Thursday, December 31, 2009
Happy New Year's!
Monday, December 28, 2009
Torshavn at Christmas
Torshavn Christmas in Faroe Islands
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Christmas Bonus Podcast
You can listen on iTunes or download the podcast directly here:
(Note: This podcast will not be on the audio player above... for reasons much too boring to explain here.)
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Podcast 34: It's All About the Advertising
As always, you can listen on iTunes or download the show directly here:
There will be a delay in updating the audio player for this episode. We'll take down this notice when the new podcast is available for listening here.
Links from this week's podcast.
Images of the new education center being built in Torshavn:
Watch the movie "Burden"
Kovboy Films portfolio:
Kovboy's Short Films on YouTube:
Thomas Koba's photography:
Sample Elin Heinesen's music:
Sunday, December 20, 2009
A long way down
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Music, Music, Music
Now I've received word that Elin, who's also an important member of our podcast team, is putting out an album early next year. The CD won't hit the shelves until January 15th, but you can go to this website, listen to some samples, and even place an advance order if you wish. I highly recommend it.
Listen to a sample, close your eyes, and you can almost imagine what it was like to be in that room on that special night.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Hogni Confirmed for SXSW 2010 in Austin
As a matter of fact, before his appearance, we asked podcast listeners to vote online, and we here at the podcast like to think that we helped contribute to his stunning rise in the polls that eventually placed him on top.
However, the story didn't have as happy an ending as we had hoped. He won the chance to play just a few weeks before the festival, and getting a visa to perform in the USA can be a pretty time consuming process. In short, it couldn't be done quickly enough and Hogni didn't get a chance to play in the US.
But now organizers are announcing the lineup for the 2010 festival, and Hogni is on the schedule. We here at the podcast are big fans of Hogni, and appreciate the fact that he was our first high-profile guest on the podcast. So needless to say, we're thrilled that he's got another chance to perform in Austin... and hopefully enough time to get the paperwork done.
Gudrid Hansdottir will also be performing at SXSW. She played an acoustic set for foreign journalists (including me) on a boat. It was great. We really do need to have her on the podcast.
The South by Southwest music festival begins in March.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Podcast 33: Summer music... in the winter
Note: There may be some delay in updating the media player this week. We'll remove this note when the player has been updated.
Links from this week's podcast:
Páll Finnur Páll's MySpace Page:
As for the Frændur song, you can see and hear it in the post directly below this one.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
The Faroe Islands Podcast goes stateside.
He hopes to get an insight to a different culture. Coming from one of the smallest countries in the world, it'll be interesting to see, how a big country like the US, will affect him.
Entries from the trip, will start hitting the web at the end of next weekend, and he will keep steady updates from this journey of a lifetime.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Podcast 32 Goes Country
As always, you can listen on the media player above or on iTunes, or you can download us directly here:
Links from this podcast:
Edgar Struble's home page:
Live image of bridge "Across the Atlantic."
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Faroe Islands Review
So if you're interested in learning more about the Faroes, the Review is a good place to start.
This week's Faroe Photo is of Kirkjubøur. The village is considered the spiritual center of the Faroes. It is the site of three churches (one still intact), some of which date back to the middle ages. There's also a home that has been occupied by a single family for 17 generations.
It's a beautiful place.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Podcast #31: "It's crisp and clean..."
You can get us at all the right places.
Direct download: http://media.libsyn.com/media/faroepodcast/Podcast_31.mp3
Monday, October 26, 2009
Podcast 30 Goes to the Movies
As always, you can listen on iTunes, on the audio player above, or download us directly here:
To listen to more music from The Pony Tales' "Black Summer," check out their MySpace page:
During this week's podcast, we mentioned some organizations that helped us while we were in the Faroe Islands this summer. They included:
BVK Car Rental
Sjóferðir (Offering boat tours of the Vestmanna bird cliffs)
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Teitur in Quietus
Monday, October 12, 2009
Faroe Islands Podcast: Episode Twenty-nine
Direct download: Podcast_29.mp3
We're also at the other usual places: iTunes, webplayer at the top of the page.
Just Google us, and you'll find us.
If you want to hear more music from Marius, check out his MySpace page:
Saturday, October 10, 2009
France vs. Faroe Islands - Live Streaming!
Streaming starts at 19:50 GMT.
Read a preview here:
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Faroe Islands in Medford, Oregon
Monday, September 28, 2009
Podcast 28: The Whaling Edition
You can listen on iTunes, on our media player, or download us directly here:
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Frontline Story on Faroese Whaling
Monday, September 21, 2009
Podcast 27, Featuring Linda Andrews
Also, we visit the village of Gasadalur (pictured above), one of the most pristine and beautiful villages in the Faroes.
You can listen on iTunes, or the audio player above. Or you can download us directly here:
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Help The Faroe Islands Podcast in winning an award!
The adress, where you can cast your vote for us, is here:
CAST YOUR VOTE FOR THE FAROE ISLANDS PODCAST HERE!
Share this to everyone you know!
That got us thinking: who is the best known Faroese person ever? Eivor and Teitur have to be considered favorites from the current era. Going back a little further, Ove Joensen (the man who rowed from the Faroes to Denmark) could qualify. And then there's Nolsoy Pall, who fought the Danish trade monopoly in the early 1800s.
Linda's interview will be released early Monday. In the meantime, who do you think the best known Faroese person ever is? Leave a comment and let us know.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Podcast 26: The Internet!
As always you can listen on the media player above, download us on iTunes, or get the file directly here:
If you want to see the website Olsen manages, you can find it here:
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Faroe Islands 2 - Lithuania 1
Faroe Islands vs. Lithuania - Online streaming link!
Match starts at 17:15 (GMT).
A new beautiful video, from the Faroe Islands!
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Faroe Islands vs. Lithuania - A preview of rememberance.
Kick-off is tomorrow at 17:15 (GMT), and tomorrow we will provide you with a streaming link to the match.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Austria vs. Faroe Islands - LIVE ONLINE!
Streaming starts, when the match itself starts.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Podcast 25 Goes to the Movies
19 years ago! Faroe Islands vs. Austria
This coming saturday, they will play once again. As a preview, let's turn time 19 years back, and watch this clip:
Saturday, August 29, 2009
A slideshow of mine.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Podcast 24: To the G! Once More!
You can listen on iTunes or download us directly:
The latest edition of the podcast should be up on our media player in a few hours.
If you want to hear more music from our guests, there's plenty on MySpace:
Boys in a Band:
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Podcast 23 Heads to the G!
You can listen on iTunes or download the show directly here:
You will be able to listen to it on our media player in a few hours.
If you want to hear more music from our guests, you can find it here:
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Found: 500 Facebook Friends
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The Faroe Islands, featured on BBC Two, tonight at 20:00 (GMT)
"Coast heads high into the wild Atlantic to the majestic Faroe Islands, where Neil Oliver discovers how romance blossomed for British soldiers and Faroese women during the Second World War's 'Operation Valentine'..."
Monday, August 17, 2009
Podcast Preview: ORKA
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The Faroes actually played pretty well. Believe it or not, France actually got lucky on this one.
Faroese Soccer, Live!
The Football (Soccer) Podcast
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Podcast #21: All About Me
And while you're listening to that, we'll keep sifting through the hours and hours of audio we collected while in the Faroe Islands.
Monday, July 27, 2009
More Faroe Photos
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Faroe Photo Feast
Live, From the Faroes...
Monday, July 20, 2009
Podcast #20: One for the Road
Friday, July 17, 2009
The folks at Kringvarp Foroya make it pretty easy to watch their programming online. Just click the link below to get to their video streaming page:
The column on the left contains links to radio programming, the column on the right links to TV shows. Dagur & Vika is a news program while 3-2 is all about sports. Tikk takk is a gameshow for kids and Mús, well... I haven't been able to figure out what that is yet.
Hopefully by the time you've watched some TV, we'll be back with Podcast #20.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Behold: Podcast #19
Monday, July 6, 2009
Podcast #18, Get it While It's Hot
Friday, July 3, 2009
Please Stand By...
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Podcast #17 is here, and it's good!
It's all there, all the things you love.
While last week, Sjúrður Skaale was mainly talking about politics, he'll be talking about comedy this time. A very good interview.
And we end with another soundbyte... this time from the ferry to Suðuroy, Smyril.
All this, made out of love, and sprinkled with sounds, which you can listen to at:
Reminder: Conference on evolution and religion hosted by podcast guest Arni Zachariassen happens this Saturday, June 20th at the Nordic House. For more information visit:
There will be one session in English, and organizers may stream that one live over the internet. If they do, we'll post a link to the broadcast here.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Podcast #16 is released!
Then, we dive into the interview, with Sjurdur Skaale, member of parliament, for example tells us why, he thinks the Faroe Islands are better off, as an independent country.
We then take a stroll through the Faroese Art Gallery.
At last, we end with a very special message.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Podcast Gets Press Mention
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Podcast #15 is released!
In this edition, we start of with some news.
Then we head over to a very interesting interview, with Ólavur Ellefsen, who is the CEO of Simprentis. A company, which has made an oil simulator, used worldwide.
Then, yours truly, has an interview with Kevin Skau, about, why he and 3 others, decided to come to the Faroe Islands for vacation.
We end this podcast, by traveling around the Faroe Islands with Norðlýsið, which is an antique sailboat.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Podcast #14: Special edition! - An interview with the Prime Minister
As ever so often, we're starting of with some news.
Then the Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands, Kaj Leo Johannesen gives us an interview.
At the end of this edition, we're heading to Vestmanna, to hear some sounds and info about the village.
We're available on the usual places, the podcast player, iTunes and ready for download right here: http://media.libsyn.com/media/faroepodcast/Podcast_14.mp3
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Podcast #13, the Lucky One
In this episode, we hear some music from this Summer's G! Festival, speak with a woman who paid a brief visit to the Faroes, and eat some fast food.
You can listen on our audio player above, download the show on iTunes, or get it directly here:
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
FAROE FRIDAY: LENGTHENING DAYS
The biggest changes come in the length of the days. Today, the sun will rise in the Faroes at 4:55 AM and set at 9:54. Twilight starts at 3:49 AM and ends at 11:01 PM. But in just ten days, twilight will start at 3:06 AM and end at 11:44. (Once the sun is up, I know that's not twilight, but my point is there's some kind of light in the sky for that whole period of time.) That's an increase of about 90 minutes of light.
From the start of June until the middle of July, there's some light in the sky all day and all night. By July 22nd, twilight begins at 2:45 in the morning and ends around 12:15 the next morning. Sounds wonderful. Indeed, I wouldn't mind seeing that long, drawn out sunset on July 22nd. Hmmmmm.
This week's Faroe photo is of Fuglafjørður and was taken just a few days ago by Jenny Henkie, who's visiting the Faroes right now. Apart from some great pictures, her site has a feature that will tell you when the sun rises and sets in the Faroes on any given day. And as you can probably tell, I've already spent a lot of time playing around with it.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Podcast #12: The Fear of God Podcast
You can listen on iTunes or download the file directly here:
Arni's website is Dialogos (in Faroese). You can subscribe to his podcast here: http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=304087882
Monday, April 27, 2009
You can see his performance here:
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Happy Flag Day!
Photo credit: Arne List.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Podcast #11: Back to Portland
The podcast is available on iTunes and by direct download here:
Friday, April 10, 2009
Podcast #10, Unfinished Business
As always, you can listen in all the usual places, or download the podcast directly here:
More news links:
BBC Story on new coach of Faroe Islands National Football Team:
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
April Fools, Faroe Style
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Podcast #9 is Here
You can listen at all the usual places, or download the audio file directly here:
If you haven't read Metcalf's piece, it is one of the best pieces of writing I've seen about the Faroe Islands and is really worth your attention. Also, check out the video in the left hand column. (In the podcast, we say it's in the right hand column, but it's too late to go back now.)
You can read Stephen Metcalf's article on the Faroe Islands here:
Friday, March 27, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Podcast #8: Tyr Time!
You can listen at all the usual places, including our media player above, or you can download the podcast directly here:
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Linda Andrews Advances
Details and a forecast for this week's finals will be in Podcast #8
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Before the Podcast...
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
#7, The Bite-Sized Podcast
You can listen in all the usual places, or download the file directly here:
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Linda Andrews on X Factor
Here's the performance that earned her another week on the show. We'll have more details about Andrews on Podcast #7, which will be out soon.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Tyr in Portland
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Podcast #6: Once a Dream, Now a Reality!
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
We Did It!
What that also means is that some of you here actually voted and helped send Hogni to South by Southwest. Sure, he's got a loyal fan base and others who surely spent a lot of time voting and worked very hard to make this happen. But I've decided we here in this space can take all the credit for this victory. You're welcome, Hogni.
Seriously though, congratulations, Hogni. And thanks to those of you out there who voted.
Hogni update: less than 5 hours left
Since that first post, Hogni has gone from 7th to 4th in the rankings. If he finishes in the top 3, he's going to Austin.
UPDATED at 13:15 GMT:
As it stands now, Hogni is at #3 now, but that can change, so, there's no rest. Keep on clicking, and tonight we'll know the result.
So, as stated in earlier posting:
If you've got a few moments, go to
and vote for Hogni. It's legal to stuff the ballot box, so vote as much as you like.
We'll let you know what comes of it.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Since that first post, Hogni has gone from 7th to 4th in the rankings. If he finishes in the top 3, he's going to Austin.
Voting wraps up in about 18 hours, so if you've got a few moments, go to
and vote for Hogni. It's legal to stuff the ballot box, so vote as much as you like.
We'll let you know what comes of it.
Announcing Podcast #5
As always, you can find us on iTunes and Facebook, of you can listen in the audio player above. If you want, you can download us here:
Lloyds List special report on the Faroe Islands:
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Hogni Makes Bid for SXSW
Hogni plays straightforward rock and blues that evokes Ben Harper and Lenny Kravitz, and he's on a shortlist to play in a showcase at SXSW. Sixteen artists are up for the honor, and the winner will be determined by Internet voting.
You can vote for Hogni at http://www.platform-1.com/campus_corner.php.
Hogni is currently ranked 7th. You can vote more than one time, so if you've got some spare time, stuff the ballot box and make some history... sort of.
UPDATE, March 1, 2009: Hogni is now ranked 6th. Keep up the good work.
UPDATE, March 2, 2009: Hogni is now 5th. We're making a difference.
Video of severe winter storm, February 2008
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Five Questions With Luis Fernando Camacho.
1) Who is Luis Fernando and what does he do for a living?
A = Luis Fernando Camacho is a self-taught artist who currently resides in Las Vegas NV, USA
2) Have you ever been to the Faroe Islands?
A= No, never been to the Faroe Islands
3) When did you first hear about the Faroe Islands?
A= A few years ago when I met a Faroese at Art School in Guadalajara, Mexico.
4) Were you fascinated with the place, once you got to know more about it? If so, why?
A= Of course! Everything about the Faroe Islands I found fascinating, starting with the landscape. It was totally unrelated to what I saw before, seemingly out of a fairy tale. A society physically isolated from the rest of the world, which seems to function just fine, or better than any other; perhaps the fact it is a small nation geographically, gives them better control over any kind of social problems. And to complete the picture: The Faroese people, which are very simple people, without pretensions of any kind, deeply proud of their roots and attached to their traditions. However, "being proud of their roots and attached to their traditions" does not seem so special, and can be seen in other cultures, but the humble and subtle way they preach it makes the difference. Music is a good example, if you listen to some themes from decades ago (before globalization took by assault the core of most cultures), you will find songs with regard to some town, some fishermen and even about the weather, and are executed with a dye completely solemn. It seems like they write hymns to celebrate and honor every aspect of their life in the islands. Even in the music nowadays, although it is not so solemn and executed according to more current styles, that "Folk" essence remains, indisputably linked to their roots. How remarkable it is that some of those musicians being excellent performers, with international careers that any other musician in the world would only dream to have, remain practical and realistic. This speaks of their simple, down to earth attitude. Once, not long ago, a friend (Faroese musician) told me, "Ordinary people doing extraordinary things." It all comes down to that.I can imagine what it is like to grow up in the Faroe Islands, to live in an isolated place, an "oasis" where the notion of a whole world out there, is always present in you. Maybe for that reason, young Faroese people travel all the time with such fervor to explore what's out there. Being in constant contact with nature and having the opportunity to compare it to other places, might be the main cause of the attachment to their "Eden," and the cause of solemnity when referring to their country. A constant source of inspiration... which might also be the reason why it seems like in the Faroe Islands, talent can be found even underneath the stones...In my case, growing up in a place like Mexico, it does not present such opportunities. The state of global consciousness that seems a natural condition for Faroese people since they are kids, is more of a luxury for people in countries like mine; a luxury reserved only for those who are curious enough to explore and venture. Maybe these circumstances were the reason I have formed this poetic idea of the Faroe Islands, and it makes me find the place so fascinating.
5) On your first trip to the Faroe Islands, are there any special places you want to see, any goals you want to achieve?
A= On my first trip to the Faroe Islands, and like any good tourist, I would like to see with my own eyes and walk every corner of the islands, from north to south. To satisfy my curiosity about the culture and the Faroese lifestyle, I would like to spend a few months on the islands; eat, see and do what the locals do, experience a Summer and its "midnight sun", or the Winter and the aurora borealis. To indulge my fondness for Faroese music I would like to attend the G! Festival and maybe meet in person the members of my favorite bands. And as a professional goal, during my stay there, I'd like to paint my way of seeing and feeling the Faroese culture, and exhibit those paintings in a gallery or museum in the capital.
You can find Camacho's art at: http://www.lfcamacho.net/, he can also be found at: http://www.myspace.com/lfcamacho.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Podcast #4 is Here!
As always, you can listen on the audio player here or on our Facebook fan page. You can also download us on iTunes, or just click on this link to download us directly:
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
A Look at the Airport
Both of these pictures come from Arne List's beefy photoset on Flickr.
The airport's home page in English:
Links to webcams at the airport:
Monday, February 16, 2009
Obama Says "Hello" to the Faroes
This week the Faroese PM received a reply:
"THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONGRATULATIONS ON MY ELECTION AS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. YOUR THOUGHTFUL MESSAGE IS MUCH APPRECIATED.
I AM CONFIDENT THAT WE CAN WORK TOGETHER IN A SPIRIT OF PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP TO BUILD A MORE SECURE WORLD DURING THE NEXT FOUR YEARS. I LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH YOU IN THAT EFFORT AND IN PROMOTING GOOD RELATIONS BETWEEN OUR PEOPLES."
If the press release is to be believed, Obama writes in all caps.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Podcast #3 is Here
Window to the World
If you want to see a live image from that webcam, just click here.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Coming Soon: Polka
But for now, enjoy Johnny Reimar and his Party Orchestra...
Friday, February 6, 2009
Now on Facebook
We've set up a new page on Facebook where you can listen to the podcast, and discuss episodes with your fellow listeners.
So drop by, sign up, and enjoy the ride.
Monday, February 2, 2009
We're Back... and Better Than Ever
Say My Name, Say My Name
In pronunciation, however, unique is not always good. So in podcast #2, we'll explore other, perhaps more proper ways to pronounce Tórshavn. And we'd like you to give it a try, too. Just look at the word "Tórshavn" and try to pronounce it. Then make an mp3 file of your best attempt and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Because there probably isn't a settled English pronounciation for the word, and there is no other podcast in English about the Faroes, whatever decision we make here may well influence how other news outlets around the world pronounce Tórshavn. So be a part of history, send in your recording today.
All Things Considered...
Podcast #2 features an interview with Michael Reveal, an American attorney who has lived in the Faroe Islands for 12 years. The following is an essay Michael wrote in 2006. It first appeared in Faroe Business Report...
All Things Considered
by Michael Paul Reveal
During a recent business trip to Norway, an acquaintance of mine from Oslo asked me in all seriousness whether we had any cars on the Faroes. Having unfortunately heard that line of questioning before, I took a deep breath, smiled and stated that we had a goodly number, all things considered. He seemed to accept my cheery, but obscure answer, for we quickly plunged on to more pressing matters. His question, however, continued to resonate with me.
As my plane descended toward the Faroes, I caught a glimpse out the window of the emerald green mountains of my adopted homeland and I took note that there was, indeed, nary a car in sight. Perhaps, I reflected, my friend had asked a fair question. The approach to the international airport in the Faroes is over some rather dramatic countryside and one's first impression of our island nation stands in stark contrast to that conjured up as one approaches other international airports surrounded as they are by kilometre upon kilometre of concrete and cars. Here there was nothing but crashing surf and towering black basalt, then the brightly coloured rooftops of a small village and then the runway. Be that as it may, I began to wonder if, all in all, we in the Faroes were not suffering from a rather severe image problem.
As my fellow passengers and I flowed into the baggage claim reception hall, nodding our greetings to the passport control officer who scanned the arriving passengers for any folks he did not know, I wondered just how many people really do know anything about us – our history, our language, our location on the globe, our hopes and dreams, our accomplishments, our trepidations, and, yes, even that we have 17,420 passenger cars at last count.
"All things considered", I had told my friend. "What on earth does that mean", I asked myself as I settled into the comfortable airport bus, one of some 207 buses in the Faroes, I was to later learn, for the short trip from the airport to the capital, Tórshavn, now made even shorter with the new 4.9 km undersea tunnel.
What I guess I meant by that somewhat flippant rejoinder was that statistics are just numbers unless they have a context and understanding that context is what is really important in the end. In the face of formidable challenges, the Faroese have managed to carve out a rather pleasant place in which to live and work and contribute to the well-being of the planet. If the Vision 2015 goals advanced recently by the Faroese Government come to pass, the Faroes will be an even nicer place to live and work, one of the nicest in fact, all things considered.
The Faroes began its fiery existence some 60 million years ago when the earth split open in what was to become the North Atlantic and poured lava out in rather amazing quantities. The recurrent ice ages rendered the Faroes into its current size and shape. Now the Faroes is considered a small place by some. Manhattan, on the other hand, is thought to be quite large by all accounts, yet the Faroes at 1399 sq. km. is in fact some 45 times bigger than Manhattan Island. We don't grow apples, so I guess New Yorkers are safe to continue calling their home the Big Apple, but we do have big sea cliffs, gargantuan in fact. But we are a modest folk, so we do not sound off much about the fact that we have the world's highest sea cliff, but we do. It's called Enniberg, for the record. Now in all humility, the Faroes is not as big as Wales, but it is bigger than Cape Cod and essentially the same size as Hong Kong. Hong Kong has a head start on skyscrapers, however, but soon we might even have a few high-rise office buildings of our own to complement the expansive green pastureland that some communities would dearly love to have in their city centres, all things considered.
The Faroese are descended from intrepid Vikings (at least the males, anyway) who coursed their way here from Western Norway and points south, picking up a bride or two along the way, which explains why the females of the Faroese population are more akin genetically to the Irish than the Vikings. For centuries the population held fairly steady at around 5,000 stalwart folks, give or take the fluctuations caused by Black Death and the relatively frequent mishap at sea. Today, the Faroes has a population of some 48,000 and, believe it or not, some 70,000 sheep.
Now I suppose in a certain context 70,000 sheep seems like quite a number, especially given the fact that Manhattan's Sheep Meadow hasn't seen a sheep since 1934 and Hong Kong has very, very few sheep per square metre. New Zealand, on the other hand, boasts some 47.2 million sheep, quite a number by anyone's calculations and certainly overwhelms our modest number. That splendid number equates to about 12 sheep per person in New Zealand, while in the Faroes we average only 1.5 sheep per person, which explains why we have to import lamb from New Zealand to keep pace with our deep love for a tasty leg of lamb on wintry nights.
Which brings me to another oft repeated, yet erroneous, notion about the Faroes: We are cold and dark and utterly storm tossed. Steaming lamb may indeed chase away the chill of winter, but in reality we are not that cold, we just don't warm up much. My friend in Oslo well knew that the Faroes rose out of the sea somewhere between Iceland and Norway and thus the Faroes by geographical association must, of course, be dripping in cold and snow. Not quite. Praise be to the Gulf Stream, or what is left of it by the time it gets to us. The Faroes sits in the middle of the North Atlantic Current and is thus protected from the many vicissitudes of winter that plague our neighbours. We average some 7°C [45°F] year round, with the temperature dipping to around 1°C in winter and soaring to some 13°C in the height of summer. We get 28 of what the weather folks call "snow days", enough, I suppose, to qualify as a place where winter sets foot, but it seems to tread very lightly, as what we do get is usually gone within a day or two, washed away by the misty weather commonly referred to as rain.
Now even the Faroese will readily admit that the Faroes gets a lot of rain, or at least what appears to be a lot of rain, all things considered. Here again, statistics are but numbers and taking a closer look should dispel some long-standing misconceptions about the Faroes. According to the rigorous number crunching of the weather bureau, the Faroes experiences some 1500 mm of precipitation annually. A sizeable amount one could argue, but it falls mostly as a light mist with an occasional good downpour thrown in now and again to remind us of what real rain is supposed to be like. Real rain, of course, is that pelting, large-globuled wetness that descends upon Bergen, Norway, for example. Rain there accumulates to some 2250 mm per year. The title of wettest spot on the earth, however, goes to the idyllic island of Kauai, Hawaii, a place plagued by real gully-washers. Some 3800 mm of rain and mist and fog accumulates in its mountainous interior. So do we get a lot of rain? Well not really, all things considered.
As a consequence of our 1500 mm of light mist or rain, call it what you will, we end up a bit short in the area of what the meteorologists call "sunshine hours". How many hours (not days) do you think the sun embraces the Faroes? Take a guess. Would you believe some 927 hours? Not many, considering that there are some 4380 hours of potential sunlight in a year (assuming a 12 hour day). Yet, we are ahead of Cold Bay, Alaska, situated in the heart of the Aleutian Islands. They sit under the clouds some 305 days a year and alas see the sun for only some 720 hours (more or less). I suppose they, like us, have few incidences of skin cancer. There are indeed untold advantages to living in the midst of the ocean under the clouds.
Now another major advantage is, of course, quick and ready access to fish. Fishing is by far the major industry in the Faroes, accounting for some 97% of the export. Most of the total catch, some 261,310,000 tonnes (live weight) per year, is caught in Faroese territorial waters, although the Faroese fishing fleet ranges worldwide. According to data prepared by the governmental agency, Statistics Faroe Islands, all those tonnes of fish contribute to an export value of some DKK3,668 million (less a small fraction for exported ships). We import some DKK3,738 million in goods, so our trade balance is a little skewed, but not outrageously so, all things considered, especially compared to some other nations.
Most of our export heads to the European Union. The United Kingdom absorbs some 78% and Denmark some 19%, while Spain continues its love affair with our salted fish, savouring some 10% of our export.
On the other hand, we import most of what we want from Denmark. A quirk of history keeps 33% of our import flowing in via Denmark, while another 18% comes from Norway. A mere 4% comes from Iceland, an amount that will assuredly rise now that the new free trade agreement has been signed between Iceland and the Faroes.
The UK accounts for only 5% of our import, which probably represents our continuing and deep-seated love affair with chocolate. The troops that came here from the UK during the second world war left more than just an airport. They left us with an abiding desire for things swathed in chocolate. Much to the delight of the candy sellers in the Faroes, and much to the consternation of the dentists and the Ministry of Health, who diligently promote healthy eating habits in the face of the delightful vistas of colourfully wrapped caramels abounding at Christmas time and just before Lent. All in all, 29% of our import is destined for our homes and our stomachs, or as the statistical office calls it "goods for household consumption". We do love that New Zealand lamb, followed by a flavourful bite of chocolate and a savoury cup of coffee. Ah, paradise, enow.
I suppose the Faroes is indeed a paradise, all things considered. We have a relatively stable economy. We earn money by feeding others, which is not such a bad calling. We ourselves eat well. Our homes are big and well-furnished. We send a considerable amount of money overseas to help in disaster relief. We are extremely sports-minded and have a passable football team able to strike fear and trembling in the hearts of many a foreign spectator cheering on the likes of Scotland and, yes, even France. Not bad for a bunch of part-timers. Not all of our time is spent cheering on our sports teams, however, as we support various amateur and professional theatres, have a national symphony orchestra, numerous choirs, excellent museums and a host of rather talented artists and musicians. We drive cars, of course, even luxury BMWs and sturdy SUVs, and read lots and lots and lots of books.
In fact, we publish some 149 (2004) books a year, including some 67 translations of other works. We even have our own Faroese editions of Harry Potter, which flow hot off the presses just after the English releases. Now to some, 149 may not seem a substantial number of books to get published every year. But, here again, context is everything. The publishers in the United States crank out 175,000 (2003) titles per year and those in the United Kingdom do an admirable job of putting out 125,000. Yet when one considers books per capita, the Faroese shine. The US publishes around 0.5 books per 1000 folks, the UK about 2 books per 1000 and the Faroes some 3 books per 1000. An admirable number by anyone's calculations, all things considered.
We do not spend, however, all of our time reading, it would seem. Our fertility rate is higher than any other Nordic country at 2.522 (2003) and we have fewer divorces as well. We have hardly anyone receiving social services in comparison to Sweden, for example, which has some 286.2 people per 1000 receiving assistance. We have infinitely more hospital beds available to us per capita than the other Nordic countries, although we could use a few more dentists and doctors. Folks with those credentials are invited to apply forthwith to the Ministry of Health.
Our inflation rate is low at 2.4% (1998 = 100.0 CPI). Unemployment hovers around 4% with industry begging for even more workers. Even though we have had our ups and downs lately regarding immigration policy, we still welcome more people to our shores on average than any other Nordic country (2003).
Now given the fact that most of our export comes from the fishing industry, one could well reason that this industry would be paying the greatest wages. Not so. The fishing and fish processing industry accounts for only 19.6% of the total wages paid out in 2004. Who pays the most? Reasonable question. Would you believe the government? Yes, the government (local and national) accounts for 34% of all wages paid, then comes the fishing industry, followed by the service industry with 10% with the construction industry keeping pace at 6.5%.
The average wage in 2004 was DKK210,000 for men and DKK140,000 for women [€28,000; €18,763]. This inequity is a problem that is well appreciated by the government and leaders of thought in the Faroes and steps are underway to address it. Some 85 individuals had incomes of more than a million DKK [€134,000] and altogether the Faroese had taxable income of DKK6,891 million [€923,465,772]. Not an outrageous sum, but one must keep in mind that all that money was earned by only 42,567 taxpayers (2003).
Now the Faroes is not known for its high crime rate and that is reflected in the low expenditure for what statisticians call "public order and safety". What the Faroese do enjoy is a social welfare system that generally meets the needs of most all the citizenry, which explains the large budget for "social protection" that equates to DKK1,865 million [€249,960,290] (2003) out of a total budget of DKK5,328 million (2003).
So what does the future hold? More of the same, no doubt, all things considered. The doldrums that have plagued the fishing and aquaculture industries is receding. Banks are reporting record profits and an enterprising young Faroese has just unveiled a building project in Tórshavn of mega-proportions, featuring high-rise condos, a shopping mall, office buildings and even a covered football pitch.
All this fits well with the government's Vision 2015 development plan, designed to make the Faroes one of the best places to live and work in the world by 2015. All things considered, we are a long way toward that goal already.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Now on iTunes
Who loves you? We do!
Sunday, January 25, 2009
In this first podcast, we catch up on some Faroe Islands news, take a brief history lesson, and listen to a field recording taken in Torshavn. I also prove that Faroese words are difficult to pronounce.
You can subscribe to the podcast by using the following RSS feed: http://faroepodcast.libsyn.com/rss
We should be on iTunes in the next few days.
For those of you looking for links mentioned in this week's podcast, look no further...
Týr's MySpace page and tour schedule can be found here.
Indian news item on the Faroe Island's financial stability.
Please feel free to post comments or suggestions about the podcast. Now we'll get back to work making another one.
Monday, January 19, 2009
It's very well done.
We're putting together the first podcast now, and we'll post an announcement here when it's up on the servers.