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Denmark (Template:Pron-en; Template:Lang-da, Template:IPA-da, archaic: Template:IPA-da) is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe and the senior member of the Kingdom of Denmark. It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark borders both the Baltic and the North Sea. The country consists of a large peninsula, Jutland (Jylland) and many islands, most notably Zealand (Sjælland), Funen (Fyn), Vendsyssel-Thy, Lolland, Falster and Bornholm, as well as hundreds of minor islands often referred to as the Danish Archipelago. Denmark has long controlled the approach to the Baltic Sea; before the digging of the Kiel Canal water passage to the Baltic was possible only through the three channels known as the "Danish straits".

Denmark is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government. Denmark has a state-level government and local governments in 98 municipalities. Denmark has been a member of the European Union since 1973, although it has not joined the Eurozone. Denmark is a founding member of NATO and the OECD. Denmark is also a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). As an OSCE participating State, Denmark's international commitments are subject to monitoring under the mandate of the U.S. Helsinki Commission.

Denmark, with a mixed market capitalist economy and a large welfare state,[1] ranks as having the world's highest level of income equality. Denmark has the best business climate in the world, according to the U.S. business magazine Forbes.[2] From 2006 to 2008, surveys[3] ranked Denmark as "the happiest place in the world", based on standards of health, welfare, and education. The 2009 Global Peace Index survey ranks Denmark as the second most peaceful country in the world, after New Zealand.[4] In 2008, Denmark was ranked as being the least corrupt country in the world according to the Corruption Perceptions Index,[5] sharing a top position with Sweden and New Zealand.

The national language, Danish, is close to Swedish and Norwegian, with which it shares strong cultural and historical ties. 82% of the inhabitants of Denmark and 90.3% of the ethnic Danes are members of the Lutheran state church. As of 2009, 526,000 persons (9.5% of the Danish population) were either immigrants or descendants of recent immigrants. Most of these (54%) have their origins in Scandinavia or elsewhere in Europe, while the remainder originate mainly from a wide range of Asian countries.


The etymology of the word Denmark, and especially the relationship between Danes and Denmark and the unifying of Denmark as a single Kingdom, is a subject which attracts some debate.[6][7] The debate is centered primarily around the prefix 'Dan' and whether it refers to the Dani or a historical person Dan and the exact meaning of the -mark ending. The issue is further complicated by a number of references to various Dani people in Scandinavia or other places in Europe in ancient Greek and Roman accounts (like Ptolemy, Jordanes, and Gregory of Tours), as well as some medieval literature (like Adam of Bremen, Beowulf, Widsith, and Poetic Edda).

Most handbooks derive[8] the first part of the word, and the name of the people, from a word meaning "flat land", related to German Tenne "threshing floor", English den "cave", Sanskrit dhánuṣ- (धनुस्; "desert"). The -mark is believed to mean woodland or borderland (see marches), with probable references to the border forests in south Schleswig,[9] maybe similar to Finnmark, Telemark, or Dithmarschen.[10]

In Old Norse, the land was called Danmerkr.[citation needed]

Mythological explanations[]

Some of the earliest descriptions of the origin of the word 'Denmark', describing a territory, are found in the Chronicon Lethrense (12th century), Svend Aagesen (late 12th century), Saxo Grammaticus (early 13th century), and the Ballad of Eric (mid 15th century). There are, however, many more Danish annuals and yearbooks containing various other details, similar tales in other variations, other names or spelling variations.

The Chronicon Lethrense explains that when the Roman Emperor Augustus went against Denmark in the time of David,[11] Denmark consisted of seven territories Jutland, Funen, Zealand, Møn, Falster, Lolland and Skåne which were governed by King Ypper of Uppsala. He had three sons, Nori, Østen, and Dan. Dan was sent to govern Zealand, Møn, Falster, and Lolland, which became known jointly as Videslev. When the Jutes were fighting Emperor Augustus they called upon Dan to help them. Upon victory, they made him king of Jutland, Funen, Videslev, and Skåne. A council decided to call this new united land Danmark (Dania) (English: Denmark) after their new king, Dan. Saxo relates that it is the legendary Danish King Dan, son of Humbli, who gave the name to the Danish people, though he does not expressly state that he is also the origin of the word "Denmark". Rather he tells that England ultimately derives its name from Dan’s brother Angel.

Earliest occurrences[]

File:Jelling gr kl Stein.JPG

The Jelling Stones, commonly referred to as Denmark's "birth certificate", seen from the north with "Gorm's Mound" in the background

The earliest mention of a territory called "Denmark" is found in King Alfred the Great's modified translation into Old English of Paulus Orosius' Seven Books of History Against The Pagans ("Historiarum adversum Paganos Libri Septem"), written by Alfred when king of Wessex in the years 871–899. In a passage introduced to the text by Alfred, we read about Ohthere of Hålogaland’s travels in the Nordic region, during which 'Denmark [Denamearc] was on his port side... And then for two days he had on his [port side] the islands which belong to Denmark'.[12]

The first recorded use of the word "Denmark" within Denmark itself is found on the two Jelling stones, which are rune stones believed to have been erected by Gorm the Old (c. 955) and Harald Bluetooth (c. 965). The larger stone of the two is often cited as Denmark's birth certificate, though both use the word "Denmark", in the form of accusative "tanmaurk" (Template:IPA-da) on the large stone, and genitive "tanmarkar" (pronounced Template:IPA) on the small stone.[13] The inhabitants of Denmark are there called "tani" (Template:IPA), or "Danes", in the accusative.

In The Song of Roland, estimated to have been written between 1040 and 1115, the first mention of the legendary Danish hero Holger Danske appears; he is mentioned several times as "Holger of Denmark" (Ogier de Denemarche).


File:Johan Thomas Lundbye 001.jpg

Hankehøj, by Johan Lundbye. A Danish down. Note the glacial character of the terrain and the burial mound of an early chief in the centre.


The earliest archaeological findings in Denmark date back to the Eem interglacial period from 130,000-110,000 BC.[14] Agriculture in Denmark has been evident since 3,900 BC and has been inhabited since around 12,500 BC.[15] The Nordic Bronze Age (1,800–600 BC) in Denmark was marked by burial mounds, which left an abundance of findings including lurs and the Sun Chariot.

During the Pre-Roman Iron Age (500 BC  – 1 AD), native groups began migrating south, although[15] the first Danish people came to the country between the Pre-Roman and the Germanic Iron Age,[16] in the Roman Iron Age (1–400 AD). The Roman provinces maintained trade routes and relations with native tribes in Denmark, and Roman coins have been found in Denmark. Evidence of strong Celtic cultural influence dates from this period in Denmark and much of northwest Europe and is among other things reflected in the finding of the Gundestrup cauldron.


The gilded side of the Trundholm sun chariot

Historians believe that before the arrival of the precursors to the Danes, who came from the east Danish islands (Zealand) and Skåne and spoke an early form of north Germanic, most of Jutland and some islands were settled by Jutes. They were later invited to Great Britain as mercenaries by Brythonic King Vortigern and were granted the south-eastern territories of Kent, the Isle of Wight, among other areas, where they settled. They were later absorbed or ethnically cleansed by the invading Angles and Saxons, who formed the Anglo-Saxons. The remaining population in Jutland assimilated in with the Danes.

A short note[17] about the Dani in "Getica" by historian Jordanes is believed by some to be an early mention of the Danes,[18] one of the ethnic groups from whom the modern Danish people are descended. The Danevirke defense structures were built in phases from the 3rd century forward,[19] and the sheer size of the construction efforts in 737 are attributed to the emergence of a Danish king.[19] The new runic alphabet was first used around the same time, and Ribe, the oldest town of Denmark, was founded about 700.

Viking Age[]


The Ladby ship, the largest ship burial found in Denmark

The Danish people were amongst those known as the Vikings during the 8th-11th centuries. Viking explorers first discovered and settled in Iceland in the 9th century, on their way from the Faroe Islands. From there, Greenland and Vinland (probably Newfoundland) were also settled. Utilising their great skills in shipbuilding they raided and conquered parts of France and the British Isles. But they also excelled in trading along the coasts and rivers of Europe, running trade routes from Greenland in the north to Constantinople in the south via Russian rivers. The Danish Vikings were most active in Britain, Ireland and France, and they raided, conquered and settled parts of England (their earliest settlements included sites in the Danelaw, Ireland, and Normandy).

In the early 9th century, Charlemagne's Christian empire had expanded to the southern border of the Danes, and Frankish sources (e.g. Notker of St Gall) provide the earliest historical evidence of the Danes. These report a King Gudfred, who appeared in present day Holstein with a navy in 804 where diplomacy took place with the Franks; In 808, King Gudfred attacked the Obotrite and conquered the city of Reric whose population was displaced or abducted to Hedeby. In 809, King Godfred and emissaries of Charlemagne failed to negotiate peace, and the next year King Godfred attacked the Frisians with 200 ships.

The oldest parts of the defensive works of Danevirke near Hedeby at least date from the summer of 755 and were expanded with large works in the 10th century. The size and amount of troops needed to man it indicates a quite powerful ruler in the area, which might be consistent with the kings of the Frankish sources. In 815 AD, Emperor Louis the Pious attacked Jutland apparently in support of a contender to the throne, perhaps Harald Klak, but was turned back by the sons of Godfred, who most likely were the sons of the above mentioned Godfred. At the same time Saint Ansgar traveled to Hedeby and started the Catholic Christianization of Scandinavia.


Map showing Danevirke and Hærvejen

The Danes were united and officially Christianised in 965 AD by Harald Blåtand, the story of which is recorded on the Jelling stones. The extent of Harald's Danish Kingdom is unknown, although it is reasonable to believe that it stretched from the defensive line of Dannevirke, including the Viking city of Hedeby, across Jutland, the Danish isles and into southern present day Sweden; Scania and perhaps Halland and Blekinge. Furthermore, the Jelling stones attest that Harald had also "won" Norway. In retaliation for the St. Brice's Day massacre of Danes in England, the son of Harald, Sweyn Forkbeard mounted a series of wars of conquest against England, which was completed by Svend's son Canute the Great by the middle of the 11th century.[20]

Following the death of Canute the Great, Denmark and England were divided. Sweyn Estridsen's son, Canute IV, raided England for the last time in 1085. He planned another invasion to take the throne of England from an aging William I. He called up a fleet of 1,000 Danish ships, 60 Norwegian long boats, with plans to meet with another 600 ships under Duke Robert of Flanders in the summer of 1086. Canute, however, was beginning to realise that the imposition of the tithe on Danish peasants and nobles to fund the expansion of monasteries and churches and a new head tax (Danish:nefgjald) had brought his people to the verge of rebellion. Canute took weeks to arrive at Struer where the fleet had assembled, but he found only the Norwegians still there.

Canute thanked the Norwegians for their patience and then went from assembly to assembly (Danish:landsting) outlawing any sailor, captain, or soldier who refused to pay a fine which amounted to more than a years harvest for most farmers. Canute and his housecarls fled south with a growing army of rebels on his heels. Canute fled to the royal property outside the town of Odense on Funen with his two brothers. After several attempts to break in and then bloody hand to hand fighting in the church, Benedict was cut down and Canute struck in the head by a large stone and then speared from the front. He died at the base of the main altar 10 July 1086, where he was buried by the Benedictines. When Queen Edele came to take Canute's body to Flanders, a light allegedly shone around the church and it was taken as a sign that Canute should remain where he was.

The death of St. Canute marks the end of the Viking Age. Never again would massive flotillas of Scandinavians meet each year to ravage the rest of Christian Europe.

Medieval Denmark[]

From the Viking age towards the end of the 13th century, the kingdom of Denmark consisted of Jutland, north from the Eider River and the islands of Zealand, Funen, Bornholm, Skåne, Halland and Blekinge. The lands between the Eider and the Kongeåen were separated from the kingdom as two vassal duchies of Schleswig and Holstein.

Following the end of the 11th century, Denmark underwent a transition from a patchwork of regional chiefs (Danish:jarls) with a weak and semi-elected royal institution, into a realm which more reflected European feudalism, with a powerful king ruling through an influential nobility. The period is marked by internal strife and the generally weak geopolitical position of the realm, which for long stretches fell under German influence. The period also featured the first of large stone buildings (mostly churches), a deep penetration by the Christian religion, the appearance of monastic orders in Denmark and the first written historical works such as the Gesta Danorum ("Deeds of the Danes"). German political as well as religious influence firmly ended in the last decades of the 12th century under the rule of King Valdemar the Great and his foster brother Absalon Hvide, Archbishop of Lund; through successful wars against Wend peoples of northeast Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.

File:Roskilde Margrethe1 grave.jpg

The tomb of Margrethe I in Roskilde Cathedral

A high point was reached during the reign of Valdemar II, who led the formation of a Danish "Baltic Sea Empire", which by 1221 extended control from Estonia in the east to Norway in the north. In this period several of the "regional" law codes were given; notably the Code of Jutland from 1241, which asserted several modern concepts like right of property; "that the king cannot rule without and beyond the law"; "and that all men are equal to the law". Following the death of Valdemar II in 1241 and to the ascension of Valdemar IV in 1340, the kingdom was in general decline because of internal strife and the rise of the Hanseatic League. The competition between the sons of Valdemar II had the longterm result that the southern parts of Jutland were separated from the kingdom of Denmark and became semi-independent vassal duchies/counties.

Kalmar Union[]

During the reign of Valdemar IV and his daughter Margrethe I, the realm was re-invigorated; following the Battle of Falköping, Margrethe I had her sister's son, Eric of Pomerania crowned King of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden after the signing of the union charter of Kalmar, Trinity Sunday 1397.[21] United under a single crown it was thought that the new kingdom would create a great power in the north.[22] The three countries were to be treated as equals in the union. However, even from the start Margrethe of Denmark may not have been so idealistic—treating Denmark as the clear "senior" partner of the union.[22] Thus, much of the next 125 years of Scandinavian history revolves around this union, with Sweden breaking off and being re-conquered repeatedly. The issue was for practical purposes resolved on 17 June 1523, as Swedish King Gustav Vasa conquered the city of Stockholm. Denmark and Norway, however, remained in a personal union until the Congress of Vienna in 1814.

Protestant Reformation[]

The Protestant Reformation came to Scandinavia in 1520s. On Easter Sunday 1525, Hans Tausen, a monk in the Order of St John's Hospitalers, proclaimed aloud the need for Martin Luther's reforms in the Catholic Church. His sermon was the beginning of a ten year struggle which would change Denmark forever. Tausen was hustled off to a monastery in Viborg in northern Jutland where he would be isolated and away from Copenhagen and the court. Tausen simply preached through the window of his locked chamber. At first curious Danes came to hear the strange new ideas that Tausen was preaching. Within weeks Tausen was freed by his loyal followers, and then a Franciscan abbey church was broken open so Viborgers could hear God's word under a roof. Luther's ideas were accepted so rapidly that the local bishop and other churchmen in Viborg were unable to cope. In many churches the mass was celebrated alongside Lutheran sermons, and then Tausen's version of Luther's teachings began to spread to other parts of Jutland. Within a year Tausen was the personal chaplain of King Frederik I. Frederik tried to balance the old and new ideas insisting that they coexist; it lasted only as long as Frederik did.

A mob stormed Our Lady Church in Copenhagen in 1531 tearing down statues, destroying side altars, artwork, and relics that had accumulated through its long history. Similar events happened through the country, although for the most part the change was peaceful. The majority of common people saw the reduced influence and wealth of the church as a liberating thing, but their new found influence did not last long.

At the death of Frederick I in 1533, two claimants to the throne—one backed by Protestant Lũbeck and the other by Catholic nobles—caused a civil war known as the Count's Feud (Danish: Grevens Fejde) (1534–1536).[23] The massacre of Skipper Clement's peasant army at Aalborg in December 1534 brought an end to the war and left the pro-Lutheran party firmly in charge.[24] Denmark became officially Lutheran in 1536. Denmark's Catholic bishops were arrested and imprisoned. Abbeys, nunneries, monasteries, and other church properties were confiscated by local nobility and the crown. Monks, nuns, and clergy lost their livelihood. The bishops who agreed to marry and not stir up trouble were given former church lands as personal estates.[25]

Catholic influence remained longest in Viborg and the nearby area, where change permeated slowly, although the reformation originally began there.[26]

Modern history[]

For most of its history the attention of Denmark had been directed to the south. The Germans in the form of either the Hanseatic League or in the form of the rebellious minority population of the province of Slesvig had been demanding all the attention of the Danish Kingdom for centuries. However, by 1500, the Hanseatic League was in considerable decline.[27] The rise of the Dutch nation as a sea power and its unrestricted trade with Scandinavia broke the monopoly of the Hansa.[28] By 1614, 60% of all shipping passing through the sound between Denmark and Sweden was Dutch shipping.[29] The problem of Slesvig was not so much resolved as it was over-shadowed by a larger problem, the rising power of Sweden.[30]

Indeed, the religious Peace of Augsburg in 1555 served as a watershed in the history of Denmark.[31] Instead of looking south to Germany as a threat, Denmark began to look to the north—toward Sweden as a worse threat. Like Denmark, most of northern Germany began to be deeply concerned about the military threat posed by a strong Sweden. Thus, the various German states began to worry less about supporting the German minority population in Slesvig and began to concentrate on the Swedish threat. Accordingly, Denmark was free to turn her attentions to Sweden as well.

After Sweden permanently broke away from the Kalmar Union in 1523, Denmark tried on two occasions to reassert control over Sweden. The first was in the Northern Seven Years War which lasted from 1563 until 1570. The second occasion was the Kalmar War when King Christian IV attacked Sweden in 1611 but failed to accomplish his main objective of forcing Sweden to return to the union with Denmark. The war led to no territorial changes, but Sweden was forced to pay a war indemnity of 1 million silver riksdaler to Denmark, an amount known as the Älvsborg ransom.[32]

King Christian used this money to found several towns and fortresses, most notably Glückstadt (founded as a rival to Hamburg), Christiania (following a fire destroying the original city of Oslo), Christianshavn, Christianstad, and Christiansand. Christian also constructed a number of buildings, most notably Børsen, Rundetårn, Nyboder, Rosenborg, a silver mine and a copper mill. Inspired by the Dutch East India Company, he founded a similar Danish company and planned to claim Sri Lanka as a colony, but the company only managed to acquire Tranquebar on India's Coromandel Coast.

In the Thirty Year's War, Christian tried to become the leader of the Lutheran states in Germany but suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Lutter.[33] The result was that the Catholic army under Albrecht von Wallenstein was able to invade, occupy and pillage Jutland,[34] forcing Denmark to withdraw from the war. Denmark managed to avoid territorial concessions, but Gustavus Adolphus' intervention in Germany was seen as a sign that the military power of Sweden was on the rise while Denmark's influence in the region was declining. Swedish armies invaded Jutland in 1643 and claimed Skåne in 1644.

In the 1645 Treaty of Brømsebro, Denmark surrendered Halland, Gotland, the last parts of Danish Estonia, and several provinces in Norway. In 1657, King Frederick III declared war on Sweden and marched on Bremen-Verden. This led to a massive Danish defeat, and the armies of King Charles X Gustav of Sweden conquered Jutland, Funen, and much of Zealand before signing the Peace of Roskilde in February 1658 which gave Sweden control of Skåne, Blekinge, Trøndelag and the island of Bornholm. Charles X Gustav quickly regretted not having destroyed Denmark completely; in August 1658 he began a two-year long siege of Copenhagen but failed to take the capital. In the following peace settlement, Denmark managed to maintain its independence and regain control of Trøndelag and Bornholm.

File:Grundlovgivende rigsforsamling - Constantin Hansen.jpg

Den Grundlovsgivende Rigsforsamling (The Constitutional Assembly. The Assembly created The Danish constitution), 1860–1864 painting by Constantin Hansen

Denmark tried to regain control of Scania in the Scanian War (1675–79), but it ended in failure. Following the Great Northern War (1700–21), Denmark managed to restore control of the parts of Schleswig and Holstein ruled by the house of Holstein-Gottorp in 1721 and 1773, respectively. Denmark prospered greatly in the last decades of the 18th century because its neutral status allowed it to trade with both sides in the many contemporary wars. In the Napoleonic Wars, Denmark originally tried to pursue a policy of neutrality to continue the lucrative trade with both France and the United Kingdom and joined the League of Armed Neutrality with Russian Empire, Sweden, and Kingdom of Prussia.

The British considered this a hostile act and attacked Copenhagen in both 1801 and 1807, in one case carrying off the Danish fleet and burning large parts of the Danish capital. These events mark the end of the prosperous Florissant Age and resulted in the Dano-British Gunboat War. British control over the waterways between Denmark and Norway proved disastrous to the union's economy; in 1813 Denmark-Norway went bankrupt.

The post-Napoleonic Congress of Vienna demanded the dissolution of the Dano-Norwegian union, and this was confirmed by the Treaty of Kiel in 1814. Denmark-Norway had briefly hoped to restore the Scandinavian union in 1809, but these hopes were dashed when the estates of Sweden rejected a proposal to let Frederick VI of Denmark succeed the deposed Gustav IV Adolf and instead gave the crown to Charles XIII. Norway entered a new union with Sweden which lasted until 1905. Denmark kept the colonies of Iceland, Faroe Islands and Greenland. Apart from the Nordic colonies, Denmark ruled over Danish India from 1620 to 1869, the Danish Gold Coast from 1658 to 1850, and the Danish West Indies from 1671 to 1917.

The Danish liberal and national movement gained momentum in the 1830s, and after the European Revolutions of 1848 Denmark peacefully became a constitutional monarchy on 5 June 1849. After the Second War of Schleswig (Danish: Slesvig) in 1864, Denmark was forced to cede Schleswig and Holstein to Prussia, in a defeat that left deep marks on the Danish national identity. After these events, Denmark returned to its traditional policy of neutrality, also keeping Denmark neutral in World War I.

20th and 21st centuries[]

File:Signing of the Maastricht Treaty.jpg

Denmark is a member of the European Union and in 1993 signed the Maastricht Treaty.

Following the defeat of Germany, the Versailles powers offered to return the region of Schleswig-Holstein to Denmark. Fearing German irredentism, Denmark refused to consider the return of the area and insisted on a plebiscite concerning the return of Schleswig. The two Schleswig Plebiscites took place on 10 February and 14 March 1920, respectively. On 10 July 1920 after the plebiscite and the king's signature (6 July) on the reunion document, King Christian X rode across the old border on a white horse, and Northern Schleswig (Sønderjylland) was recovered by Denmark, thereby adding 163,600 inhabitants and 3,984 km². The reunion day (Genforeningsdag) is celebrated every year on Valdemarsdag, 15 June.

Germany's invasion of Denmark on 9 April 1940—code named Operation Weserübung—met only two hours of military resistance before the Danish government surrendered. Economic co-operation between Germany and Denmark continued until 1943, when the Danish government refused further co-operation and its navy sank most of its ships and sent as many of their officers as they could to Sweden. During the war, the government was helpful towards the Danish Jewish minority, and the Danish resistance performed a rescue operation that managed to get most of them to Sweden and safety shortly before the Germans planned to round up the Danish Jews. Denmark led many "inside operations" or sabotage against the German facilities. Iceland severed ties to Denmark and became an independent republic, and in 1948, the Faroe Islands gained home rule.

After the war, Denmark became one of the founding members of the United Nations and NATO, and in 1973, along with Britain and Ireland, joined the European Economic Community (now the European Union) after a public referendum. The Maastricht treaty was ratified after a further referendum in 1993 and the subsequent addition of concessions for Denmark under the Edinburgh Agreement. Greenland gained home rule in 1979 and was awarded self-determination in 2009. Neither Greenland nor the Faroe Islands are members of the European Union, the Faroese declining membership in EEC from 1973 and Greenland from 1986, in both cases because of fisheries policies.

Despite its modest size, Denmark has been participating in major military and humanitarian operations, most notably the UN and NATO led operations on Cyprus, Bosnia, Korea, Egypt, Croatia, Kosovo, Ethiopia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia.



Map of Denmark

Denmark shares a border of 68 kilometres with Germany to the south and is otherwise surrounded by 7,314 kilometres of coastline. It occupies 43,094 square kilometres. Since 2000 Denmark has been connected by the Øresund Bridge to southern Sweden.

Denmark's northernmost point is Skagens point (the north beach of the Skaw) at 57° 45' 7" northern latitude; the southernmost is Gedser point (the southern tip of Falster) at 54° 33' 35" northern latitude; the westernmost point is Blåvandshuk at 8° 4' 22" eastern longitude; and the easternmost point is Østerskær at 15° 11' 55" eastern longitude. This is in the archipelago Ertholmene 18 kilometres northeast of Bornholm. The distance from east to west is Template:Convert, from north to south Template:Convert.

Denmark consists of the peninsula of Jutland (Jylland) and 443 named islands (1,419 islands above 100 m² in total).[35] Of these, 72 are inhabited,[36] with the largest being Zealand (Sjælland) and Funen (Fyn). The island of Bornholm is located east of the rest of the country, in the Baltic Sea. Many of the larger islands are connected by bridges; the Øresund Bridge connects Zealand with Sweden; the Great Belt Bridge connects Funen with Zealand; and the Little Belt Bridge connects Jutland with Funen. Ferries or small aircraft connect to the smaller islands. Main cities are the capital Copenhagen on Zealand; Århus, Aalborg and Esbjerg in Jutland; and Odense on Funen.


Windmills and yellow brick houses accent the gently rolling meadowlands of Karlebo, in North Zealand

The country is flat with little elevation; having an average height above sea level of Template:Convert. The highest natural point is Møllehøj, at Template:Convert. Other hills in the same area southwest of Århus are Yding Skovhøj at Template:Convert and Ejer Bavnehøj at Template:Convert.[37] The area of inland water is: (eastern Denmark) Template:Convert; (western D.) Template:Convert.

File:Yding skovhøj burial mound.JPG

A forest burial ground in Yding Skovhøj, one of Denmark's highest points

Denmark's coastline is, Template:Convert.[38] No location in Denmark is further from the coast than Template:Convert. The size of the land area of Denmark cannot be stated exactly since the ocean constantly erodes and adds material to the coastline, and because of human land reclamation projects (to counter erosion). On the southwest coast of Jutland, the tide is between Template:Convert, and the tideline moves outward and inward on a Template:Convert stretch.[39]

Phytogeographically, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands) belongs to the Boreal Kingdom and is shared between the Arctic, Atlantic European and Central European provinces of the Circumboreal Region. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the territory of Denmark can be subdivided into two ecoregions: the Atlantic mixed forests and Baltic mixed forests. The Faroe Islands are covered by the Faroe Islands boreal grasslands, while Greenland hosts the ecoregions of Kalaallit Nunaat high arctic tundra and Kalaallit Nunaat low arctic tundra.


File:138687main image feature 458 northeurope.jpg

Denmark seen from space

The climate is in the temperate zone. The winters are not particularly cold, with mean temperatures in January and February of 0.0 °C, and the summers are cool, with a mean temperature in August of 15.7 °C.[40] Denmark has an average of 121 days per year with precipitation, on average receiving a total of 712 mm per year; autumn is the wettest season and spring the driest.[40]

File:Skagen aka the skaw northmost point of denmark 6th may 2006.jpg

Grenen near Skagen, Denmark's northmost point

Because of Denmark's northern location, the length of the day with sunlight varies greatly. There are short days during the winter with sunrise coming around 9:00 a.m. and sunset 4:30 p.m., as well as long summer days with sunrise at 4:00 a.m. and sunset at 10 p.m.[41] The shortest and longest days of the year have traditionally been celebrated. The celebration for the shortest day corresponds roughly with Christmas (Danish: jul), and modern celebrations concentrate on Christmas Eve, 24 December. The Norse word jól is a plural, indicating that pre-Christian society celebrated a season with multiple feasts.[42] Christianity introduced the celebration of Christmas, resulting in the use of the Norse name also for the Christian celebration. Efforts by the Catholic Church to replace this name with kristmesse were unsuccessful. The celebration for the longest day is Midsummer Day, which is known in Denmark as sankthansaften (St. John's evening).[43] Celebrations of Midsummer have taken place since pre-Christian times.[44]


Denmark has historically taken a progressive stance on environmental preservation; in 1971 Denmark established a Ministry of Environment and was the first country in the world to implement an environmental law in 1973.

To mitigate environmental degradation and global warming the Danish Government has signed the following international agreements: Antarctic Treaty; Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol; Endangered Species Act [45] These agreements have helped in the reduction in CO2 emissions by Denmark.

Denmark was ranked as the 10th best country in the world for "Living Green" by a 2007 Readers Digest survey.,[46] and Copenhagen is recognised as one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the world.[47] Much of the city's success can be attributed to a strong municipal policy combined with a sound national policy, in 2006 Copenhagen Municipality received the European Environmental Management Award.[48] The award was given for long-term holistic environmental planning. Recently many of Denmarks smaller Municipalities such as Lolland and Bornholm have also become environmental leaders. Denmark is home to five of the worlds ten largest central solar heating plants (CSHP). The worlds largest CSHP is situated in the small community of Marstal on the island of Ærø.

Copenhagen is the spearhead of the bright green environmental movement in Denmark. In 2008, Copenhagen was mentioned by Clean Edge as one of the key cleantech clusters to watch in the book The Cleantech Revolution. The city is the focal point for more than half of Denmark's 700 cleantech companies and draws on some 46 research institutions. The cluster employs more than 60,000 people and is characterised by a close collaboration between universities, business, and governing institutions. The capital's most important cleantech research institutions are the University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen Business School,[49] Risø DTU National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, and the Technical University of Denmark which Risø is now part of. Leading up to the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference the University of Copenhagen held the Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions conference where the need for comprehensive action to mitigate climate change was stressed by the international scientific community. Notable figures such as Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC, Professor Nicholas Stern, author of the Stern Report, and Professor Daniel Kammen all emphasised the good example set by Copenhagen and Denmark in capitalising on cleantech and achieving economic growth while stabilising carbon emissions.

Denmark's GDP per emissions[]

Denmark's green house gas emissions per dollar of value produced has been for the most part unstable since 1990, seeing sudden growths and falls. Overall though, there has been a reduction in gas emissions per dollar value added to its market.[50] It is comparable to countries such as Germany,[51] but lagging behind other Scandinavian countries such as Norway[52] and Sweden.[53]

Government and politics[]

File:Denmark Dependencies.PNG

Denmark and its dependencies - Greenland, and the Faroe Islands.

File:Monarchy Of Denmark April 2010.jpg

The royal family of Denmark.

The Kingdom of Denmark is a constitutional monarchy. As stipulated in the Danish Constitution, the monarch is not answerable for their actions, and their person is sacrosanct. The monarch formally appoints and dismisses the prime minister and other ministers. The prime minister is customarily chosen through negotiation between the parliament party leaders.

Before being validated through royal assent, all bills and important government measures must be discussed in Statsrådet, a privy council headed by the monarch. The Danish privy council's protocols are secret. Although the monarch is formally given executive power this power is strictly ceremonial. The monarch is expected to be entirely apolitical and refrain from influencing the government. For example, members of the royal family do not cast their votes in elections and referendums even though they have the right.

Legislative authority is vested in the executive (Prime Minister) and the Danish parliament conjointly. Judicial authority lies with the courts of justice.

Executive authority is exercised on behalf of the monarch by the prime minister and other cabinet ministers who head departments. The cabinet, prime minister, and other ministers collectively make up the government. These ministers are responsible to Folketinget (the Danish Parliament), the legislative body, which is traditionally considered to be supreme (that is, able to legislate on any matter and not bound by decisions of its predecessors).

The Folketing is the national legislature. It has the ultimate legislative authority according to the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty, however questions over sovereignty have been brought forward because of Denmark’s entry into the European Union. In theory the doctrine prevails. Parliament consists of 175 members elected by proportional majority, plus two members each from Greenland and Faroe Islands. Parliamentary elections are held at least every four years, but it is within the powers of the prime minister to ask the monarch to call for an election before the term has elapsed. On a vote of no confidence, the parliament may force a single minister or the entire government to resign.

The Danish political system has traditionally generated coalitions. Most Danish post-war governments have been minority coalitions ruling with the support of non-government parties.[54]

File:Lars Løkke Rasmussen foran Amalienborg 7 april 2009.JPG

Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Løkke Rasmussen.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen from the Venstre party, a center-right liberal party was prime minister from November 2001 to April 2009. His government was a coalition consisting of Venstre and the Conservative People's Party, with parliamentary support from the Danish People's Party (Dansk Folkeparti). The three parties obtained a parliamentary majority in the 2001 election and maintained it virtually unchanged in the 2005 election. On October 24, 2007, an early election was called by the Prime Minister for 13 November. Following the election the Danish People's party was strengthened while Anders Fogh Rasmussen's Venstre lost 6 seats and the Conservative Party retained the same number of seats in Parliament as prior to the election. The result ensured that Anders Fogh Rasmussen could continue as prime minister for a third term.

From the fall of 2008 rumours persisted that Anders Fogh Rasmussen aspired to head NATO. On April 4, 2009, during a NATO summit in Strasbourg, Rasmussen confirmed these speculations. Opposition within NATO, especially from Turkey, was overcome, and Rasmussen was appointed Secretary General of NATO.

On April 5, 2009, Rasmussen resigned, leaving minister of finance and vice president of Venstre Lars Løkke Rasmussen to be the new prime minister.

Regions and municipalities[]

For the administrative divisions used until 2006, see Counties of Denmark.

Denmark is divided into five regions (Template:Lang-da, singular: region) and a total of 98 municipalities. The regions were created on 1 January 2007 as part of the 2007 Danish Municipal Reform to replace the country's traditional thirteen counties (amter). At the same time, smaller municipalities (kommuner) were merged into larger units, cutting the number of municipalities from 270 to 98. The most important area of responsibility for the new regions is the national health service. Unlike the former counties, the regions are not allowed to levy taxes, and the health service is primarily financed by a national 8% (sundhedsbidrag) tax combined with funds from both government and municipalities. Each Regional Council consists of 41 elected politicians elected as part of the 2005 Danish municipal elections.

Most of the new municipalities have a population of at least 20,000 people, although a few exceptions were made to this rule.

The Ertholmene archipelago (96 inhabitants (2008)) is neither part of a municipality nor a region but belongs to the Ministry of Defence.[55]

Greenland and the Faroe Islands have autonomous status and are largely self-governing; each are represented by two seats in the parliament.

Country Population Area
(pop per km²)
Template:Flagicon Denmark 5,534,738 43,094 128
Template:Flagicon Faroe Islands 48,797 1,399 35
Template:Flagicon Greenland 57,564 2,175,600 0.026
Template:Flagicon Kingdom of Denmark 5,641,099 2,220,093 2.5


Denmark's mixed economy features efficient markets, above average European living standards,[56][57] and high amount of free trade. Denmark ranks 16th in the world in terms of GDP (PPP) per capita and ranks 5th in nominal GDP per capita.

According to World Bank Group, Denmark has the most flexible labor market in Europe; the policy is called flexicurity. It is easy to hire, fire, and find a job. Denmark has a labor force of about 2.9 million. Denmark has the fourth highest ratio of tertiary degree holders in the world.[58] GDP per hour worked was the 10th highest in 2007. Denmark has the world's lowest level of income inequality, according to the UN, and the world's highest minimum wage, according to the IMF. As of June 2009 the unemployment rate is at 6.3%, which is below the EU average of 8.9%.[59]

Denmark is one of the most competitive economies in the world according to World Economic Forum 2008 report, IMD, and The Economist.[60] According to rankings by OECD, Denmark has the most free financial markets in EU-15 and also one of the most free product markets.

Denmark has a company tax rate of 25% and a special time limited tax regime for expatriates.[61] The Danish taxation system is both broad based (25% VAT, not including excise, duty and tax) and has the world's highest income tax.

Denmark's national currency, the krone (plural: kroner), is de facto linked to the Euro through ERM.[62] The exchange rate is pegged at approx. 7.45 kroner per euro. The government has met the economic convergence criteria for participating in the third phase (the common European currency—the Euro) of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union (EMU), but Denmark, in a September 2000 referendum, rejected The Monetary Union. The Government of Fogh Rasmussen, re-elected in November 2007, announced a new referendum on the euro for 2008 or 2009 at the latest.[63]

Denmark is known from the Danish cooperative movement within among others farming, the food industry (Danish Crown), dairy production (Arla Foods), retailing (Brugsen), wind turbine cooperatives, and co-housing associations.

Support for free trade is high—in a 2007 poll 76% responded that globalisation is a good thing.[64] 70% of trade flows are inside the European Union. Denmark has the 9th highest export per capita in the world. Main exports include: machinery, animals and foodstuff, chemicals and oil and gas.[65] Denmark is a net exporter of food and energy and has for a number of years had a balance of payments surplus while battling an equivalent of approximately 39% of GNP foreign debt or more than 300 billion DKK.[66] Also of importance is the sea territory of more than 105,000 km² (40,000+ sq mi).

Denmark has ranked as the world's 11th most free economy, of 162 countries, in an index created by the Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation, the Index of Economic Freedom 2008. The Index has been categorised as using inappropriately weighted indicators for economic freedom, leading to wealthy and/or conservative countries with barriers to trade placing high on the list, while poor and/or socialist countries with fewer restrictions on trade place low.[67] The Index has only a 10% statistical correlation with a standard measure of economic growth at GDP per capita.[68] Neither does the Index account for the actions of governments to nurture business[69] in the manner of the Japanese Zaibatsus during the late 20th century that helped lead to the Japanese economic miracle.

StatBank is the name of a large statistical database maintained by the central authority of statistics in Denmark. Online distribution of statistics has been a part of the dissemination strategy in Denmark since 1985. By this service, Denmark is a leading country in the world regarding electronic dissemination of statistics. There are about 2 million hits every year.



Offshore wind turbines near Copenhagen

Denmark has considerable sources of oil and natural gas in the North Sea and ranks as number 32 in the world among net exporters of crude oil.[70] Most electricity is produced from coal, but Denmark also has a share of windpower. Wind turbines produce 16–19% of electricity demand.[71] Denmark is connected by transmission lines to other European countries.

To encourage investment in wind power, families were offered a tax exemption for generating their own electricity within their own or an adjoining commune. While this could involve purchasing a turbine outright, more often families purchased shares in wind turbine cooperatives which in turn invested in community wind turbines. By 2004 over 150,000 Danes were either members of cooperatives or owned turbines, and about 5,500 turbines had been installed, although with greater private sector involvement the proportion owned by cooperatives had fallen to 75%.

Because of energy taxes, Denmark has the highest household electricity prices in the world,[72] while industries pay just below EU average.[71]


File:Oeresund Bridge.jpg

Øresund Bridge from Denmark to Sweden. On the right is the artificial Peberholm island, and on the left Saltholm.

Significant investment has been made in building road and rail links between Copenhagen and Malmö, Sweden (the Øresund Bridge), and between Zealand and Funen (the Great Belt Fixed Link). The Copenhagen Malmö Port was also formed between the two cities as the common port for the cities of both nations.

The main railway operator is Danske Statsbaner (Danish State Railways) for passenger services and DB Schenker Rail for freight trains. The railway tracks are maintained by Banedanmark. Copenhagen has a small Metro system, and the greater Copenhagen area has an extensive electrified suburban railway network.

Denmark's national airline (together with Norway and Sweden) is Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), and Copenhagen Airport is the country's largest airport and also the biggest hub in Scandinavia.

A ferry link to the Faroe Islands is maintained by Smyril Line. Other international ferry services are mainly operated by DFDS (to Norway and the UK). Scandlines (to Germany and Sweden), Stena Line (to Norway and Sweden), Color Line (to Norway) and FjordLine (to Norway).

Private vehicles are increasingly used as a means of transportation. Because of the high registration tax (180%) and VAT (25%), and the world's highest income tax rate, new cars are very expensive. The purpose of the tax is to discourage car ownership. Whether a smaller fleet of aging cars is better than a larger fleet of modern cars is a matter for debate, however as the car fleet has increased by 45% over the last 30 years the effect of high taxation on the fleet size seems small.

In 2007, an attempt was made by the government to favor environmentally friendly cars by slightly reducing taxes on high mileage vehicles. However, this has had little effect, and in 2008 Denmark experienced an increase in the import of fuel inefficient old cars (mostly older than 10 years), primarily from Germany as their costs including taxes keeps these cars within the budget of many Danes.

Denmark is in a strong position in terms of integrating fluctuating and unpredictable energy sources such as wind power in the grid. It is this knowledge that Denmark now aims to exploit in the transport sector by focusing on intelligent battery systems (V2G) and plug-in vehicles.[73][74]

Public policy[]


After deregulating the labor market in the 1990s, Denmark has one of the most free labor markets in European countries. According to World Bank labor market rankings, the labor market flexibility is at the same levels as the United States. Around 80% of employees belong to unions and the unemployment funds that are attached to them, but the percentage is falling. Labor market policies is mainly determined in negotiations between the worker unions and employer unions, and the government only interferes if labor strikes extend for too long.

Despite the success of the labor unions, a growing number of people make contracts individually rather than collectively, and many (four out of ten employees) are contemplating dropping especially unemployment fund but occasionally even union membership altogether. The average employee receives a benefit at 47% of their wage level if they have to claim benefits when unemployed. With low unemployment, very few expect to be claiming benefits at all. The only reason then to pay the earmarked money to the unemployment fund would be to retire early and receive early retirement pay (efterløn), which is possible from the age of 60 provided an additional earmarked contribution is paid to the unemployment fund.[75]

The unemployment rate for December 2007 was 2.7%, for a total of 74,900 persons, a reduction by 112,800 persons—2,400 per month—or 60% since December 2003.[76] The Eurostat unemployment number for August 2008 is 2.9%. This has been achieved by employing more than 38% (800,000 people)[77] of the total workforce in public sector jobs. Another measure of the situation on the labour market is the employment rate, that is the percentage of people aged 15 to 64 in employment out of the total number of people aged 15 to 64. The employment rate for Denmark in 2007 was 77.1% according to Eurostat. Of all countries in the world, only Switzerland with 78.% and Iceland with 85.1% had a higher employment rate.

In December 2008, Statistics Denmark reported that 100,000 Danes were affected by unemployment in the third quarter of 2008. Of these, 62% received a job within two months, and 6% had been unemployed for two years or more.

The number of unemployed is forecast to be 65,000 in 2015. The number of people in the working age group, less disability pensioners etc., will grow by 10,000 to 2,860,000, and jobs by 70,000 to 2,790,000;[78] part time jobs are included.[79] Because of the present high demand and short supply of skilled labour, for instance for factory and service jobs, including hospital nurses and physicians, the annual average working hours have risen, especially compared with the economic downturn 1987–1993.[80] Increasingly, service workers of all kinds are in demand, i.e. in the postal services and as bus drivers, and academics.[81] In the fall of 2007, more than 250,000 foreigners are working in the country, of which 23,000 still reside in Germany or Sweden.[82] According to a sampling survey of over 14,000 enterprises from December 2007 to April 2008 39,000 jobs were not filled, a number much lower than earlier surveys, confirming a downturn in the economic cycle.[83]

The level of unemployment benefits is dependent on former employment (the maximum benefit is at 90% of the wage) and at times also on membership of an unemployment fund, which is almost always—but need not be—administered by a trade union, and the previous payment of contributions. However, the largest share of the financing is still carried by the central government and is financed by general taxation, and only to a minor degree from earmarked contributions. There is no taxation, however, on proceeds gained from selling one´s home (provided there was any home equity (da:friværdi)), as the marginal tax rate on capital income from housing savings is around 0 percent.[84]

The Danish welfare model is accompanied by a taxation system that is both broad based (25% VAT, not including excise, duty and tax) and with a progressive income tax model, meaning the more money that is earned, the higher income tax percentage that gets paid (minimum tax rate for adults is 42% scaling to over 60%, except for the residents of Ertholmene that escape the otherwise ubiquitous 8% healthcare tax fraction of the income taxes[85][86]). Other taxes include the registration tax on private vehicles, at a rate of 180%, on top of VAT. Lately (July, 2007) this has been changed slightly in an attempt to favor more fuel efficient cars but maintaining the average taxation level more or less unchanged.[87]


According to figures from Statistics Denmark, in 2009, 90.5% of Denmark’s population of over 5.4 million was of Danish descent.[88] Many of the remaining 9.5% were immigrants, or descendants of recent immigrants, from Bosnia, neighbouring countries, South Asia and Western Asia, many having arrived since an "Alien law" (Udlændingeloven) was enacted in 1983 allowing the immigration of family members of those who had already arrived. There are also small groups of Inuit from Greenland and Faroese. During recent years, anti-mass immigration sentiment has resulted in some of the toughest immigration laws in the European Union.[89][90] Nevertheless, the number of residence permits granted related to labour and to people from within the EU/EEA has increased since implementation of new immigration laws in 2001. However, the number of immigrants allowed into Denmark for family reunification decreased 70% between 2001 and 2006 to 4,198. During the same period the number of asylum permits granted has decreased by 82.5% to 1,095, reflecting a 84% decrease in asylum seekers to 1,960.[91]

Denmark’s population is 5,475,791, giving Denmark a population density of 129.16 inhabitants per km2 (334.53 inh/sq mi).[92] As in most countries, the population is not distributed evenly. Although the land area east of the Great Belt only makes up 9,622 km² (3,715 sq mi), 22.7% of Denmark's land area, it has 45% (2,465,348) of the population. The average population density of this area is 256.2 inhabitants per km² (663.6 per sq mi). The average density in the west of the country (32,772 km²/12,653 sq mi) is 91.86/km² (237.91 per sq mi) (3,010,443 people) (2008).

The median age is 39.8 years with 0.98 males per female. 98.2% of the population is literate (age 15 and up). The birth rate is 1.74 children born per woman (2006 est.), which will be reflected in a drop in the ratio of workers to pensioners. Despite the low birth rate, the population is still growing at an average annual rate of 0.33%.[45] International studies show that the population of Denmark is the happiest of any country in the world.[93]

Danish is the official language and is spoken throughout the country. English and German are the most widely spoken foreign languages.

A total of 1,516,126 Americans reported Danish ancestry in the 2006 American Community Survey.[94] According to the 2006 Census, there were 200,035 Canadians with Danish background.[95]


Church of Denmark
year population members percentage
1984 5,113,500 4,684,060 91.6%
1990 5,135,409 4,584,450 89.3%
2000 5,330,500 4,536,422 85.1%
2005 5,413,600 4,498,703 83.3%
2007 5,447,100 4,499,343 82.6%
2008 5,475,791 4,494,589 82.1%
2009 5,511,451 4,492,121 81.5%
2010 5,534,738 4,479,214 80.9%
statistical data 1984–2002,[96] 1990–2009[97] and 2010 [98] Source Kirkeministeriet

According to official statistics from January 2010, 80.9%[99] of the population of Denmark are members of the Lutheran state church, the Danish National Church (Template:Lang) down 0.6% compared to the year earlier and 1.2% down compared to two years earlier, which is the state religion established by the Constitution. According to article 6 of the Constitution, the Royal Family must belong to this Church, though the rest of the population is free to adhere to other faiths. About 15% of the Danes do not belong to any denomination.

Denmark's Muslims make up less than 4% of the population and is the country's second largest religious community. As per an overview of various religions / denominations given by the Danish foreign Ministry other groups are less than 1% individually and all added up around 2% totally.[100]

For more than a hundred years after the Reformation, Lutheranism was the only legal religion in Denmark, but in 1682 the state recognised three other faiths: Roman Catholicism, the Reformed Church, and Judaism. Until the recent immigration of Muslims, these three were practically the only non-Lutheran religions practiced in Denmark.

Forn Siðr (English: The Old Way), based on the much older, native religion, is one of the most recently recognised by the state, gaining official recognition in November 2003.[101]

Religious societies and churches do not need to be state-recognised in Denmark and can be granted the right to perform weddings and other ceremonies without this recognition.

According to the most recent Eurobarometer Poll 2005,[102] 31% of Danish citizens responded that "they believe there is a god", whereas 49% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 19% that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force". According to a 2005 study by Zuckerman, Denmark has the third highest proportion of atheists and agnostics in the world, estimated to be between 43% and 80%.[103][104]


File:Copenhagen Rundetårn street left.jpg

Rundetårn (Round Tower), an old observatory in the University of Copenhagen, Denmark's oldest and largest university

The Danish education system provides access to primary school, secondary school, and most kinds of higher education. Attendance at "Folkeskole" or equivalent education is compulsory for a minimum of 9 years. Equivalent education could be in private schools or classes attended at home. About 99% of students attend elementary school, 86% attend secondary school, and 41% pursue further education. All college education in Denmark is free; there are no tuition fees to enroll in courses. Students in secondary school or higher may apply for Student Support which provides fixed financial support, disbursed monthly.

Primary school in Denmark is called "den Danske Folkeskole" ("Danish Public School"). It runs from the introductory "kindergarten class"/0'th grade ("børnehaveklasse"/ "0. Klasse") to 10th grade, though 10th grade is optional. Students can alternatively attend "free schools" ("Friskole"), or private schools ("Privatskole"), i.e. schools that are not under the administration of the municipalities, such as christian schools or Waldorf Schools. The Programme for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD, ranked Denmark's education as the 24th best in the world in 2006, being neither significantly higher nor lower than the OECD average.[105]

Following graduation from Folkeskolen, there are several other educational opportunities, including Gymnasium (academically oriented upper secondary education), Higher Preparatory Examination (HF) (similar to Gymnasium, but one year shorter), Higher Technical Examination Programme (HTX) (with focus on Mathematics and engineering), and Higher Commercial Examination Programme (HHX) (with a focus on trade and business), as well as vocational education, training young people for work in specific trades by a combination of teaching and apprenticeship.

Gymnasium, HF, HTX and HHX aim at qualifying students for higher education in universities and colleges.

Denmark has several universities; the largest and oldest are the University of Copenhagen (founded 1479) and University of Aarhus (founded 1928).

Folkehøjskolerne, ("Folk high schools") introduced by politician, clergyman and poet N.F.S. Grundtvig in the 19th century, are social, informal education structures without tests or grades but emphasising communal learning, self-discovery, enlightenment, and learning how to think.[106]


File:Ærøskøbing 1.jpg

Ærøskøbing, a traditional Danish village

Hans Christian Andersen is known beyond Denmark for his fairy tales, such as The Emperor's New Clothes, The Little Mermaid, and The Ugly Duckling. Karen Blixen (pen name: Isak Dinesen), Nobel laureate author Henrik Pontoppidan, Nobel laureate physicist Niels Bohr, comedic pianist Victor Borge and philosopher Søren Kierkegaard have also made a name for themselves outside Denmark.

Copenhagen is home to many famous sites and attractions, including Tivoli Gardens, Amalienborg Palace (home of the Danish monarchy), Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen Cathedral, Rosenborg Castle, Opera House, Frederik's Church (Marble Church), Thorvaldsens Museum, Rundetårn, Nyhavn, and The Little Mermaid sculpture.[107] Copenhagen was ranked the most livable city in the world by Monocle magazine.[108]

The second largest city in Denmark is Aarhus. Aarhus is an old Viking Age city and one of the oldest cities in the country. The largest cathedral in Denmark and the second largest cathedral in Northern Europe is Aarhus Cathedral.

Historically, Denmark, like its Scandinavian neighbors, has been one of the most socially progressive cultures in the world. For example, in 1969, Denmark was the first country to legalise pornography.[109] And in 1989, Denmark enacted a registered partnership law, becoming the first country in the world to grant same-sex couples nearly all of the rights and responsibilities of marriage.[110]


The three big internationally important waves of Danish cinema have been:

  • The erotic melodrama of the silent era.
  • The increasingly explicit sex films of the 1960s and 1970s.
  • The Dogme95-movement of the late 1990s.

Danish filmmakers of note include:

  • Carl Th. Dreyer (1889–1968), one of the most acclaimed directors in the history of cinema.
  • Erik Balling, Oscar-nominated creator of Olsen-banden (1968).
  • Gabriel Axel, Oscar-winner for Babette's Feast (1987).
  • Bille August, Oscar-, Palme d'Or- and Golden Globe-winner for Pelle the Conqueror (1987).
  • Lars von Trier, Oscar-nominated for Dancer in the Dark (2000), co-creator of Dogme95 and of Zentropa.

A locally popular film genre is the charmingly good-natured "folkekomedie" (folk comedy), which originated in the 1930s and gained widespread dominance from the 1950s until the 1970s, usually scorned by critics and loved by the audience. Notable folkekomedie-films include Barken Margrethe (1934), De røde heste (1950), Far til fire (1953) and Olsen-banden (1968).

Since the 1980s, Danish filmmaking has been important to changing governments. The National Film School of Denmark has educated a generation of new award-winning directors. The funds for film project has been administrated by the Danish Film Institute, but their focus on movies that would achieve high tickets-sales locally has been criticized for being both too populist and too narrow-minded, by directors wishing to be artistic or international.

In recent years, Danish cinema has suffered a crisis of limited innovation resulting in very few box office hits, yet Danish films continue to receive many awards at major international film festivals.



Hans Christian Andersen

The first known Danish literature is myths and folk stories from the 10th and 11th century. Saxo Grammaticus, normally considered the first Danish writer, worked for bishop Absalon on a chronicle of Danish history (Gesta Danorum). Very little is known of other Danish literature from the Middle Ages. With the Age of Enlightenment came Ludvig Holberg whose comedic plays are still being performed.

Romanticism influenced world famous writer Hans Christian Andersen known for his stories and fairytales and contemporary philosopher Søren Kierkegaard greatly influenced existentialism. In the late 19th century, literature was seen as a way to influence society. Known as the Modern Breakthrough, this movement was championed by Georg Brandes, Henrik Pontoppidan (awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature) and J. P. Jacobsen. In recent history Johannes Vilhelm Jensen was also awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Karen Blixen is famous for her novels and short stories. Other Danish writers of importance are Grundtvig, Gustav Wied, William Heinesen, Martin Andersen Nexø, Hans Scherfig, Tom Kristensen, Dan Turéll, Peter Høeg, and others. In the younger generations Kristian Ditlev Jensen, Lone Hørslev, and Martin Larsen might be noted.


The most popular sport in Denmark is football. Sailing and other water sports are popular, as are golf and indoor sports such as badminton, handball, and various forms of gymnastics. There is also a small group of people doing motorsport, and with some success. The most successful driver on the 24 Hours of Le Mans race ever, with eight 1st places is Tom Kristensen; in motorcycle speedway Denmark has won several World Championships.

File:US Open 2009 4th round 156.jpg

Caroline Wozniacki

Other notable Danish sportspeople include American football's National Football League all-time leading scorer Morten Andersen, snowboarder Julie Wendel Lundholdt, cyclists Bjarne Riis, Rolf Sørensen, and Michael Rasmussen, badminton-players Peter Gade and Camilla Martin, table tennis-player Michael Maze, poker Hall of Fame player Gus Hansen and Peter Eastgate, football players Michael and Brian Laudrup and Peter Schmeichel. Teenager Caroline Wozniacki is rising up the rankings on the WTA tennis tour. Denmark is also the home and birthplace of WBC Super middleweight boxing champion, Mikkel Kessler and European tour golfer Thomas Bjørn who has won several international events.

In 1992, the national football team won the European champions. Remarkably, the team had finished second in their qualifying group behind Yugoslavia and as a result had failed to qualify for the final tournament. They gained their place in the tournament at the last moment when the Yugoslavia national team and local clubs were banned from all international/continental competitions because of the ongoing Yugoslav Wars. The Danes won the finals by defeating reigning 1990 FIFA World Cup champions Germany.


Denmark has long been a center of cultural innovation. Copenhagen and its multiple outlying islands have a wide range of folk traditions. The Royal Danish Orchestra is among the world's oldest orchestras. Carl Nielsen, with his six imposing symphonies, was the first Danish composer to gain international recognition, while an extensive recording industry has produced pop stars and a host of performers from a multitude of genres. Internationally only a few artists have gained star status. Lars Ulrich from Metallica is from Denmark, along with D-A-D, Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Whigfield, Michael Learns to Rock, Alphabeat, Infernal, the '90s pop band Aqua, and the alternative rock band Mew.


File:Smørrebrød 4.jpg

Danish open sandwich (smørrebrød) on dark rye bread

The cuisine of Denmark, like that in the other Nordic countries as well as that of northern Germany, consists mainly of meat and fish. This stems from the country's agricultural past, as well as its geography and climate of long, cold winters.

Danish food includes a variety of open rugbrød (Rye-bread) sandwiches or smørrebrød traditionally served for the mid-day meal or frokost (lunch). An ordinary frokost consists just of 2 to 6 pieces of simple smørrebrød prepared during breakfast and packed in a lunch box. A luxury frokost usually starts with fish such as pickled herring, smoked eel or hot fried plaice. Then come meat sandwiches such as cold roast beef with remoulade and fried onions, roast pork and crackling with red cabbage, hot veal medallions, Danish meat balls (frikadeller) or liver paté with bacon and mushrooms.

Some typically Danish items are Sol over Gudhjem, literally "sun over God's home" (Gudhjem is a town on Bornholm where a lot of herring is landed and smoked), consisting of smoked herring, chives and with raw egg yolk (the "sun") on top; or Dyrlægens natmad, 'vet's late-night bite', with liver paté, saltmeat (corned veal), onions and jellied consommé. Finally cheese is served with crackers, radishes, nuts or grapes. Lager beer accompanied by small glasses of snaps or aquavit are the preferred drinks for a Danish frokost.


Æbleskiver, Danish Christmas pancakes

The large hot meal of the day is called middag is usually served in the evening. It normally consists of meat (pork, beef, lamb or fish) with gravy and a source of starch (non-sugar carbohydrates) such as boiled potatoes, rice or pasta, sometimes supplemented by salad and/or cabbage. This may be followed by a dessert such as ice cream, mousse or rødgrød. The meal may be preceded by soup or hot porridge. The most popular porridge is rice porridge (frequently mistranslated as "rice pudding" by linguists more concerned with cultural use than actual meaning), made with milk and served with an eye of butter and topped with cinnamon.

Popular meat dishes include pork steak with crispy skin, frikadeller (fried pork meatballs), "chopped beef" (fried lumps of coarsely chopped beef, looks just like frikadeller, but it is 100% pure beef), beef tenderloin, "million-beef" (coarsely chopped beef in gravy), karbonader/krebinetter (breaded and fried minced meat), all kinds of roast etc. Popular combined meat and starch dishes include Spaghetti alla Bolognese, hash etc.

Fish is traditionally more widely eaten on the west coast of Jutland, where fishing is a major industry. Smoked fish dishes (herring, mackerel, eel) from local smoking houses or røgerier, especially on the island of Bornholm, are increasingly popular.

In recent years, Copenhagen restaurants like Noma, Geranium and MR has played an important role in re-inventing the Danish and Nordic cuisine, making Copenhagen a hotspot for gourmet dining with a Nordic twist.



HMDS Absalon.

Denmark's armed forces are known as the Danish Defence (Template:Lang-da). During peacetime, the Ministry of Defence in Denmark employs around 33,000 in total. The main military branches employ almost 27,000: 15,460 in the Royal Danish Army, 5,300 in the Royal Danish Navy and 6,050 in the Royal Danish Air Force (all including conscripts).

The Danish Emergency Management Agency (Template:Lang-da) employs 2,000 (including conscripts), and about 4,000 are in non-branch-specific services like the Danish Defence Command, the Danish Defence Research Establishment, and the Danish Defense Intelligence Service. Furthermore around 55,000 serve as volunteers in the Danish Home Guard (Template:Lang-da).

The Danish Defence has around 1,400[111] staff in international missions, not including standing contributions to NATO SNMCMG1. The three largest contributions are in Afghanistan (ISAF), Kosovo (KFOR), and Lebanon (UNIFIL). Between 2003 and 2007, there were approximately 450 Danish soldiers in Iraq.[112]

International rankings[]

Organization Survey Ranking
Institute for Economics and Peace Global Peace Index[113] 2 out of 144
United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index 16 out of 182
Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2 out of 180
World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index 5 out of 133


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  • Template:Da icon Busck, Steen and Poulsen, Henning (ed.), "Danmarks historie  — i grundtræk", Aarhus Universitetsforlag, 2002, ISBN 87-7288-941-1
  • Template:Da icon Michaelsen, Karsten Kjer, "Politikens bog om Danmarks oldtid", Politikens Forlag (1. bogklubudgave), 2002, ISBN 87-00-69328-6
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External links[]

Template:Sisterlinks Template:Denmark portal Template:European Union portal

General information
News and media
  • vifanord – a digital library that provides scientific information on the Nordic and Baltic countries as well as the Baltic region as a whole

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