The Faroe Islands. The small archipelago of the Faroe, consists of eighteen islands, is located in the waters of the North Atlantic. According to abbreviationfinder, the Faroe Islands (Føroyar in Faroese, Færøerne in Danish, which means “islands of lambs”) are a group of islands, between Scotland and Iceland ; They are an autonomous region of the Kingdom of Denmark, self-governing in all matters except defense, foreign relations and the legal system.
The economy of the islands was traditionally based on the raising of lambs and especially on fishing (cod, herring). However, it went through a serious crisis in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with a drop in catches. Even though the situation has now improved (unemployment barely reaches 4%), attempts are being made to diversify the economy by promoting tourism, new technologies and even the economy’s own fishing base by establishing fish farms and new fish processing plants. Despite everything, youth tend to march to Denmark to go to university, with which the most qualified population, the one that could make economic transformation possible, leaves the islands. See population of Faroe Islands.
The culture of the Faroe Islands has its roots in Nordic culture. The Faroe Islands were isolated from the main cultural stages and movements that ran through part of Europe. This means that they have kept a large part of their traditional culture.
Joined by tunnels
The first Faroe tunnel came into operation in 1963. It crosses a mountain on the island of Suóuroy -the southernmost of the archipelago- and connects two villages. The construction of the tunnel, which involved arduous excavation work. Drilling and blasting began simultaneously on both sides of the mountain.
An underwater vehicular tunnel was built that drops to 150 meters (500 feet) below sea level and connects two of the largest islands. A 5 meter (17 ft) long drill was used. Once the rock was drilled, dynamite was placed at the end of the hole and set on fire. After the explosion, the rocks were removed, opening a 5-meter tunnel section. The procedure was repeated until 6.2 kilometers (3.8 miles) of tunnel was excavated. It was opened to traffic on April 29, 2006.
The Faroe Islands have eighteen tunnels, two of which are underwater and connect islands. Considering its number of residents, there is no other country in the world with so many kilometers of tunnels. Still, there are others in the pipeline. Parliament has decided to build two more to connect the main islands. One of them will be 11.9 kilometers (7.4 miles) long – which will make it one of the longest underwater tunnels in the world – and is expected to be completed by 2012.
The beginning history of the Faroe Islands is a part of the history of Scandinavia. It has many parallels with the history of Iceland, and parts of it are also part of the history of Norway and Denmark.
It begins in 625 with the discovery of the group of islands by Irish monks. After 800 they were colonized by the Vikings, from whom the present-day Faroese are descended in part. The Viking Age of the Faroe Islands originated the Færeyinga saga and has been reconstructed from the discovery of multiple archaeological sites.
In 999 the Christianization of the Faroe Islands took place and in 1035 they became part of Norway. With the constitution of the Kingdom of Denmark and Norway, the Faroes became part of Denmark. After the reform of 1523, the preponderance of the Danish language was consolidated. Trade with Copenhagen was gaining importance to the detriment of Bergen. In 1814 Norway separated from Denmark, and the Faroe Islands remained under Danish control. From 1821 to 1948 the Faroe Islands were a Danish department. From 1850 they were part of the constitutional monarchy. In 1856 the Danish monopoly over the Faroe Islands was abolished. The standardization of modern Faroese dates from this period. The Faroe Islands went from being a medieval agrarian society to a modern fishing nation.
After the British occupation of the Faroe Islands in World War II (1940) the Flag of the Faroe Islands was approved, and the Faroese had a provisional government of their own. After the war they obtained wide autonomy with the Løgmaður as head of government and the Løgting as parliament.
The oldest known writings on the Faroe Islands date from around 825 AD and are attributed to an Irish monk. According to him, more than 100 years before his arrival in the archipelago, some hermit monks who were also from Ireland had already lived there. However, the first known settlement arose with the arrival of the Norwegian Grimur Kamban in the early 9th century.
Although these first residents lived from fishing, they also began to dedicate themselves to raising sheep, which continues to be an important activity to this day. By the way, the Faroese name of the archipelago is Foroyar, which means “islands of sheep”. Wool has always protected from wind, rain and cold, and it was even said that it was the gold of the Faroes.
Today there are still more sheep than people on the islands. Sheep are slaughtered in the traditional way, and the meat is cured in the air, hanging to dry in sheds where the wind passes freely. This technique adds a delicious flavor to the meat that makes it a true delicacy.
As might be expected of a small isolated population in which people depend on each other for survival, the Faroese have forged strong bonds with each other. And that unit is still alive thanks to modern methods of transportation and communication.