Demographics of the Faroe Islands

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This article is about the demographic features of the population of the Faroe Islands, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

The vast majority of the population are ethnic Faroese, of Norse descent. Ethnic Faroese are, in genetic terms, among the most homogenous groups ever found.

Recent DNA analysis have revealed that Y chromosomes, tracing male descent, are 87% Scandinavian.[1] The studies show that mitochondrial DNA, tracing female descent, is 84% Scottish / Irish.[2]

Of the approximately 48,000 inhabitants of the Faroe Islands (16,921 private households (2004)), 98% are Danish realm citizens, meaning Faroese, Danish, or Greenlandic. By birthplace one can derive the following origins of the inhabitants: born on the Faroes 91.7%, in Denmark 5.8%, and in Greenland 0.3%. The largest group of foreigners are Icelanders comprising 0.4% of the population, followed by Norwegians and Poles, each comprising 0.2%. Altogether, on the Faroe Islands there are people from 77 different nationalities. The Faroe Islands have the highest rate of adoption in the world, despite a relatively high birth rate of 2.6 children. [1]

Faroese is spoken in the entire country as a first language. It is not possible to say exactly how many people worldwide speak the Faroese language. This is for two reasons: Firstly, many ethnic Faroese live in Denmark and few who are born there return to the Faroes with their parents or as adults. Secondly, there are some established Danish families on the Faroes who speak Danish at home.

The Faroese language is one of the smallest of the Germanic languages. It is most similar to Icelandic and Old Norse. In the twentieth century Faroese became the official language and since the Faroes are a part of the Danish realm Danish is taught in schools as a compulsory second language.

Faroese language policy provides for the active creation of new terms in Faroese suitable for modern life.


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