Faroe Islands

Generally: The Faroe Islands are very safe.

No risk of natural disaster or animal attack.

Crime and traffic are minor risks.

As you drive along, please be aware that the sheep may be startled and leap out in front of you. If you happen to collide with a sheep, you should immediately contact the police in Tórshavn at telephone number 351448 for assistance.

Always be aware of fog if you go hiking.

There are emergency wards at the hospital in Tórshavn, Klaksvík on Borðoy and Tvøroyri on Suðuroy. Doctors around the islands provide emergency assistance. A lot of hospital staff are residents of Denmark who spend periods on the Faroes to supplement the local health staff. The coast guard and Atlantic Airways have helicopters that may be used in emergencies. Police stations are found in most parts of the Country.

If you do not normally need a visa for Denmark, you can visit the Faroe Islands visa-free for 90 days in a half year. If you do need a visa for Denmark, be sure to inform the embassy when you apply that you'll be visiting the Faroe Islands, as Schengen-area visas issued for the mainland do not apply to the Faroe Islands or Greenland.

talk

The native and official language of the Faroes is Faroese, which is a West Nordic or West Scandinavian language. It is one of three insular Scandinavian languages descended from the Old Norse language spoken in Scandinavia in the Viking Age, the others being Icelandic and the extinct Norn, which is presumed to have been mutually intelligible with Faroese. Speakers of modern Scandinavian languages such as Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Icelandic may be able to puzzle out the written language, though spoken Faroese is generally not mutually intelligible with these languages.

Until the 15th century, Faroese had a similar orthography to Icelandic and Norwegian, but after the Reformation 1538, the ruling Danes outlawed its use in schools, churches and official documents. The islanders continued to use the language in ballads, folktales, and everyday life. This maintained a rich spoken tradition, but for 300 years the language was not written.

In 1854, Venceslaus Ulricus Hammershaimb published a written standard for Modern Faroese that exists to this day. He produced an orthography consistent with a continuous written tradition extending back to Old Norse. The letter ð, for example, has no specific phonemes attached to it. Also, although the letter 'm' corresponds to the bilabial nasal as it does in English, it corresponds to the alveolar nasal English 'n' in the dative ending -um rhymes wth English loon.

In 1937, Faroese replaced Danish as the official school language, in 1938 as the church language, and in 1948 as national language by the Home Rule Act of the Faroes. Today, Danish is considered a foreign language, though it is a required subject for students from third grade; thus Danish is almost universally spoken.

Nearly everybody speaks English, at least to some extent, however in some remote places you may be likely to encounter people who only speak Faroese and Danish. Other Nordic languages are also understood, especially Norwegian due to the islands' geographical proximity to Norway.

contact

There is widespread cellular phone and Internet access. Many tourists use the Town library or the National library to go online. They are both in Tórshavn.

respect

Never say that you are in Denmark when visiting the Faroe Islands. The Faroese do not identify themselves as Danes. The general view in the Faroes is that the Faroe Islands are undisputedly a separate nation but are, alas, a part of the Danish Kingdom - Danes are automatically looked upon as foreign nationals. In Denmark the Faroe Islands are a part of Denmark - and the Faroese do not represent any nation different from the Danish one.

Danish and Faroese people do not understand each other. There are many stereotypes in Denmark, which portray Faroese people as being less civilized and extremely conservative; supporting this view are Danish newspapers who thrive on extreme cases. Faroese people can’t bear these clichés. So, if you are from Denmark don’t come to the Faroes and think you are flattering people by telling them how everyone must love sheep rearing and how proud they all must feel about their rural existence. It’s a no go. Faroese people live ordinary suburban lives and don’t know what on earth you are talking about, and only find you weird, insulting and embarrassing.

Most Faroese people are very proud of their national heritage, so avoid criticizing Faroese traditions. One may have heard of the 'grindadráp.' This is their 1000 year old tradition of hunting pilot whales for food, not for fun as many may think. Most Faroese people regard these hunts as an important part of their culture, so make sure to not offend anyone by criticism of this practice. The animals live free lives and are killed in a very humane way, and the whole animal is used afterwards. The whales are not at a risque of being extinct either.

Faroese people are known to be very helpful, friendly and hospitable and expect you to be the same way.

If you go and visit the old part of Tórshavn around Tinganes - don´t bother the people who live there like peering in through people's windows or ask if you can use the toilet - the old wooden houses are not a tourist display, and their inhabitants are getting increasingly tired of visitors who fail to understand this.

emergency or fire

Dial 112

car problems

For breakdown and immediate help on the two larger islands Streymoy and Eysturoy, contact the Fire Station in Tórshavn, telephone number 302100. It is advisable to arrange for insurance coverage for your car to save you the worry of a spoilt holiday due to unexpected garage bills.

health insurance

Citizens of the Nordic countries and the UK are covered by their own national health insurance. It is advisable for citizens of other countries to take out travel health insurance.

pharmacies

Tórshavn by the SMS shopping centre on Streymoy. Tel 341100

Klaksvík on Borðoy. Tel 455055

Runavík on Eysturoy. Tel 471200

Tvøroyri on Suðuroy. Tel 371076