Faroe Islanders

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Faroese people
Faroese folk dance club from vagar.jpg
Faroese folk dancers, in national costumes.
Total population
c. 70,000
Regions with significant populations
Flag of the Faroe Islands.svg  Faroe Islands ≈50,000 [1] [ dubious ]
Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark 21,687 [2]
Flag of Norway.svg  Norway 1,981 [3] [ dubious ]
Flag of Iceland.svg  Iceland 500[ citation needed ]
Flag of Finland.svg  Finland 20[ citation needed ]
Faroese, Danish (Gøtudanskt accent)
Lutheranism (Church of the Faroe Islands)
Historically also the Norse religion and Roman Catholicism (1000–1538)
Related ethnic groups
Other Germanic peoples
(especially North Germanic peoples);

Faroese people or Faroe Islanders (Faroese : føroyingar; Danish : færinger) are a North Germanic ethnic group and nation native to the Faroe Islands. [4] The Faroese are of mixed Norse and Gaelic origins. [5] About 21,000 Faroese live in neighbouring countries, particularly in Denmark, Iceland and Norway. Most Faroese are citizens of the Kingdom of Denmark, in which the Faroe Islands are a constituent nation. The Faroese language is one of the North Germanic languages and is closely related to Icelandic and to western Norwegian varieties.



Elderly Faroese couple in the 1940s, wearing their traditional 'Sunday dress' for Church. Faroese-couple-ca1940-Muli-Faroe-Islands.jpg
Elderly Faroese couple in the 1940s, wearing their traditional 'Sunday dress' for Church.
Three Faroese women wearing traditional regalia. The student caps identify them as newly graduated. Faroese girls in costume.jpg
Three Faroese women wearing traditional regalia. The student caps identify them as newly graduated.
Faroese politicians, priests and choir in front of the Logting (Parliament), Olavsoka 2012. Olavsoka 2012 at Tinghusvollur in Torshavn.JPG
Faroese politicians, priests and choir in front of the Løgting (Parliament), Ólavsøka 2012.

The first known settlers of the Faroe Islands were Gaelic hermits and monks who arrived in the 6th century. [6]

From the ninth century onwards the Norse-Gaels came and brought Norse culture and language to the islands. Little is known about this period, thus giving room for speculation. A single source mentions early settlement, the Icelandic Færeyinga saga. It was written sometime around 1200 and explains events taking place approximately 300 years prior. According to the saga, many Norsemen objected to the Norwegian king's unification politics and thus fled to other countries, including the newfound places in the west.

Historians have understood since the time of the Færeyinga saga that the Viking Grímur Kamban was the first settler in the Faroes. The Norwegians must have known about the isles before leaving Norway. If Grímur Kamban had settled sometime earlier, this could explain the Norwegians knowing about them. Another, more logical explanation might be that the Norwegians came to know about the islands by the Gaels of Scotland and Ireland.

While Grímur is an Old Norse first name, Kamban indicates a Celtic origin. Thus he could have been a man from Ireland, Scotland or Isle of Man, where the Vikings already had settlements. Some place names from the oldest settlements on the Faroes suggest that some of the settlers perhaps came from the Scottish islands and the British coast.

Y chromosomes, tracing male descent, are 87% Scandinavian [7] but mitochondrial DNA, tracing female descent, is 84% Celtic. [8]

See also

Related Research Articles

History of the Faroe Islands Historical development of the Faroe Islands

The early details of the history of the Faroe Islands are unclear. It is possible that Brendan, an Irish monk, sailed past the islands during his North Atlantic voyage in the 6th century. He saw an 'Island of Sheep' and a 'Paradise of Birds,' which some say could be the Faroes with its dense bird population and sheep. This does suggest however that other sailors had got there before him, to bring the sheep. Norsemen settled the Faroe Islands in the 9th century or 10th century. The islands were officially converted to Christianity around the year 1000, and became a part of the Kingdom of Norway in 1035. Norwegian rule on the islands continued until 1380, when the islands became part of the dual Denmark–Norway kingdom, under king Olaf II of Denmark.

Demographics of the Faroe Islands Demographics of region

This article is about the demographic features of the population of the Faroe Islands, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

Scandinavia Subregion of Northern Europe

Scandinavia is a subregion in Northern Europe, with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties.

Norsemen Historical ethnolinguistic group of people originating in Scandinavia

The Norsemen were a North Germanic ethnolinguistic group of the Early Middle Ages, during which they spoke the Old Norse language. The language belongs to the North Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages and is the predecessor of the modern Germanic languages of Scandinavia. During the late eighth century, Scandinavians embarked on a large-scale expansion in all directions, giving rise to the Viking Age. In English-language scholarship since the 19th century, Norse seafaring traders, settlers and warriors have commonly been referred to as Vikings. Historians of Anglo-Saxon England distinguish between Norse Vikings (Norsemen) from Norway who mainly invaded and occupied the islands north and north-west of Britain, Ireland and western Britain, and Danish Vikings, who principally invaded and occupied eastern Britain.

This is a timeline of Faroese history comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in Iceland and its predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see history of the Faroe Islands.

Garðarr Svavarsson was a Swede who briefly resided in Iceland, according to the Sagas. He is said to be the second Scandinavian to reach the island of Iceland after Naddod. He and his family appear in the Icelandic Sagas with the principal source from Haukr Erlendsson's edition of Landnámabók.

Funningur Village in Faroe Islands, Kingdom of Denmark

Funningur is a village on the Faroe Islands. It is located on the northwest coast of Eysturoy. It was the only village in the municipality called Funnings kommuna, which on 1 January 2009 became part of Runavíkar kommuna.

Grímur Kamban

Grímr Kamban was, according to the Færeyinga saga, the first Norse settler in the Faroe Islands. The modern Faroese form of the name is Grímur, but it was Grímr in Old Norse and is often anglicised as Grim.

Naddodd Norse Viking, discovered Iceland

Naddodd was a Norse Viking who is credited with the discovery of Iceland.

The Færeyinga Saga, the saga of the Faroe Islands, is the story of how the Faroe Islanders were converted to Christianity and became a part of Norway.

The Papar were, according to early Icelandic sagas, Irish monks who took eremitic residence in parts of what is now Iceland before that island's habitation by the Norsemen of Scandinavia, as evidenced by the sagas and recent archaeological findings.

Old Norse literature refers to the vernacular literature of the Scandinavian peoples up to c. 1350. It chiefly consists of Icelandic writings.

Norse–Gaels Extinct people of mixed Gaelic and Norse heritage

The Norse–Gaels also known as Hiberno-Scandinavian were a people of mixed Gaelic and Norse ancestry and culture. They emerged in the Viking Age, when Vikings who settled in Ireland and in Scotland adopted Gaelic culture and intermarried with Gaels. The Norse–Gaels dominated much of the Irish Sea and Scottish Sea regions from the 9th to 12th centuries. They founded the Kingdom of the Isles which included the coveted Isle of Man, the Hebrides, the Kingdom of Dublin, the Lordship of Galloway, and a Norse-Gaelic family briefly ruled the Kingdom of York. The most powerful Norse–Gaelic dynasty were the Uí Ímair or House of Ivar.

Tróndur í Gøtu Faroese Viking chieftain

Tróndur í Gøtu was a Viking era chieftain from the Faroe Islands.

Faroe Islands Group of islands in the North Atlantic; autonomous territory of Denmark

The Faroe Islands, or simply the Faroes or Faeroes, are a North Atlantic archipelago and island country located 320 kilometres (200 mi) north-northwest of Scotland, and about halfway between Norway and Iceland. Like Greenland, it is a constituent country of the Kingdom of Denmark. The islands have a total area of about 1,400 square kilometres (540 sq mi) with a population of 53,792 as of March 2022.

Ann Naddodsdóttir

Ann Naddodsdóttir was possibly a daughter of Naddoddr, the Viking attributed with the discovery of Iceland.

Norse settlement in the Faroe Islands can be traced back to sometime between the 9th and 10th centuries, with the first Norsemen on the islands arguably around the late 8th century. Accounts from Irish priests such as Dicuil claim monks were there hundreds of years beforehand.

Faroese independence movement Political movement seeking independence of the Faroe Islands from Denmark

The Faroese independence movement, or the Faroese national movement, is a political movement which seeks the establishment of the Faroe Islands as a sovereign state outside Denmark. Reasons for complete autonomy include the linguistic and cultural divide between Denmark and the Faroe Islands as well as their lack of proximity to one another; the Faroe Islands are about 990 km from Danish shores.

Kingdom of Norway (872–1397) Former Kingdom from 872 to 1397

The term Norwegian Realm and Old Kingdom of Norway refer to the Kingdom of Norway's peak of power at the 13th century after a long period of civil war before 1240. The kingdom was a loosely unified nation including the territory of modern-day Norway, modern-day Swedish territory of Jämtland, Herjedalen, Ranrike (Bohuslän) and Idre and Särna, as well as Norway's overseas possessions which had been settled by Norwegian seafarers for centuries before being annexed or incorporated into the kingdom as 'tax territories'. To the North, Norway also bordered extensive tax territories on the mainland. Norway, whose expansionism starts from the very foundation of the Kingdom in 872, reached the peak of its power in the years between 1240 and 1319.


  1. According to a 2009 estimate, the population of the Faroe Islands was 49,000, ~92% of that population was Faroese born, which is approximately 45,000. (See demographics of the Faroe Islands)
  2. Politiken, 2006 (newspaper written in Danish)
  3. "Table 5 Persons with immigrant background by immigration category, country background and sex. 1 January 2009". www.ssb.no.
  4. Minahan, James (2000). One Europe, many nations: a historical dictionary of European national groups. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 769. ISBN   0313309841 . Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  5. Als, T. D.; Jorgensen, T. H.; Børglum, A. D.; Petersen, P. A.; Mors, O.; Wang, A. G. (2006). "Highly discrepant proportions of female and male Scandinavian and British Isles ancestry within the isolated population of the Faroe Islands". European Journal of Human Genetics. 14 (4): 497–504. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201578 . PMID   16434998.
  6. "20 things you didn't know about The Faroe Islands - BelfastTelegraph.co.uk". BelfastTelegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  7. Jorgensen, T. H.; Buttenschön, H. N.; Wang, A. G.; Als, T. D.; Børglum, A. D.; Ewald, H. (2004). "The origin of the isolated population of the Faroe Islands investigated using Y chromosomal markers". Human Genetics. 115 (1): 19–28. doi:10.1007/s00439-004-1117-7. PMID   15083358. S2CID   6040039.
  8. Als, Thomas D; Jorgensen, Tove H; Børglum, Anders D; Petersen, Peter A; Mors, Ole; Wang, August G (April 2006). "Highly discrepant proportions of female and male Scandinavian and British Isles ancestry within the isolated population of the Faroe Islands". European Journal of Human Genetics. 14 (4): 497–504. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201578 . ISSN   1018-4813. PMID   16434998.

Further reading