This page offers information about the Kingdom of Denmark, which in addition to Denmark itself also includes the Faroe Islands and Greenland.
The Royal Family. Photo by Martin Mydtskov Rønne.
Denmark consists of the peninsula Jutland and c. 406 islands, of which c. 79 are inhabited (1999). Of these, the largest and most densely populated are Zealand on which the capital of Copenhagen is situated, Funen and the North Jutland Island. The North Sea borders Denmark to the west, while the islands divide the Baltic from the Kattegat. The Danish islands are thus on the sea lane from the Baltic to the main oceans of the world and at the same time on the trade route from the Nordic countries to central Europe.
Throughout the country's history, this position has had an influence on the governing of the country, and also on trade and political and military strategy.
Towards the end of the 10th century, Denmark was united into a single kingdom. It has been an independent country ever since, and is thus one of the oldest states in Europe.
The form of government is a parliamentary democracy with a Royal Head of State. Administratively, the country is divided into 5 counties (regioner) and 98 municipalities (kommuner).
The Danish Parliament, 'Folketinget'.
Denmark is a developed, industrialised country. By international standards, the standard of living is high, and the differences between rich and poor are smaller than in many of the countries to which Denmark is traditionally compared.
Denmark is a member of the European Union since 1973, when Ireland also joined the union. The proximity of Germany has traditionally orientated the country south in an economic and political sense. Close co-operation with Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland, with which Denmark enjoys a passport union, however, also ties Denmark to the North.
The country has a coastline totalling 7300 km in all and a 68 km-long frontier with Germany. It is a distinctly low-lying country, the highest point being only 173 metres above sea level, but the landscape is undulating and varied; only occasionally is it possible to find undisturbed nature and the view everywhere shows signs of human activity. It is only on the island of Bornholm that bedrock is found and otherwise the land is characterised by fertile clayish or sandy moraine landscapes.
Denmark is poor in mineral deposits. However, chalk for the production of cement is found in considerable quantities and more oil and gas is extracted from the North Sea than is needed for home consumption.
Most of the land, 65%, is under cultivation. 10% is covered by deciduous or coniferous forest, while meadow, heath, marshland, bogs, sandhills and lakes constitute approx. 10%. Built-up areas and traffic areas make up the remaining 15%. The climate is temperate and precipitation is sufficient to provide all the water needed.
The population stands at approx. 5.56 million and the population density is 129 per square kilometre. Foreign immigrants amount to 290,000; in addition there is a small German minority in southern Jutland.
The language used in Denmark is Danish and the vast majority of the population has been baptised into the established protestant church. Denmark is therefore nationally and culturally very homogeneous.
Of the population, 85% live in towns. The greater Copenhagen region accounts for approx. 1.1 million inhabitants. The second biggest city is Aarhus accounting for approx. 302,618 inhabitants. The entire country is otherwise covered by a network of medium-sized towns.
Danish agriculture is highly developed, producing a considerable surplus of manufactured foods which are exported to other countries. Industrial production is varied in relation to the size of the country. Among the commodities that have made Denmark famous abroad, in addittion to agricultural produce, are: Beer, medicines, furniture, shipping, wind turbines and products of the advanced metal industries.
Both agriculture and industry are highly effective. Agriculture and fisheries employ only 4%, and industry and construction 24% of the population. The remaining 72% are employed in the service sector; 31% in the public sector and 41% in private business, including the traditional shipping trade.
Denmark has an open economy and trade with the rest of the world is of great importance.
Around 70% of foreign trade is with the other countries in the EU; the remainder is divided among a very large number of trading partners, of which the USA and Norway are the most important.
Denmark is well provided with traffic systems. The road network is good everywhere in the country; railways and air links provide quick transport, and the islands are connected by ferries and a large number of bridges.
Kastrup, near Copenhagen, is the largest international airport in the country and is at the same time a crossroads for air traffic to and from the other Scandinavian countries.