[Country map of Faroe Islands]

Faroe Islands

(part of the Danish realm)


Location: Northern Europe, island group between the Norwegian Sea and the north Atlantic Ocean, about one-half of the way from Iceland to Norway

Map references: Europe

total area: 1,400 sq km
land area: 1,400 sq km
comparative area: slightly less than eight times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 764 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 3 nm

International disputes: none

Climate: mild winters, cool summers; usually overcast; foggy, windy

Terrain: rugged, rocky, some low peaks; cliffs along most of coast

Natural resources: fish

Land use:
arable land: 2%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 0%
forest and woodland: 0%
other: 98%

Irrigated land: NA sq km

current issues: NA
natural hazards: NA
international agreements: NA

Note: archipelago of 18 inhabited islands and a few uninhabited islets; strategically located along important sea lanes in northeastern Atlantic; precipitous terrain limits habitation to small coastal lowlands


Population: 48,871 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 24% (female 5,673; male 6,119)
15-64 years: 63% (female 14,164; male 16,835)
65 years and over: 13% (female 3,335; male 2,745) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.99% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 17.54 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 7.59 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 7.9 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 78.29 years
male: 74.91 years
female: 81.8 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.42 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Faroese (singular and plural)
adjective: Faroese

Ethnic divisions: Scandinavian

Religions: Evangelical Lutheran

Languages: Faroese (derived from Old Norse), Danish

Literacy: NA%

Labor force: 17,585
by occupation: largely engaged in fishing, manufacturing, transportation, and commerce


conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Faroe Islands
local long form: none
local short form: Foroyar

Digraph: FO

Type: part of the Danish realm; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark

Capital: Torshavn

Administrative divisions: none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)

Independence: none (part of the Danish realm; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)

National holiday: Birthday of the Queen, 16 April (1940)

Constitution: 5 June 1953 (Danish constitution)

Legal system: Danish

Suffrage: 20 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen MARGRETHE II (since 14 January 1972), represented by High Commissioner Bent KLINTE (since NA)
head of government: Prime Minister Edmund JOENSEN (since 15 September 1994)
cabinet: Landsstyri; elected by the local legislature

Legislative branch: unicameral
Faroese Parliament (Logting): elections last held 8 July 1994 (next to be held by July 1998); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (32 total) Liberal Party 8, People's Party 6, Social Democrats 5, Republicans 4, Workers' Party 3, Christian Democrats 2, Center Party 2, Home Rule Party 2
Danish Parliament: elections last held on 21 September 1994 (next to be held by September 1998); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (2 total) Liberals 2

Judicial branch: none

Political parties and leaders: Social Democratic Party, Marita PETERSEN; Workers Front, Oli JACOBSEN; Home Rule Party, Helena Dam A NEYSTABOE; The 'Coalition Party', Edmund JOENSEN; Republican Party, Finnbogir ESAKSON; Centrist Party, Tordur NICLASEN; Christian People's Party, Niels Pauli DANIELSEN; People's Party, Arnfinn KALLSBERG; Liberal Party; Christian Democratic Party

Member of: none

Diplomatic representation in US: none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)

US diplomatic representation: none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)

Flag: white with a red cross outlined in blue that extends to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side in the style of the DANNEBROG (Danish flag)


Overview: The Faroese, who have long enjoyed the affluent living standards of the Danes and other Scandinavians, now must cope with the decline of the all-important fishing industry and one of the world's heaviest per capita external debts of about $25,000. When the nations of the world extended their fishing zones to 200 nautical miles in the early 1970s, the Faroese no longer could continue their traditional long-distance fishing and subsequently depleted their own nearby fishing areas. The government's tight controls on fish stocks and its austerity measures have caused a recession, and subsidy cuts will force nationalization in the fishing industry, which has already been plagued with bankruptcies. Copenhagen has threatened to withhold its annual subsidy of $130 million - roughly one-third of the islands' budget revenues - unless the Faroese make significant efforts to balance their budget. To this extent the Faroe government is expected to continue its tough policies, including introducing a 20% value-added tax (VAT) in 1993, and has agreed to an IMF economic-political stabilization plan. In addition to its annual subsidy, the Danish government has bailed out the second largest Faroe bank to the tune of $140 million since October 1992.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $662 million (1989 est.)

National product real growth rate: -10.8% (1993 est.)

National product per capita: $14,000 (1989 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 6.8% (1993 est.)

Unemployment rate: 23% (1993)

revenues: $407.2 million
expenditures: $482.7 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1993 est.)

Exports: $345.3 million (f.o.b., 1993 est.)
commodities: fish and fish products 88%, animal feedstuffs, transport equipment (ships) (1989)
partners: Denmark 20%, Germany 18.3%, UK 14.2%, France 11.2%, Spain 7.9%, US 4.5%

Imports: $234.4 million (c.i.f., 1993 est.)
commodities: machinery and transport equipment 24.4%, manufactures 24%, food and livestock 19%, fuels 12%, chemicals 6.5%
partners: Denmark 43.8%, Norway 19.8%, Sweden 4.9%, Germany 4.2%, US 1.3%

External debt: $1.2 billion (1993 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate NA%

capacity: 90,000 kW
production: 200 million kWh
consumption per capita: 3,953 kWh (1992)

Industries: fishing, shipbuilding, handicrafts

Agriculture: accounts for 27% of GDP; principal crops - potatoes and vegetables; livestock - sheep; annual fish catch about 360,000 metric tons

Economic aid:
recipient: receives an annual subsidy from Denmark of about $130 million

Currency: 1 Danish krone (DKr) = 100 oere

Exchange rates: Danish kroner (DKr) per US$1 - 6.034 (January 1995), 6.361 (1994), 6.484 (1993), 6.036 (1992), 6.396 (1991), 6.189 (1990)

Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March


Railroads: 0 km

total: 200 km
paved: NA
unpaved: NA

Ports: Klaksvick, Torshavn, Tvoroyri

Merchant marine:
total: 7 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 19,879 GRT/18,444 DWT
ships by type: cargo 5, roll-on/roll-off cargo 1, short-sea passenger 1

total: 1
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 1


Telephone system: 27,900 telephones; good international communications; fair domestic facilities
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: 3 coaxial submarine cables

broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 3 repeaters 10, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 3 (repeaters 29)
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: no organized native military forces; only a small Police Force and Coast Guard are maintained

Defense expenditures: $NA, NA% of GDP

Note: defense is the responsibility of Denmark