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Faroe Islands country facts

Europe Torshavn 49,947 inhabitants 1,393 sq km 35.86 inhabitants/sq km Danish kroner (DKK) part of the Kingdom of Denmark population evolution



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 half way between Iceland and Norway

Geographic coordinates

62 00 N, 7 00 W

Area (sq km)

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

Area - comparative (sq km)

eight times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries (km)

0 km

Coastline (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

Elevation extremes (m)

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

Natural resources

fish, whales, hydropower, possible oil and gas

Land use (%)

arable land: 2.15%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 97.85% (2011)

Irrigated land (sq km)

0 sq km (2011)

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


noun: Faroese (singular and plural)
adjective: Faroese

Ethnic groups (%)


Languages (%)

Faroese (derived from Old Norse), Danish

Religions (%)

Evangelical Lutheran 83.8%, other and unspecified 16.2% (2006 census)


49,947 (July 2014 est.)   evolution and prospects (1950-2100)

Age structure (%)

0-14 years: 20.3% (male 5,251/female 4,877)
15-24 years: 15.3% (male 3,942/female 3,701)
25-54 years: 36.8% (male 9,958/female 8,445)
55-64 years: 11.8% (male 3,035/female 2,859)
65 years and over: 15.4% (male 3,819/female 4,060) (2014 est.)

Age structure in Faroe Islands

Median age (years)

total: 37.7 years
male: 37.1 years
female: 38.4 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate (%)

0.49% (2014 est.)

Birth rate (births/1,000 population)

13.57 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Death rate (deaths/1,000 population)

8.71 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Net migration rate (migrant(s)/1,000 population)

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)

Urbanization (%)

urban population: 41.1% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 0.97% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

TORSHAVN (capital) 20,000 (2011)

Sex ratio (male(s)/female)

at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.18 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.93 male(s)/female
total population: 1.09 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Infant mortality rate (deaths/1,000 live births)

total: 5.71 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 5.97 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.43 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth (years)

total population: 80.11 years
male: 77.61 years
female: 82.79 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate (children born/woman)

2.38 children born/woman (2014 est.)

Hospital bed density (beds/1,000 population)

4.7 beds/1,000 population (2012)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate (%)


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Literacy (%)

NA; note - probably 99%, the same as Denmark proper

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 (%)

total: 9.4%
male: 6.9%
female: 12.5% (2005)


Country name

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

Dependency status

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

Government type



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 34 municipalities


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

National holiday

Olaifest (Olavsoka), 29 July


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 (2013)

Legal system

the laws of Denmark, where applicable, apply


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 2008)
head of government: Prime Minister Kaj Leo JOHANNESSEN (since 26 September 2008)
cabinet: Landsstyri appointed by the prime minister
elections: the monarchy is hereditary; high commissioner appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of the majority coalition is usually elected prime minister by the Faroese Parliament; election last held on 14 November 2011 (next to be held no later than November 2015)
election results: Kaj Leo JOHANNESSEN reelected prime minister in 2011

Legislative branch

unicameral Faroese Parliament or Logting (33 seats; members elected by popular vote on a proportional basis from the seven constituencies to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 29 October 2011 (next to be held no later than October 2015)
election results: percent of vote by party - Union Party 24.7%, People's Party 22.5%, Republican Party 18.3%, Social Democratic Party 17.7%, Progressive Party 6.3%, Center Party 6.2%, Independence Party 4.2%, other 0.1%; seats by party - Union Party 8, People's Party 8, Republican Party 6, Social Democratic Party 6, Progressive Party 2, Center Party 2, Independence Party 1
note: election of two seats to the Danish Parliament was last held on 15 September 2011 (next to be held no later than September 2015); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - Social Democratic Party 1, Union Party 1

Judicial branch

the Faroese Court or Raett (Rett - Danish) decides both civil and criminal cases; the Court is part of the Danish legal system

Political parties and leaders

Center Party (Midflokkurin) [Jenis av RANA]
Independence Party (Sjalvstyrisflokkurin) [Kari P. HOJGAARD]
People's Party (Folkaflokkurin) [Jorgen NICLASEN]
Progressive Party (Framsokn) [Poul MICHELSEN]
Republican Party (Tjodveldi) [Hogni HOYDAL]
Social Democratic Party (Javnadarflokkurin) [Aksel JOHANNESEN]
Union Party (Sambandsflokkurin) [Kaj Leo JOHANNESEN]

Political pressure groups and leaders


International organization participation

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

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 symbol(s)


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 an autonomous overseas division of Denmark, the Faroe Islands are permitted their own national anthem


Economy - overview

The Faroese economy is dependent on fishing, which makes the economy vulnerable to price fluctuations. The sector normally accounts for about 95% of exports and nearly half of GDP. In early 2008 the Faroese economy began to slow as a result of smaller catches and historically high oil prices. The slowdown in the Faroese economy followed a strong performance since the mid-1990s with annual growth rates averaging close to 6%, mostly a result of increased fish landings and salmon farming, and high export prices. Unemployment reached its lowest level in June 2008 at 1.1% but gradually increased to about 5.5% in 2012. The Faroese Home Rule Government produced increasing budget surpluses in that period, which helped to reduce the large public debt, most of it to Denmark. However, total dependence on fishing and salmon farming make the Faroese economy vulnerable to fluctuations in world demand. Initial discoveries of oil in the Faroese area give hope for eventual oil production, which may provide a foundation for a more diversified economy and less dependence on Danish economic assistance. Aided by an annual subsidy from Denmark amounting to about 3% of Faroese GDP, the Faroese have a standard of living almost equal to that of Denmark and Greenland. The Faroese Government ran relatively large deficits from 2008 to 2010 and budget deficits are forecast for several years ahead. At year-end 2010 gross external debt had reached approximately US$900 million.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1.471 billion (2010 est.)
$1.389 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.32 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate (%)

2.9% (2010 est.)
0.5% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$30,500 (2008 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin (%)

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

Labor force

34,710 (November 2010)

Labor force - by occupation (%)

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

Unemployment rate (%)

6.8% (2011)
5.7% (2010)

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 (% of GDP)

44.2% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) (% of GDP)

-11.9% of GDP (2010 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) (%)

2.3% (2011)
0.4% (2010)

Agriculture - products

milk, potatoes, vegetables; sheep; salmon, other fish


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

Industrial production growth rate (%)

3.4% (2009 est.)


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

Exports - commodities (%)

fish and fish products 94%, stamps, ships

Exports - partners (%)

Denmark 23.4%, UK 21%, Nigeria 13.4%, US 8.9%, Netherlands 8.4%, Russia 7%, China 4.4% (2012)


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

Imports - commodities (%)

goods for household consumption 24%, machinery and transport equipment 23.5%, fuels 21.4%, raw materials and semi-manufactures, salt

Imports - partners (%)

Denmark 42%, Norway 32%, Germany 8.7%, Iceland 5.3% (2012)

External debt ($)

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

Exchange rates

Currency converter
Danish kroner (DKK) per US dollar -
5.695 (2011)
5.6241 (2011 est.)
5.6241 (2010 est.)
5.361 (2009)
5.0236 (2008)

Fiscal year

calendar year


Electricity - production (kWh)

261 million kWh (2011 est.)

Electricity - consumption (kWh)

249 million kWh (2010 est.)

Electricity - exports (kWh)

0 kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - imports (kWh)

0 kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity (kW)

100,100 kW (2010 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels (% of total installed capacity)

64.9% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels (% of total installed capacity)

0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants (% of total installed capacity)

31% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources (% of total installed capacity)

4.1% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)

Crude oil - production (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - exports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - imports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves (bbl)

0 bbl (1 January 2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption (bbl/day)

4,871 bbl/day (2011 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports (bbl/day)

0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports (bbl/day)

4,661 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Natural gas - production (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - consumption (cu m)

0 cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - exports (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - imports (cu m)

0 cu m (2011 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves (cu m)

0 cu m (1 January 2013 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy (Mt)

785,300 Mt (2011 est.)


Telephones - main lines in use

24,000 (2012)

Telephones - mobile cellular

61,000 (2012)

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 (2011)

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 2 privately owned stations broadcasting over multiple frequencies (2008)

Internet country code


Internet hosts

7,575 (2012)

Internet users

37,500 (2009)



1 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

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

Roadways (km)

total: 463 km (2006)

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 (2012)

Manpower available for military service

males age 16-49: 11,831 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service

males age 16-49: 9,827
females age 16-49: 8,418 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually

male: 372
female: 373 (2010 est.)

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

Largest cities of Faroe Islands

These are the 50 largest cities of Faroe Islands ordered based on their number of inhabitants.

# City Population
1 Tórshavn 13,200