Faroe Islands

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Fishing nation moving towards independence

The Faroes are a group of 17 rugged and largely treeless volcanic-based islands in the North Atlantic. Most Faroese live on the islands of Streymoy and Eysturoy.

The people are descendants of Viking settlers. The country's name means ‘sheep islands' in old Norse, and raising sheep is still the main land-based activity, but the primary source of income is fishing, mainly for cod. Recently there have been some offshore oil discoveries. The islands also benefit from substantial subsidies from Denmark.

Since 1948, the Faroes have been a self-governing community within the kingdom of Denmark—though in order to protect their fishing interests they are not part of the EU. They have the oldest parliament in the world, the Løgting, founded more than 1,000 years ago, but they also have two seats in the Danish parliament.

Independence is on the agenda. The 2008 elections, as usual, produced a coalition government, and Jóannes Eidesgaard was chosen for another term as prime minister.

Most representatives support independence, which the Danish parliament has said it will grant—if and when the Faroese ask for it.

www.tinganes.fo/Default.aspx?AreaID=11 Prime Minister's Office

www.faroeislands.com/ FaroeIslands.com - Tourist information

People:48,000. Faroese, speaking Faroese and Danish. Life expectancy: 79 years

Government:Dependency of Denmark. Capital: Tórshavn

Economy:GDP per capita: $PPP 31,000. Main export: fish

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