Facts about 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 attained in 1948.

Geography of the Faroe Islands

Northern Europe, island group between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, about one-half of the way from Iceland to Norway
62 00 N, 7 00 W
total: 1,399 sq km
water: 0 sq km (some lakes and streams)
land: 1,399 sq km
Area comparative:
eight times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
1,117 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200 NM or agreed boundaries or median line
exclusive fishing zone: 200 NM or agreed boundaries or median line
territorial sea: 3 NM
mild winters, cool summers; usually overcast; foggy, windy
rugged, rocky, some low peaks; cliffs along most of coast
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Slaettaratindur 882 m
Natural resources:
fish, whales, hydropower
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

Population of the Faroe Islands

48,668 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 20.9% (male 4,940/female 4,952)
15-64 years: 65.1% (male 16,247/female 14,522)
65 years and over: 13.9% (male 2,976/female 3,609)
Median age:
total: 35 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
6.12 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 79.35 years
male: 75.91 years
female: 82.8 years
Fertility rate:
2.17 children born/woman
noun: Faroese (singular and plural)
adjective: Faroese
Ethnic groups:
Evangelical Lutheran
Faroese (derived from Old Norse), Danish


Country name:
local short form: Foroyar
Dependency status:
part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark since 1948
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 49 municipalities
none (part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)
National holiday:
Olaifest, 29 July
5 June 1953 (Danish constitution)
Legal system:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen MARGRETHE II of Denmark (since 14 January 1972), represented by High Commissioner Birgit KLEIS, chief administrative officer (since 1 November 2001)
head of government: Prime Minister Kaj Leo JOHANNESSEN (since 24 September 2008)
cabinet: Landsstyri appointed by the prime minister
elections: the monarch is hereditary; high commissioner appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually elected prime minister by the Faroese Parliament; election last held 19 January 2008 (next to be held no later than January 2012)
Legislative branch:
unicameral Faroese Parliament or Logting (32 seats; members are elected by popular vote on a proportional basis from the seven constituencies to serve four-year terms)
Judicial branch:


The Faroese economy is dependent on fishing, which makes the economy vulnerable to price swings. Since 2003 the Faroese economy has picked up as a result of higher prices for fish and for housing. Unemployment is minimal and government finances are relatively sound. Oil finds close to the Islands give hope for economically recoverable deposits, which could eventually lay the basis for a more diversified economy and lessen dependence on Danish economic assistance. Aided by a substantial annual subsidy (about 15% of GDP) from Denmark, the Faroese have a standard of living not far below the Danes and other Scandinavians.

purchasing power parity - $1 billion (2001 est.)
GDP growth rate:
10% (2001 est.)
GDP per capita:
purchasing power parity - $22,000 (2001 est.)
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 27%
industry: 11%
services: 62% (1999)
Inflation rate:
5.1% (1999)
Labor force:
24,250 (October 2000)
Labor force - by occupation:
fishing, fish processing, and manufacturing 33%, construction and private services 33%, public services 34%
1% (October 2000)
revenues: $488 million
expenditures: $484 million, including capital expenditures of $21 million (1999)
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 62.4%
hydro: 37.6%
other: 0% 
nuclear: 0%
fishing, fish processing, shipbuilding, construction, handicrafts
milk, potatoes, vegetables; sheep; salmon, other fish
fish and fish products 94%, stamps, ships (1999)
Export partners:
Denmark 38.7%, UK 29.9%, Nigeria 8.4%, Norway 6.6%, Netherlands 4.2% (2005)
machinery and transport equipment 29%, consumer goods 36%, raw materials and semi-manufactures 32%, fuels, fish and salt (1999)
Import partners:
Denmark 46.5%, Norway 18.3%, Germany 8.2%, Spain 7.4%, Iceland 4.7% (2005)
Danish krone (DKK)

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

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