Fanø is a Danish island in the North Sea off the coast of southwestern Denmark, and is the very northernmost of the Danish Wadden Sea Islands. Fanø municipality is the municipality (Danish, kommune) that covers the island and its seat is the town of Nordby.
Fanø is separated from the mainland by the Wadden Sea over a span of approximately five kilometres. The island is 16 km long and 5 km wide, and it is located off the coast from the city of Esbjerg to which it is connected by ferry. The ferry ride takes all of 12 minutes.
A variety of environments are to be found on Fanø. Not surprisingly, a very common one is sand. The island's whole western shore is one long beach. The island's northwestern corner is a vast sandbank called "Søren Jessens Sand". Søren Jessen was an entrepreneur and captain from Hjerting, today the westernmost suburb of Esbjerg and the bank is named af him because his ship, the "Anne Catriane", stranded here in 1712.
Fanø relies heavily on tourism and is visited by some 30,000 people each summer. The main attraction is the fine white sand beach, which is also a popular playground for all kinds of wind and water sports, such as kite flying, surfing and buggies. Fanø also hosts Denmark's first golf course, Fanø Golf Links, established in 1901.
Long before paved roads, the beach - being long, straight and quite firm - hosted a yearly motorcycle and car racing event from 1919 and until 1923, where a tragic accident killed a local boy and put a stop to further events. Today is possible to drive your own car on the beach all the way from Sønderho to Fanø Vesterhavsbad. A public bus service is also operated on the beach.
Also unique is the Wadden Sea with seals and migrating birds, as well as the two sailor towns Nordby and Sønderho with their maritime history, once among the most wealthy and influential in Denmark, and their vernacular architecture consisting of thatched-roof houses all oriented west-east, again because of the westerly winds.
As Fanø is disconnected from the Continent a number of otherwise common animals are not found there. No vipers, squirrels, moles, rats or badgers - but plenty of foxes, hedgehogs, roebucks, hares and not least rabbits.
The main town and the site of its municipal council is the town of Nordby. Other towns include Sønderho, Fanø Vesterhavsbad and Rindby.
Fanø municipality was not merged with other municipalities by January 1, 2007, despite of the nationwide Kommunalreformen ("The Municipal Reform" of 2007).
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- (C. Michael Hogan. 2011)
- Municipal statistics: NetBorger Kommunefakta, delivered from KMD aka Kommunedata (Municipal Data)
- Municipal mergers and neighbors: Eniro new municipalities map
- C.Michael Hogan. 2011. Wadden Sea. eds. P.Saundry & C.Cleveland. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and the Environment. Washington DC
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