A church with red roof and spire in the centre of Sandavágur, Vagar island

Faroe Islands, The Sheep Islands - in a Nutshell

Author: Sue
Date: 3rd June 2018

Where are the Faroe Islands and Who Do They Belong To?

  • The Faroe Islands is a self-governing archipelago, part of the Kingdom of Denmark.
  • It comprises 18 rocky, volcanic islands between Iceland and Norway in the North Atlantic Ocean
  • Irish hermit monks are now thought to be the earliest settlers of the Faroe Islands. They arrived in the sixth century, bringing with them sheep as well as early Irish language. The Vikings landed sometime before 900AD. Between 1035 and 1814, the Faroe Islands were part of the Kingdom of Norway, (in union with Denmark from 1450). In 1814, the Treaty of Kiel transferred Norway to the King of Sweden, on the winning side of the Napoleonic Wars. However, Denmark retained the Faroe Islands, along with Greenland and Iceland.

How Did the Faroe Islands Get Their Name?

The name Føroyar (Faroe Islands) is derived from old Norse and means Sheep Islands, a name given by the Viking Age settlers.

Facts and Factoids

  • The Faroe Islands, formed by volcanic activity 30 million years ago, are now a cultural melting pot, with 77 nationalities forming a population of only 48,000.
  • The climate is deemed to be subpolar oceanic - windy, wet, cloudy, and cool.
  • The northerly latitude location results in perpetual twilight during summer nights and very short winter days
  • The Faroese language, spoken by all Faroese people, is most similar to Icelandic and the now extinct Old Norse language. English is also widely spoken, especially among the younger people.
  • National Geographic recently voted the Faroe Islands the world's most appealing island community, out of 111 island destinations worldwide. The Faroese are, apparently, noted for their friendliness.

What to Do in the Faroe Islands?

  • The scenery is stunning and wild-life watching, walking and fishing are the main outdoor pursuits. Faroe Islands - For Off the Scale Scenery
  • It's easy to get around by car as all the islands are connected by road tunnels, ferries, causeways and bridges. The ferries are fun, but the unpredictable weather can occasionally play havoc with the timetables.
  • The drawbacks? Accessibility, from mainland Europe, ( I had to fly via Edinburgh) the weather - and the prices - it's very expensive, even for the mid range accommodation that is generally on offer.

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