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Report 1552: Fabulous Færoes

By davidx from England, Summer 2008

Trip Description: 07/07 - 07/17/2008 A friend had rented a house for three weeks. We joined her for 10 days.

Destinations: Countries - Denmark

Categories: Vacation Rentals; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 2 People

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Page 1 of 12: Introduction

photo by David Cross

Nordic flags

We were lucky. A friend had been to the Færoes four years ago staying in hotels and had decided to go again and take a house for three weeks. She took a fairly large apartment but her brother and his partner needed to return sooner than expected - so she invited us to join her for the last 10 days. Who could turn down an offer like that?

As the Færoes get relatively few visitors, it might help if I give some general information about them first. The general location is in the north Atlantic roughly equidistant from Bergen (Norway), Reykjavik (Iceland) and Lerwick (Shetland Isles, UK). There are eighteen islands, of which seventeen are inhabited plus, of course, a number of skerries and stacks. The population is around 50,000 and some islands have very few inhabitants. A large majority lives in Streymoy, Eysturoy and Borðoy.

Having used a letter eth, (ð) whose capital is Đ, I digress to say a bit about the language, Færoese. It is descended from Old Norse and, so a Norwegian told me, is pretty similar to Icelandic. For many years it was banned and only survived as a spoken language. When it became official and a written form was needed, it was worked out rather artificially from the Old Norse. Hence the letter eth, which is not sounded! Borðoy, above is pronounced Borroy. Try Viðareiði - a little village on Vidoy.

Back to the islands and a bit of history. They kept their association with Norway after the more southerly islands came under Scotland. They went with Norway under Danish rule. In the Napoleonic Wars the islands were occupied by Britain to keep out Napoleon and weaken his blockade. Denmark was affronted and entered the war on Napoleon's side. Their great rival, Sweden, promptly entered on what was to be the winning side. After the war, Norway was ceded by Denmark to Sweden but Greenland, Iceland and the Færoes stayed with Denmark.

In the second world war, because of their strategic position, The Færoes were occupied by the UK the day after the Germans invaded Denmark. During the occupation they were encouraged to be independent with their own flag. After the war, they returned to Denmark but with a large number favouring independence. At one time their Parliament declared independence but it was dissolved by the Danish King and the new one revoked the declaration. Subsequently they obtained a very high degree of self-government, that enables them to be in the West Nordic Council when Denmark is not.

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