Faroes, the Faroe Islands, or alternately Faeroe (Faroese: Føroyar, Danish: Færøerne), is a Nordic archipelago roughly halfway between Norway and Iceland situated in the Norwegian sea. Rocky, rugged, and with low amounts of arable land, the Faroes is home to the highest sea cliffs in Europe. Despite their northerly location the summers are cool and the winters mild. The name itself literally translates to "Sheep Islands", and holds as true today as it did when Norsemen permanently settled the islands around 800 CE. Besides sheep, the Faroese economy is based strongly on fishing and fish farming. As the islands are still under the sovereignty of Denmark they receive a little over eleven percent of their national budget in aid from the Danish government.
Overall, the Faroes occupies a important cultural niche. Due to its remote location, small size, and overall lack of outside interference much of its unique Norse heritage has been kept alive. The Faroese language is one of the last offshoots of Old Norse along with Icelandic and the now extinct Norn dialect. There have also been long ties between the Faroes and the British Isles-DNA analysis has shown the Y or male chromosome of the Faroese people to be 87% Scandinavian, and that of the female chromosome to be 84% Scottish. Draw your own conclusions from that.
A self-governing country with a population of about 50,000, the Faroes has spent most of its history under the rule of others. It was attached to the Kingdom of Norway in the early Middle Ages which brought it along with Iceland and Greenland to the Kalmar Union, then remained the possession of Denmark-Norway following the dissolution of the union. After Denmark-Norway separated per the terms of the Treaty of Kiel in 1814, the Faroes stayed on as a territory of the Kingdom of Denmark. It wasn't until World War II and the invasion of Denmark by Nazi Germany that the islands received any real autonomy. The British forces who occupied Faroes were relucant to grant the islands full independence when Denmark was not in a position to say otherwise, but gave many other concessions including that of the Faroese flag or Merkið note . Once the war was over the Faroese found self-governing quite to their liking, and more or less have taken care of all their domestic affairs themselves while still being ruled by Denmark which handles military defense, foreign relations, and currency, among others.
The Faroe Islands in media:
- The Saga of the Faroe Islanders, an Icelandic saga covering events that supposedly took place between about 970 and 1035 CE.
The Faroese flag