Main Content

Europe :: Faroe Islands Print
Page last updated on November 13, 2018
View 1 photos of
FAROE ISLANDS
  • Introduction :: Faroe Islands
  • Background field listing
    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 granted the Faroese in 1948, who have autonomy over most internal affairs while Denmark is responsible for justice, defense, and foreign affairs. The Faroe Islands are not part of the European Union.
  • Geography :: Faroe Islands
  • Location field listing
    Northern Europe, island group between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, about halfway between Iceland and Norway
    Geographic coordinates field listing
    62 00 N, 7 00 W
    Map references field listing
    Europe
    Area field listing
    total: 1,393 sq km
    land: 1,393 sq km
    water: 0 sq km (some lakes and streams)
    country comparison to the world: 183
    Area - comparative field listing
    eight times the size of Washington, DC
    Land boundaries field listing
    0 km
    Coastline field listing
    1,117 km
    Maritime claims field listing
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    continental shelf: 200 nm or agreed boundaries or median line
    exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm or agreed boundaries or median line
    Climate field listing
    mild winters, cool summers; usually overcast; foggy, windy
    Terrain field listing
    rugged, rocky, some low peaks; cliffs along most of coast
    Elevation field listing
    0 m lowest point: Atlantic Ocean
    882 highest point: Slaettaratindur
    Natural resources field listing
    fish, whales, hydropower, possible oil and gas
    Land use field listing
    agricultural land: 2.1% (2011 est.)
    arable land: 2.1% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 0% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 0% (2011 est.)
    forest: 0.1% (2011 est.)
    other: 97.8% (2011 est.)
    Population distribution field listing
    the island of Streymoy is by far the most populous with over 40% of the population; it has approximately twice as many inhabitants as Eysturoy, the second most populous island; seven of the inhabited islands have fewer than 100 people
    Natural hazards field listing
    strong winds and heavy rains can occur throughout the year
    Environment - current issues field listing
    coastal erosion, landslides and rockfalls, flash flooding, wind storms; oil spills
    Environment - international agreements field listing
    party to: Marine Dumping - associate member to the London Convention and Ship Pollution
    Geography - note field listing
    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 and Society :: Faroe Islands
  • Population field listing
    51,018 (July 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 210
    Nationality field listing
    noun: Faroese (singular and plural)
    adjective: Faroese
    Ethnic groups field listing
    Faroese 87.6% (Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon descent), Danish 7.8%, other 4.6% (includes Icelandic, Norwegian, Filipino, Greenlandic, Thai, British) (2018 est.)

    note: data represent respondents by country of birth

    Languages field listing
    Faroese 93.8% (derived from Old Norse), Danish 3.2%, other 3% (2011 est.)
    Religions field listing
    Christian 89.3% (predominantly Evangelical Lutheran), other 0.7%, more than one religion 0.2%, none 3.8%, unspecified 6% (2011 est.)
    Age structure field listing
    0-14 years: 19.79% (male 5,220 /female 4,878)
    15-24 years: 14.17% (male 3,714 /female 3,515)
    25-54 years: 37.24% (male 10,280 /female 8,718)
    55-64 years: 11.82% (male 3,094 /female 2,934)
    65 years and over: 16.98% (male 4,194 /female 4,471) (2018 est.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Median age field listing
    total: 37.6 years
    male: 37.1 years
    female: 38.2 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 66
    Population growth rate field listing
    0.58% (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 149
    Birth rate field listing
    14.5 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 131
    Death rate field listing
    8.8 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 68
    Net migration rate field listing
    0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 83
    Population distribution field listing
    the island of Streymoy is by far the most populous with over 40% of the population; it has approximately twice as many inhabitants as Eysturoy, the second most populous island; seven of the inhabited islands have fewer than 100 people
    Urbanization field listing
    urban population: 42.1% of total population (2018)
    rate of urbanization: 0.74% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
    Major urban areas - population field listing
    21,000 TORSHAVN (capital) (2018)
    Sex ratio field listing
    at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    0-14 years: 1.07 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    25-54 years: 1.18 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    55-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    65 years and over: 0.94 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    total population: 1.08 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    Infant mortality rate field listing
    total: 5.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    male: 5.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    female: 5 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 173
    Life expectancy at birth field listing
    total population: 80.6 years (2018 est.)
    male: 78.1 years (2018 est.)
    female: 83.3 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 42
    Total fertility rate field listing
    2.34 children born/woman (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 85
    Physicians density field listing
    2.63 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
    Hospital bed density field listing
    4.1 beds/1,000 population (2015)
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate field listing
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS field listing
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - deaths field listing
    NA
  • Government :: Faroe Islands
  • Country name field listing
    conventional long form: none
    conventional short form: Faroe Islands
    local long form: none
    local short form: Foroyar
    etymology: the archipelago's name may derive from the Old Norse word "faer," meaning sheep
    Dependency status field listing
    part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark since 1948
    Government type field listing
    parliamentary democracy (Faroese Parliament); part of the Kingdom of Denmark
    Capital field listing
    name: Torshavn
    geographic coordinates: 62 00 N, 6 46 W
    time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
    Administrative divisions field listing
    part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark; there are 29 first-order municipalities (kommunur, singular - kommuna) Eidhis, Eystur, Famjins, Fuglafjardhar, Fugloyar, Hovs, Husavikar, Hvalbiar, Hvannasunds, Klaksvikar, Kunoyar, Kvivik, Nes, Porkeris, Runavikar, Sands, Sjovar, Skalavikar, Skopunar, Skuvoyar, Sorvags, Sumbiar, Sunda, Torshavnar, Tvoroyrar, Vaga, Vags, Vestmanna, Vidhareidhis
    Independence field listing
    none (part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)
    National holiday field listing
    Olaifest (Olavsoka) (commemorates the death in battle of King OLAF II of Norway, later St. OLAF), 29 July (1030)
    Constitution field listing
    history: 5 June 1953 (Danish Constitution), 23 March 1948 (Home Rule Act), and 24 June 2005 (Takeover Act) serve as the Faroe Islands constitutional position in the Unity of the Realm (2016)
    amendments: see entry for Denmark (2016)
    Citizenship field listing
    see Denmark
    Suffrage field listing
    18 years of age; universal
    Executive branch field listing
    chief of state: Queen MARGRETHE II of Denmark (since 14 January 1972), represented by High Commissioner Dan Michael KNUDSEN, chief administrative officer (since 1 January 2008)
    head of government: Prime Minister Aksel V. JOHANNESEN (since 15 September 2015)
    cabinet: Landsstyri appointed by the prime minister
    elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; high commissioner appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually elected prime minister by the Faroese Parliament; election last held on 1 September 2015 (next to be held in 2019)
    election results: Aksel V. JOHANNESEN elected prime minister; Parliament vote - NA
    Legislative branch field listing
    description: unicameral Faroese Parliament or Logting (33 seats; members directly elected in a single nationwide constituency by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)
    elections: last held on 1 September 2015 (next to be held no later than October 2019)
    election results: percent of vote by party - JF 25.1%, Republic 20.7%, People's Party, 18.9%, Union Party 18.7%, Progressive Party 7%, Center Party 5.5%, New Self-Government Party 4.1%; seats by party - JF 8, Republic 7, People's Party 6, Union Party 6, Center Party 2, Progressive Party 2, New Self-Government Party 2; composition - men 23, women 10, percent of women 30.3%

    note: election for 2 seats in the Danish Parliament was last held on 18 June 2015 (next to be held no later than June 2019); percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Social Democratic Party 1, Republican Party 1

    Judicial branch field listing
    highest courts: Faroese Court or Raett (Rett - Danish) decides both civil and criminal cases; the Court is part of the Danish legal system
    subordinate courts: Court of the First Instance or Tribunal de Premiere Instance; Court of Administrative Law or Tribunal Administratif; Mixed Commercial Court; Land Court
    Political parties and leaders field listing
    Center Party (Midflokkurin) [Jenis av RANA]
    New Self-Government Party (Nytt Sjalvstyri) [Jogvan SKORHEIM] (formerly Self-Government Party) (Sjalvstyrisflokkurin)
    People's Party (Folkaflokkurin) [Jorgen NICLASEN]
    Progressive Party (Framsokn) [Poul MICHELSEN]
    Republic (Tjodveldi) [Hogni HOYDAL] (formerly the Republican Party)
    Social Democratic Party (Javnadarflokkurin) or JF [Aksel V. JOHANNESEN]
    Union Party (Sambandsflokkurin) [Bardur a STEIG NIELSEN]
    International organization participation field listing
    Arctic Council, IMO (associate), NC, NIB, UNESCO (associate), UPU
    Diplomatic representation in the US field listing
    none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)
    Diplomatic representation from the US field listing
    none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)
    Flag description field listing
    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); referred to as Merkid, meaning "the banner" or "the mark," the flag resembles those of neighboring Iceland and Norway, and uses the same three colors - but in a different sequence; white represents the clear Faroese sky, as well as the foam of the waves; red and blue are traditional Faroese colors

    note: the blue on the flag is a lighter blue (azure) than that found on the flags of Iceland or Norway

    National symbol(s) field listing
    ram; national colors: red, white, blue
    National anthem field listing
    name: "Mitt alfagra land" (My Fairest Land)
    lyrics/music: Simun av SKAROI/Peter ALBERG

    note: adopted 1948; the anthem is also known as "Tu alfagra land mitt" (Thou Fairest Land of Mine); as a self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark, the Faroe Islands are permitted their own national anthem

  • Economy :: Faroe Islands
  • Economy - overview field listing

    The Faroese economy has experienced a period of significant growth since 2011, due to higher fish prices and increased salmon farming and catches in the pelagic fisheries. Fishing has been the main source of income for the Faroe Islands since the late 19th century, but dependence on fishing makes the economy vulnerable to price fluctuations. Nominal GDP, measured in current prices, grew 5.6% in 2015 and 6.8% in 2016. GDP growth was forecast at 6.2% in 2017, slowing to 0.5% in 2018, due to lower fisheries quotas, higher oil prices and fewer farmed salmon combined with lower salmon prices. The fisheries sector accounts for about 97% of exports, and half of GDP. Unemployment is low, estimated at 2.1% in early 2018. Aided by an annual subsidy from Denmark, which amounts to about 11% of Faroese GDP , Faroese have a standard of living equal to that of Denmark. The Faroe Islands have bilateral free trade agreements with the EU, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Turkey.

    For the first time in 8 years, the Faroe Islands managed to generate a public budget surplus in 2016, a trend which continued in 2017. The local government intends to use this to reduce public debt, which reached 38% of GDP in 2015. A fiscal sustainability analysis of the Faroese economy shows that a long-term tightening of fiscal policy of 5% of GDP is required for fiscal sustainability.

    Increasing public infrastructure investments are likely to lead to continued growth in the short term, and the Faroese economy is becoming somewhat more diversified. Growing industries include financial services, petroleum-related businesses, shipping, maritime manufacturing services, civil aviation, IT, telecommunications, and tourism.

    GDP (purchasing power parity) field listing
    $2.001 billion (2014 est.)
    $1.89 billion (2013 est.)
    $1.608 billion (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 197
    GDP (official exchange rate) field listing
    $2.765 billion (2014 est.) (2014 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate field listing
    5.9% (2017 est.)
    7.5% (2016 est.)
    2.4% (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 35
    GDP - per capita (PPP) field listing
    $40,000 (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 45
    Gross national saving field listing
    25.7% of GDP (2012 est.)
    25.2% of GDP (2011 est.)
    25.9% of GDP (2010 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 53
    GDP - composition, by end use field listing
    household consumption: 52% (2013)
    government consumption: 29.6% (2013)
    investment in fixed capital: 18.4% (2013)
    GDP - composition, by sector of origin field listing
    agriculture: 18% (2013 est.)
    industry: 39% (2013 est.)
    services: 43% (2013 est.)
    Agriculture - products field listing
    milk, potatoes, vegetables, sheep, salmon, herring, mackerel and other fish
    Industries field listing
    fishing, fish processing, tourism, small ship repair and refurbishment, handicrafts
    Industrial production growth rate field listing
    3.4% (2009 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 91
    Labor force field listing
    27,540 (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 206
    Labor force - by occupation field listing
    agriculture: 70% (December 2016 est.)
    industry: 15% (December 2016 est.)
    services: 70% (December 2016 est.)
    Unemployment rate field listing
    2.2% (2017 est.)
    3.4% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 20
    Population below poverty line field listing
    10% (2015 est.)
    Household income or consumption by percentage share field listing
    lowest 10%: NA
    highest 10%: NA
    Distribution of family income - Gini index field listing
    22.7 (2013 est.)
    21.6 (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 157
    Budget field listing
    revenues: 835.6 million (2014 est.)
    expenditures: 883.8 million (2014)

    note: Denmark supplies the Faroe Islands with almost one-third of its public funds

    Taxes and other revenues field listing
    30.2% (of GDP) (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 76
    Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) field listing
    -1.7% (of GDP) (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 95
    Public debt field listing
    35% of GDP (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 152
    Fiscal year field listing
    calendar year
    Inflation rate (consumer prices) field listing
    -0.3% (2016)
    -1.7% (2015)
    country comparison to the world: 8
    Exports field listing
    $1.184 billion (2016 est.)
    $1.019 billion (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 153
    Exports - commodities field listing
    fish and fish products (97%) (2017 est.)
    Exports - partners field listing
    Russia 26.4%, UK 14.1%, Germany 8.4%, China 7.9%, Spain 6.8%, Denmark 6.2%, US 4.7%, Poland 4.4%, Norway 4.1% (2017)
    Imports field listing
    $978.4 million (2016 est.)
    $906.1 million (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 183
    Imports - commodities field listing
    goods for household consumption, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, raw materials and semi-manufactures, cars
    Imports - partners field listing
    Denmark 33%, China 10.7%, Germany 7.6%, Poland 6.8%, Norway 6.7%, Ireland 5%, Chile 4.3% (2017)
    Debt - external field listing
    $387.6 million (2012)
    $274.5 million (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 182
    Stock of direct foreign investment - at home field listing

    NA

    Exchange rates field listing
    Danish kroner (DKK) per US dollar -
    6.586 (2017 est.)
    6.7269 (2016 est.)
    6.7269 (2015 est.)
    6.7236 (2014 est.)
    5.6125 (2013 est.)
  • Energy :: Faroe Islands
  • Electricity access field listing
    electrification - total population: 100% (2016)
    Electricity - production field listing
    317.4 million kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 177
    Electricity - consumption field listing
    291.4 million kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 184
    Electricity - exports field listing
    0 kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 133
    Electricity - imports field listing
    0 kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 145
    Electricity - installed generating capacity field listing
    128,000 kW (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 174
    Electricity - from fossil fuels field listing
    50.1% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 151
    Electricity - from nuclear fuels field listing
    0% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 91
    Electricity - from hydroelectric plants field listing
    33.5% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 64
    Electricity - from other renewable sources field listing
    16.4% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 37
    Crude oil - production field listing
    0 bbl/day (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 132
    Crude oil - exports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 121
    Crude oil - imports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 126
    Crude oil - proved reserves field listing
    0 bbl (1 January 2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 134
    Refined petroleum products - production field listing
    0 bbl/day (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 144
    Refined petroleum products - consumption field listing
    3,947 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 179
    Refined petroleum products - exports field listing
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 156
    Refined petroleum products - imports field listing
    3,947 bbl/day (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 170
    Natural gas - production field listing
    0 cu m (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 135
    Natural gas - consumption field listing
    0 cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 147
    Natural gas - exports field listing
    0 cu m (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 102
    Natural gas - imports field listing
    0 cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 127
    Natural gas - proved reserves field listing
    0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 139
    Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy field listing
    800,000 Mt (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 169
  • Communications :: Faroe Islands
  • Telephones - fixed lines field listing
    total subscriptions: 20,193 (July 2016 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 46 (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 177
    Telephones - mobile cellular field listing
    total subscriptions: 54,487 (July 2016 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 107 (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 200
    Telephone system field listing
    general assessment: good international communications; good domestic facilities (2015)
    domestic: conversion to digital system completed in 1998; both NMT (analog) and GSM (digital) mobile telephone systems are installed (2015)
    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 (2015)
    Broadcast media field listing
    1 publicly owned TV station; the Faroese telecommunications company distributes local and international channels through its digital terrestrial network; publicly owned radio station supplemented by 3 privately owned stations broadcasting over multiple frequencies (2015)
    Internet country code field listing
    .fo
    Internet users field listing
    total: 47,988 (July 2016 est.)
    percent of population: 95.1% (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 196
    Broadband - fixed subscriptions field listing
    total: 17,973 (2017 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 35 (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 153
  • Transportation :: Faroe Islands
  • National air transport system field listing
    number of registered air carriers: 1 (registered in Denmark) (2015)
    inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 3 (registered in Denmark) (2015)
    Civil aircraft registration country code prefix field listing
    OY-H (2016)
    Airports field listing
    1 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 220
    Airports - with paved runways field listing
    total: 1 (2017)
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2017)
    Roadways field listing
    total: 960 km (2017)

    note: those islands not commected by roads (bridges or tunnels) are connected by seven different ferry links operated by the nationally owned company SSL

    country comparison to the world: 187
    Merchant marine field listing
    total: 96 (2017)
    by type: container ship 2, general cargo 41, oil tanker 1, other 52 (2017)
    country comparison to the world: 88
    Ports and terminals field listing
    major seaport(s): Fuglafjordur, Torshavn, Vagur
  • Military and Security :: Faroe Islands
  • Military branches field listing
    no regular military forces or conscription; the Government of Denmark has responsibility for defense; as such, the Danish military’s Joint Arctic Command in Nuuk, Greenland is responsible for territorial defense of the Faroe Islands; the Joint Arctic Command has a contact element in the capital of Torshavn (2017)
    Military - note field listing
    defense is the responsibility of Denmark
  • Transnational Issues :: Faroe Islands
  • Disputes - international field listing
    because anticipated offshore hydrocarbon resources have not been realized, earlier Faroese proposals for full independence have been deferredIceland, the UK, and Ireland dispute Denmark's claim to UNCLOS that the Faroe Islands' continental shelf extends beyond 200 nm