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Faeroe Islands

Official Country Name: Faroe Islands
Region: Europe
Population: 45,296
Language(s): Faroese, Danish
Literacy Rate: similar to Denmark proper

The Faeroe Islands comprise 18 rather small islands in the North Atlantic with less than 50,000 inhabitants. Once a colony of Denmark, they have been self-governing since 1948; however, the Faeroe Islands remain under Danish sovereignty. The local government (landstyri) receives a block grant to supplement tax income within the country, which covers one-third of public expenditures; the country is otherwise entirely dependent on the fishing industry.

There is an ongoing process towards economic independence and the forming of an independent sovereign state. In many international contexts, such as sporting events, the region is already recognized as a nation. The language of instruction in Faeroe Islands is the Faeroan language, which is a full specific language stemming from common West Nordic roots. All children also learn Danish in school and generally hold a full command of it.

The education system is entirely under the control of the local government, although it was only nationalized in 1979, and is historically and culturally influenced strongly by the Danish education system. There is a full general school system including upper secondary education and vocational education, the latter strongly oriented towards fishing and related marine business.

The options for higher education and specialized professional education in the Faeroe Islands are limited. The Faeroe Islands have a small university in the capital city of Thorshavn, with a focus on teaching and researching in the national language and literature as well as in science, and a teacher-training college and other professional schools, but the need to go abroad is still substantial. The colonial pattern of traveling to Denmark for advanced education is gradually being modified, however; advanced technological and other education may sometimes be more relevant in Atlantic fishing countries such as Norway or Iceland.

—Henning Salling Olesen

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