Nation profile

Faroe Islands

General information
51,783 inhabitants (2019 estimate)
1,399 km²
Parliament (Løgting), government
Major cities
Tórshavn (capital), Klaksvík, Hoyvík
State administration
Kingdom of Denmark
Territorial languages
Official languages
Faroese and Danish
Major religion
Christian (Protestant)
National day
29 july (Saint Olaf Day)


The Faroe Islands are a small island nation located in the North Sea, midway between Scotland, Iceland and Norway. A self-governing dependency of Denmark, they are inhabited by the Faroese people, who maintain their own political tradition, as well as their language and culture.

The archipelago was colonized in the 9th century AD by populations of Scandinavian and Celtic origin, which are at the origin of the present-day Faroese people. When Denmark and Norway were merged under a single monarch in 1380, the Faroe Islands became dependent on Denmark, a situation that has remained to this day.

During the 19th century, a nationalist sentiment developed in the Faroe Islands, based on the vindication of the island’s unique language and traditions. The national affirmation movement culminated in the 20th century with the emergence of demands for political autonomy.

In 1946, at the end of World War II, the islands’ assembly proclaimed independence, which the Danish authorities prevented. In 1948, Denmark granted political autonomy to the Faroe Islands, with legislative and executive powers.

Independence referendum

Faroese political parties have been calling for a referendum on full independence from Denmark. Such a vote would be the second referendum, after the first one unilaterally organized by the Faroese authorities in 1946. On that occasion, “yes” to independence received 50.7% of the vote, while 49.7% voted “no”. Denmark considered the result to be inconclusive, and prevented its enforcement.


Faroese is the first language of most Faroese inhabitants. Being the official language of the archipelago since 1937, it is commonly used by the Faroese administration. Education (including university in Tórshavn) is taught in this language, although Danish and English are also taught as second and third languages. The media in the archipelago prefer to use Faroese.

A North Germanic language, Faroese is the evolution of the language brought to the archipelago by Scandinavian colonizers. Faroese began to be written in the 14th century, but from the 16th onwards the official language was Danish. In the mid-19th century, Venceslaus Ulricus Hammershaimb codified a written standard for Faroese.

Politics and government

The Faroes have had their own representative assembly since the 10th century. The modern Faroese Parliament, or Løgting, is the islands’ assembly, having been in place uninterruptedly since 1852, although it has had law-making powers since 1948 only. Elected by universal suffrage every four years, it consists of 33 members.

Parliament elects the Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands, who appoints his/her cabinet: the Government of the Faroe Islands, or Landsstýri.

The Faroe Islands have their own party system, separate from the Danish party system —although some Faroese parties have ties to Danish parties. Parties can be organized into two major blocs, depending on whether they are pro-independence or not. However, parties from both groups are regularly part of different coalition governments:
In the pro-independence bloc, the two main parties are Republic (Tjódveldi, left, founded in 1948) and the People’s Party (Fólkaflokkurin, conservative center-right, 1939). With less support, and of more recent foundation than the other two, Progress (Framsókn, liberal center-right, 2011) must be mentioned. Self-Government (Sjálvstýri, social-liberal centre, 1906) supports a gradual process towards independence.

In the unionist bloc, the two main parties are the Union Party (Sambandsflokkurin, liberal and agrarian centre-right, 1906) and the Equality Party, also known as the Social Democratic Party (Javnaðarflokkurin, centre-left, 1925). Also in the unionist camp, with less support, the Center Party (Miðflokkurin, conservative right, 1992) is found.

Prime minister: Aksel V. Johannesen, Social Democratic Party (since 2022)
Distribution of seats in parliament (December 2022 election): 33 members:
Social Democratic Party (soft unionism, social democrat) - 9
Union Party (unionist, liberal-conservative) - 7
People's Party (pro-independence, liberal-conservative) - 6
Republic (pro-independence, left-of-centre) - 6
Progress (pro-independence, liberal) - 3
Centre Party (pro-independence, christian democrat) - 2
Electoral system: Proportional system with a single electoral district that covers the entire archipelago.
Government: Tripartite coalition made up of the Social Democratic Party, Republic, and Progress.


Language and Culture
Málradid (Faroese Language Board)
Faroese Online (Faroese course)

Kringvarp Føroya, Faroese public broadcaster
Dimmalætting, island’s oldest newspaper (in Faroese)
Sosialurin, Faroese newspaper

(Last updated August 2023.)