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Friday, October 10, 2008

FAROE FRIDAY: FINANCIAL MELTDOWN EDITION

If you've been following the international financial meltdown that has most western economies in it's grip, you've likely taken a moment and wondered, "how are the Faroe Islands doing in all this?" Well, I wondered that, anyway.


And it's a pretty reasonable question to ask. Just next door in Iceland, things are so bad that they make the problems back home look like a simple rounding error. Iceland's currency is worthless on the international market, almost all the banks are closed, ATMs didn't work for most of the week, and their assets in the UK have been frozen.


So has this ugliness washed up on the Faroese shores? Not exactly. Icelandic banks do have interests in some of the Faroese fishing fleets, but those may be taken over by Faroese banks. And banks on the Faroes haven't really gotten into the high flying world of idiot finance that has sunk other banks.


And while the Faroe Islands are well connected to the larger world via the internet and are looking to play a bigger part in the world community, well, it's still a work in progress. In fact, their continued isolation may actually help them weather the storm better than Iceland, who went on a shopping spree and bought half of Europe before they ran out of credit.


Indeed, the Faroe Island's biggest industry is fishing, and no matter how bad the economy gets, people still have to eat. If the faltering world economy causes fish prices to drop, that will be bad news for the Faroes. But for now, people seem to be crossing their fingers and hoping that they can ride out the storm with as little damage as possible.


And while Faroese banks appear to be in good shape, the state of Faroese bank photography is nothing short of appalling. I can't tell you how many hours I spent online looking for a picture of a bank on the Faroe Islands. I did image searches, but that turned up nothing. I guess it's understandable. When people vacation anywhere, they usually don't take pictures of the banks. And bank pictures rarely feature in tourist literature.


Eventually I found a list of every bank in the Faroe Islands and visited their websites. Finally, I found one bank that had a media section and three pictures of their branches. It is the wonderfully named Eik Banki. To realize how much I love this name, just say it out loud, "Eik Banki." It sounds like you're either afraid of the bank or just don't like banks. But either way, it's pretty fun to say.


I tried to look up more information in Eik Banki and it looked like it might actually be a bank based in Denmark. But it might actually be a homegrown Faroese bank. So because they have good pictures online, I'm declaring Eik Banki as the official bank of Faroe Friday. (Although, if you own a bank in the Faroe Islands or even have a good picture of one, I'd be willing to reconsider my choice.)



While it may be hard to find good bank pictures, there are no shortage of good photos of Bøur, especially when they're taken by my new favorite photographer Erik Christensen. Bøur is a village of about 70 on the island of Vágar. It has traditional turf roof houses and a spectacular natural setting with amazing ocean views.

As near as I can tell, it does not have a bank.

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