Faroe Islands
(part of the Kingdom of Denmark)
[Country Flag of Faroe Islands]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Faroe Islands]

Faroe Islands


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

Geographic coordinates: 62 00 N, 7 00 W

Map references: Europe

total: 1,399 sq km
land: 1,399 sq km
water: 0 sq km (some lakes and streams)

Area—comparative: eight times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 1,117 km

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

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

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

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Slaettaratindur 882 m

Natural resources: fish, whales

Land use:
arable land: 6%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 0%
forests and woodland: 0%
other: 94% (1996)

Irrigated land: 0 sq km

Natural hazards: NA

Environment—current issues: NA

Environment—international agreements:
party to: NA
signed, but not ratified: NA

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


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Population: 41,834 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 23% (male 4,971; female 4,777)
15-64 years: 62% (male 13,896; female 12,034)
65 years and over: 15% (male 2,759; female 3,397) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: -1.72% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 13.08 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 8.84 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -21.42 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.15 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 10.5 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 78.43 years
male: 75.53 years
female: 81.45 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.36 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Faroese (singular and plural)
adjective: Faroese

Ethnic groups: Scandinavian

Religions: Evangelical Lutheran

Languages: Faroese (derived from Old Norse), Danish

Literacy: NA
note: similar to Denmark proper


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

Data code: FO

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

Government type: NA

National capital: Torshavn

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

Independence: none (part of the Kingdom of Denmark; 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: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen MARGRETHE II of Denmark (since 14 January 1972), represented by High Commissioner Bente KLINTE, chief administrative officer (since NA)
head of government: Prime Minister Anfinn KALLSBERG (since NA May 1998)
cabinet: Landsstyri elected by the Faroese Parliament
elections: the queen is a constitutional monarch; high commissioner appointed by the queen; following legislative elections, the leader of the party that wins the most seats is usually elected prime minister by the Faroese Parliament; election last held NA 1994 (next to be held NA 1998)
election results: Edmund JOENSEN elected prime minister; percent of parliamentary vote - 23.4%

Legislative branch: unicameral Faroese Parliament or Logting (32 seats; members are elected on a proportional basis from the seven constituencies to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 30 April 1998 (next to be held by NA July 2002)
election results: percent of vote by party—Republicans 23.8%, People's Party 21.3%, Social Democrats 21.9%, Coalition Party (Union Party, Labor Front, Home Rule Party) 15%; seats by party—Republicans 8, People's Party 8, Social Democrats 7, Coalition Party 6, other parties 3
note: election of 2 seats to the Danish Parliament was last held on 21 September 1994 (next to be held by September 1998); results—percent of vote by party - Unionist Party 22.5%, People's Party 21.7%; seats by party—Unionist Party 1, People's Party 1

Judicial branch: none

Political parties and leaders: Social Democratic Party [Joannes EIDESGAARD]; Workers' Party [Alis JACOBSEN]; Home Rule Party [Helena Dam A NEYSTABO]; Unionist Party [Edmund JOENSEN]; Republican Party [Heini O. HEINESEN]; Center Party [Tordur NICLASEN]; Christian People's Party [Niels Pauli DANIELSEN]; People's Party [Arnfinn KALLSBERG]

International organization participation: none

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 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)


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Economy—overview: The Faroese economy in 1995 and 1996 saw a noticeable upturn after several years of decline brought on by a drop in fish catches and declining prices and by over-spending by the Faroese Home Rule Government (FHRG). In the early 1990s, property values plummeted, and the FHRG had to bail out and merge the two largest Faroese banks. Fishing is now improving; wage costs are increasing; the FHRG's budget is almost in balance; and the large foreign debt has come down significantly. Nevertheless, the total dependence on fishing makes the Faroese economy extremely vulnerable, and the reduction in the foreign debt is at the cost of low investment. Oil finds close to the Faroese area give hope for deposits in the immediate Faroese area, which may lay the basis for an eventual economic rebound. The Faroese are supported by a substantial annual subsidy from Denmark.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$800 million (1996 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 6% (1996 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$16,300 (1996 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 20%
industry: 16%
services: 64% (1996 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 2.8% (1996 est.)

Labor force:
total: 20,345 (1995 est.)
by occupation: largely engaged in fishing, manufacturing, transportation, and commerce

Unemployment rate: 11% (1996 est.)

revenues: $467 million
expenditures: $468 million, including capital expenditures of $11 million (1996 est.)

Industries: fishing, shipbuilding, construction, handicrafts

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 91,000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 200 million kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 4,092 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: milk, potatoes, vegetables; sheep; salmon farming; fish

total value: $362 million (f.o.b., 1995)
commodities: fish and fish products 92%, animal feedstuffs, transport equipment (ships)
partners: Denmark 22.2%, UK 25.8%, Germany 9.7%, France 8.3%, Norway 6.2%, US 2.0%

total value: $315.6 (c.i.f., 1995)
commodities: machinery and transport equipment 17.0%, consumer goods 33%, raw materials and semi-manufactures 26.9%, fuels 11.4%, fish and salt 6.7%
partners: Denmark 34.5%, Norway 15.9%, UK 8.4% Germany 7.8%, Sweden 5.8%, US 1.5%

Debt—external: $767 million (1995 est.)

Economic aid: receives an annual subsidy from Denmark of about $150 million (1995)

Currency: 1 Danish krone (DKr) = 100 oere

Exchange rates: Danish kroner (DKr) per US$1—6.916 (January 1998), 6.604 (1997), 5.799 (1966), 5.602 (1995), 6.361 (1994), 6.484 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year


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Telephones: 26,000 of which about 3,500 are mobile telephones (1996)

Telephone system: good international communications; good domestic facilities
domestic: digitalization to be completed in 1998
international: satellite earth stations—1 Orion; 1 optical fiber submarine cable linking the Faroe Islands with Denmark and Iceland

Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 1 (repeaters 13), shortwave 0

Radios: 11,800 (1996 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 1 (repeaters 45)

Televisions: 11,600 (1996 est.)


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Railways: 0 km

total: 458 km
paved: 450 km
unpaved: 8 km (1995 est.)

Ports and harbors: Torshavn, Klaksvik, Tvoroyri, Runavik, Fuglafjorour

Merchant marine:
total: 6 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 22,853 GRT/13,481 DWT
ships by type: cargo 2, oil tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 1, roll-on/roll-off cargo 1, short-sea passenger 1 (1997 est.)

Airports: 1 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (1997 est.)


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

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $NA

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: NA%

Military—note: defense is the responsibility of Denmark

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: none