The population of the Faroe Islands is largely descended from Viking
settlers who arrived in the 9th century. The islands have been connected
politically to Denmark since the 14th century. A high degree of self-government
was attained in 1948.
Accoding to the 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia, "From the work of
Dicuil, an Irish monk, 'De MensurÔ orbis terrae' (ed. Parthey,
Berlin, 1872), written in the nineth century, we learn that the islands
were discovered by Irish monks. Not long after this they were colonized
by Normans. Herold Schonhaar (872-930) united them with the Kingdom of
Norway and this was their political condition until 1814. Olaf Tryggvason
converted the people to Christianity; as early as 1076 they had a bishop
of their own. The bishops of the Faroe islands were usually chosen from
the canons of Bergen, and were originally suffragans of Hamburg-Bremen,
later of Lund (1104), finally (since 1152) of the Primate of Norway in
Trondjem. There were in all twenty-three Catholic bishops, from Gunmund
to Amund Olafson. The latter was forced to yield to the Lutheran superintendent
Jens Riber, who also took over the episcopal title. Later on only "provosts"
were elected. The Catholic clergy remained steadfast in their faith, but
were unable to resist the advance of Protestantism. By the end of sixteenth
century the Catholic faith had disappeared; all later attempts to revive
it proved vain."
This is am archipelago of 17 inhabited islands and one uninhabited island,
and a few uninhabited islet. It is; strategically located along important
sea lanes in northeastern Atlantic. Precipitous terrain limits habitation
to small coastal lowlands.
The Faroese economy has had a strong performance since 1994, mostly
as a result of increasing fish landings and high and stable export prices.
Unemployment is falling and there are signs of labor shortages in several
sectors. The positive economic development has helped the Faroese Home
Rule Government produce increasing budget surpluses, which in turn help
to reduce the large public debt, most of it owed to Denmark. However, the
total dependence on fishing makes the Faroese economy extremely vulnerable,
and the present fishing efforts appear in excess of what is a sustainable
level of fishing in the long term. Oil finds close to the Faroese area
give hope for deposits in the immediate Faroese area, which may eventually
lay the basis for a more diversified economy and thus lessen dependence
on Danish economic assistance. Aided by a substantial annual subsidy (15%
of GDP) from Denmark, the Faroese have a standard of living not far below
the Danes and other Scandinavians.
Faroese are considering proposals for full independence. There
is an ongoing dispute between Denmark and Iceland over the Faroe Islands
fisheries median line boundary of 200 nm. Denmark disputes with Iceland,
the UK, and Ireland the Faroe Islands claim extending its continental shelf
boundary beyond 200 nm.