TORSHAVN: Hit by Atlantic storms, often covered in low cloud and isolated between Iceland and Norway, the Faroe Islands hardly sound like a compelling destination.
But National Geographic gives high marks to the Faroe Islands – especially on preserving the nature, history and the nation’s pride, and has chosen these islands as the world’s most inviting destinations.
Islands of Sheep. Their sheer cliffs rise out of the ocean, and their grassy surfaces slope at such alarming angles as to make them fit only for sheep. Indeed their name comes from an old Norse name, meaning the Islands of Sheep, and there are 80,000 of them on the islands.
The annual average temperature is 3C in winter and 11C in summer with the record high being 22C. King Goya has been to some of the islands and here are more key facts about a unique society in the middle of nowhere.
Name: The Faroe Islands
Location: Northern Europe. Group og islands between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, about one-half of the way from Iceland to Norway.
Getting here: Direct flights from Denmark, England, Iceland and Norway. Atlantic Airways is the national carrier
There is a ferry link to Hirtshals in Denmark and to Iceland once a week. Further information is available on Smyril Line
Getting around: Close to 90 % of the population is connected by excellent roads, bridges and subsea tunnels. You will find car rental agencies at the airport and in capital Torshavn. The local bus service in Torshavn is free of charge.
What to do: Sightseeing, Bird Watching, Boat races in traditional Faroese boats, Culture events and a string of Festivals. A highlight of the Faroese summer is the range of local festivals that give rise to a frenzy of activity in all regions. Main attractions of all festivals are the fun fair, sporting events, music and dancing.
Concerts: Hoyma means Home and this is all about one evening, twenty concerts in ten homes at the village of Gøta. People walk from door to door, popping in to listen to live music performed by musicians in the living room of locals. The idea of Hoyma is sprung from the fact that it is often small and intimate concert experiences that is most powerful. This is back to basics.
The Summer Festival held in the centre of Klaksvik in August every year attracts 10,000 people in the three-day music festival. Well-known bands, such as Scorpions and Westlife have performed here.
Geography: Archipelago of 18 islands, of which 17 are inhabited; strategically located along important sea lanes in northeastern Atlantic; precipitous terrain limits habitation to small coastal lowlands.
Climate: Surprisingly mild summers and winthers.
Land Area: 1399 square kilometres; 545.3 square miles.
Capital: Tórshavn; population: 20,000.
Language: Faroese is the national language, rooted in Old Norse. Nordic languages are understood by most Faroese, and English is also widely spoken.
Currency: Faroese krona
Religion: Evangelical Lutheran Church: 80%
Background: 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.
Government: Part of the Kingdom of Denmark; self-governing territory within the Kingdom of Denmark since 1948.
Head of government: Prime Minister Kaj Leo Johannesen
Cabinet: Landsstyri is appointed by the Prime Minister
Parliament: Unicameral Faroese Parliament or Logting
Industries: Fishing, fish processing, tourism, construction, handicrafts
Nordens Hus / The Nordic House: A Nordic cultural epicentre of the Faroe Islands in Torshavn offers a wide range of events all year around, such as concerts, art exhibitions and theatre. www.nlh.fo https://www.nlh.fo
Tourist information: There are several tourist information offices located around the Faroe Islands, including one at Vagar Airport.
Link to the tourist site Visit Faroe Islands
Click large photos Faroe Islands