History

The first settlers may have been Irish monks, probably in the middle of the 7th century. Norwegian colonization, beginning about AD 825 and developing throughout the Viking Age, is well documented and the Faroes form a central part of the Viking settlements along the coasts of the North Atlantic and the Irish Sea.

The Viking settlers established their own local parliaments (things) in different parts of the islands and the main parliament (the Althing, now L0gting) on Tinganes in Torshavn. Christianity was proclaimed here about AD 1000. Shortly after, the islands came under control of the Norwegian kings, one of whom, the famous King Sverre, was brought up at the Faroese bishop's seat at Kirkjub0ur.

In the 14th century, the Norwegian crown came under the Danish monarchy, and with the Reformation, the independent Faroese bishopric was abolished and its properties were taken over by the Crown. During the Middle Ages, the Faroe Islands were greatly influenced by the North Sea countries, especially through the Hanseatic merchants in Bergen. With the Reformation, the Danish king increased his control of the trade and established a trade monopoly, operated by different merchants and companies, but from 1709 it was taken over by the king himself through the Royal Trade Monopoly.

The islands were now governed directly from Copenhagen, with the L0gting acting as a county council advising the Danish state. Danish officials arrived to oversee trade and protect it from competing merchants and the bands of pirates who for centuries had plagued the islands. Fort Skansin, overlooking Torshavn harbor, is the remnant of the historic fortifications.

In 1856, the Royal Danish Monopoly ended and soon enterprising Faroese businessmen were exploring free trade with the outside world. In 1872, an old English sailing smack, named the Fox, was purchased for deep-sea fishing far from the Faroese shore. The Faroe Islanders quickly earned the reputation of being among the best sailors and fishermen in the world. The fishing industry grew until it became the main source of income for the islands.

Following a referendum on home rule in September 1946, a slim majority favored independence and secession from Denmark, but the Danish government instead called a Faroe general election, and the new parliament favored the Danish government's original proposals, with some minor modifications. Since the Home Rule Act in 1948, the Faroe Islands have been a self-governing region of the Kingdom of Denmark, with its own parliament (the L0gting) and its own flag. It is not, however, a member of the European Union (EU), and all international trade is governed by special treaties. Issues affecting both the Faroes and Denmark (trace, foreign policy, defense) are decided in the Danish Folketing, where the Faroe Islands are represented by two democratically elected members. The L0gting, a democratically elected legislative assembly, manages Home Rule affairs and the Landsstyre administers the laws passed by the L0gting or the Folketing.

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