Denmark’s two self-governing overseas territories, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, are resorting to rather unconventional methods of boosting tourism and sharing their respective natural beauty with the rest of the world.
The former, a massive ice-covered protectorate that’s geographically part of North America, is building an architecturally stunning tourism hub-cum-heritage center in which visitors can enjoy a front-row seat of a perilously fast-melting glacier.
The latter, a windswept archipelago of 18 sparely populated volcanic islands situated somewhere between Iceland, Norway and Scotland, has unleashed a flock of documentarian sheep with 360-degree cameras mounted on their backs. The imagery captured by the roving ruminants is then uploaded to Google Street View.
You see, there’s hardly a far-flung locale left on the planet that hasn’t been captured on Google Street View. From the Galapagos Islands to the Great Barrier Reef to the, yep, iceberg-clogged fjords of Greenland, its increasingly easy for armchair adventurers to ooh and aah over exotic sites that they'd love to — but may never have the chance to — visit in the flesh.
The Faroe Islands, however, have been completely shut out of the Google Street View party. It’s a shame, really, as the North Atlantic islands’ rugged yet eye-poppingly lush (thanks Gulf Stream!) beauty is truly without compare.
And so, the Faroese tourism bureau, Visit Faroe Islands, is taking matters into its own hands — or hooves, rather.
Explains Durita Dahl Andreassen of Visit Faroe Islands in a press release issued by the bureau:
To me it is the strangest thing that I cannot show my friends in other countries where I am from. My home country is beautiful, green and kind of undiscovered to the rest of the world — and I want to share it with the world.
If Google Street View will not come to the Faroe Islands, I will make The Faroe Islands visible to the world in another way.
This is where the sheep come in.
A campaign meant to both bolster Faroese tourism and grab the undivided attention of Google's mapping overlords, Andreassen’s Sheep View 360 project (#wewantgooglestreetview) has seen five of her own sheep outfitted with specially designed harnesses that secure a solar-powered camera to their backs. As the woolly beasts roam along the verdant hillsides of the isolated island chain, the cameras capture the surrounding landscape in all of its unspoiled Faroese splendor. So far, it seems that the Sheep View 360 action has been limited to different locales on Streymoy, the country's largest and most populous island, and the neighboring island of Vagar.
The "gently mounted" gear was developed by Andreassen in conjunction with a local farmer and an "inventor specialised in animal monitoring."
The photos captured by the sheep are sent directly to Andreassen’s smartphone, at which point she uploads the panoramic images directly to Google Street View herself.
As Andreassen notes in a petition imploring Google to consider the Faroe Islands in the near future for Street View inclusion, the sheep do a fine job capturing the “tracks and trails of the Faroe Islands” that aren’t easily accessible by car. However, “in order to cover the big sweeping Faroese roads and the whole of the breath-taking landscapes, we need Google to come and map them.”
As far those roads:
The Faroe Islands have some of the most beautiful roads in the world. It is impossible to describe what it feels like driving through the green valleys and up the mountains, or alongside the ocean, surrounded by steep drops and tall cliffs. It’s an experience like no other.
Sounds only mildly terrifying. Another unique part of driving in the Faroe Islands? An almost complete absence of traffic lights. There are only three of them, all located in the quaint and quirky capital city of Tórshavn, which also happens to be home to the country's only international fast-food outlet: a lone Burger King. (Alas, it's not a drive-through).
And if not already clear, sheep are kind of a big deal on the Faroe Islands.
In a highly developed autonomous country where a cud-chewing mammal is depicted on the coat of arms, the ovine population does indeed outnumber the human population (approximately 80,000 to 49,000 according to the tourism bureau). The Faroese name of the archipelago itself, Føroyar, translates to “islands of sheep.” And while the Faroese economy is highly dependent on fishing and, to a lesser degree, tourism, the production of woolen sweaters and socks continues to be a big money-maker, just as it has for centuries.
Wrote the Guardian in 2014:
The Faroese economy is still largely based around the twin poles of sheep and boats — with wool its currency. A Faroese proverb even states Ull er Føroya gull: wool is the gold of the Faroe Islands. Faroese sheep have been selectively bred over centuries to be particularly hardy. Their wool from is therefore exceptionally warm and water-resistant, making them ideal for underwear, socks and jumpers for those seafaring folk.
As a bright-eyed Andreassen, clad head to toe in her homeland’s finest knitwear, explains in a promo video for Sheep View 360, the Faroe Islands is “one of the only places on Earth where they [sheep] walk free in nature and they get all around the islands.” She adds: “It will work out perfectly. I think so. I hope so.”
Via [The Guardian]