sambandsflokkurin) [Kaj Leo JOHANNESEN]

Political pressure groups and leaders

other: conservationists

International organization participation

Arctic Council, IMO (associate), NC, NIB, UNESCO (associate), UPU

Flag description

white with a red cross outlined in blue extending to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted toward the hoist side in the style of the Dannebrog (Danish flag); referred to as Merkid, meaning "the banner" or "the mark," the flag resembles those of neighboring Iceland and Norway, and uses the same three colors - but in a different sequence; white represents the clear Faroese sky as well as the foam of the waves; red and blue are traditional Faroese colors

National symbol(s)

ram; national colors: red, white, blue

National anthem

name: "Mitt alfagra land" (My Fairest Land)

lyrics/music: Simun av SKAROI/Peter ALBERG

note: adopted 1948; the anthem is also known as "Tu alfagra land mitt" (Thou Fairest Land of Mine); as an autonomous overseas division of Denmark, the Faroe Islands are permitted their own national anthem


Economy - overview

The Faroese economy is dependent on fishing, which makes the economy vulnerable to price fluctuations. The sector normally accounts for about 95% of exports and nearly half of GDP. Initial discoveries of oil in the Faroese area give hope for eventual oil production, which may provide a foundation for a more diversified economy and less dependence on Danish economic assistance. Aided by an annual subsidy from Denmark amounting to about 3% of Faroese GDP, the Faroese have a standard of living almost equal to that of Denmark and Greenland.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 198/230

$1.471 billion (2010 est.)

$1.389 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.32 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 106/225

2.9% (2010 est.)

0.5% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 59/230

$30,500 (2008 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 16%

industry: 29%

services: 55% (2007 est.)

Agriculture - products

milk, potatoes, vegetables; sheep; salmon, other fish


fishing, fish processing, small ship repair and refurbishment, handicrafts

Industrial production growth rate 73/202

3.4% (2009 est.)

Labor force 209/233

25,000 (November 2010)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 10.7%

industry: 18.9%

services: 70.3% (November 2010)

Unemployment rate 15/207

2.2% (2012)

3.1% (2011)

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $1.025 billion

expenditures: $1.301 billion

note: Denmark supplies the Faroe Islands with almost one-third of their public funds (2010 est.)

Taxes and other revenues 28/219

44.2% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 206/220

-11.9% of GDP (2010 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 123/226

2.3% (2011)

0.4% (2010)

Exports 165/224

$824 million (2010)

$767 million (2009)

Exports - commodities

fish and fish products 94%, stamps, ships (2009 est.)

Exports - partners

UK 21.8%, Denmark 18.8%, Russia 11.9%, Nigeria 10.9%, US 9.5%, China 7.2%, Netherlands 6% (2014)

Imports 186/223

$776 million (2010)

$786 million (2009)

Imports - commodities

goods for household consumption, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, raw materials and semi-manufactures, salt

Imports - partners

Denmark 45.5%, Norway 27.7%, Germany 5%, Iceland 4.4%, Sweden 4.1% (2014)

Debt - external 168/206

$888.8 million (2010)

$68.1 million (2006)

Exchange rates

Danish kroner (DKK) per US dollar -

6.59 (2011)

5.37 (2011)

5.37 (2011)

5.79 (2012 est.)

5.37 (2011 est.)


Electricity - production 181/220

281 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 186/219

261.3 million kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 139/218

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports 150/219

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 172/214

108,100 kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 134/214

60.1% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 93/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 63/214

36.1% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 64/212

3.8% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 137/214

0 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 126/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 191/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 135/215

0 bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 183/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 170/212

4,900 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 181/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 162/213

4,879 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 188/216

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 144/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 100/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 197/214

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 140/212

0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 172/212

753,400 Mt (2012 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines 189/219

total subscriptions: 17,300

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 35 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 199/217

total: 61,400

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 123 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: good international communications; good domestic facilities

domestic: conversion to digital system completed in 1998; both NMT (analog) and GSM (digital) mobile telephone systems are installed

international: country code - 298; satellite earth stations - 1 Orion; 1 fiber-optic submarine cable to the Shetland Islands, linking the Faroe Islands with Denmark and Iceland; fiber-optic submarine cable connection to Canada-Europe cable (2011)

Broadcast media

1 publicly owned TV station; the Faroese telecommunications company distributes local and international channels through its digital terrestrial network; publicly owned radio station supplemented by 2 privately owned stations broadcasting over multiple frequencies (2008)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 1, FM 13, shortwave 0 (1998)

Television broadcast stations

3 (plus 43 repeaters) (September 1995)

Internet country code


Internet hosts 140/232

7,575 (2012)

Internet users 188/217

total: 44,000

percent of population: 88.2% (2014 est.)


Airports 217/236

1 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)

Roadways 197/223

total: 463 km (2006)

Merchant marine 79/156

total: 37

by type: cargo 20, chemical tanker 7, container 2, passenger/cargo 3, refrigerated cargo 3, roll on/roll off 2

foreign-owned: 28 (Iceland 4, Norway 13, Sweden 11) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Fuglafjordur, Torshavn, Vagur

Military and Security

Military branches

no regular military forces (2012)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

because anticipated offshore hydrocarbon resources have not been realized, earlier Faroese proposals for full independence have been deferred; Iceland, the UK, and Ireland dispute Denmark's claim that the Faroe Islands' continental shelf extends beyond 200 nm