Faroe Islands - FO - FRO - Europe

Last updated: February 20, 2024
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Faroe Islands Factbook Data

Dependency status

part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark since 1948

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)

Age structure

0-14 years: 19.9% (male 5,415/female 5,053)

15-64 years: 61.94% (male 17,211/female 15,367)

65 years and over: 18.16% (2023 est.) (male 4,621/female 4,933)
2023 population pyramid
This is the population pyramid for Faroe Islands. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends.

For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Geographic coordinates

62 00 N, 7 00 W

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.07 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.12 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.94 male(s)/female

total population: 1.08 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Natural hazards

strong winds and heavy rains can occur throughout the year

Area - comparative

eight times the size of Washington, DC

Background

The Faroe Islands were already populated by ca. A.D. 500, but whether the settlers were Celtic or early Norse (or someone else) has yet to be determined. The islands served as an important stepping stone for Medieval Viking exploration of the North Atlantic and Viking settlers arrived on the islands in the 9th century. The islands have been connected politically to Denmark since the 14th century and today the Faroe Islands are a self-governing dependency of Denmark. The Home Rule Act of 1948 granted a high degree of self-government to the Faroese, who have autonomy over most internal affairs and external trade, while Denmark is responsible for justice, defense, and some foreign affairs. The Faroe Islands are not part of the European Union.

Environment - current issues

coastal erosion, landslides and rockfalls, flash flooding, wind storms; oil spills

Population below poverty line

10% (2015 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA

highest 10%: NA

Exports - commodities

fish and fish products (2021)

Exports - partners

Russia 26.4%, UK 14.1%, Germany 8.4%, China 7.9%, Spain 6.8%, Denmark 6.2%, US 4.7%, Poland 4.4%, Norway 4.1% (2017)

Administrative divisions

part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark; there are 29 first-order municipalities (kommunur, singular - kommuna) Eidhi, Eystur, Famjin, Fuglafjordhur, Fugloy, Hov, Husavik, Hvalba, Hvannasund, Klaksvik, Kunoy, Kvivik, Nes, Porkeri, Runavik, Sandur, Sjovar, Skalavik, Skopun, Skuvoy, Sorvagur, Sumba, Sunda, Torshavn, Tvoroyri, Vagar, Vagur, Vestmanna, Vidhareidhi

Agricultural products

potatoes, mutton, sheep skins, sheep offals, beef, sheep fat, cattle offals, cattle hides, cattle fat

Military and security forces

no regular military forces or conscription

Budget

revenues: $835.6 million (2014 est.)

expenditures: $883.8 million (2014)

note: Denmark supplies the Faroe Islands with almost one-third of its public funds

Capital

name: Torshavn

geographic coordinates: 62 00 N, 6 46 W

time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October

etymology: the meaning in Danish is "Thor's harbor"

Imports - commodities

goods for household consumption, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, raw materials and semi-manufactures, cars

Climate

mild winters, cool summers; usually overcast; foggy, windy

Coastline

1,117 km

Constitution

history: 5 June 1953 (Danish Constitution), 23 March 1948 (Home Rule Act), and 24 June 2005 (Takeover Act) serve as the Faroe Islands' constitutional position in the Unity of the Realm

amendments: see entry for Denmark

Exchange rates

Danish kroner (DKK) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
6.287 (2021 est.)
6.542 (2020 est.)
6.669 (2019 est.)
6.315 (2018 est.)
6.603 (2017 est.)

Executive branch

chief of state: King FREDERIK X of Denmark (since 14 January 2024), represented by High Commissioner Lene Moyell JOHANSEN, chief administrative officer (since 15 May 2017) (2024)

head of government: Prime Minister Aksel V. JOHANNESEN (since 22 December 2022)

cabinet: Landsstyri appointed by the prime minister

elections/appointments: the monarchy is hereditary; high commissioner appointed by the monarch; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition usually elected prime minister by the Faroese Parliament; election last held on 8 December 2022 (next to be held in 2026)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Flag description

white with a red cross outlined in blue extending to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted toward the hoist side in the style of the Dannebrog (Danish flag); referred to as Merkid, meaning "the banner" or "the mark," the flag resembles those of neighboring Iceland and Norway, and uses the same three colors - but in a different sequence; white represents the clear Faroese sky, as well as the foam of the waves; red and blue are traditional Faroese colors

note: the blue on the flag is a lighter blue (azure) than that found on the flags of Iceland or Norway

Independence

none (part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)

Industries

fishing, fish processing, tourism, small ship repair and refurbishment, handicrafts

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Faroese Court or Raett (Rett - Danish) decides both civil and criminal cases; the Court is part of the Danish legal system

subordinate courts: Court of the First Instance or Tribunal de Premiere Instance; Court of Administrative Law or Tribunal Administratif; Mixed Commercial Court; Land Court

Land boundaries

total: 0 km

Land use

agricultural land: 2.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 2.1% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 0% (2018 est.)

forest: 0.1% (2018 est.)

other: 97.8% (2018 est.)

Legal system

the laws of Denmark apply where applicable

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Faroese Parliament or Logting (33 seats; members directly elected in a single nationwide constituency by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)
the Faroe Islands elect 2 members to the Danish Parliament to serve 4-year terms

elections: Faroese Parliament - last held on 8 December 2022 (next to be held in 2026)
Faroese seats in the Danish Parliament last held on 31 October 2022 (next to be held no later than 31 October 2026)

election results: Faroese Parliament percent of vote by party - JF 26.6%, B 20%, A 18.9%, E 17.7%, F 7.5%, H 6.6%, seats by party - JF 9, B 7, A 6, E 6, F 3, H 2; composition - men 27, women 6; percent of women 18.2%
Faroese seats in Danish Parliament - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - JF 1, B 1; composition - men 2

2019: Faroese Parliament percent of vote by party - People's Party 24.2%, JF 21.2%, Union Party 21.2%, Republic 18.2%, Center Party 6%, Progress Party 6%, Self-Government Party 3%, seats by party - People's Party 8, JF 7, Union Party 7, Republic 6, Center Party 2, Progress Party 2, Self-Government Party 1, composition - men 25, women 8; percent of women 24.2%
Faroese seats in Danish Parliament - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - JF 1, Republic 1; composition - men 2

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

continental shelf: 200 nm or agreed boundaries or median line

exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm or agreed boundaries or median line

International organization participation

Arctic Council, IMO (associate), NC, NIB, UNESCO (associate), UPU

National holiday

Olaifest (Olavsoka) (commemorates the death in battle of King OLAF II of Norway, later St. OLAF), 29 July (1030)

Nationality

noun: Faroese (singular and plural)

adjective: Faroese

Natural resources

fish, whales, hydropower, possible oil and gas

Geography - note

archipelago of 17 inhabited islands and one uninhabited island, and a few uninhabited islets; strategically located along important sea lanes in northeastern Atlantic; precipitous terrain limits habitation to small coastal lowlands

Economic overview

high-income Danish territorial economy; party neither to the EU nor the Schengen Area; associate Nordic Council member; very low unemployment; unique foreign ownership allowance in fishing industry; known salmon exporter; growing IT industries

Political parties and leaders

Center Party or H (Midflokkurin) [Jenis av RANA]
People's Party or A (Folkaflokkurin) [Benir JOHANNESEN]
Progress Party or F (Framsokn) [Ruth VANG]
Republic or E (Tjodveldi) [Hogni HOYDAL] (formerly the Republican Party)
Self-Government Party or D (Sjalvstyri or Sjalvstyrisflokkurin) [Samal Peter I GRUND]
Social Democratic Party or JF (Javnadarflokkurin) or JF [Aksel V. JOHANNESEN]
Union Party or B (Sambandsflokkurin) [Bardur A STEIG NIELSEN]

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Fuglafjordur, Torshavn, Vagur

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: the Faroe Islands have a highly developed communication network, which covers the whole country; from telecommunication and mobile phones to the internet and media, the Faroe Islands are at the forefront of modern communications technology; working within the special geographic circumstances of the Faroe Islands; companies have become world experts in providing digital communication solutions to remote and sparsely populated areas (2022)

domestic: 29 per 100 teledensity for fixed-line and nearly 110 per 100 for mobile-cellular (2021)

international: country code - 298; landing points for the SHEFA-2, FARICE-1, and CANTAT-3 fiber-optic submarine cables from the Faroe Islands, to Denmark, Germany, UK and Iceland; satellite earth stations - 1 Orion; (2019)

Terrain

rugged, rocky, some low peaks; cliffs along most of coast

Government type

parliamentary democracy (Faroese Parliament); part of the Kingdom of Denmark

Military - note

the Government of Denmark has responsibility for defense; as such, the Danish military’s Joint Arctic Command in Nuuk, Greenland is responsible for coordinating the defense of the Faroe Islands; the Joint Arctic Command has a contact element in the capital of Torshavn

Country name

conventional long form: none

conventional short form: Faroe Islands

local long form: none

local short form: Foroyar

etymology: the archipelago's name may derive from the Old Norse word "faer," meaning sheep

Location

Northern Europe, island group between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, about halfway between Iceland and Norway

Map references

Europe

Diplomatic representation in the US

none (self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark)

Internet country code

.fo

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.765 billion (2014 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 43% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 0.89% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Broadcast media

1 publicly owned TV station; the Faroese telecommunications company distributes local and international channels through its digital terrestrial network; publicly owned radio station supplemented by 3 privately owned stations broadcasting over multiple frequencies

National anthem

name: "Mitt alfagra land" (My Fairest Land)

lyrics/music: Simun av SKAROI/Peter ALBERG

note: adopted 1948; the anthem is also known as "Tu alfagra land mitt" (Thou Fairest Land of Mine); as a self-governing overseas administrative division of Denmark, the Faroe Islands are permitted their own national anthem

Major urban areas - population

21,000 TORSHAVN (capital) (2018)

Physicians density

2.62 physicians/1,000 population (2016)

Hospital bed density

4.2 beds/1,000 population (2016)

National symbol(s)

ram; national colors: red, white, blue

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 52% (2013)

government consumption: 29.6% (2013)

investment in fixed capital: 18.4% (2013)

Citizenship

see Denmark

Population distribution

the island of Streymoy is by far the most populous with over 40% of the population; it has approximately twice as many inhabitants as Eysturoy, the second most populous island; seven of the inhabited islands have fewer than 100 people

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2021)

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020) (registered in Denmark)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 3 (registered in Denmark)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

OY-H

Ethnic groups

Faroese 85.3% (Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon descent), Danish 8.3%, other Nordic 1.4%, other 4.5% (includes Filipino, Poland, Romanian) (2022 est.)

note: data represent respondents by country of birth

Religions

Christian 89.3% (predominantly Evangelical Lutheran), other 1%, none 3.8%, unspecified 6% (2011 est.)

Languages

Faroese 93.8% (derived from Old Norse), Danish 3.2%, other 3% (2011 est.)

note:  data represent population by primary language

Imports - partners

Denmark 33%, China 10.7%, Germany 7.6%, Poland 6.8%, Norway 6.7%, Ireland 5%, Chile 4.3% (2017)

Disputes - international

because anticipated offshore hydrocarbon resources have not been realized, earlier Faroese proposals for full independence have been deferred; Iceland, the UK, and Ireland dispute Denmark's claim to UNCLOS that the Faroe Islands' continental shelf extends beyond 200 nm

Elevation

highest point: Slaettaratindur 882 m

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

Contraceptive prevalence rate

NA

Current health expenditure

NA

Literacy

total population: NA

male: NA

female: NA

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 62.8

youth dependency ratio: 33.6

elderly dependency ratio: 29.1

potential support ratio: 3.4 (2021)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 0% of population (2020)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: NA

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: NA

Total renewable water resources

0 cubic meters (2017 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 61,000 tons (2014 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 40,870 tons (2012 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 67% (2012 est.)

Air pollutants

carbon dioxide emissions: 0.63 megatons (2016 est.)

Heliports

12 (2024)

Coal

production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 58.9% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 15.1% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 26% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Natural gas

production: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

consumption: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

proven reserves: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 0 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 5,500 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 0 barrels (2021 est.)

Gross reproduction rate

1.1 (2023 est.)

Currently married women (ages 15-49)

34.8% (2023 est.)

Remittances

0% of GDP (2019 est.)
0% of GDP (2018 est.)
0% of GDP (2017 est.)

Labor force

27,540 (2017 est.)

Net migration rate

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Median age

total: 36.8 years (2023 est.)

male: 36.8 years

female: 36.8 years

Debt - external

$387.6 million (2012)
$274.5 million (2010)

Refined petroleum products - imports

4,555 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Public debt

35% of GDP (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate

2.28 children born/woman (2023 est.)

Unemployment rate

2.2% (2017 est.)
3.4% (2016 est.)

Population

52,600 (2023 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-1.7% (of GDP) (2014 est.)

Internet users

total: 51,728 (2021 est.)

percent of population: 97.6% (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

870,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 870,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 0 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

Area

total: 1,393 sq km

land: 1,393 sq km

water: 0 sq km (some lakes and streams)

Taxes and other revenues

30.2% (of GDP) (2014 est.)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$2.001 billion (2014 est.)
$1.89 billion (2013 est.)
$1.608 billion (2012 est.)

Roadways

total: 960 km (2017)

paved: 500 km (2017)

unpaved: 460 km (2017)

note: those islands not connected by roads (bridges or tunnels) are connected by seven different ferry links operated by the nationally owned company SSL; 28 km of tunnels

Infant mortality rate

total: 5.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 6.5 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 5.2 deaths/1,000 live births

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 59,000 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 110 (2021 est.)

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

22.7 (2013 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

-0.3% (2016)
-1.7% (2015)

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$40,000 (2014 est.)

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 18,443 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 38 (2020 est.)

Energy consumption per capita

0 Btu/person (2019 est.)

Death rate

8.6 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Birth rate

14.9 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 128,000 kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 358.64 million kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 0 kWh (2020 est.)

imports: 0 kWh (2020 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 23.16 million kWh (2019 est.)

Merchant marine

total: 91 (2023)

by type: container ships 6, general cargo 45, other 40

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

NA

Imports

$978.4 million (2016 est.)
$906.1 million (2015 est.)

Exports

$1.184 billion (2016 est.)
$1.019 billion (2015 est.)

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 15,341 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 29 (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 81.5 years (2023 est.)

male: 79 years

female: 84.2 years

Real GDP growth rate

5.9% (2017 est.)
7.5% (2016 est.)
2.4% (2015 est.)

Industrial production growth rate

3.4% (2009 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 18% (2013 est.)

industry: 39% (2013 est.)

services: 43% (2013 est.)

Revenue from forest resources

0% of GDP (2017 est.)

Education expenditures

7.6% of GDP (2019 est.)

Population growth rate

0.63% (2023 est.)

Airports

1 (2024)