Language and population of the Faroe Islands

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The population of the Faroe Islands as per December 2009 was 48,660. With a population density of 34,5 per square kilometer, the Faroe Islands have the second highest population density of the Nordic countries after Denmark. The Faroese are of Scandinavian origin, descendants of Vikings who came from Norway.

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The Faroese settlement pattern is characterized by a large number of densely populated villages of varying size. There are in all about 100 towns and villages the largest town is the capital, Tórshavn, with 19,874 inhabitants. The second largest is Klaksvík with 4,845 inhabitants.

Language

In the twentieth century Faroese became the official language in the Faroe Islands, and is used in all matters - also within business, administration, political and cultural life.

Danish is the second language and practically everyone can speak and write Danish. Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish are understood and spoken in many places, and most people are capable of communicating in English too.

Faroese derives from Old Norse and is closely related to Icelandic, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish. Speakers of the above Nordic languages will notice many familiar words and grammatical structures in Faroese.

The closest language to Faroese is Icelandic and when Faroese and Icelanders speak to each other in their native tongues there is a good degree of mutual comprehension.