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Faroe Islands

Yearbook 1996

Faroe Islands. A dispute over the Faroe Islands' relationship with Denmark threatened during the year to lead to new elections. The Social Democrats left the government coalition in June because of budget disagreement, cuts in the public sector and decision-making issues. An underlying conflict was that the Social Democrats wanted to see a more independent Faroese relationship with Denmark. At the end of November, the Social Democrats, together with the other opposition, pushed through a constitutional commission, assisted by a political committee, to revise the law governing relations with Denmark. The government coalition with the Conservative Party's Edmund Joensen at the forefront opposed legislative changes. The economic crisis in the Faroe Islands was somewhat mitigated during the year, with about one percentage point reduction in unemployment and a slight increase in fish exports.

Economy

In May 1999, the United Kingdom, Denmark and the Faroe Islands agreed on the delimitation of the sea west of the Shetland Islands and southeast of the Faroe Islands. Since then, the Faroe Islands, with the help of foreign companies, have started searching for oil east of the archipelago. Smaller deposits were found in 2001. Denmark and the Faroe Islands have signed an agreement that if the Faroe Islands start extracting oil, the Danish contribution to the island will be renegotiated.

The Faroe Islands' connections with the outside world take place by ship or flight. The only airport is located on Vágur west of the main island of Streymoy. There are ferries or tunnels between the islands, and the road network is well developed.

Tourism is limited, but the islands have many attractions, not least a dramatic nature, rich bird life and excellent sport fishing. Cultural attractions include Kirkjuböur with the old Kungsgården, the Ólav church and the ruins of the medieval Magnus Cathedral. An attraction from the European Middle Ages is the chain dance to long folk songs. It is often experienced where Faroese gather but at its best when celebrating National Day Ólavsöka on July 28 and 29.

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