For a more detailed description of Faroe Islands see the Article about the Faroe Islands in Wikipedia.
The Faroe Islands (Faroese: Føroyar, Danish: Faerøerne) also known as the Faeroe Islands, are an archipelago north west of Shetland. Like Shetland, they were formerly ruled by Norway. Unlike Shetland, this control passed over to Denmark rather than Scotland/the UK.
The Faroes share certain historical and linguistic similarities with Shetland, and there has been a varying amount of cultural exchange between them over the centuries. They were also administered together, for example in 1298, Duke Hakon, the son of King Magnus the Lawmaker was ruling both archipelagoes.
Although most of the population is Lutheran, the next biggest group is Plymouth Brethren, which reached the islands via Shetland. <ref>Schei & Moberg, p52</ref>
Shetland and the Faroe Islands used to be linked by ferry in the summer. However this ferry no longer runs.
Geography and economy
Despite being much further north than Shetland, the Faroes still benefit from the Gulf Stream, which keeps them ice free; nonetheless, they are colder and windier, and the day lengths vary even more than those in Shetland. The Faroe Islands are much more hilly than Shetland, and have some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe. The islands are separated by many fjords/firths, and their appearance on the map has been compared to a sliced loaf. This has made it difficult to build airstrips, and the main airport is on Vágar, an outlying island.
Until recently their economy was based largely on sheep farming, and it is believed by some that this is where the islands' name comes from. More recently the economy has diversified into fishing. There is little in the way of agriculture, and the only natural trees are dwarf shrubs.
Sea birds and small whales form an important part of the local diet. The trapping of caain whales (globicephala melaena), the grindadráp, has caused a great deal of controversy amongst animal rights activists. There is some coal mining on Suðuroy, and recently the prospect of deep sea oil drilling has been raised. Despite being controlled by Denmark, they are not part of the EU.
The Faroe Islands appear to have been settled and explored much later than Shetland. The first explorers of the Faroe Islands may have been the Picts, likely via Shetland, but evidence of their presence is ambiguous. The first settlers were the papar, Gaelic speaking monks, who also settled in Iceland, Orkney and the Hebrides. Mykines may be a Celtic name, from muc-innis, island of the whales or pigs. Johannes Johansen has found evidence of pre-Norse cultivation on the island, dating from about 600.<ref>Schei & Moberg, p17</ref>
A Norse invasion took place around 800, and were annexed to Norway around 1035, the same time that they were re-Christianised. Like Iceland, a lot of the population is partially descended from Scottish and Irish wives and slaves. Common Shetland placename elements such as –bólstaðir and -staðir are not present (except one example – Velbastaður)
In the 19th century, growing population put pressure on the islands, and new methods had to be found to sustain the communities. So in 1839, governor Christian Pløyen and several Faroese visited Shetland (plus Orkney and Scotland), in order to study farming and fishing methods. <ref>Schei & Moberg, p36</ref> This was in response to Shetland boats taking a great deal of fish off their coasts, which was causing resentment. They learnt from the Shetlanders how to fish with a long line, and how to make stockfish.
Like Iceland, the Faroe Islands were occupied by the British in World War II, to prevent them being taken over by the Nazis like Norway and Denmark.
In the early 1990s, the Faroes faced severe bankruptcy, due to fishing stocks collapsing. In more recent years, there has been a dispute between the Faroese and Shetland/UK over marine boundaries.
The Faroese language (Føroysk) is similar to old Norse, and Icelandic, and the Norn language which was formerly spoken in Shetland. It is heavily influenced by Danish. The orthography is based on Old Norse etymology, whcih makes it look similar to Icelandic (using eth for example), but is not very phonetic.
Like Icelandic, there was a purist movement, and a lot of loanwords were removed and replaced with Jakob Jakobsen proposed a phonetic spelling for the language, but this did not take off. However, a compromise was reached between the two forms, known as “Broyting”. <ref>Schei & Moberg, p64</ref>
Between 100 and 150 books are printed each year in Faroese.
A comparison of some Faroese and Shetland place names:
- Fugloy – This appears to be the same as Foula, likely referring to birds, or the personal name Ful.
- Koltur - a rounded peak, probably related to Kultersfell in Cunningsburgh
- Dímun – Of Celtic origin, related to De Dimons off Yell.
- Leirvik - Lerwick