A democratic constitutional monarchy, it is a member of NATO and The European Union, but retains its own currencynote . In 1969 it became the first country in the world to legalise hardcore pornography, which contributed to attracting a certain kind of tourist.
Denmark has one of the oldest known national flags, the Dannebrog, which dates back to the 14th century at least. The flag is flown (and miniature paper flags used for decoration) at festive occasions such as birthdays and Christmas. Danes tend to perceive their flag as an icon of joy and celebration first, and only secondarily as a symbol for their country. They may have trouble grasping why displaying a flag in celebration could be interpreted as a nationalist gesture. The Danish anthem, "Der er et yndigt land", or "There is a lovely country", is one of the very few to include references to ancient (Viking) religions. Its poetry is also quite beautiful.
The Danes (as the Vikings were usually known at the time) struck terror into much of Northern Europe from the 9th to the 11th centuries, but since then, Denmark has generally been content to trade peacefully, barring the odd scuffle with their neighbor and nemesis, Swedennote . For a while during the 15th century, the Union of Kalmar united Denmark, Norway and Sweden under one king, but it couldn't last. Sweden left and Norway decided to join Denmark properly. Due to Denmark choosing to join the French side in the Napoleonic Wars, and thereby ending up on the losing side, Norway was ceded to Sweden.
The modern Danish state was born in 1848, as a part of the liberal revolutions that swept through Europe at the time. Hoping to avoid the violent revolutions that had rocked much of Europa, the recently-crowned Frederick VII met with representatives from the Danish national-liberal movement and agreed to peaceful ended the absolute monarchy, reforming the Danish state into a constitutional monarchy with a democratically elected parlament, and constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of association. Unfortunately for Denmark, the advent of nationalism was also a consequence of the 1848 revolutions, and this was especially felt in the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein in the southernmost parts of Denmark, which were due to various Binding Ancient Treaties not formally a part of Denmark proper, but rather a part of the realm of the Danish Crown. Schleswig especially was split by a predominantly culturally Danish population in the Northern Schleswig/Southern Jutland which desired to be a full and equal part of Denmark, and a predominantly culturally German population in Southern Schleswig who began agitating to leave Denmark, and some arguing for the formation of a free republic with their fellow Germans in Holstein. Like most countries do when faced with secessionism, Denmark cracked down, which provoked the German Republicans to rise in rebellion. What Denmark didn't count on, however, was other German states, most prominently the military powerhouse of Prussia, interfering on the rebels' side, which sparked the First Schleswig War. Denmark eventually managed to hold on and keep all of its territory thanks to international mediation which ended the war in 1851.
However the national disagreements that had sparked the conflict in the first place had not been resolved by the peace settlement, only temporarily tabled. And in 1863 the conflict was reignited, when Denmark once again made movements to alter the status of the duchies through an amendment of the Danish constitution, despite this being a willful breach of international treaties drafted after the war. Many considered it a stupid move in hindsight, but to the Danish government it did look like a good idea of the time, as the Minister President of Prussia Otto von Bismarck had implied that his country would not interfere this time. But this was a carefully planned deception on Bismarck's behalf — done by deliberately using highly ambiguous language. Bismarck, in fact, wanted a war for internal political reasons. In early 1864, Bismack's trap sprung shut, when Prussia and its ally, Austria, declared the Second Schleswig War. Alone and facing an enemy who was superior in both manpower and technology, Denmark would suffer a couple of humilating and traumatic defeats in the spring of 1864, and was ultimately forced to cede Schleswig and Holstein to Prussia and Austria (who then almost immediately afterwards proceed to fight a war over the spoils).
Denmark was occupied by the Nazis in 1940 and got virtually its entire Jewish population out before the Nazis could get their hands on them. It was not liberated before the German surrender in 1945.
Denmark is made up of a peninsula (Jutland, or Jylland to the Danes), and a whole bunch of islands. The biggest island is Zealand (Sjælland), on which stands Copenhagen (København). The country is notable for its flatness; average elevation stands at 34 m, just piggybacking the Netherlands (which goes with the absolutely abysmal 30 m), while the highest point in the country itself is a television tower called the Rø Transmitter◊, which stands on a hill giving it a 431.3 m height, while the highest natural point is a hill called Møllehøj◊ (170.86 m), with a millstone marking it for good measure. The "mountainous Scandinavia" that most people associate when they think about the region actually characterizes Norway and the Lapland parts of Sweden and Finland better. So, if you ever see any film depicting Denmark with mountains, waterfalls, boreal forests, and the like, suffice to say you've been lied to.
Like the United Kingdom, Denmark has the concept of constituent countries, which make up the much-larger "Kingdom of Denmark". Other than the continental part, the Kingdom includes the Faroe Islands and Greenland, both of which have received home rule and thus function as independent countries except in the matters of foreign affairs. It also formerly included Iceland until 1918 when it became a separate Kingdom with a shared royal house with Denmark (not unlike the Commonwealth), followed by a British/American invasion in 1940 to prevent it falling into German hands, and the creation of the current day Republic of Iceland.
Denmark is famous as the home of LEGO, and the LEGOLAND theme park in Billund, central Jutland (also home to The LEGO Group's headquarters) is one of the country's major tourist attractions; in parodies, it's common to jokingly depict LEGO as Denmark's currency. Denmark is also a major producer of dairy goods and pork and bacon - "Danish Bacon" is one of the premium brands in Britain. Several varieties of cheese have their origins in Denmark, of which Havarti is probably the best-known. Another one of its main tourist attractions is the annual Roskilde Festival, which has been held since 1971.
The second most recent notable event to take place in Denmark is the massive controversy over some cartoons. Danish-born British comedienne Sandi Toksvig commented that she never thought she would see anyone burning Danish flags, such was the cozy, inoffensive reputation of the country (and why would you burn an icon of joy and celebration anyway? - disregarding that it is accepted that the only way to get rid of an old flag without dishonoring it, is to burn it). The first most recent notable event was the recent climate change conference.
The current monarch of Denmark is Queen Margrethe II, and the current prime minister is Mette Frederiksen. Margrethe II is a descendant of King Christian IX who is known as the "father-in-law of Europe" because, similar to Queen Victoria, many of his children married into other royal families across Europe. His oldest son and successor Frederick VIII married Princess Louise of Sweden. The other children are: Alexandra, Queen consort of the United Kingdom; George I of Greecenote ; Maria Feodorovna, Empress consort of Russia; Thyra, Crown Princess of Hanover; while his youngest child Prince Valdemar married French Princess Marie of Orleans. Among the descendants of Christian IX in the present day, other than Margrethe II, are Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Philippe of Belgium, Harald V of Norway, Felipe VI of Spain, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, Constantine II of Greece, Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, Queen Sofia of Spain, and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
For the Danish Defence, see Danes With Drakens.
Denmark in fictional media:
- Much of the plot of Beowulf, an Old English heroic epic, takes place in Denmark.
- The Danish History of Saxo 'Grammaticus' covers the history of Denmark from the times of myth up to 1182 AD.
- The 13th century Icelandic Saga of Hrolf Kraki, about a legendary Danish King and his band of heroes.
- The Kingdom of Denmark is Norway's main adversary in Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla, a history of the Norwegian kings.
- Shakespeare's Hamlet. Ultimately based on a Danish heroic legend told by Saxo Grammaticus.
- Babette's Feast is mostly set in a remote village on the Eastern coast of Jutland during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
- The Olsen-banden movies.
- Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow by Peter Høeg.
- The 2007 Beowulf film (though it departs from Real Life geography quite obviously).
- Denmark is known for its animation industry, which has produced numerous great films like Jungledyret Hugo, Help! I'm a Fish, Journey to Saturn and The Flight Before Christmas.
- Denmark is an anthropomorphic character in Hetalia: Axis Powers and in Scandinavia and the World. He's the most enthusiastic of the Nordic Five.
- In the The Penguins of Madagascar, Skipper is not allowed to set foot on Denmark due to a past private matter that he never elaborates on. The most that's revealed is that Hans the Puffin was involved and they have enough of a grudge against him that he wouldn't be surprised if they sent agents after him.
- Crime drama The Killing continues the recent trend for Scandinavian crime fiction.
- Borgen, a Danish political drama starring Sidse Babett Knudsen as Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg, which has recently become wildly popular in Britain.
- Denmark is a playable NATO faction in Wargame: AirLand Battle.
- The Hunt (2012), which is set in a small Danish village.
- Flame and Citron, a film about World War II Danish Resistance members fighting the Nazis.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent Adventure I is set almost entirely in a Plague Zombie invaded Denmark. The population of Bornholm island survived the Zombie Apocalypse, and The Medic Mikkel Madsen is Danish.
- The author of fairy tales Hans Christian Andersen came from Odense.
- Søren Kierkegaard, a writer, philosopher, and Lutheran theologian who is considered to be the first existentialist philosopher. He wrote a number of works using multiple pseudonyms and personae.
- Mads Mikkelsen, who played Le Chiffre in Casino Royale (2006). He has been voted the sexiest man in Denmark multiple times. And was shot by Jesper Christensen, another Dane, who played Mr. White.
- Viggo Mortensen has dual Danish-American citizenship (his father is Danish).
- Connie Nielsen
- Lars von Trier, art film director and winner of several Cannes awards.
- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, quite well-known for his role as Jamie Lannister in the HBO adaptation of Game of Thrones.
- Lars Ulrich, drummer of the band Metallica.
- Football players Peter Schmeichel (Manchester United) and his son Kasper (Leicester City), Jesper Grønkjær (Chelsea) and the Laudrup Brothers Michael (FC Barcelona) and Brian (Glasgow Rangers)
- Queen Margrethe herself is a noted illustrator and set/costume designer; her illustrations were used in the Danish translation of The Lord of the Rings.
- Gitte Stallone Nielsen, actress and ex-wife of Sylvester Stallone.
- Architects Jørn Utzon (Sydney opera house) and Johan Spreckelsen (Grande Arche in Paris).
- Børge Rosenbaum, better known as Victor Borge, pianist and comedian.
- Paprika Steen, actress (sometimes known as the queen of Dogme 95 - most known for The Celebration, The Idiots, Applause).
- The famous 1990s band Michael Learns to Rock.
- Incredibly pretty Thure Lindhardt, who is famous nationally for his wide-ranging character roles on film, gained international recognition after his appearance as Chartrand in Angels & Demons.
- Helena Christensen, early nineties supermodel, former Victoria's Secret Angel, and mother. Music fans of a certain generation will never forget her romp on the beach with Chris Isaak in the music video for "Wicked Game."
- Renée Toft Simonsen, who won the Supermodel of the World contest in 1982, writes children´s books, works as a psychologist, and is the resident mother to 3 children. She was formerly married to Thomas Helmig, one of the most famous musicians in Danish history.
- Current tennis star Caroline Wozniacki (although she's ethnically Polish, both of her parents having been immigrants from Poland).
Politics of Denmark If you are a Libertarian, this is not the place for you. Denmark has some of the highest tax rates in the world. The population is largely content with this as it supports a large welfare state, public health care and education for every citizen. But Denmark also has some of the strictest immigration laws in Europe, which have gotten progressively stricter in recent years and which effectively limit the state's largesse. If you are a non-European, please notice that in Denmark, like most of Europe, the word "liberal" generally means being center/right-oriented, as opposed to being left-oriented as it is in the US.
- Socialdemokraterne: A centre-left party (its name means "Social Democrats"), who currently have Keynesian economics and environmentalism as their main topics. It is an old labor party, and currently the political party with most seats in parliament. Is currently forms a single-party minority government, with support from a coalition of the left-wing parties.
- Venstre: In spite of it's name ("venstre" means left in Danish) Vestre is the main liberal center-right party. It originated as the party of the Danish farmers (although it has moved a bit away from this demographic in newer times). While primarily running on a Keynesian economics platform resembling that of the Social Democrats, Venstre's value policies have a slightly more national-conservative bend, along with an emphasis on a more laissez-faire approach towards the private market.
- Konservative: Another party placed on the right wing, being the main national-conservative party. Like Venstre, this party dates back to the signing of the constitution in 1848, and has historically been the party of the land-owners. Its original name was "Højre", which means "right" in Danish.
- Socialistisk Folkeparti: A left-wing party that splintered from the Danish Kommunist Party, the Socialistic People's Party, or SF to most Danes, this party was for the people who felt that socialism didn't have to mean you followed the USSR blindly. Has moved a bit more to the right in recent years. They support the current government.
- Det Radikale Venstre: The Social Liberal Party (the Danish name literally means "The Radical Left", although this is a reference to the party Venstre, whom they split from, and not left-wing politics), started out as the party for the Danish smallholders, and are about as close to the middle as Danish politics get, although since the 90s they have worked more closely with the left wing than the right (and was part of a coalition government with Socialdemokraterne until 2001 and again from 2011 to 2015).
- Enhedslisten: The far left of Danish politics, this party was originally a coalition between Dansk Kommunistisk Parti (the Danish Communist Party), Socialistisk Arbejder Parti (the Socialistic Workers Party) and Venstresocialisterne (the Left Socialists), itself a coalition party. This is reflected in the name, which literally means "the Unity List", although internationally they prefer to use the Danish Red-Green Alliance. They are against Danish membership in the EU and NATO, and would like to abolish the monarchy and make Denmark a republic. It is noticeable in being the only party without a chairman, instead being led by an executive committee. In practice however they are represented by their political spokesperson. They have a rule that says a member can only run for elections for seven years, before having to step down from that. Supporting party of the Socialdemokraterne government.
- Liberal Alliance: The second-newest party in the Danish parliament, being formed in 2007 under the name Ny Alliance (New Alliance). It is notable for wanting to make tax rates fixed at 40%, instead of being graduated between 8% and 63% as they are now, though they moderated those views when they were part of the former government until 2019.
- Dansk Folkeparti: Probably one of the most controversial parties represented in the Danish Parliament, this party is the 3rd largest in Denmark, and was a supporting party for the V-LA-K government. Describes itself as a center party, but it is mostly viewed as a right-wing party with national-populist tendencies (its name means Danish People's Party after all). It believes that the best integration of aliens is total assimilation, has provided Denmark with harder immigration laws than the rest of Europe, and several prominent members of the party has been accused of racism and Islamophobia. Comparable to other populist parties in Europe.
- Alternativet: A newer party. Translatable to "The Alternative", the party rose to popularity with the 2015 election on the general feeling of discontent towards the political climate with a promise of something wildly different. Officially a left-wing party, Alternativet prefers to stay outside the known formula for professional politics and instead focus on the changes they want for the Danish government, including, but not limited to, having a fixed amount of work-hours a week and investing heavily in green energy. The party has essentially collapsed following a terrible election in 2019 and the election of an unpopular leader. They are down to just 1 seat in Parliament.
- Nye Borgerlige: The newest party, being elected in 2019. Translates into English as "New Right", the party was formed by people from Konservative who thought the existing parties on the right-wing, including Dansk Folkeparti, were not right-wing enough. They wish for a very hard line on immigration and wish for libertarian economic policies similar to Liberal Alliance. Comparable to the Republican party under Donald Trump.
There are other parties with no parliamentary representation, but on the ballot for the general election. In addition, there are 4 parties from Greenland and the Faroes each with 1 seat represented in Parliament.
The Danish Flag
Coat of arms of Denmark
The Danish national anthems
- Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
- Monarch: Margrethe II
- Prime Minister: Mette Frederiksen
- Capital and largest city: Copenhagen
- Population: 5,840,045
- Area: 42,933 km (16,577 sq mi) (130th)
- Currency: Danish krone (kr.) (DKK)
- ISO-3166-1 Code: DK