Faroe Islands Brief History

By | November 1, 2021

According to Aristmarketing, the Faroe Islands consist of a group of 18 smaller islands located in the North Atlantic. The archipelago is located about 370 km north of Scotland, midway between Norway and Iceland and halfway between Denmark and Greenland. On the main island of Streymoy is the capital Tórshavn, the world’s smallest capital, with about 12,400 inhabitants. In total, the islands have almost 50,000 inhabitants. In the Faroe Islands, silence prevails, if you exclude the screaming or singing from all the birds that live on the islands. Here is wonderfully beautiful and dramatic nature that gives relaxation and harmony to the stressed person.

An old Faroese legend says that the islands were added during the creation process when one of the working foremen cleaned his nails and threw away the rubbish.

Faroe Islands history

It is believed that the islands were discovered by Irish monks as early as the 5th century AD when, during seven years of sailing in unknown waters, they sailed past them in their search for Gentile Christians. During their voyages they reached two islands which they called “Fåröarna” and “Fågelparadiset”. The Faroe Islands, which in Faroese are pronounced “FER-ya”, are derived from the word “faar oy” which means “Faroe Islands”. The “bird paradise” may well have been the island of Mykines, the westernmost of the Faroe Islands, which is an island with very rich bird life.

The first settlers

The first settlers of the islands were undoubtedly Irish monks. It was probably they who laid the foundation for the tribe of sheep that roamed the islands when the first Norwegian settlers came here in the early ninth century. The flocks of sheep that existed at this time are similar to those found today on a small Scottish island. The original flocks of sheep have now been replaced by others.

The first Norwegians to settle on the islands came from southern Norway, which they left in their search for land where they could live a peaceful life. At home in Norway, there was war and political unrest. The first settlers were not Vikings, who would later conquer large parts of the world, but simple farmers. These first settlers did not write down their history why little is known about their lives. It was not until the 13th century that the “Faroese saga” was written by an Icelander who describes the Faroese life and livelihood. The “Faroese saga” tells of strong contradictions between those who professed Asatron and the Christians in the 1,000th century.

According to legend, the Faroese joined Norway’s then king in 1035 and thus became a constitutional part of the Norwegian kingdom.


Early on, a government was formed in the Faroe Islands based on the will of the people. On the peninsula Tinganes in Torshavn, the first “Alltinget” was formed in 1035, which had unlimited power until 1380.

Danish government

At the Kalmar Union, Norway was allotted to Denmark and thus the Faroe Islands came under Danish rule. Thereafter, Danish laws were introduced and “Alltinget” was transformed into a “Lögting”.

Religious centers

The islands’ religious centers were located at Kirkjuböur on the southwestern tip of Streymoy. The first church in the 12th century, Magnus Cathedral, was built here. Today, only the ruins remain. Until the Reformation in 1535, which was a revolutionary period for the Faroese, there were 33 bishops here.

The Middle Ages, the 18th century

During the Middle Ages, the Faroe Islands were greatly influenced by the Nordic seafaring nations, especially by the Hanseatic merchants in Bergen. After the Reformation, the Danish king increased his influence over the island kingdom’s trade and introduced a trade monopoly. Only selected merchants and companies were allowed to trade with the Faroe Islands.

The Reformation lasted for five years and resulted in church property being taken over by the state and Latin being replaced by Danish at services.

In 1709, trade was taken over entirely by the Danish royal family and the islands were now ruled directly from Copenhagen.

19th century

On January 1, 1856, the Danish trade monopoly ended and new trade channels with other countries were immediately established. In 1872, the Faroese bought an English ship. With the help of this, they now began to fish deep sea far away from the Faroe Islands. This vessel became the basis for the country’s fishing industry, which grew in size and later became the country’s main industry. The rumor about the skill of the Faroese sailors spread quickly around the world.

20th century

During the early 20th century, some Faroese advocated full union with Denmark. Others fought for full independence. The fishing industry developed further and became the most important source of income that significantly increased the population’s prosperity.

During World War II, the British occupied the Faroe Islands to secure the important North Atlantic shipping lanes and to prevent the country from being invaded, just as the Germans did in Denmark. This political separation from Denmark increased the importance of the Parliament, the Parliament of the Faroe Islands. After the end of the Second World War, the official status of the Faroe Islands changed, from being a fully integrated part of Denmark to becoming an autonomous part of Denmark.

When the Danes joined the European Union, the Faroe Islands refused to join. The Faroese claimed their 200-mile sea border to protect their fishing rights. They created their own flag and now also issue their own stamps and banknotes. The Faroese language has been recognized as an official language, but the children are still learning Danish in school.

In the late 1980s, the Faroese were considered to have the world’s highest standard of living due to low taxes and high social costs. In the early 1990s, fishing income declined due to overfishing, which led to a sharp decline in catches. The feared economic disaster became a fact. Banks went bankrupt and the Danish state demanded a restructuring of the Faroese economy. The fishing fleet would be halved and 16 of the country’s 22 fishing factories would be closed. Unemployment rose rapidly to more than 20%. The economic clean-up was successful and today the Faroe Islands are still a large fishing nation and Faroese live under high living conditions. The oil discoveries made outside the Faroe Islands create hopes for an even better economic future and less dependence on income from the fishing industry


Faced with the choice to put nothing had desire for more autonomy has become increasingly strong, mainly because of a conflict with Denmark on the management of the economic and financial crisis in the Faroe Islands
Liberal Party, Self-government party and the Republicans went into the elections and formed a government with the main goal within four years give Faroe Islands status as an independent state


In May, the Faroe Islands, the United Kingdom and Denmark agreed on the borders in the sea area west of the Shetland Islands and southeast of the Faroe Islands. Since then, the Faroe Islands, with the help of foreign companies, have begun searching for oil east of the archipelago. Smaller deposits were found in 2001. Denmark and the Faroe Islands have concluded an agreement that if the Faroe Islands start extracting oil, the Danish contribution to the island kingdom will be renegotiated.

Faroe Islands Brief History