The Faroe Islands are a small island group in the North Atlantic, halfway between Iceland and Norway, North of the British Isles. They are a self-governing territory of the Kingdom of Denmark, with their own language (Faroese), their own flag, and limited self-rule.
The islands have a population of about 47,000 people, one-third of whom live in and around the capital city, Torshavn. There are 18 separate islands, 17 of which are inhabited. The different islands are connected by causeways, a tunnel, and regular ferry service.
The 18 islands rise steeply out of the Atlantic, with sheer cliffs and mountian peaks up to 2800 feet high. With 545 square miles of area and nearly 700 miles of coastline, you will never be more than 3 miles from the ocean. Because of the steep terrain, most of the towns are located along the coast. The islands are located at 62 degrees of latitude (4 degrees below the Arctic Circle), but because of the Gulf Stream and the strong marine influence, they enjoy relatively mild temperatures. The climate is consistently cool and wet, with some form of precipitation (rain, hail, drizzle, or snow) 280 days a year. The Faroese language has ten different words for fog.
The national language is Faroese, a Scandinavian language derived from Old Norse and most closely related to Icelandic; most people also speak Danish, and many of the younger generation speak some English. The main industries are fishing, fishing, and fishing — plus a little bit of tourism and wool production; in fact, the sheep outnumber the people three-to-one.
Despite their remote location, the Faroe Islands are a modern, industrialized country, with well-developed transportation and communication infrastructures. Their roads, bus service, and ferry system are modern and efficient, and there is widespread Internet and cellular phone access.
I will be living in Fuglafjørður, my father’s family’s hometown, which is the islands’ fourth-largest town with about 1,500 people.