The Faroe Islands (Føroyar, ; Færøerne, ), or the Faeroe Islands—a North Atlantic archipelago located 200 mi north-northwest of the United Kingdom and about halfway between Norway and Iceland—are an autonomous country of the Kingdom of Denmark. Total area is about 540 sqmi with a population of 50,322 in October 2017.
The terrain is rugged; the climate is subpolar oceanic climate (Cfc)—windy, wet, cloudy, and cool. Temperatures average above freezing throughout the year because of the Gulf Stream.
Between 1035 and 1814, the Faroes were part of the Hereditary Kingdom of Norway. In 1814, the Treaty of Kiel granted Denmark control over the islands, along with two other Norwegian island possessions: Greenland and Iceland. The Faroe Islands have been a self-governing country within the Kingdom of Denmark since 1948.
The Faroese have control of most of their domestic affairs. Those that are the responsibility of Denmark include military defence, policing and the justice department, currency, and foreign affairs. However, as they are not part of the same customs area as Denmark, the Faroe Islands have an independent trade policy and can establish trade agreements with other states. The islands also have representation in the Nordic Council as members of the Danish delegation. The Faroe Islands also have their own national teams competing in certain sports.
In Faroese, the name appears as Føroyar. Oyar represents the plural of oy, older Faroese for "island". Due to sound changes, the modern Faroese word for island is oyggj. The first element, før, may reflect an Old Norse word fær (sheep), although this analysis is sometimes disputed because Faroese now uses the word seyður (from Old Norse sauðr) to mean "sheep". Another possibility is that the Irish monks, who settled the island around 625, had already given the islands a name related to the Gaelic word fearrann, meaning "land" or "estate". This name could then have been passed on to the Norwegian settlers, who then added oyar (islands). The name thus translates as either "Islands of Sheep" or "Islands of Fearrann".
In Danish, the name Færøerne contains the same elements, though øerne is the definite plural of ø (island).
In English, it may be seen as redundant to say the Faroe Islands, since the oe comes from an element meaning "island". Most notably in the BBC Shipping Forecast, where the waters around the islands are called Faeroes. The name is also sometimes spelled "Faeroe".