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Faroe Islands


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 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
Geographic coordinates:
62 00 N, 7 00 W
Map references:
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 - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
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
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Slaettaratindur 882 m
Natural resources:
fish, whales, hydropower, possible oil and gas
Land use:
arable land: 2.14%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 97.86% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
0 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Environment - current issues:
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 Faroe Islands
46,662 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 21.6% (male 5,056; female 5,041)
15-64 years: 64.6% (male 15,975; female 14,187)
65 years and over: 13.7% (male 2,877; female 3,526) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 35.1 years
male: 34.6 years
female: 35.8 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.66% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
13.89 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
8.68 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
1.41 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.13 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female
total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 6.38 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.03 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 7.72 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 79.05 years
male: 75.6 years
female: 82.51 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
2.22 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Faroese (singular and plural)
adjective: Faroese
Ethnic groups:
Evangelical Lutheran
Faroese (derived from Old Norse), Danish
definition: NA
total population: NA%
male: NA%
female: NA%
note: probably the same as Denmark proper
Government Faroe Islands
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Faroe Islands
local short form: Foroyar
local long form: none
Dependency status:
part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark since 1948
Government type:
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)
election results: Anfinn KALLSBERG elected prime minister; percent of parliamentary vote - 52.8%
note: coalition of Social Democrats, Union Party, and People's Party
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 30 April 2002 (next to be held no later than April 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister Joannes EIDESGAARD (since 3 February 2004)
cabinet: Landsstyri appointed by the prime minister
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)
election results: percent of vote by party - Union Party 23.7%, Social Democrats 21.8%, Republican Party 21.7%, People's Party 20.6%, Center Party 5.2%, Independence Party 4.6%; seats by party - Union Party 7, Social Democrats 7, Republican Party 8, People's Party 7, Center Party 2, Independence Party 1
note: election of 2 seats to the Danish Parliament was last held on 20 November 2001 (next to be held no later than November 2005); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Republican Party 1, Union Party 1
elections: last held 20 January 2004 (next to be held no later than January 2008)
Judicial branch:
Political parties and leaders:
Center Party [Tordur NICLASEN]; Independence Party [Helena Dam a NEYSTABO]; People's Party [Oli BRECKMANN]; Republican Party [Finnabogi ISAKSON]; Social Democratic Party [Joannes EIDESGAARD]; Union Party [Edmund JOENSEN]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
IMO (associate), NC, NIB
Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)
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)
Economy Faroe Islands
Economy - overview:
The Faroese economy has had a strong performance since 1994, mostly as a result of increasing fish landings and high and stable export prices. Unemployment is falling and there are signs of labor shortages in several sectors. The positive economic development has helped the Faroese Home Rule Government produce increasing budget surpluses, which in turn help to reduce the large public debt, most of it owed to Denmark. However, the total dependence on fishing makes the Faroese economy extremely vulnerable, and the present fishing efforts appear in excess of what is a sustainable level of fishing in the long term. Oil finds close to the Faroese area give hope for deposits in the immediate Faroese area, which may eventually lay the basis for a more diversified economy and thus lessen dependence on Danish economic assistance. Aided by a substantial annual subsidy (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 - real 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)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
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%
Unemployment rate:
1% (October 2000)
revenues: $488 million
expenditures: $484 million, including capital expenditures of $21 million (1999)
fishing, fish processing, shipbuilding, construction, handicrafts
Industrial production growth rate:
8% (1999 est.)
Electricity - production:
160.4 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 62.4%
hydro: 37.6%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
149.1 million kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
4,500 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Oil - imports:
Agriculture - products:
milk, potatoes, vegetables; sheep; salmon, other fish
$408 million f.o.b. (2002)
Exports - commodities:
fish and fish products 94%, stamps, ships (1999)
Exports - partners:
Denmark 37.7%, UK 33.8%, Norway 6.6%, Netherlands 6.4% (2002)
$466 million c.i.f. (2002)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment 29%, consumer goods 36%, raw materials and semi-manufactures 32%, fuels, fish and salt (1999)
Imports - partners:
Denmark 57.7%, Norway 21%, Iceland 5.6% (2002)
Debt - external:
$64 million (1999)
Economic aid - recipient:
$135 million (annual subsidy from Denmark) (1998)
Danish krone (DKK)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Danish kroner per US dollar - 6.59 (2003), 7.89 (2002), 8.32 (2001), 8.08 (2000), 6.98 (1999)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Faroe Islands
Telephones - main lines in use:
23,000 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
30,700 (2002)
Telephone system:
general assessment: good international communications; good domestic facilities
domestic: digitalization was 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
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 13, shortwave 0 (1998)
26,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
3 (plus 43 low-power repeaters) (September 1995)
15,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
2 (2000)
Internet users:
25,000 (2002)
Transportation Faroe Islands
0 km
total: 463 km
paved: 454 km
unpaved: 9 km (1999)
Ports and harbors:
Torshavn, Klaksvik, Tvoroyri, Runavik, Fuglafjordhur
Merchant marine:
total: 7 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 24,051 GRT/11,998 DWT
foreign-owned: Denmark 2, Norway 1, United Kingdom 1
registered in other countries: 1 (2003 est.)
by type: cargo 3, container 1, petroleum tanker 1, roll on/roll off 1, short-sea/passenger 1
1 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2003 est.)
Military Faroe Islands
Military branches:
no regular military forces
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of Denmark
Transnational Issues Faroe Islands
Disputes - international:
Faroese are considering proposals for full independence; Denmark dispute with Iceland over the Faroe Islands fisheries median line boundary of 200 NM; Denmark disputes with Iceland, the UK, and Ireland the Faroe Islands claim extending its continental shelf boundary beyond 200 NM