Faroe Islanders - History and Cultural Relations

Occupied by Norse settlers in the early ninth century, the Faroes were Christianized and made subject to the Norwegian crown in the early eleventh century. At the time of the Reformation (ca. 1535-1540), which took place peacefully, the Dano-Norwegian king appropriated the extensive holdings of the Catholic church; most became tenant farms. In 1557, the Faroese bishopric was reduced to a deanery. In the early seventeenth century the islands' governance was shifted from Bergen to Copenhagen. From 1709 through 1855 all trade with the Faroes was in the hands of a Copenhagen-based royal monopoly, whose store in Tórshavn was the Islands' only commercial establishment. In 1816, the Faroes were made a Danish province ( amt ), and their ancient high court, the Løgting, was abolished. Reconstituted as an advisory assembly in 1852-1854, it eventually acquired legislative powers. The introduction of free trade in 1856 led to the growth of an export fishing industry and the rise of a native intelligentsia and middle class. A cultural revitalization movement that gained widespread support in the 1890s soon entailed the growth of political separatism. Following an amicable British occupation during World War II and an inconclusive referendum on full independence in 1946, the Faroes were made internally self-governing in 1948. Varied and extensive relations with foreign, chiefly Scandinavian, countries are maintained by individuals and numerous officiai or semiofficial institutions, mostly in Tórshavn. The Faroes acquired a radio station in 1957 and a television station in 1984.

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