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Thursday, September 20, 2007

FAROE ISLAND VILLAGES AND DEPOPULATION

As I ready more about the Faroe Islands, I'm struck by how many abandoned villages there are, and how many ways they get wiped out. Some get nailed by a rock slide. Others come down with a touch of the Black Death. One village had to be abandoned when a boat wreck killed all of the male inhabitants.

But many smaller Faroese villages are clearing out as people abandon the hardscrabble farming and fishing lifestyles for the big city. (In this case, the "big city" is Tórshavn, a town with a population somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 people.)

One such place is Gásadalur. This village is home to about a dozen people, but is in danger of depopulating. Until a few years ago, Gásadalur was completely isolated from the rest of the islands. Anyone going to or from the village would have to hike over a mountain, or by boat in a very small harbor.

Now a tunnel connects the village to the rest of the island's road network, and that's making it easier for people to leave.

It seems like there are a lot of places like this in the Faroes, small villages with just a small handful of residents. In the next 20 years, perhaps they'll be abandoned. I hope I get to see them before that happens.

More photos of Gásadalur can be found here. It's really quite a beautiful place.

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