The Faroe Islands
BThe Faroe Islands are 18 islands in the North Atlantic between the British Isles and Iceland. They originated from volcanoes that have long since gone out. The Faroe Islands are part of the Danish crown, but have been autonomous since 1948, largely independent and – unlike the Danish mainland – not part of the European Union.
The capital Tórshavn is clear with 12,500 inhabitants, with a total of 51,000 souls the island nation is one of the smallest in Europe. The Faroe Islands – also known as the Faroese – deliberately do not consider themselves as Danes, but as descendants of the Vikings who settled the islands in the early 9th century. They speak their own language with the Faroese.
Due to the northern location, trees do not occur in the nature of the Faroe Islands, and there are only a few mammals: gray seals and pilot whales; the many sheep were settled by humans centuries ago.
The most important economic sector is fishing, but tourism plays an increasingly important role – in the meantime, the islands are often visited on North Atlantic cruises, for example. And there is even a regular ferry connection: from the Danish port of Hirtshals to Tórshavn and from there to Iceland.
“What does he need a raincoat for? He has a car! “
The saying goes for the eye-catching love of the Faroese people: statistically, every island household has a car. In Autonation Germany, on the other hand, around 14 percent of households are car-free.
The high density of cars in the Faroe Islands does not have to do with poorly developed public transport, an astonishing number of ferries and buses operate, but above all with the climate. This is characterized by sudden changes in weather and abundant rainfall.
In the capital Tórshavn alone, there are 209 rainy days a year (for comparison: Berlin has an average of 99 rainy days) – a car protects better than rain from rain.
The happiness of the Faroese
Despite the often rainy weather, the Faroans are among the most satisfied peoples on earth. This can be seen, for example, in the fact that the islands have the lowest divorce and suicide rates in the Nordic countries. And the crime rate is so low that there is not a single prison for serious criminals – they are transferred to Denmark.
The islanders (and of course all the tourists on the islands) are also lucky due to a merciful mood of nature: no blood-sucking mosquitoes buzz around in the Faroe Islands, but at most a few harmless, orange-brown flies that like to mate on sheepskins.
This cliff is a record in Europe
It rises 754 meters above sea level. Cape Enniberg on the island of Vidoy is the highest vertical cliff in Europe, the northernmost point of the islands – and one of the most important sights in the Faroe Islands. From the land side, the cape is difficult to access due to its impassability, the frequent, unexpected fog can make it even more difficult to climb.
The cliff has always been a breeding ground for one of the largest bird colonies on the islands and has long served as a hunting ground: the islanders caught puffins and petrels and collected eggs that ended up in the pots.
The ponies are in danger of extinction
Small, frugal and tough: the Faroe pony is perfectly adapted to the rough nature of the islands. It came to the Faroe Islands with Irish monks, probably in the 7th century, and served them as a riding and transport animal. The Vikings, who followed the Irish two centuries later, also appreciated the services of the miniature horse.
In 2004 it was determined by DNA analysis that the ponies were actually a breed of their own, which, however, was in acute danger of disappearing. Currently there is only a higher double-digit number of Faroe Islands ponies.
The sheep with the special wool
During the Viking Age, wool was an important export product for the islands. The Faroe Islands owe their name to the wool suppliers – in their Old Norse language it means something like “sheep islands”.
The wool from the Faroe Islands is particularly water-repellent due to its high proportion of lanolin – this wool wax keeps the sheep skin dry in all weathers. Wool has lost its importance for trade since the 19th century, but knitwear is still produced today – especially the classics with the typical small-format cross pattern.
A bloody custom
670 pilot whales are killed on average in the Faroe Islands – an internationally criticized practice that is considered a national custom on the islands. The whale meat is distributed among the population, in larger places it is also available in supermarkets or restaurants. Whale bacon in particular is considered an island delicacy alongside sheep’s head.
Whimsical, record-breaking, typical: You can find more parts of our regional customer series here.
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