Faroe IslandsVikings replaced the Faroe Islands’ original Irish settlers, bringing the Old Norse language to the islands, which locally evolved into the modern Faroese language spoken today. Although the settlers were Norwegians, most of them probably didn't come directly from Norway, but rather from the Norwegian settlements in Shetland, Orkney, and around the Irish Sea, and were so-called Norse-Gaels.

Norwegian control of the islands continued until 1380, when Norway entered the Kalmar Union with Denmark, eventually ceding control of the islands to the Danes. The reformation reached the Faroes in 1538. When the union between Denmark and Norway was dissolved as a result of the Treaty of Kiel in 1814, Denmark retained possession of the Faroe Islands.

The monopoly of trade over the Faroe Islands was abolished in 1856. Since then, the country has developed into a modern fishing nation with its own fleet. The national awakening of 1888 was first a cultural struggle primarily for the saving of the Faroese language, but after 1906 it became more and more politically oriented, generating a fragmented discourse from which the country’s first independent political parties were to emerge.

On April 12, 1940, the Faroes were invaded and occupied by British troops. The move followed the invasion of Denmark by Nazi Germany and was intended to strengthen British control over the North Atlantic. In 1942–43 the British Royal Engineers built Vágar Airport, which remains the Islands’ only airport.

At the end of the Second World War a portion of the population favoured independence from Denmark, and on September 14, 1946 a non-binding public vote was held on the question of secession. The outcome evidenced a small majority in favour of secession, but the coalition parliament could not reach a resolution on how this election should be interpreted and implemented, so it inevitably fell apart.

A parliamentary election was held just a few months later, in which the political parties that favoured staying in the Danish kingdom increased their share of the vote and formed their own coalition. With an increased share of the vote, they chose to reject secession. Instead, a compromise was made and the Danish government passed a home-rule law, which came into effect in 1948. The Faroe Islands' status as a Danish territory was brought to an end with the home-rule law, which allowed them a high degree of self-governance, supported by a substantial annual subsidy from Denmark.

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