The Faroe Islands are a windswept archipelago in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, midway between Norway and Iceland. Winter last six months. There is an average of two and a half hours of sunlight per day across the year. The islands have their own distinctive culture; fermented mutton, whale meat and blubber, even Faroese puffin, are typical foods of the region, and the language (Faroese) is derived from Old Norse.
In recent years, there has been a significant population decline across the islands, with almost half of young people moving abroad – usually to study – and not returning. Women are more likely than men to migrate, leading to a gender deficit of approximately 2000. In order to fill this, Faroese men have been looking abroad for romance; many make use of online dating websites such as Thai Cupid, others use social media, or network with existing Asian-Faroese couples.
There are now more than 300 Thai and Philippine women living in the Faroes, meaning they make up the largest ethnic minority across all eighteen Faroese islands. The government is making efforts to ease them through what is, for many, a difficult transition; free language classes are put on, and women are actively encouraged to join the labour market. In a world where immigration is becoming an increasingly sensitive topic, there seems here a distinct lack of anti-immigrant sentiment. The women who come to live in the Faroe Islands ‘work and… don’t cause any social problems’, according to Faroese politician Magni Arge. One local man, whose wife is from the Philippines, said, “I like seeing so many children now who have mixed parentage. Our gene pool is very restricted, and it’s got to be a good thing that we welcome outsiders who can have families.”
HSPS and Politics students might want to look at the policies the Faroese government have introduced to aid integration in the islands. Economics students could study the economic impact that the population decline has had on the Faroes, and how the arrival of Asian women has begun to counter this.
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