People of the Faroe Islands
People of the Faroe Islands
The Faroese are descendants from the Norse people that settled the islands in the 9th century AD.


Population (January 2023)


Foreign citizens (Non-Danish citizens) (January 2023)


Immigration (2022)


Emigration (2022)


Population growth (2022)


Live births (2022)


Deaths (2022)


Life expectancy, men (2021/22)


Life expectancy, women (2021/22)


Fertility rate (2021)


About 55,000 people live in the Faroe Islands. Out of the 29 municipalities in the Faroe Islands, the most populous is the capital, Tórshavn, with approximately 23,000 inhabitants.

The second largest municipality is Klaksvík with about 5,000 inhabitants, and Runavík takes third place with about 4,000. While Eysturkommuna and Vága kommuna each count just over 2,000 inhabitants, the remaining 24 municipalities all have populations below 2000 people, and 12 municipalities have fewer than 500 inhabitants.

The fertility rate in the Faroe Islands is the highest in Europe. Life expectancy is also high.

The Faroese are descendants from the Norse people that settled the islands in the 9th century AD.

Recent genome research reveals that the population, which settled in the Faroe Islands in the Viking age came from the Western Norway and the British Isles. The males were of Nordic origin while the women were Gaelic origin.

The genetic composition indicates that many of the Norsemen descended from Norse settlers in the Irish Sea region and came from Norse communities in the British Isles and these Norsemen had married Gaelic women.

The population of the Faroe Islands is mainly made up of native Faroese people (originally of Scandinavian and Gaelic descent). Danes (Danish first language) constitute the largest group of non-native inhabitants, comprising some 3% of the total population (2011).

People of nationalities other than Faroese or Danish make up about 5% of the total population, although they represent more than 100 different countries (2023). The largest groups of foreigner residents are Philippines (0.87%), Poles (0.67%), Thai (0.30%) and Icelanders (0.28%).

The population passes 50000 - a historic milestone

The population pyramid of the Faroe Islands differs from that of most other countries due to high emigration rates especially among people between the ages of 20 and 35.

The relatively high emigration of young people is caused by their pursuit of higher education abroad. Over the years, many have not returned after completing their degrees. On average, 200-250 people have moved abroad each year until as recently as 2014-15. While as many women as men chose to leave, fewer women have returned.

Female emigration to larger urban communities is a common demographic challenge for small, rural societies and countries. The high rate of female emigration has been an issue since the 1950s resulting in a slight shortfall of women in the population.

In the early 1990s, the Faroese economy was hit by a major crisis, which led to emigration and decrease in the population by several thousand people in just a few years.

The high fertility rate has compensated for the high emigration from the Faroe Islands. Over time, there has been a small growth in the population rather than decline. Since the late nineties, the Faroe Islands have experienced and steady population growth.

Since 2013, the Faroe Islands have seen an increase population and in April 2017 the Faroese population reached an all time high when the population passed 50.000. The growth is primarily caused by more expats returning to the Faroe Islands, fewer people moving away and a growing number of children being born.

The economic prosperity in the Faroe Islands has contributed to postitive changes in the job market. Changing governments have prioritized the education sector to increase the opportunities and give young people more choices in higher education in the Faroe Islands. Subsequently, the number of students at the University of Faroe Islands has increased significantly.