Background Information About Faroe Islands
Nestled in the North Atlantic, equidistant between the rugged coasts of Norway and Iceland, lie the enigmatic Faroe Islands. Often overshadowed by their neighbors, these 18 volcanic islands, ruled under a Danish monarch, seem to be shrouded in mystique and folklore. On a particularly brisk and overcast day, the islands’ austere beauty becomes all the more palpable.
Though under Danish jurisdiction, the Faroe Islands have their own pulse, with 18 diverse islands weaving a tapestry rich in history and culture. Only the tiniest among them, Ltla Dmun, remains untouched by permanent settlers. These islands, discovered during the Middle Ages, now cradle a unique community of about 50,000 residents. Known as Faroese, these inhabitants share a lineage with the valiant Faroese Vikings. Their distinct dialect, rooted in Icelandic and Norwegian influences, reverberates across the islands, telling tales of yore.
Despite their connections with Denmark, the spirit of independence runs deep in the Faroese. The Fámjin Treaty of 2005 recognizes the Faroese and Greenlanders as “equal countries” within the Kingdom of Denmark. The Lgting, their ancient parliament, still stands as a testament to their age-old governance, dispatching representatives to both the Danish Folketing and the Nordic Council.
The Faroe Islands dance to their own rhythm even on the international stage. While Denmark is a part of the European Union, the Faroes stand apart, untouched by EU directives. They find their place within the Pan-Euro-Mediterranean zone, streamlining goods origin standards. Their bond with Iceland, established since 1985 through the Western Nordic Council, deepened in 2006, cementing an economic union.
Tracing back to their agrarian roots, sheep farming was once the lifeblood of the Faroese, with their woolen exports being the pride of the islands. However, as times evolved, the turquoise waters surrounding the islands became their treasure trove, with fishing anchoring their economy. And in their ceaseless quest for progress, the islands, since the mid-1990s, have sought the elusive promise of oil.
Video: Aerial Views of Faroe Islands
Geography of Faroe Islands
62° north latitude and 7° west longitude define the Faroe Islands, which are located in the North Atlantic between Scotland (the Hebrides are to the south, Shetland and Orkney are to the southeast) and Iceland (the northwest). The Norwegian island of Jan Mayen is located further north in the Arctic Ocean.
The Faroe Islands and their surroundings as seen by NASA
Arcadia has 18 islands, 11 spars, and 750 small islets spread out over 1395.7 square kilometres of water. From Enniberg north to Sumbiarsteinur south, the Faroe Islands stretch 118 kilometres; from Mykineshólmur west to Fugloy east, they form a triangle. Approximately 1289 kilometres of rocky coastline rise vertically out of the ocean. As a general rule, the average altitude is 300 metres above sea level (MSL). On a clear day, the islands can all be seen from Iceland’s highest mountain, Slttaratindur (882 m). With Cape Enniberg, the Faroe Islands have the world’s tallest sea cliff (754 m). The Earth has higher promontories, but they are not perpendicular to the equator.
Geology of Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands were formed by volcanic activity during the Tertiary period. They are about three times older than Iceland, at 60 million years old. The area’s lone thermal spring, Varmakelda, dates back to this time period. On the islands, the harder basalt is interspersed with the softer tuff strata over time. This period of lush vegetation growth occurred in between the emergence of the lower and middle basalt strata of the Earth’s crust. The renewed volcanic activity wiped out all of this vegetation. Hvalba has coal reserves that were once part of the area’s forest. Tvroyri and Mykines both have interesting columnar basalts.
As a result of the Faroe Islands being completely covered by ice during the Quaternary ice ages, the islands have taken on their current shape with their fjords, sound systems, and valleys.
Video: Best Things to Do In Faroe Islands
Faroe Islands Weather
The climate of the Faroe Islands is maritime, humid, and extremely variable. This means that the weather in different parts of the archipelago can be drastically different, even on the same day.
The Faroese weather affects every aspect of life on the islands. As a result of the constantly changing weather, British soldiers on the Faroe Islands gave the islands the nickname “The Land of kanska” (= “maybe”) (see Norgate, references below).
Rain (but not all day) and numerous fogs help keep the grasses lush and green. The air is clear, and the wind comes from the southwest, where it’s usually cool. Rain and storms aren’t the only things to prepare for. The foothills of tropical cyclones do make it to the archipelago every now and then. The 160 km/hr winds of Hurricane Faith, for example, made landfall in the United States in 1966.
Due to their location on the Gulf Stream, the Faroe Islands have mild temperatures for their latitude. It gets up to 11 degrees Celsius in the summer and 3 degrees Celsius in the winter. The harbours are free of ice throughout the year, and the brief snowfalls that do occur in the inhabited lower elevations do not stick around for long.
Faroe Islands have a 5-kilometer limit to the sea. Natural harbours, fjords, and bays surround the Faroe Islands on all sides. When it rains, the land becomes swampy, with numerous streams running through it. Many of these streams end up as waterfalls that cascade into the valleys or end up in the sea.
All of the island areas are covered in lush green meadows, lending the islands an ethereal and mesmerising natural beauty. Multicolored houses and wooden chapels with grass-covered roofs add to the allure of the stunning moorland that is devoid of trees.
A hiker’s dream destination, the Faroe Islands offer paths through harsh, rocky highlands. Road tunnels have made it possible to link even the tiniest of towns that were previously inaccessible. There’s also the option of taking a fjord cruise on a wooden boat.
Nearly everywhere you look in Faro, you’ll see a stunning view. On Estroy’s island, Googhf is considered one of the most picturesque settlements due to its mountainous surroundings and sprinkling of simple wooden cottages with grassy roofs. From the area’s hiking trails, you can see the Atlantic Ocean and the nearby islands in all their glory.
The Saxon Village, a natural amphitheatre rising above a tidal lake, is one of the country’s most remarkable attractions. If you’re looking for a quiet place to relax, this is it. It also offers stunning views of the fjords and waterfalls. Visitors should pay a visit to a village church built in 1858 because it is historically significant.
The isolated Mickens settlement on Mycensholmoor Island is a rare find. Birds flock to this area, which locals call “Paradise.” This island, which can only be reached by ferry or helicopter, offers stunning views of the ocean and nearby islands.
Foroya Landsuri’s Tengans Historic Site is also well worth a visit. Many consider it to be a historic site for parliament meetings because of its long history. It’s home to some oddly shaped red buildings with green rooftops, as well as the federal government’s administrative headquarters.
A trip to Skansen Fort is sure to be an unforgettable experience. For the purpose of protecting the city’s trading centre from pirate attacks in the North Atlantic, the castle was constructed in 1580. In 1677, French pirates scuttled their way through the fort and demolished portions of it. This fort was used by the British Royal Navy as a command centre during World War II. Aside from being a tourist attraction, Fort Nolesoy has four brass cannons and a distinctive appearance on the neighbouring island of Nolesoy.
The Faroe Islands’ largest lake, Lake Survagsvatn, is a must-see destination. With the stunning Possdalfossor Waterfall at the very end, this area is referred to as a “lake above the ocean.”
Bird watchers flock to the Faroe Islands, so taking a boat across the straits and along the cliffs will get you to the cliffs and caves where hundreds of seabirds nest.
Slatatindor Mountain can be seen from anywhere in the Faroe Islands on a clear day. It’s 800 metres high, making it Faro’s highest point. On June 21, the longest day of the year, locals climb this mountain to celebrate and watch the sunrise, as is customary.