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
 Faroe Islands≈50,000[1]
 Norway1,981[3][dubious ]
 Iceland500[citation needed]
 Finland20 [4] (Faroese speakers)
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.[5] The Faroese are of mixed Norse and Gaelic origins.[6] 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.
Three Faroese women wearing traditional regalia. The student caps identify them as newly graduated.
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.[7]

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.[citation needed]

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' knowledge of them. Another, more logical explanation might be that the Gaels of Scotland and Ireland told the Norwegians of the islands.[citation needed]

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[8] but mitochondrial DNA, tracing female descent, is 84% Celtic.[6]

See also[edit]


  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. ^ "11rl – Language according to age and sex by region, 1990–2021". www.stat.fi.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b 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.
  7. ^ "20 things you didn't know about The Faroe Islands – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk". BelfastTelegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
  8. ^ 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.

Further reading[edit]

  • Arge, Símun, Guðrun Sveinbjarnardóttir, Kevin Edwards, and Paul Buckland. 2005. "Viking and Medieval Settlement in the Faroes: People, Place and Environment". Human Ecology. 33, no. 5: 597–620.