The great influx of newcomers to the Faroe Islands in recent years has resulted in the highest number of inhabitants on the islands ever. As of 1 December 2018, 51,312 people live in the Faroe Islands, an increase of 898 people (1.8%) compared to the preceding 12 months.
Political scientist Súsanna Olsen says a major shift in the narrative surrounding the Faroe Islands has influenced how people perceive the country.
“Ten years ago, young people were asked ‘What are you doing here?’, because the Faroe Islands used to be a last stop, a last resort,” says Súsanna. “But within the last five to ten years, it is now much cooler to live here. One reason is that we are now more objective, more neutral and more positive in our narrative of the country.”
Súsanna cites a number of pull-effects that have positively influenced immigration and emigration numbers, such as the high conjecture in the economy, a good welfare infrastructure and a growing tolerance between groups of people.
“Our economy is booming which means there are job opportunities, and we have a good welfare infrastructure that includes a high standard of day care centres, schools and other services that a modern society has,” she says. “The Faroe Islands are also a much broader and tolerant society now. That gives a mental ‘free-space’ that is much more evident today compared to a few years ago.”
Sissal Hofgaard Heystoy, who has studied international business in Copenhagen, is one of many Faroe Islanders looking to move back home.
“It seems like it is more fun to live in the Faroe Islands today compared to six years ago when I left,” says Sissal. “There are new degrees available, a new Faroese university and more options to rent a place to stay.”
The difference in how many people moved to and from the Faroes, respectively, accounts for two-thirds of the increase, while excess of births accounts for the remaining one-third.
Approximately 1,200 people moved abroad between 1 December 2017 and 1 December 2018, which is the lowest number recorded since 1980. When compared to the total population, this emigration number is the lowest recorded in the last 150 years, which is when emigration statistics started being recorded.
Emigration numbers have consistently been around 1,200 annually in the last five years. Immigration number continue to rise, most recently at over 1,800 people per annum. The difference between emigration and immigration numbers is also the greatest ever recorded, both numerically and proportionally.
Words: Levi Hanssen
Originally published on: Faroeislands.fo