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Discover the Faroe Islands


The Faroe Islands

The Faeroe Islands, a tiny cluster of 18 islands in the restless waters of the North Atlantic, are populated by a people with their own language—Faeroese. On these breathtakingly beautiful islands, steep, rugged mountains drop dramatically toward the sea. Near the sea, houses in the villages are painted in many colors. In summer the grass-covered hilltops shine with a greenness beyond compare.
Although the islands’ 48,000 inhabitants function as a community, doing so has not always been easy. Rowboats were formerly used to carry people and commodities from island to island. Travel between villages was by foot over steep mountains and through deep ravines. Building a house when all the materials had to arrive by rowboat was a formidable task. Before construction could begin, the materials had to be carried to the site from a small natural harbor on the coast.

The Early Population

The earliest available accounts about the Faeroe Islands were written by an Irish monk about 825 C.E. He relates that there had been solitary Irish monks on the islands over a hundred years before him. However, a settlement on the islands reportedly began in the early ninth century with the arrival of Grímur Kamban from Norway.
Although the early population earned their living by fishing, these settlers also took up sheep farming. In Faeroese the name Føroyar (Faeroe Islands) means “Sheep Islands,” and sheep farming has remained important. Wool has served as protection against the wind, rain, and cold. In fact, it used to be said that ‘wool is the gold of the Faeroes.’
Even today, more sheep than people live on the islands. Sheep are slaughtered in the traditional way, with the meat being hung up to dry in sheds where the wind can freely pass through the walls. This brings a particularly desirable flavor to the meat, making it a great delicacy.
As might be expected with a small, isolated population, the Faeroese feel strongly united by the kind of bonds that form among people who depend on one another for survival. And today that feeling has remained, as modern methods of travel and communication have made contact with fellow islanders easier.

Connected by Tunnels

The first tunnel in the Faeroes opened in 1963. It was cut through a mountain on the southernmost island, Suðuroy, where it connects two villages. The tunneling, which involved extensive digging, drilling, and dynamiting, was done simultaneously from both sides of the mountain.
A tunnel constructed more recently takes traffic some 500 feet [150 m] below the sea and connects two of the larger islands. To excavate it, a 17-foot-long [5 m] drill was used to bore into the rock mass. Then dynamite was placed at the end of the hole and ignited. After the explosion, rocks and boulders were removed, thus clearing a 17-foot-long [5 m] section of the tunnel. This procedure was repeated until the tunnel reached a length of about 3.8 miles [6 km]. It was opened for traffic on April 29, 2006.
The Faeroe Islands now have 18 tunnels, two of which are below the sea and connect islands. No other nation in the world has more miles of tunnels in proportion to its number of inhabitants. Yet, new tunnels are on the drawing board. Parliament has decided to build two more between major islands. One of them, expected to be finished in 2012, will be 7.4 miles [11.9 km] long, making it one of the longest underwater tunnels in the world.

The amazing Faroe Islands

Klaksvik, second largest town located on island of Bordoy

Faroe Islands, Klaksvik, second largest town located on island of Bordoy
Photo: Olavur Frederiksen
Gáshólmur and Tindhólmur

Faroe Islands, Klaksvik, Gáshólmur and Tindhólmur
Photo: Olavur Frederiksen

Information on the Faroe Islands

History

Not much is known of the earliest history of the islands, Irish hermits (monks) settled on the islands in the sixth century, bringing with them sheep and oats as well as early Irish language.
Around 650 AD the Vikings replaced the Irish, bringing with them the Old Norse language, which has evolved into the currently spoken (Faroese) language which is spoken today. These viking settlers came from Norwegian settlements in Shetland, Orkney and islands in the Irish Sea.
Norwegian control of the Islands continued until 1380, when Norway entered into the Kalmar Union with Denmark and control gradually transferred to Denmark. When this union between Norway and Denmark was dissolved as a result of the Kiel Treaty in 1814, Denmark retained control of the Faroe Islands.
During World War 2 the British army occupied the islands so as to strengthen control of the North Atlantic, however after the war control reverted back to Denmark and a home-rule regime was implemented granting a high degree of local autonomy.

So where on Earth are the Faroe Islands, see below

Faroe Islands
Image: Google Earth
18 main islands make up the Faroes

Faroe Islands, 18 main islands make up the Faroes
Image: Wikipedia

Economy

“The Faroes declined to join Denmark in entering the European Community (now European Union) in 1973. The islands experienced considerable economic difficulties following the collapse of the fishing industry in the early 1990s, but have since made efforts to diversify the economy. Support for independence has grown and is the objective of the government.”
The Faroe Islands have come back in the last few years, with unemployment down to 5% in mid-1998. In 2006 unemployment declined to 3%, one of the lowest rates in Europe. Nevertheless, the almost total dependence on fishing means that the economy remains extremely vulnerable. The Faroese hope to broaden their economic base by building new fish-processing plants. As an agrarian society, other than fishing, the raising of sheep is the main industry of the islands.
Petroleum found close to the Faroese area gives hope for deposits in the immediate area, which may provide a basis for sustained economic prosperity. Since 2000, new information technology and business projects have also been fostered in the Faroe Islands to attract new investment.

Climate

As discussed above the Faroe Islands are approx 350 km north north west of the top end of Scotland, making them not far from the southern end of the Arctic Circle. Considering their high latitude the islands are not as cold as you might expect, with average temperatures of 3 degrees Celsius in winter and 11 degrees Celsius in summer.

Faroe Islands during colder months

Faroe Islands, during colder months
Photo: Olavur Frederiksen
Faroe Islands, during colder months
Photo: Olavur Frederiksen

Geography

The Faroe Islands consist of eighteen separate islands. The whole area of the Islands is approximately 1399 square km (540 sq Mles). There is 1117 kilometes (694 mi) of coastline. There are no land boundaries with any other country. The only island that is uninhabited is Lítla Dímun.
“The Islands are rugged and are dominated by tholeiitic basalt lava which was part of the great Thulean Plateau during the Paleogene period.”

Litla-Dimun, the only uninhabited island of the Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands, Litla-Dimun, the only uninhabited island of the Faroe Islands
Photo: Olavur Frederiksen
St.Dímun

Faroe Islands, St.Dímun
Photo: Olavur Frederiksen
Gásadalur, located on the west-side of Vágar Island

Faroe Islands, Gásadalur, located on the west-side of Vágar Island
Photo: Olavur Frederiksen
Mykines

Faroe Islands, Mykines
Photo: Olavur Frederiksen

Transportation

“Vágar Airport has scheduled service to destinations from Vágoy Island. The largest Faroese airline is Atlantic Airways.Due to the rocky terrain and relatively small size of the Faroe Islands, its transportation system was not as extensive as other places of the world. This situation has changed, and today the infrastructure has been developed extensively. Some 80% of the population in the islands is connected by under-ocean tunnels, bridges, and causeways which bind the three largest islands and three other large islands to the northeast together.”

Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands, Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands
Photo: Olavur Frederiksen
Torshavn Harbour

Faroe Islands, Torshavn Harbour
Photo: Olavur Frederiksen
Aurora over Tórshavn

Faroe Islands, Aurora over Tórshavn
Photo: Olavur Frederiksen
Aurora over Kollafjordur, a village on the Island of Streymoy’s east cost

Faroe Islands, Aurora over Kollafjordur, a village on the Island of Streymoy’s east cost
Photo: Olavur Frederiksen
Tórshavn

Faroe Islands, Tórshavn
Photo: Olavur Frederiksen
Kirkjubø by Night, with traditional grass covered roofs

Faroe Islands, Kirkjubø by Night, with traditional grass covered roofs
Photo: Olavur Frederiksen
Pilot Whales

Faroe Islands, Pilot Whales
Photo: Olavur Frederiksen
Klaksvík, second largest town in Faroe and on the Island of Bordoy

Faroe Islands, Klaksvík, second largest town in Faroe and on the Island of Bordoy
Photo: Olavur Frederiksen
Tindhólmur

Faroe Islands, Tindhólmur
Photo: Olavur Frederiksen
Tindhólmur

Faroe Islands, Tindhólmur
Photo: Olavur Frederiksen

Credits of information and images: www.getalookatthis.com

Awake! March, 2010, P. 16,17.


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