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I have had the Faeroe Islands on my list for years. Technically, it is just another part of my homeland; Denmark, but it is so different! And where the former 120 countries I have visited had their own Lonely Planet guidebook, this one has none, not even in Denmark or Scandinavia! Talk about unknown territory!
The Faroe or Faeroe Islands, Faroese: Føroyar and in Danish: Færøerne, are a North Atlantic archipelago located 320 kilometres north-northwest of Scotland, and about halfway between Norway and Iceland. The name actually started out as the "Sheep Islands" in old Nordic. It is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark.
The islands have a total area of about 1,400 square kilometres with a population of 52,110 as of January 2020 - and around twice as many sheep. The vast majority of the population are ethnic Faroese, of Norse and Celtic descent. Faroese is spoken in the entire area as a first language.
The Faroe Islands are an island group consisting of 18 major islands and a total of 779 islands, islets, and skerries, all volcanic origion. The terrain is rugged; the climate is subpolar oceanic climate; windy, wet, cloudy, and cool. The highest point; Slættaratindur reach 882 metres. Temperatures average above freezing throughout the year because of the Gulf Stream. As a result of the moderation and the northerly latitude, summers normally hover around 12°C Average temperatures are 5°C in winter. The northerly latitude location also results in perpetual civil twilight during summer nights and very short winter days.
Archaeological evidence shows settlers living on the
Faroe Islands in two successive periods before the Norse arrived, the first
between 300 and 600 and the second between 600 and 800. Scientists from the
University of Aberdeen have also found early cereal pollen from domesticated
plants, which further suggests people may have lived on the islands before
the Vikings arrived.
The economy is mainly based on fishing, which, along with salmon farming make up 95% of the export and half of the Faroese national gross product.
The flora of the Faroe Islands consists of over 400
different plant species, of which a quarter is brought by mankind. The natural vegetation of the Faroe Islands is
dominated by arctic-alpine plants, wildflowers, grasses, moss, and lichen -
and a lack of trees.
Most of the lowland area is grassland and some is heath, dominated by
shrubby heathers, mainly Calluna vulgaris. Among the herbaceous flora
that occur in the Faroe Islands is the cosmopolitan marsh thistle,
The bird fauna of the Faroe Islands is dominated by
seabirds and birds attracted to open land such as heather, probably because
of the lack of woodland and other suitable habitats. Many species have
developed special Faroese sub-species: Common eider, Common starling,
Eurasian wren, Common murre, and black guillemot. The pied raven, a colour
morph of the North Atlantic subspecies of the common raven, was endemic to
the Faroe Islands, but now has become extinct.
Grey seals; Halichoerus grypus are common around the shorelines. Several species of cetacea live in the waters around the Faroe Islands. Best known are the long-finned pilot whales; Globicephala melaena, which still are hunted by the islanders in accordance with longstanding local tradition. Orcas; Orcinus orca are regular visitors around the islands.