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.



Northern Europe, island group between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, about halfway between Iceland and Norway

Geographic coordinates

62 00 N, 7 00 W

Map references



total: 1,393 sq km
land: 1,393 sq km
water: 0 sq km (some lakes and streams)

Area - comparative

eight times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

0 km


1,117 km

Maritime claims

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


mean elevation: NA
elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Slaettaratindur 882 m

Natural resources

fish, whales, hydropower, possible oil and gas

Land use

agricultural land: 2.1%
arable land 2.1%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 0%
forest: 0.1%
other: 97.8% (2011 est.)

Natural hazards


Environment - current issues


Environment - international agreements

party to: Marine Dumping - associate member to the London Convention and Ship Pollution

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 and Society


50,456 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Faroese (singular and plural)
adjective: Faroese

Ethnic groups

Faroese 89.2% (Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon descent), Danish 7.1%, other 3.7% (includes Icelander, Norwegian, Greenlander, Filipino, Thai, British)
note: data represent respondents by country of birth (2011 est.)


Faroese 93.8% (derived from Old Norse), Danish 3.2%, other 3% (2011 est.)


Christian 89.3% (predominantly Evangelical Lutheran), other 0.7%, more than one religion 0.2%, none 3.8%, unspecified 6% (2011 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 19.98% (male 5,212/female 4,870)
15-24 years: 14.62% (male 3,784/female 3,592)
25-54 years: 37.25% (male 10,191/female 8,605)
55-64 years: 11.66% (male 3,032/female 2,851)
65 years and over: 16.49% (male 4,023/female 4,296) (2016 est.)

Median age

total: 37.7 years
male: 37.1 years
female: 38.4 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

0.53% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

14 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

8.7 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Population distribution

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 less than 100 people


urban population: 42% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 0.47% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

TORSHAVN (capital) 21,000 (2014)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.18 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.94 male(s)/female
total population: 1.08 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 5.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.8 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 80.4 years
male: 77.8 years
female: 83.1 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.36 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Hospital bed density

4.7 beds/1,000 population (2012)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths



Country name

conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Faroe Islands
local long form: none
local short form: Foroyar
etymology: the archipelgo's name may derive from the Old Norse word "faer," meaning sheep

Dependency status

part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark since 1948

Government type

parliamentary democracy (Faroese Parliament); part of the Kingdom of Denmark


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

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 30 municipalities


none (part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)

National holiday

Olaifest (Olavsoka), 29 July


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
amendments: see entry for Denmark (2016)

Legal system

the laws of Denmark, where applicable, apply


see Denmark


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

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
election results: Aksel V. JOHANNESEN elected prime minister; Parliament vote - NA

Legislative branch

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)
note: election of 2 seats to 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, Republic 1
elections: last held on 1 September 2015 (next to be held no later than October 2019)
election results: percent of vote by party - Social Democratic Party 25.1%, Republic 20.7%, People's Party, 18.9%, Union Party 18.7%, Progressive Party 7.0%, Center Party 5.5%, Self-Government Party 4.1%; seats by party - Social Democratic Party 8, Republic 7, People's Party 6, Union Party 6, Center Party 2, Progressive Party 2, Self-Government Party 2

Judicial branch

highest court(s): 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 - expected to begin in 2016

Political parties and leaders

Center Party (Midflokkurin) [Jenis av RANA]
Independence (or Self-Govenment) Party (Sjalvstyrisflokkurin) [Jogvan SKORHEIM]
People's Party (Folkaflokkurin) [Jorgen NICLASEN]
Progressive Party (Framsokn) [Poul MICHELSEN]
Republic (Tjodveldi) (formerly the Republican Party) [Hogni HOYDAL]
Social Democratic Party (Javnadarflokkurin) [Aksel V. JOHANNESEN]
Union Party (Sambandsflokkurin) [Bardur a STEIG NIELSEN]

Political pressure groups and leaders

other: conservationists

International organization participation

Arctic Council, IMO (associate), NC, NIB, UNESCO (associate), UPU

National symbol(s)

ram; national colors: red, white, blue

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); 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

National anthem

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 - overview

The Faroese economy has experienced a period of significant growth since 2011, due to increases in fish prices, salmon farming, and catches in the pelagic fisheries. Nominal GDP growth was an estimated 7.5% in 2013 and 5.9% in 2014. The fisheries sector a

The public budget has exhibited deficits since 2008, which were financed through increased borrowing. Public debt reached 38% of GDP in 2015. Aided by an annual subsidy from Denmark amounting to about 4% of Faroese GDP, the Faroese have a standard of livi

Dependence on fishing makes the economy vulnerable to price fluctuations. Projections for fish prices are favorable and increasing public infrastructure investments are likely to lead to continued growth in the short term.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1.831 billion (2014 est.)
$1.729 billion (2013 est.)
$1.471 billion (2013 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.32 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

5.9% (2014 est.)
7.5% (2013 est.)
2.9% (2013 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$36,600 (2014 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 16%
industry: 29%
services: 55% (2007 est.)

Agriculture - products

milk, potatoes, vegetables; sheep; salmon, herring, mackerel and other fish


fishing, fish processing, tourism, small ship repair and refurbishment, handicrafts

Industrial production growth rate

3.4% (2009 est.)

Labor force

25,000 (2015 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 10.7%
industry: 18.9%
services: 70.3% (November 2010)

Unemployment rate

2.9% (2015 est.)
3.1% (2014)

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $1.025 billion
expenditures: $1.301 billion
note: Denmark supplies the Faroe Islands with almost one-third of their public funds (2010 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

44.2% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-11.9% of GDP (2010 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2.3% (2011)
0.4% (2010)


$824 million (2010)
$767 million (2009)

Exports - commodities

fish and fish products 95%, ships (2009 est.)

Exports - partners

Russia 20.2%, UK 16.6%, Denmark 16.3%, Nigeria 11.6%, China 9.3%, US 7.2%, Netherlands 5.6%, Norway 4% (2015)


$776 million (2010)
$786 million (2009)

Imports - commodities

goods for household consumption, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, raw materials and semi-manufactures, cars

Imports - partners

Denmark 43.9%, Turkey 12.3%, Norway 10%, China 6.2%, Netherlands 4.9%, Germany 4.4% (2015)

Debt - external

$888.8 million (2010)
$68.1 million (2006)

Exchange rates

Danish kroner (DKK) per US dollar -
6.865 (2016 est.)
6.7236 (2015 est.)
5.6183 (2014 est.)
5.6125 (2013 est.)
5.79 (2012 est.)


Electricity - access

electrification - total population: 100% (2016)

Electricity - production

300 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

300 million kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

100,000 kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

60.1% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

36.1% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

3.8% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

4,400 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

4,295 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

800,000 Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 17,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 34 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 63,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 126 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: good international communications; good domestic facilities
domestic: conversion to digital system 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 (2015)

Broadcast media

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 fr (2015)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 47,000
percent of population: 94.2% (July 2015 est.)


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1 (registered in Denmark)
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 3 (registered in Denmark) (2015)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

OY-H (2016)


1 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)


total: 960 km (2015)

Merchant marine

total: 37
by type: cargo 20, chemical tanker 7, container 2, passenger/cargo 3, refrigerated cargo 3, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 28 (Iceland 4, Norway 13, Sweden 11) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Fuglafjordur, Torshavn, Vagur


Military branches

no regular military forces; the Government of Denmark has responsibility for defense; as such, the Danish military’s Joint Arctic Command is responsible for territorial defense of the Faroe Islands (2016)

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of Denmark

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

because anticipated offshore hydrocarbon resources have not been realized, earlier Faroese proposals for full independence have been deferred; Iceland, the UK, and Ireland dispute Denmark's claim that the Faroe Islands' continental shelf extends beyond 200 nm