The Faroe archipelago is made up of 18 islands of volcanic origin, which are the same age as the British Isles and Greenland but so small that they can hardly be seen on a map. They are ragged, weather-beaten islands with steep cliffs teeming with seabirds and deep fjords that provide shelter for habitation.
The islands were first discovered by an order of Irish monks seeking a quiet place to meditate. The Vikings claimed that the discovery was theirs, however they settled in the islands sometime between the 9th and 10th centuries, at which time the monks departed due to ongoing Viking raids. The history of this settlement was documented in the Færeyinga Saga, a manuscript that is now lost. Following the arrival of the Vikings in 850 AD, the islands were used as stepping-stones on their explorations to Iceland, Greenland and North America.
Today the Faroe Islands, meaning ‘Sheep Islands’, have a total population of around 49,000 people and four times as many sheep. Most of the towns or large villages have fish factories, which is the main source of employment for the population.
As a dependency of the Kingdom of Denmark, the islands received home rule in 1948 and now have their own parliament, flag and postage stamp. However, the islanders claim Danish citizenship and send representatives to the Danish parliament. Foreign policy, social welfare and education are administered from Copenhagen, whilst Denmark is represented on the islands by a High Commissioner.
- Information provided by Cruise and Maritime Voyages
- Information provided by tour guide on Cruise and Maritime Voyages excursion