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OY1CT will be active from Stremoi Island, IOTA EU-018, Faroe Islands, in the RSGB IOTA Contest, July 24-25, 2021. It will operate in the SOAB category. Recent DX spots OY1CT OY1CT Search for links in the log Find QSL through OY1CT, LOTW. Address for QSL directive: Carsten Thomsen, Uppi I Troed 8, FO-340, Kvivik, Faroe Islands.
Eternity and sheepiness of the Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands formally belong to Denmark, but since 1948, the Faroe Islands have been independent in managing their domestic affairs. The center deals with foreign policy, justice, and the official currency.
The archipelago harbors many mysteries, and they begin with the name of the archipelago. The name “Faroe Islands” is now associated with the Danish fareyjar, which means “sheep islands”. One would have to look closely at the map to discern a sheep here for a long time.
The explanation is simple. Faroes have belonged to Denmark only since the 15th century, before that they were a part of Norway. However, the first settlers were Scots, who were driven away by the Vikings in the early 9th century AD.
The original name of the islands comes from the Celtic “fearann”, which means “land”. At that time, the Celtic languages were spoken by many inhabitants of Western and Central Europe. Therefore, it is difficult to say exactly what people gave the islands their name.
The population of the “sheep” islands
The reader will probably be interested in such figures as:
- The number of islands. The archipelago consists of 18 islands, but only 17 are inhabited. Theoretically, nothing prevents to settle the last, 18 islands. True, this would require a visa to Denmark. But even if you do not have a document, it is unlikely that someone will think to look for a colonist on a deserted island.
- The population of all 17 islands is 48 thousand people. If the entire population were distributed evenly over the islands, each would have about 2,580 people.
- Nearly half of the total population, about 20,000 people, live in or near the capital. Most of the rest of the inhabitants have chosen to live on the main island of Streimoi, where the capital, Torshavn, is located.
The archipelago officially has two languages – Faroese and Danish. However, the latter is added mainly because of legal formalities. Most of the population speaks their native Faroese language and is proud to preserve their ancient culture.
The capital of Torsahvn
The very old city dates back to 850 AD, when the ancient Scandinavians held the first popular assembly. It was a manifestation of the democracy that already existed at that time. Unlike today, that form of government was based on the direct participation of every adult in the government of the community.
This was possible due to the small size of the community itself. However, the contemporary inhabitants of Faroes are very proud of that history and tend to preserve the ancient democratic traditions.
The inhabitants are also proud of the natural features of the territory in which they had the honor to live:
- Husarein. The mountain, which is to the northwest of the city and which can be seen at all times of the year. The mountain is not very high, but it is all the more interesting to climb for a novice with little or no training. Locals remember that it served as a means of natural protection of the city from possible raids by enemy forces.
- Kirchubörein. Another mountain, already southwest of the city, whose height is 350 meters. It is high enough to be part of the pleasant landscape outside the window, but not big enough to be a beacon for climbers. However, the locals have lived here since childhood and are unlikely to scare anyone much with the suggestion of climbing the mountain.
- Sandoa. The river that runs between the two mountains. A very beautiful river. The ancient inhabitants of the island believed that the river was animate and had a feminine nature.
The modern inhabitants are very proud of the fact that they were able to preserve the historic center of the city. Tinganes is located in the heart of the capital, consists of old wooden houses, the oldest of which is more than 600 years old.
Soft sheep’s wool
The Faroe Islands are lucky. They are located in the heart of the warm Gulf Stream, so the weather here is mild and warm. Some people compare the climate to sheep’s wool, which keeps you warm in winter and warm in summer.
Temperatures can drop to zero degrees in the winter. Most locals love it when it snows. If it happens at Christmas or New Year’s, it is considered a good omen. But if it doesn’t snow, the locals aren’t saddened and rejoice in the warm, calm weather.
In summer the thermometer reaches 17 degrees and rarely rises higher. Often you can see the locals in light jackets even in summer, but these clothes are put on not so much to keep warm as to demonstrate themselves.
Faroese people can not be called trendy, but sometimes they let their neighbors or just passersby know about recently purchased new clothes.
Another peculiarity of local climate reminds about the soft sheep’s wool. The Faroe Islands have about 280 rainy days a year, mostly between September and January. During the rest of the time, fog covers the islands, which prevents the sun’s rays from penetrating and thus protects people from overheating.
The local weather is neither sunny nor hot. And this is a trademark of the Faroe Islands.
Not just sheep
Although the name of the archipelago is associated with sheep, other animals are really interesting here. Seabirds, whales, dolphins – these and other representatives of the animal world are common here in great numbers.
Flora is represented mainly by coniferous trees. This is not surprising if you remember the local climate. Heat-loving plants would be very cold here and can only survive in greenhouses.
However, sheep are present here not only as the name of the islands. The last Celts brought sheep here, which over the centuries have multiplied throughout the archipelago. It even gives some researchers grounds to believe that the name is not accidentally reminiscent of the word “sheep”.
The capital of the Faroe Islands, bird markets and small villages, some of which are frozen in the Celtic past, are worth a visit.
Lovers of national cuisine will appreciate the local recipes. The Faroe Islands are famous for cuisine, aimed at the maximum consumption of meat and fish. Among the dishes, dried lamb and whale fat are especially popular. Despite the “fat” name of the last dish, the locals are not fat from it at all.
It is best to visit Faroes in summer, when the weather is moderately warm.
The island deserves attention not only because it is home to the capital of the Faroe Islands, but also as a mountainous exotic locale. A large number of natural historical monuments and small picturesque villages are located on the elevated northern part of the main island of the Faroese archipelago.
In the small village of Kving in the center of the island you can visit a well-preserved Viking Age farm. Lovers of the exotic are welcome to a village called Leinar. The village is located among the amazing beauty of the landscape, on the shore of an artificially created lake. The locals have been filling the lake with caught salmon for generations for fear of starvation.
Fans of outdoor activities will love the summit, studded with many caves of the six-hundred-meter cliffs around Westmann. The highlight of the hike will be the bustling flocks of birds, which gradually turn the campers’ attention to the cloud-covered islands of Mikines and Vogö, which are situated on the other side of the Westmannasun Strait.
A historical landmark of the island is the town of Kirkyubö . During the Middle Ages it was the episcopal center of Strömö and to this day it looks like an impressive ruin. The Mangus Cathedral is breathtaking and most striking here. Construction of the building began in the early thirteenth century, but due to the cruel ways in which tribute was collected by the local bishop, it was never completed. Not far from the walls of the cathedral is the Church of St. Olaf. Its walls were erected in 1111 in honor of the king who formulated the Christian code of Norway in the tenth century.
The church has served as the religious center of the entire Faroese archipelago for several centuries. The church lost its original appearance as a result of several reconstructions in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The fate of the famous Church of St. Brendan is somewhat worse. It is now a small pile of rubble and rubble walls. A sad fate awaited it during the next attack from the sea.
With a unique history on the island is a local landmark – Ruykstofan – a house that is more than 900 years old. The house was built with building materials fished from the ocean. The ship carrying the materials sank, and the entire cargo was delivered almost unscathed by the warm current of the Gulf Stream directly to the shore of the island. For 18 generations this house has been home to members of the same family.
In the summertime the house opens its doors to curious tourists as a museum. Twelve kilometers from Kirkjubö there is a small village Sjoradalur . The villagers offer tourists tours with panoramic views of the ocean and the island of Coltur .
The village of Valivig is famous all over the island for its black church – the oldest wooden building on the islands, standing alone and as if crowning the valley of Saksun. The village is adorned with colorful houses and tidal lake Pollur, perfectly equipped for fishing.