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The Faroe Islands

Ja, Guð signi Føroyar, mítt land!note 
Mítt alfagra landnote , Faroese National Anthem

Faroes, the Faroe Islands, or alternately Faeroe (Faroese: Føroyar, Danish: Færøerne), is a Danish territory in Northern Europe and a Nordic archipelago roughly halfway between Norway and Iceland situated in the Norwegian Sea, northwest of the United Kingdom. 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 an 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 Icelandicnote  and the now extinct Norn dialect (formerly spoken in the Orkneys, Shetland, and Caithness). 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 reluctant 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 and foreign relations, among others.

Like Greenland, the Faroe Islands are not part of the European Union, the European Economic Area, the European Free Trade Association, or the Schengen Area. They can't join EFTA as they are not an independent country, but Denmark can't join on their behalf either as it is already, through its EU membership, part of the EEA. The Faroe Islands are technically able to join the EU, though. Despite lacking membership of the EU or EFTA, much like the Greenlanders, the Faroese may enter those organizations' members without a visa, and vice versa.note  Their currency, the Faroese króna, is separate from the Danish krone, even though it is still minted by Denmark. Danish merchants have been known to refuse to accept the króna as a valid currency, while the opposite is less likely to happen.

The Faroe Islands in media:

  • The climax of the James Bond film No Time to Die, which is implied to take place on the Kuril Islands between Japan and Russia, was actually filmed on Kalsoy Island (the outside views at least).
  • The Saga of the Faroe Islanders, an Icelandic saga covering events that supposedly took place between about 970 and 1035 CE.
  • Scandinavia and the World includes anthropomorphized characters representing the Faroes in a good number of comics, frequently commenting on (1) how the islanders' conservatism and religiosity shocks most Danes when they encounter it and (2) how little the Danes actually think about the Faroes, especially in comparison to Greenland. (The creator of the comic, Humon, had a Faroese housemate at one point, so she highlights them perhaps a bit more than otherwise expected for a Dane.)

The Faroese flag
The flag reuses the standard Nordic cross design used in Northern Europe. The white field symbolizes both the people, the sea foam and the skies, while red and blue are traditional Nordic colors, symbolizing the islanders' Scandinavian roots.

The Faroese regional anthem
Tú alfagra land mítt, mín dýrasta ogn!
á vetri so randhvítt, á sumri við logn,
tú tekur meg at tær so tætt í tín favn.
Tit oyggjar so mætar, Guð signi tað navn,
sum menn tykkum góvu, tá teir tykkum sóu.
Ja, Guð signi Føroyar, mítt land!

Hin roðin, sum skínur á sumri í líð,
hin ódnin, sum týnir mangt lív vetrartíð,
og myrkrið, sum fjalir mær bjartasta mál,
og ljósið, sum spælir mær sigur í sál:
alt streingir, ið tóna, sum vága og vóna,
at eg verji Føroyar, mítt land.

Eg nígi tí niður í bøn til tín, Guð:
Hin heilagi friður mær falli í lut!
Lat sál mína tváa sær í tíni dýrd!
So torir hon vága - av Gudi væl skírd -
at bera tað merkið, sum eyðkennir verkið,
ið varðveitir Føroyar, mítt land!

O, Færø så fager, min dyreste skat!
Når vinterstorm brager, i lun sommernat
du drager derude mig hjem i din favn.
I øer så prude, Gud signe det navn,
som fædrene gav jer, da de fandt bag hav jer.
Ja, Gud signe Færø, mit land.

Hin solglans, som svæver om sommergrøn lid,
og stormen, som kræver mangt liv vintertid,
og mørket, som dølger mig fjeldryg og tind,
og lyset, som bølger og hvisker i sind:
Alt strenge, som klinger og lønligt mig tvinger
at værge dig, Færø, mit land.

Mit knæ vil jeg bøje i bøn til dig, Gud:
Din fred, o du høje, lad bringe mig bud!
Min sjæl vil sig sænke i dit nådebad,
så tør den vel tænke – frimodig og glad –.
at frembære mærket, som vidner om værket,
der tjerner dig, Færø, mit land!

My land, oh most beauteous, possession most dear,
Snow covered in winter, in summer becalmed,
Thou drawest me to thee, embracing me near;
Islands highly esteemed, God bless the name
Which men gave thee when they saw thee.
Yes, God bless the Faroes, my land.

Bright gleam, which shines on summer in calm;
Rough gale, which takes many lives in wintertime;
And darkness that dims my brightest goals,
And sunshine that plays victory in my soul,
All strings in harmony, that trust and expect
That I will guard the Faroes, my land.

I kneel therefore in prayer to you, God;
That holy peace, lay it on me,
Let my soul be cleansed in your glory,
So that it dares to risk, of God well protected,
To bear the banner, that symbolizes the work,
That guards thee, O Faroes my land.

  • Devolved government within a parliamentary constitutional monarchy
    • Monarch: Frederik X
    • High Commissioner: Lene Moyell Johansen
    • Prime Minister: Aksel V. Johannesen

  • Capital and largest city: Tórshavn
  • Population: 52,337
  • Area: 1,399 sq km (540 sq mi)
  • Currency: Faroese króna (kr) (DKK)
  • ISO-3166-1 Code: FO