Faroe Islands Population | A Brief Introduction

By Verified Expert

Who lives in the Faroe Islands? How many people live in the Faroe Islands? What language do they speak? Read on to learn all about the people of the Faroe Islands.

The Faroe Islands are a cluster of rugged islands in the North Atlantic Ocean. The mountainous archipelago has a population of 53,500 people and a total land area of 1,400 km2 (540 sq mi).

Vikings first inhabited the untouched island group in the Viking Age. In resent years travellers have found their way to the islands seeking to relax on the edge of the Arctic.

The island Koltur as seen from Norðradalsskarð mountain pass. Koltur is inhabited by one person. Photo by Raul Gomez Fernandez known as @raulhudson1986 on Instagram.

As a visitor you will not have to worry about crowds. There are 18 volcanic basalt islands all inhabited except one. People live in 130 different quaint rural villages and small towns the larges being the capital Tórshavn (pop. 22,000) with plenty of brightly painted houses. The capital city is nestled in the middle of the archipelago on the larges island Streymoy.

All 18 islands are separated by narrow straits and both deep and shallow water. One island, Lítla Dímun, is unpopulated and one island, Koltur, is populated by only a single man!

5 most populated islands

5 least populated islands

What language do they speak in the Faroe Islands?

People in the Faroe Islands have their own language. The Faroese language is a powerful bond that ties the Faroese people together.

Faroese disappeared as a written language in the 16th century due to foreign influence pushed forward by the Church. Nevertheless, the oral literary tradition survived and later in the mid-19th century, the written language was reconstructed on an etymological basis due to the nationalist movement.  

Fishing economy

Boat Faroe Islands
Fishing is still the backbone of the Faroese economy. Travellers can join guided boat tours when in the Faroe Islands. Photo by Samson Højgaard.

New ideas and intellectual currents found fertile soil in the Faroe Islands during the radical transformation processes in the 19th century. The century saw a doubling of the population. In the late 19th century the people of the Faroe Islands experienced huge economic growth and development.

The Faroe Islands went from being a peasant society to becoming a vibrant economy. The Faroe Islanders invested heavily in cod fishery, which was the foundation for a large and prosperous fishing industry.

The vast ocean around the Faroe Islands makes boat tur a popular activity. Photo by Chris Poplawski known as @chrisroams on Instagram.

Emigration was typical for other Nordic countries in this period. Nevertheless, emigration did not take place in the Faroe Islands. It was the fisheries that more than anything secured a great growth in the population. Fish carried the far-flung island group into the industrial age.

There were 15,000 people living in the Faroe Islands in year 1900. The population had doubled again at the end of the Second World War. At that time there were 30,000 inhabitants in the Nordic archipelago.

Lake Leitisvatn
The lake above the ocean formed by the craggy coastline and the freshwater lake Leitisvatn is a true natural wonder. Photo by Victoria Ostapova also know as @vialma on Instagram.

Facts about the Faroe Islands

  • The Faroe Islands is often named the land of maybe due to the unpredictable weather.
  • Tórshavn is the capital in the Faroe Islands and is home to almost half of the population.
  • The country has its own language, Faroese, and most people speak fluent English.
  • The Faroe Islands has their own national football team
  • Faroe Islands has its own currency which is linked to the Danish Króna or DKK.
  • The Faroe Islanders use credit/debit cards throughout the country and cash is rarely seen.
  • Faroe Islanders drive on the right side of the road.
  • There are more than 20 tunnels linking different parts of the island group together.
  • There is one airport in the Faroe Islands with direct flights to several European cities
  • The drive from the only airport to the capital Tórshavn takes 40 minutes.

There was a boom in the economy in the 1980’s but everything collapsed in early 1990’s causing an emigration from the Faroe Islands not seen before. Unemployment reached 25% and every eight person left the country as a result of the crises caused by poor fishing and bankruptcy in the financial sector. 

Many houses in the Faroe Islands are grass-roofed. Photo by Victoria Ostapova also know as @vialma on Instagram.

At the dawn of the 20th century the population increased again. This continued until the global financial crises in 2008 when the future looked uncertain again in the Faroe Islands. Once again people looked abroad for oppertunities and moved to other countries.

The decline in the population kicked off a huge debate about emigration and the future of the tidy population far away from mainland Europe. The debate was pushed forward in the book EXIT Føroyar (2012) meaning EXIT the Faroe Islands in which the future of the Faroe Islands was discussed.

Once again, things changed and from 2014 and onwards, the population in the Faroe Islands has increased and reached more than 50,000 people for the first time ever in 2017. This was celebrated in the Faroe Islands and was a milestone in the struggle for a sustainable population development for a sparsely populated archipelago.

Fossá waterfall is one of many impressive nature attraction in the Faroe Islands. Photo by Victoria Ostapova also know as @vialma on Instagram.

Good fishing, an excellent salmon industry lead by the local company Bakkafrost as well as a growth in Faroe Islands tourism has influenced the positive development in the Faroe Islands in recent years and the record high population.

Salmon farming is the archipelago’s number one export. The salmon swim in fantastic natural conditions in the waters around the islands. The pristine clear ocean and its remote location has made salmon from the Faroe Islands a world renowned for quality and freshness.

Raising salmon in the North Atlantic Ocean has been a tremendous success. The tasty salmon is a driving force in creating new jobs and opportunities in the local communities in the far-flung archipelago.

The salmon farms are located in the fjords in the Faroe Islands. Photo by Kah-Wai Lin.

The Faroe Islands has become one of the most sought-after and off-the-beaten-track destinations in recent years. The rise of the Faroe Islands as a tourism destination has been pushed forward by its unparalleled nature and uncrowded streets. The islands are for those who are travellers at heart, for those with curiosity and thirst for adventure and untouched experiences.

Want to know more about the Faroe Islands? Check out the best reasons to visit Faroe Islands and make sure to check out flights to the Faroe Islands and take the next step.

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