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Kingdom of Denmark

Kongeriget Danmark



Denmark is in Northern Europe, bordered primarily by the Baltic Sea and North Sea. It consists of the peninsula of Jutland, north of Germany, and close to 406 islands, about 80 of which are inhabited. The most populated and largest of the islands is Zealand, where the country's capital can be found; Funen; and Jutland. Denmark occupies 43,094 square kilometers (16,621 square miles), a little less than twice the size of Massachusetts. Germany shares 68 kilometers (42 miles) of border with Denmark, and the other 7,314 kilometers (4,545 miles) is coastline. In 1 July 2000, the Øresund Bridge was completed, connecting Denmark and southern Sweden. The Kingdom of Denmark also includes the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, and the territories of Greenland and the Faroe Islands.


Denmark's population in 2000 was 5,336,394, and was projected to fall to around 5,200,000 in 2025. From the late 1960s to the present, the fertility and mortality rates have been declining. Average life expectancy at birth has increased, but it is notable that life expectancy for men and for women in Denmark is still lower than all of its neighbors, especially for women (in 1999 life expectancy for women was 78.3, while in the United States it was 80.1). The overall population growth rate has been consistently low at 0.31 percent.

The Danish population is extremely homogenous. As of 2000, 97 percent are Danes (ethnic Scandinavians), and the rest are Inuit (Eskimo), Faroese, and Germans. The proportion of elderly people in the population has been increasing as well, with the result that in 2000 only 18 percent were under 14, and 15 percent were over 65.

The population is highly urbanized, with around 85 percent living in cities. However, population density is low compared to places such as the United States and European countries farther south. It is worth noting that to be classified as "urban" in Denmark, a settlement needs only 250 people (compared to Greece, where "urban" is defined as a settlement of 10,000 or more). Urbanization has slowed in the 1990s, with some Danes reversing the pattern and moving back to rural areas.


Denmark has a technologically advanced free-market economy, mainly involved in high value-added production such as processing and finishing products, rather than extracting and producing raw materials. Main exports are industrial products, followed by agricultural products chiefly livestock-based products such as cheese, pork, and other meats. Denmark's reliance on export trade has meant that its economy has been sensitive to fluctuations in world demand, although its generous welfare state policies since the 1960s have cushioned the population from suffering much from this volatility. Because of its geographic location, Denmark is an important distribution point for Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, England, and the rest of Europe.

Denmark's high-tech agricultural sector is the latest development in a long history of Danish farming. Before the late 1800s, Denmark's chief agricultural products were grains, but at the end of the 1800s an influx of cheap grains from the Americas and Russia caused prices to plummet. Danish farmers, supported by the government and the Folk High School Movement (a cultural and educational movement that encouraged knowledge-sharing, adult education, and agricultural research and reform, especially in rural areas), switched to livestock production, feeding their animals on the cheap grain. Danes developed an industry making processing machinery for its agricultural products. By the 1960s, industry had overtaken agriculture as the largest sector of the economy.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, the Danish economy followed a fairly regular cycle: increases in wages and benefits raised costs for firms, which led to price hikes and thus less ability to compete in foreign markets. This upset Denmark's balance of trade , as the high wages raised demands for imports, so the government would attempt to control rising consumption, usually by tightening credit and imposing a new tax. The 1970s and 1980s saw labor, political, and economic troubles as the government attempted to impose austerity measures such as harsh savings programs. Strong public opposition (including labor strikes) to various plans led to the repeated dissolution of the ruling coalition governments. After 1973, rising oil prices and the international recession led to high unemployment and low domestic demand.

External debt stayed high during the 1980s, consisting mainly of bonds bought by outside investors that required interest payments by the government. However, the extent of debt was not enough to discourage foreign investors, thus Danish business did not have to worry about financing drying up. While Denmark's balance of trade was positive from 1990 to 1997, that surplus was used to pay off the debt, which gradually fell from over 40 percent of GDP in 1990 to 24 percent in 1997. The budget deficit was not eliminated until the mid-1990s, but since then government has generally run a small surplus.

Businesses in Denmark are mainly small- and medium-sized. Over 75 percent of Danish industrial companies employ fewer than 75 people. Most farms are family-owned, a tradition that was partly supported by a law prohibiting public companies from owning farms. This prohibition was lifted in 1989. The increasing accessibility to consumers in Europe has begun to encourage Danish businesses to look at ways to supply these consumers on a larger scale, including the possibility of merging small companies together into larger ones, as well as developing networks of coordination and communication between several companies.

Across most of the political spectrum, Danes are committed to ensuring a basic level of economic equality, which has been the impetus behind the creation and maintenance of a large and generous welfare, social security, national health care, and education system. The public sector in 1999 employed close to 800,000 people, over 25 percent of the labor force . Since the 1960s, the public sector has ensured that despite economic fluctuations, everyone in Denmark has completely free access to health care and education, as well as unemployment benefits, sick leave, parental leave, and housing and childcare subsidies . Although unemployment has been one of Denmark's most persistent problems, in the new century it has fallen remarkably, to a current low of just under 6 percent.

In 2000, Denmark opted out of the final stage of the European Monetary Union (EMU), choosing to keep their own currency rather than join the euro. However, as the krone is closely tied with the euro, the Danish economy is not autonomous. Arguments against the EMU in Denmark mainly accentuate the need to retain political autonomy. These opponents stress that integration into the EMU could result in a threat to Denmark's commitment to economic equality and the environment, especially if Danish businesses were required to compete with those based in countries which do not require them to comply with similar environmental or labor regulations.


Queen Margarethe II is officially the head of state, but actual power resides in the prime minister and his or her cabinet (called "the government" in Denmark and virtually all other parliamentary systems, and similar to a U.S. "administration") and the Folketing (the parliament). The Queen formally appoints the prime minister and the cabinet, but this appointment is always the result of behind-the-scenes maneuvering and coalition-building after a general election. The prime minister is accountable to the Folketing for his or her actions. Most ministers have their own ministries, (such as the Ministry of Finance or the Ministry of the Environment), but some individual ministers may be selected without being assigned to a specific ministry. Legislation is created cooperatively by the Folketing and the government. Proposals for laws are considered twice in the Folketing, and if approved, must then be approved by the Queen and the government. The Queen is not independent from the government in approving legislation, but rather acts under its advice.

The Folketing has 179 seats; members are elected by proportional representation (voters elect parties rather than individuals, that receive a number of seats in the legislature proportional to the percentage of votes received). This system encourages the proliferation of political parties that may form coalitions not only to form governments, but to pass legislation in the Folketing. The prime minister can call an election at any time in the hopes of gaining more seats for the ruling coalition. And as in virtually all parliamentary systems, new elections may be called if there is a vote of no confidence in the Folketing, although this has not happened since 1909. The minimum level of popular support necessary for a party to be represented in the Folketing is 2 percent (corresponding to 3 or 4 seats), and 2 seats each are reserved for representatives from the Faroe Islands and Greenland.

Like much of Scandinavia, Denmark has a good record on women's representation in government and politics at both the local and national levels. In the government in the year 2000, 35 percent of cabinet ministers were women, as were 37 percent of the Folketing (compared with the United States in 2000, where women were 41.4 percent of the cabinet but only 12 percent of Congress).

Since 1973, there have been 10 major political parties. Underlying all but the most extreme right wing of the parties is the Nordic emphasis on the importance of economic equality, ensured by strong social welfare programs. The issue of whether or how to join the European Community has been important to all the parties over the past 20 years, but does not divide them according to traditional "right-left" alignments.

The parties in the government in 2001 were elected in March 1998. The ruling coalition is comprised of the Social Democratic Party (65 seats), the Socialist People's Party (13 seats), the Radical Liberal Party (7 seats), and the Unity Party (5 seats); in the opposition are the Liberal Party (43 seats), the Conservative Party (17 seats), the Danish People's Party (13 seats), the Center Democratic Party (8 seats), the Christian People's Party (4 seats), and the Progress Party (4 seats).

The Social Democrats and Socialist People's Party do not wish Denmark to rely solely on market forces to organize the economy, and place a priority on equalizing income distribution and living standards. Trade unions are especially associated with the Social Democrats. The Radical Liberals (Det Radikale Venstre) are to the right of Social Democrats, and want to curb public spending, lower income tax rates for high earners, and reduce benefits for the unemployed. The Unity Party or Unity List is an alliance of far-leftist and environmental groups, to the left of the Social Democrats.

The Conservative Party (CP) has been generally gaining in popularity since the mid-1970s, although its peak was in the 1980s. Representing especially the interests of business and property owners, the Conservatives emphasize the rights of ownership while trying to reduce power of trade unions. While still supporting a welfare state, the CP wants to limit public spending on social programs, but increase spending on defense. The CP is fairly pro-European integration. The Liberal Party (Venstre) is close to but more extreme than the conservatives in wishing to reduce government spending and power, and are strongly pro-European integration. The Danish People's Party (DPP) is a nationalist party for ethnic Danes, against immigration and suspicious of refugees. They are strongly anti-European integration, although they support free trade and market-based agricultural policy. The DPP are for social welfare programs, but only for Danish citizens, and also support abolishing or greatly reducing property, inheritance, and other taxes. The Center Democratic Party wants fewer taxes, especially for individuals. They do support social welfare programs and are also pro-Europe. The Christian People's Party (CPP) was formed in response to the late-1960s legalization of abortion laws and lessening of restrictions on pornography, both of which they oppose. They want to decentralize political decisions, avoid special interests, and emphasize protecting the environment and quality of life. They have historically had a small share of popular vote, usually just above the 2 percent threshold required for representation in the Folketing. The Progress Party (PP) was founded in 1990, an extreme right-wing party with a reputation for unruliness. Their main platform is to abolish income taxes and greatly reduce government spending, and to restrict immigration. Against joining the European Union, their arguments often alienate more tolerant Danes, while some of their leaders and members have espoused more explicitly racist attitudes. Many of the other parties are reluctant to form a coalition with them.

In 1997, the public sector employed around a quarter of the workforce, and provided health care, welfare, social security, education, and administration of the government. Government-owned businesses are also still important to the economy, although there has been increasing privatization in recent years. Recently privatized businesses include a life insurance company (now totally private), the national telecommunications company TeleDanmark (totally private), Copenhagen Airport (now 49 percent private), and the computer services company Datacentralen, 75 percent of which was sold to the U.S.-based Computer Sciences Corp. The large Postal Service and Danish State Railroads companies have also been turned into private companies, although the government actually owns these firms. Some other public services such as sanitation, cleaning, and catering to public institutions are also being privatized.

The value-added tax (VAT) is the main source of government revenue, accounting for over one-quarter of total revenue in 1998. At 25 percent, it is one of the highest VAT rates in the world. Income tax is also high. In 1999, the marginal income tax rate was 40 percent for taxable incomes up to $21,500, while the highest bracket was about 60 percent for taxable incomes of more than $37,000. In 2001, 40 percent of all Danes in full-time employment were in the highest tax bracket. The Danish government, fearing an economic slowdown, is beginning to shift its tax burden somewhat away from individual incomes. "Green taxes" on pollution and to enforce environmental regulations are expected to make up some of the difference, and are already generating significant revenues; in 1995 over 8 percent of tax revenue came from environmentally-related taxes (over 2 percent of GDP). In the same year in the United States, only 4 percent of tax revenues came from environmentally-related taxes (less than 1 percent of GDP).

Even though most Danes must give almost half of their salaries to the government as income tax, they get most of it back in the form of free, high-quality health care, education, and transfer payments . For example, in 1996, 47 percent of the DKr386 billion collected by the national government was returned to the public in the form of transfer payments such as unemployment and sickness benefits, old-age pensions and housing subsidies. Some 60 percent of all government revenues from taxes in 1996 were spent on the health service, while transfer payments accounted for 40 percent of total public revenues (22 percent of GDP).

At 32 percent, corporate taxes are high. Denmark plans to reduce them to 26 percent by 2002. However, contrary to many economists' predictions, Denmark's high corporate tax rate has not discouraged foreign investment. In a surprising situation that suggests that there must be multiple reasons why foreign companies choose to invest, Denmark in 1997 showed an increase in foreign investment that was an amazing 308 percental-most 10 times that of the European Union as a whole.

The Danish currency is pegged in a fixed exchange rate with the euro, so interest rates nearly always follow the European Central Bank. This relationship changed slightly after the referendum in 2000 when the Danes narrowly voted to reject the last stage of the EMU and keep their own separate currency. After the referendum, the Danish national bank raised its interest rates, which encouraged people to borrow less (since interest on loans was higher), and thus reduced the amount of money in circulation. As money became scarcer, its value increased, and the bank prevented the krone from devaluation . However, the krone has never been allowed to fluctuate beyond the level allowed by the exchange rate mechanism (ERM).

Denmark was the first country to establish a Ministry for the Environment, in 1972. Danes spend more per capita on environmental protection than most nations in the world. This has also inspired the development of a local industry of pollution control equipment, which is now a significant international force. This environmental focus has also affected the Danes' relation to European integration. Many have feared that joining the European Union (EU) would require them to lower their standards of environmental protection in order to remain in line with the other EU nations. Other than environmental protection laws, there are few regulatory controls on the economy.


Denmark has a thoroughly modern and extensive infrastructure . Its numerous islands have encouraged the development of a network of ferry services in domestic waters with 415 kilometers (258 miles) of waterways. A well-maintained road and rail network includes 71,437 kilometers (44,388 miles) of highways (including 843 kilometers, or 524 miles, of expressways), and 2,859 kilometers (1,773 miles) of railways which serve almost every town. Some 508 kilometers (316 miles) of the railways are privately owned, while the rest are owned by the state.

In cities, environmental concerns have encouraged bicycle riding for all. Urban traffic is minimized by legislation requiring nearly all new shops be built within the existing commercial centers of cities, towns, and villages. Additionally, most new workplaces are required to be a short walking distance from a transit stop. Shops, offices, and factories must make accommodations for bicyclists and pedestrians. As a result, in 1998 less than one-third of travel within cities was via cars and trucks, and motorized traffic in the city centers had increased very little over the past 25 years.

As of 1999, Denmark had one of the world's highest density air networks, with 28 paved-runway and 90 unpaved-runway airports. Air service for Denmark, Norway, and Sweden is provided by Scandinavian Airlines Systems (SAS). Copenhagen Airport was voted "World's Best Airport of 2000" by the International Air Transport Organization, the same year that also saw the completion of the 7.8-kilometer Øresund bridge linking Denmark with Sweden.

Danes consumed 33.03 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in 1998, importing 2.68 billion kWh, and exporting 7.1 billion kWh. Most of the imported fuel is coal, which in 1998 amounted to 6.3 million tons. Denmark is shifting further away from coal use, as the 1998

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Denmark 309 1,141 585 248.4 364 N/A 377.4 540.30 1,500
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Germany 311 948 580 214.5 170 73.1 304.7 173.96 14,400
Norway 588 915 579 160.1 474 50.0 373.4 754.15 2,000
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

figure is 60 percent lower than it was just 2 years earlier. Since the discovery of oil and natural gas reserves in the 1960s, Denmark was self-sufficient in oil production by the 1980s. In 1998 oil production was 238.35 million barrels per day (bpd) with exports of 8.98 million bpd, while natural gas production was 267.68 billion cubic feet (bcf), and exports were 95.35 bcf. The state owns significant shares in both oil and natural gas extraction, although the giant Maersk/A.P. Møller Corporation is also a dominant figure. Overall, in 1998 Denmark generated 4.27 billion kWh of electricity. Fossil fuel from its own reserves accounted for 90.8 percent of this electricity, hydroelectric power for 0.07 percent, and the remaining 9.13 percent was generated by other means, including wind power. Denmark has, since 1980, banned nuclear power, and focuses much research and development on conservation and alternative energy sources.

Denmark has an excellent telecommunications system based on 3.20 million telephone lines (1995). Cellular phone ownership increased by 304 percent from 1993 to 1997, and in 1999, such telephones were owned by 49 percent of the population, including nearly every person between ages 17-25. Cell phone ownership per capita in 1997 was 190 per 1,000, as compared to the U.S. figure of 128 per 1,000. Denmark's burgeoning IT services industry is supported by high Internet connectivity; 90 percent of all businesses use some aspect of the Internet. The Danish government has strongly supported the development of personal as well as business Internet use. In January of 2001, the prime minister announced that the government intends to provide all households in Denmark with access to the Internet, while at that time nearly 50 percent of all households with a computer were already connected.


In modern Denmark, the economic sectors of agriculture and industry are so closely linked that it is difficult to separate their influences. Both food and wood-based industries such as paper depend heavily on agriculture for raw materials while using sophisticated technology to process them. In addition, agricultural production itself is quite technologically advanced. The agricultural sector's highly technical nature means that its great productivity is generated by a small fraction of the total workforce4 percent in 2000. In contrast, well over two-thirds of the workforce was employed in the service sector in the same year.

Agriculture in Denmark also includes forestry and fishing. The agricultural industry was Denmark's first engine of growth, especially its livestock production and forestry industry. Agriculture's economic influence relative to other sectors has basically been declining; by the 1960s, industry had surpassed it in terms of employment and percentage of GDP, and by 2000 agriculture made up 3 percent of GDP. Despite the small size of Denmark's agricultural sector today, it is comparatively highly productive, accounting for around 15 percent of exports in 1999. In 1998, Denmark was the world's seventh-largest producer of pork, while the Danish fishing industry was the second-largest in Europe.

The lack of raw materials other than agriculture (until the discovery of oil and natural gas in the 1960s), meant Denmark's industries developed as secondary production and processing concerns, usually specializing in narrowly-defined fields. This has led to the predominance of small-or medium-sized firms making niche products, often with a high-tech or design focus. For example, in a small design-oriented field such as furniture making, Denmark excelsin 1998 accounting for 20 percent of furniture exports by EU countries. The complexity and versatility of this organization of the industry has somewhat sheltered the Danish manufacturing industry from fluctuations in the world market. Alongside food processing and agro-industry, chemicals and engineering are important industries, and electronics are increasing in significance. Denmark's position in the North Sea has led to the development of a strong shipbuilding sectorit is currently the world's third-largest shipbuilder after Japan. The general trend in the manufacturing industry is that work-and material-intensive industries such as food processing, textiles, and metals decline or stagnate, while knowledge-and technology-based industries such as chemicals, electronics, and engineering have been expanding. Industry contributed about one-quarter of GDP in 2000. The sophisticated technology of much of Denmark's industrial sector has meant that high or increasing productivity does not always correspond with high or increasing employment. Over the past decade, the percentage of the workforce employed in manufacturing has remained fairly constant at around 25 percent.

In 2000, Denmark's services sector contributed more than two-thirds of GDP. Private services accounted for around two-thirds of productivity, and public services the remaining one-third. However, many private services are in fact subcontracted to public institutions. The majority of public services are in health, welfare, and administration. In the service sector as a whole, business services and wholesale/ retail trade accounted for the most productivity growth. Wholesale and retail trade is the largest employer in private services, in 1997 accounting for a little over half of service sector employment. Between 1992 and 1998, the service sector saw a 12 percent increase in employment. Public services have consistently accounted for nearly one-third of employment in services (mostly in health and education) over the past decade, while telecommunications and business services have slowly increased their share of employment.


Denmark is the only country in the Baltic region with a net export of agricultural products, producing 3 times the amount of food it needs for itself. A good percentage of arable land and moderate climate has been conducive to agriculture, but the sector's extremely advanced technology and infrastructure are what have made it so productive in recent years. Although agriculture's role in the Danish economy has steadily decreased as industrialization and economic development has progressed, it is still essential as a source of foreign currency, a direct and indirect source of jobs, and as a supply of everyday foodstuffs.

The increasing mechanization of agriculture, combined with changes in farm management and organization, plus the draw of industrial employment in the cities, has meant fewer people are required to farm ever-increasing quantities of land. Farm sizes have increased, and the number of individual farms has dropped dramatically since the 1950s. From the 1970s into the 1990s, 2,600 individual holdings disappeared every year, absorbed into larger farms. In the first half of the 20th century Denmark had around 200,000 individual farms, averaging 16 hectares in size; by 1997, there were about 60,900 farms averaging 43.6 hectares. Family-run farms are still dominant in Denmark, where even in 1997, some 91 percent of farms were family-owned and run, 7 percent company-owned, and the rest owned by the state, local authorities, and foundations. Along with increasing farm size, the typical farmer has to an increasing extent concentrated on one sole branch of farming, and specialization in animal production has led to fewer types, but larger numbers, of livestock.

In 1996, primary forestry occupied approximately 3,000 employees, while forestry formed the basis for most of the work for around 34,000 employees in the wood manufacturing industry. Denmark is Europe's primary supplier of Christmas trees. Profits from forestry have historically been invested both in modernization of the industry and in investment in other industries. The state is the largest owner of forests, with one-third of forested land under its control. The rest is owned by a multitude of private companies, individuals, and institutions.

In the early 1990s, Denmark was among the top 10 to 15 fishing nations in the world, catching 1.6 million tons in 1993. Industrial fishing (catching fish for industrial use, i.e. producing fish meal and fish oil) has been the most important branch of fishing with a total catch in 1993 of 1.2 million tons. In 1993, the export value of the fishing industry was around DKr10 billion, corresponding to some 4 to 5 percent of Denmark's total exports.

Environmental legislation has been on the increase in the past decade, some of which has directly affected productivity. For example, the greater emphasis on forests and parks has meant that some land had to be turned away from farming use. New restrictions on waste disposal and contamination have also forced some farmers to limit or end production.



In 1996, 45 percent of the manufacturing industry's total production went to export, corresponding to 75 percent of total exports. Mechanical engineering production, especially of electronic goods, was an increasing proportion of the sector's value, and also created some 12,400 new jobs between 1980 and 1996. Nearly all Danish electronics production is exported, including products such as measuring instruments, microphones, equipment for tele-and radio communication, computer networks, power units, engine controls, and hearing aids. Food, drink, and tobacco production/processing, by contrast, has declined between 1993 and 1997 from around 30 percent to around 25 percent of production in manufacturing. The Carlsberg beer company is the most significant producer of beverages, in 1998 having a turnover of DKr29.3 billion and employing 20,500 workers. The largest employers in manufacturing are the makers of metal products, machinery, and equipment; the food-processing industry (bacon factories, dairies, corn mills, and breweries); the paper and graphic industries; and manufacturers of transport equipment, especially shipbuilding. A significant percentage of workers are also employed making wood and wood products.


The chemical industry has also grown through the last decade, and in 1999 accounted for 24 percent of all chemical production in the EU. Denmark, in 1996, was the world's second-largest per capita exporter of pharmaceuticals, with exports valued at almost DKr15 billion. Novo Nordisk, despite its status as one of the largest chemical companies, is still in many ways typical of Danish industrial style: a high-tech, highly-specialized firm, investing heavily in research (in this case on insulin, hormones, and enzymes), exporting 98 percent of its products.


Denmark is the third-largest oil producer in Western Europe, in 1998 producing 233.35 million barrels per day (bpd) of petroleum, while in the same year natural gas reserves produced 267.69 billion cubic feet (bcf) per year. Natural gas exports at that time were over 95 bcf per year, primarily to Sweden and Germany. Danish oil and gas production in 1998 was worth just over DKr30 million. In 1999, the energy and water industries together employed 17,000 people. Maersk/A.P. Møller, the largest company (of any kind) in Denmark, is heavily involved in oil production, although it began as a shipping concern. Statoil (owned by the state of Norway), and the American-based multinational Amerada Hess are the other significant operators in this industry. At the end of the century, Denmark was still opening up new areas of the North Sea for exploration, and it is possible that new reserves will be discovered. The government retains its shares in some oil industries, and licenses the right to explore and extract.


The construction industry illustrates the trend of a decline in work-intensive manufacturing. Devastated in the 1970s and 1980s by a severe fall in house building, production, and employment in this construction fell considerably and stayed low through the late 1990s. The value of construction products fell from 12 percent of GDP in 1972 to 6 percent in 1996. Over that time, employment fell by 43,000. The building and construction industry is mainly made up of small companies in which independent (paid) and assisting (unpaid) spouses constitute a relatively large proportion of those employed. The rapid decline in this sector in Denmark has in the first half of the 1990s led to the industry being more export-oriented, partly through Danish firms increasing activity in Germany. Construction has shifted somewhat from mainly making new buildings (which had accounted for 47 percent of its work in 1970) to a greater focus on repairs and maintenance, which grew from 23 percent in 1970 to 38 percent of construction work in 1999. New building construction in that time frame fell to 32 percent.



In 1997, 2.2 million tourist arrivals in Denmark were recorded (a 4 percent increase from 1993). In 1999, tourism generated around DKr44 billion in revenues, an increase of 1 million from the year before. This made it the third-largest sector after industry and agriculture. The attractions most visited by tourists are Tivoli Gardens (Copenhagen), Lego Land (Billund), Hans Christian Andersen's House and Museum (Odense), and the Viking Ship Museum (Roskilde). Old manor houses and castles are also popular destinations, while Copenhagen harbor was in 2000 one of the most popular stops on European cruises.

Tourism employed over 70,000 (1999) people full-time in the facilities described above, as well as 650 hotels, 30 inns, 525 registered campsites, and over 100 youth hostels. In 1998, the Danish Ministry of Business and Industry, SAS, the Danish Tourist Council, and other tourism interest groups joined forces with local authorities to promote Denmark as a tourist destination for businesspeople and wealthy weekend tourists from the United States, Germany, Southern Europe, Sweden, and Russia. The 3-year international marketing project was estimated to cost a total of US$7.7 million, of which SAS was to pay US$4 million, the Ministry of Business and Industry US$1.3 million, and the rest will come from various municipalities.


Employment in the service sector is dominated by the wholesale and retail trades, with 441,000 people in 1998. However, employment has declined since the 1970s, as the sector has seen considerable vertical integration (an overall integration of retail, wholesale, and in certain cases production sectors). Moreover, 1980s-era mergers within the sector (horizontal integration) have marked both areas, leaving wholesale and retail highly concentrated (with a few firms dominating the market). In 1995, 4 percent of firms accounted for about 75 percent of the total turnover. In 1998, there were 8 wholesalers operating domestically, the largest 2 of which were Maersk and the cooperative FDB, which together accounted for 61 percent of the market in 1998. Total transactions in 1998 amounted to US$10.7 billion. In retail, even though a few large players dominate the industry as a whole, there are still a large number of small shops; 3 out of 4 retail shops are one-person businesses, while the remainder are mainly small companies or cooperatives.


Growth in postal and telecommunications services was larger than any other business sector; from 1992 to 1998 productivity grew by 44 percent. Deregulation of the industry, beginning in 1986, paired with strong research and development supported by the government allowed firms to take advantage of new technologies. However, technological advances have meant that growth was not accompanied by much of a rise in employment, which in 1996 was 45,000 people, the same as in 1986. The major telecommunications companies are at least partly-owned by foreign companies. TeleDanmark, in which Ameritech (U.S.) owns a controlling interest, and Sonofon cellphones, almost half of which is owned by Bellsouth (U.S.), together account for over 75 percent of the market.


Between 1989 and 1996 there was a one-third decline in the number of domestic bank and financial institution branches. This was mainly due to Denmark's banks being burdened by a number of bad debts in the early 1990s. Since 1994, the improvement in both Denmark's economy and the banks' lending policies has contributed to more stability in the industry, along with a number of consolidations among the country's banks. The reduction of branches of institutions coincided with a 14 percent decline in the number of employees over the same 7 years. In 1998, Denmark had 95 banks with assets of US$216 billion, while total assets of the 5 largest banks totaled US$179 billion, over 80 percent of total banking sector assets. The 2 largest banks, Den Danske Bank and Unidanmark-Gruppen, also operate as financial "supermarkets" offering a wide range of financial services, and account for 50 percent of the financial service market. Danish banks are technologically sophisticated, and have invested heavily in computers and the development of electronic transfer systems, in 1998 adopting one of the first nationwide electronic payment card systems (Dankort). Employment in business services has been increasing throughout the last decade; by 1999, 326,000 people worked in the financial services sector, with Den Danske bank employing 11,409 people, and Unidanmark-gruppen employing 9,960.


Road transport, both trucking/hauling and personal transport such as taxi services, dominates the domestic transportation sector. Road transport in 1996 generated just under half of the total revenues from the transport sector, while the remaining value was divided among other types of the transport: shipping (16 percent), railways (11 percent), and aviation (7 percent). The transport sector created around 9 percent of Denmark's GDP and 7 percent of total employment in 1996. Activity in the sector as a whole has risen steadily and at a faster rate than overall productivity since the 1980s. Production value in the sector rose by 74 percent between 1986-1996. In 2000, over half of Danish international trade was by road, and most of the remainder by sea. Denmark's increasing expertise in making high-tech liner and tanker ships has helped the shipping sector in recent years. Shipping accounts for most of Denmark's international freight traffic, and the country's almost 600-vessel merchant fleet is the fourth-largest in the European Union. Denmark's Maersk shipping line bought the U.S.-based Sea-Land Services in 1999 to become the largest container shipping line in the world.


Denmark is one of the most trade-oriented economies in the world. As a base for exporting, Denmark has many advantages. Its key location as the only Scandinavian country connected to mainland Europe, plus its position on the Baltic sea, gives it access to lucrative markets for both EU and non-EU countries. Its extensive infrastructure and well-educated, high-skilled workforce also help promote trade and foreign investment.

Germany is currently Denmark's most important export destination, followed by Sweden and the United Kingdom. Exports to these 3 countries totaled 41.7 percent of Danish exports in 1997. The United States is the largest trading partner outside the EU, and accounted for almost 5 percent of Denmark's total trade value in 1997. Over one-third of Danish industrial exports are machines and instruments, while pharmaceuticals, energy (especially oil), meat, and meat products make up the rest.

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Denmark
exports Imports
1975 8.712 10.368
1980 16.749 19.340
1985 17.090 18.245
1990 35.133 32.228
1995 49.036 43.223
1998 47.070 44.994
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

Denmark's main imports are raw materials and unfinished products that are used in its own industrial sector. In 1997, imports for the industrial sector were about 70 percent of total imports, while the rest were consumer products, including cars. Of the services imported, computer software and management consulting are very important. Imports from Germany, Sweden, and the UK account for 42 percent of total imports.

The early 1990s were a difficult time for Danish international trade as its 3 most important marketsGer-many, the UK, and Scandinaviawere all performing sluggishly. More recently trade has increased, especially due to a depreciation of the Danish krone. The krone is expected to remain stable through the next few years, which may reduce the growth in exports. However, Denmark is currently exporting more than it imports in all 3 sectors: industry, agriculture, and services.


Since the 1980s, Denmark has pursued a fixed exchange rate linked to the German mark. On 1 January 1999, monetary policy was linked to the new European Central Bank. In September 2000, Denmark opted out of the European Monetary Union's (EMU) third phase (establishment of a joint EU currency and relinquishment of jurisdiction over monetary policy), although the country's economic performance exceeds the established criteria for membership. This was due to resistance on the right, especially from nationalist groups who wish to retain the Danish currency and not tie its economy so closely to that of Europe, and equal resistance on the left, where many fear that equalizing human rights and environmental regulations with the EU will chip away at the Danish welfare state and its environmentally-conscious business practices.

The National Bank of Denmark (Danmarks Nation-albanken) is the only bank of issue in the country and enjoys a special status as a self-governing institution under government supervision. Profits in the National Bank

Exchange rates: Denmark
Danish kroner (DKr) per US$1
Jan 2001 7.951
2000 8.083
1999 6.976
1998 6.701
1997 6.604
1996 5.799
Note: The Danes rejected the Euro in a September 28, 2000 referendum.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

revert to the state treasury. Although Denmark has retained its own currency, separate from the EU, its currency is so closely tied to the euro that monetary policy often closely follows the European Central Bank. The National Bank lends to smaller banks and to the central government, and is responsible for administration of the foreign exchange policy.

The Copenhagen Stock Exchange (CSE) was established in the capital in 1861, and in 1999 had 233 listed companies. At the end of 1999 its market capitalization was US$105.29 billion. The CSE was a pioneer in computerized trading, being the first in the world to introduce electronic bonds and shares.


The Gini Index measures the level of income inequality in a country, with 100 equal to total inequality (basically one person receiving all the income), and 1 indicating total equality (everyone having exactly the same income).

Raija Julkunen, a lecturer on social policy at the University of Jyväskylä, describes the differing U.S. and Nordic attitudes towards the role of the state: "American culture conceives citizenship and welfare as diametrically opposed, as if state-ensured welfare did not go along with a free society. In the Nordic countries, on the other hand, the notion of a welfare state has a positive ring to it. Only social rightsguaranteed minimum income, employment, education, health caremake citizens free and equal." The Nordic approach has succeeded in that there is virtually no poverty in Denmark.

Denmark's extensive social welfare system has existed in its current form since the 1960s, but has roots in Danish culture back to the 1930s. Because of Danes' long-standing preoccupation with economic equality, there is less of a difference between Denmark's high-in-come and lowest-income citizens than in the United States or many other countries. People who work in restaurants or cleaning buildings have free access to the same quality of healthcare as those who are lawyers, professors, or accountants. They have paid holidays, maternity

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Denmark 22,984 25,695 29,332 31,143 37,449
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Germany N/A N/A N/A N/A 31,141
Norway 19,022 23,595 27,113 28,840 36,806
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.
Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Denmark
Lowest 10% 3.6
Lowest 20% 9.6
Second 20% 14.9
Third 20% 18.3
Fourth 20% 22.7
Highest 20% 34.5
Highest 10% 20.5
Survey year: 1992
Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

and paternity leave, sick leave, and unemployment benefits.

All families with children under 18 receive, irrespective of income, family allowances consisting of a regular, tax-free amount per child, with a higher rate for children under 7 years of age. Bread-winners who are single parents or pensioners can receive additional allowances per child. Families with children are entitled to free home help if the person who has the responsibility for the home and the children cannot manage it on account of, for instance, illness or confinement. Among other things, families living in rented accommodation can, depending on family income and the size of the rent, receive a housing benefit (in December 1998, there were 169,000 recipients).

According to sociologists Jens Hoff and Jorgen Goul Andersen in their article "The Danish Class Structure" in Acta Sociologica (1989), the concept of class is difficult to compare between countries with this kind of social system and countries such as the UK, the United States, or in less-developed countries. Class in Denmark is tied less to things like income and healthcare, and more to location, profession, and the kind of work engaged in, i.e. the amount of control over one's own responsibilities. Much of the Danish labor force works without much individual control over workplace decisions, without supervising others, and without much autonomy. This might make them working class by some definitions. However, these workers' quality of life is still very high by most standards, underscoring the impression that in Denmark, there is a lack of status distinctions between those who have high-skill or low-skill jobs.

One facet of the Danish welfare model has been the belief that benefits should not be tied to the kind of job one has, or whether someone is working or not. This approach has proven problematic as the country continually struggles with its unemployment rateespecially among the young. Critics argue that there is not enough incentive for people to choose to be employed rather than collect unemployment money. However, proposals of dramatic reductions in benefits are political suicide, as Danes are wary of what they might see as the sacrifice of a commitment to equality.


In 1999, the Danish workforce numbered 2.89 million, while the unemployment rate was 5.7 percent. The labor force is shrinking in Denmark. This is partly due to the aging of the population, as more workers retire than enter the workforce each year. High income taxes combined with generous unemployment assistance also may dissuade many, especially young workers, from entering the work-force. The government is currently attempting to restructure its taxation system to change this picture, shifting the burden of taxation away from individual income.

The standard working week is 37 hours, with a minimum of 5 weeks mandatory vacation. Three-quarters of those in employment have a 5-day work week, while those out sick may be paid up to 90 percent of their wage (with a maximum of DKr2,556 per week).

Danish laws guarantee the right of workers to organize and all (except civil servants and essential service

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All Food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Denmark 16 6 11 3 17 5 43
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Germany 14 6 7 2 10 7 53
Norway 16 7 11 5 4 6 51
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

workers) have the right to strike, as well as the right to bargain collectively. The government stands behind these rights, does not interfere with unions, and prohibits anti-union discrimination by employers. More than 75 percent of all wage earners are organized in trade unions, as are about the same percentage of salaried employees, and collective bargaining is very common. Strikes are also rather common; in 1997, 101,700 workdays were lost due to labor conflict.

Mothers get extensive maternity leave4 weeks prior to the birth of a child, and up to 24 weeks after while fathers get paternity leave of 2 weeks after the birth. From the fifteenth week after the birth the mother can transfer all or a portion of her remaining maternity leave to the father. A tax-free benefit (known as the "children's check") is paid to the parents of all children 7 to 18 years old regardless of the household income. Denmark's child-care system enables either or both parents to work outside the home. In 1994, 80.3 percent of 3 to 6 year-olds were in childcare, (compared to 57.4 percent 10 years earlier). Women who used to be expected to care for their own children no longer face the same demand; in Denmark women's rate of participation in the workforce is very highin 1995 89 percent that of men. In the same year women's salaries were 88.1 percent of men's.


1871. Denmark's socialist movement is officially founded, the start of a strong and diverse socialist tradition influencing Danish politics in the years to come.

1901. Change of political system to a constitutional monarchy, creating the Government (body of ministers selected by the queen) and the Folketing (representatives elected by the people).

1914-18. Denmark remains neutral during World War I.

1915. Constitutional reform; women and servants are enfranchised.

1933. Social reform movement begins, expanding the welfare and education system.

1940. Denmark occupied by Germany during World War II.

1941. United States establishes military bases in Greenland (with Danish ambassador's approval).

1945. Denmark liberated from Germany at the end of World War II.

1948. Faroe Islands, until this time part of Denmark, are granted home rule, which allows them control over domestic policy.

1949. Denmark joins North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a strategic military alliance of Western European and North American non- communist nations.

1960. Denmark joins European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA), which reduces or eliminates barriers to trade (such as tariffs ) between participants.

1967. Pornographic text and photography (excluding photos of children) is legalized, a sign of Denmark's progressive/permissive social attitudes; however, response to this and the stance on abortion leads to the founding of the Danish Christian People's Party.

1973. Compulsory National Health Insurance set up (replacing sickness benefits fund).

1973. Denmark joins the European Economic Community (EECan organization of states that lowered barriers to trade between them).

1976. Social Assistance Act introduces a unified structure of public assistance and benefits, partly needs-based.

1979. Greenland, formerly part of Denmark, is granted home rule.

1985. Greenland leaves EEC over fears of EEC regulations' effects on its fishing industry.

1985. Denmark joins the European Union.

2000. Danes reject final stage of European Monetary Union (EMU) in a referendum.


Danish manufacturing remains a strong base for growth, especially as research and development help support its further extension into high-tech industry. The Danish government's support for the growing use of Internet services for both businesses and individuals bodes well for Danish flexibility and responsiveness to global market trends. Public investment in education, particularly in relation to computers and computing, also supports prospects for growing computer-related services.

Unemployment has been reduced for the present, but the main mechanism was to shrink the size of the work-force through early-retirement plans and state-funded sabbaticals. A smaller workforce drives wages up, raising production costs for many Danish businesses, which makes them less competitive internationally. This has affected Denmark's balance of payments , which has even dipped into negative territory in recent years. It is not clear what effect this will have on the economy, but if the government can manage to strike a balance, keeping inflation and interest rates low without hurting industrial competitiveness, then a small deficit may be an acceptable price to pay.

Denmark's greatest challenge for the future is due to its aging population. Its welfare and social security system will be severely strained by the demands of the growing population of elderly people and the shrinking work-force and sources of tax revenues. If nothing is changed, Denmark will not be able to maintain the standard of benefits it currently grants to its citizens. As most Danes are fiercely supportive of state guarantees of a standard of living, any government attempting to reduce those guarantees faces hostility and resistance. The current government has made some changes in the labor market (reducing and altering some benefits and pensions), but it is unclear how much the public in the highly-unionized workforce will stand for reductions in benefits or wages. The governing coalition must tread carefully if it is to make changes without seeming to compromise its commitment to material equality.

In October of 2000, Danes voted not to join the last stage of the European Monetary Union, and to keep its own currency. Despite the urging of Prime Minister Poul Rasmussen, the Danish public did not support the euro. However, the krone is still closely tied to the euro, and Denmark's economic decisions, particularly monetary ones, will be heavily influenced by the EU. Resistance to the EMU has been made more on political grounds than economic ones. There is some fear that opting out of the EMU will hurt prospects for foreign investment, which in the previous 5 years had increased dramatically in Denmark. The current government has demonstrated its friendliness to business by lowering corporate taxes and other business taxes, which may help to counteract any possible flight of investment. It is too soon to tell if either effect has come to pass.



Greenland (local name Kalaallit Nunaat) is the world's largest island, with an area of 2,175,590 square kilometers (840,000 square miles), slightly more than 3 times the size of Texas. Only 15 percent of the island is not covered in ice. There are no crops or trees, but there are many plants and flowers, as well as seals, fish, and reindeer. The population in 1998 was 54,100 with high birth and death rates. Greenlanders (Inuit and what the CIA World Factbook calls "Greenland-born whites") form the majority with 87 percent of the population, and the rest are Danish and others. Languages spoken are Greenlandic (East Inuit), Danish, and English. The 56 towns and villages on the island are mostly small; 40 have fewer than 500 people, and only 3 have more than 4,000. The administrative capital is Godthåb, called Nuuk in Greenlandic, with around 12,100 people.

Greenland was first a Danish colony in the 1300s, when Norway and Denmark were united kingdoms. In World War II, when Germany occupied Denmark, the U.S. and Danish ambassador in Washington D.C. agreed that U.S. troops could be stationed in Greenland. Some U.S. air bases remain there even now. A referendum (a nation-wide vote on a particular issue) in 1979 gave Greenland "home rule." Denmark has jurisdiction over foreign policy, defense, and justice, and there is joint authority over its oil and mineral resources. Greenland has its own legislature.

The population depends on fishing, and some also hunt seals. There is a small amount of mining, but the harsh climate and lack of transportation infrastructure have prevented much development. Greenland's economy has not been strong in the past 10 years. Since 1990, imports have outpaced exports. Following the closure of Greenland's last lead and zinc mine in 1989, the fishing industry and grants from the Danish government became the mainstay of the economy. In 1999, grants from mainland Denmark and EU payments for the right to fish in Greenland's waters made up about 50 percent of the home-rule government's revenues. As the cod is threatened with extinction, shrimp fisheries have taken over as the most important income earner.

Greenland is also looking to tourism as a sector for growth; however, the season is quite short due to the long and harsh winters. The public sectorboth publicly owned businesses and municipalitiesplays a dominant role in Greenland's economy. Greenland joined the European Community together with Denmark but withdrew in February of 1985 (after a referendum in 1982) due to disagreement with the EC over fishing policy.


The Faroe Islands (local name Foroyar) are north of the Shetlands and northwest of Scotland, between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. There are about 30 islands, 18 of which are inhabited, with a total 2000 population of 45,296. The total land area is 1,399 square kilometers (540 square miles). The population is mostly descended from Viking settlers who landed there in the 8th century. The local language is Faroese, descended from Old Norse, although Danish is also required in schools, and adults on the island can speak it. The capital of the Faroes is Torshavn.

The Faroes have been part of the Danish Kingdom since the 14th century, but were granted home rule in 1948, although the Danish government is still responsible for defense and other aspects of administration. Denmark's Folketing (Parliament) reserves 2 seats for representatives from the Faroes.

Despite their small and remote location, the Faroes have a good domestic and international communications infrastructure, with 22,000 main telephone linesabout one for every 2 people on the island. There is also a satellite earth station and a fiber-optic submarine cable that links the Islands to Iceland and Denmark. There are 14 radio stations and 7 television stations.

The mild winters, cool summers, and rocky terrain of the Faroes are unsuitable for agriculture, and in the past, sheep farming was very important to the economy. Nowadays fish and fish products are the center of the economy, with fish products comprising 90 percent of exports. Most other food is imported. This near-total dependence on fishing means the economy is very vulnerable, both to the changes in world demand and to environmental change. Even with the fishing industry, the Faroe Islands depend significantly on grants from Denmark. Without Danish government bailouts in 1992 and 1993, the Faroese economy would have gone bankrupt. The Faroes did not join the European Community (EC) when Denmark did, because of disagreement with EC fishing policies, which, the Faroese felt, put them at a disadvantage.


"Actions Speak Louder." Financial Times Survey. <>. Accessed February 2001.

Christensen, Donna. Information Technology in Denmark. <>. Accessed July 2001.

"Denmark." Tradeport. <>. Accessed February 2001. "Denmark: The Smug Debtor." Economist. September 3, 1988.

"Economic Indicators: Spending on the Environment." OECD Observer. October 1999.

Economist Information Unit. Country Report: Denmark. London: EIU, November 2000.

Europa World Year Book 2000. 41st edition. London: Europa Publications, 2000.

Hoff, Jens, and Jorgen Goul Andersen. "The Danish ClassStructure." Acta Sociologica. Vol. 32, No. 1, March 1989.

International Labor Organization. <>. AccessedFebruary 2001.

Miller, Kenneth E. Denmark: A Troubled Welfare State. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1991.

Royal Danish Embassy. <>. AccessedFebruary 2001.

Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Denmark. <>. Accessed February 2001.

Statistics Denmark. <>.Accessed February 2001.

United Nations Development Programme. Human Development Report 2000. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <>. Accessed February 2001.

Walljasper, Jay. "What Works? Denmark!" The Nation. Vol.266, No. 3, January 26, 1998.

Larisa Mann




Danish krone (DKr). 1 Danish krone is made up of 100 øre. There are coins for 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1 krone and 50 and 25 øre. Paper currency comes in denominations of DKr1,000, 500, 200, 100, and 50.


Machinery and instruments, meat and meat products, fuels, dairy products, ships, fish, and chemicals.


Machinery and equipment, petroleum, chemicals, grain and foodstuffs, textiles, and paper.


US$136.2 billion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).


Exports: US$50.8 billion (f.o.b., 2000). Imports: US$43.6 billion (f.o.b., 2000).

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Basic Data

Official Country Name: Kingdom of Denmark
Region (Map name): Europe
Population: 5,352,815
Language(s): Danish, Faroese, Greenlandic (an Inuit dialect), German (small minority)
Literacy rate: 100.0%
Area: 43,094 sq km
GDP: 162,343 (US$ millions)
Number of Daily Newspapers: 31
Total Circulation: 1,481,000
Circulation per 1,000: 347
Total Circulation: 66,000
Circulation per 1,000: 16
Newspaper Consumption (minutes per day): 27
Total Newspaper Ad Receipts: 5,475 (Krone millions)
As % of All Ad Expenditures: 50.80
Magazine Consumption (minutes per day): 7
Number of Television Stations: 25
Number of Television Sets: 3,121,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 583.1
Television Consumption (minutes per day): 174
Number of Cable Subscribers: 1,403,440
Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 264.8
Number of Satellite Subscribers: 800,000
Satellite Subscribers per 1,000: 149.5
Number of Radio Stations: 357
Number of Radio Receivers: 6,020,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 1,124.6
Radio Consumption (minutes per day): 128
Number of Individuals with Computers: 2,300,000
Computers per 1,000: 429.7
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 1,950,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 364.3
Internet Consumption (minutes per day): 10

Background & General Characteristics

The Kingdom of Denmark comprises the North Sea archipelago and islands of continental Denmark, the Faroe Islands, and Greenland. Continental Denmark has coastlines totaling 7,400 kilometers (4,600 miles) and a land border with Germany of only 67.7 kilometers (42 miles). The population of continental Denmark was estimated at 5.14 million in 1989, and projections anticipate little growth in the future. The Danes are descendants of the Norsemen (Vikings) who were dominant in Scandinavia and England during the eleventh century. The Danes are closely linked with the Swedes and Norwegians in cultural heritage and languagea derivative of East Scandinavian German. The Germans in South Jutland constitute the only non-Danish citizen minority and they comprise about 1 percent of the population. In the 1990s, an influx of Arabic Muslim workers created a new minority for which accommodations of housing, amenities, and education are made by the Danish welfare state.

The 18 Faroe Islands, with a landmass of about 1,399 square kilometers, lie to the northwest of Denmark in the Atlantic Ocean between the Shetland Islands and Iceland. During World War II, Great Britain occupied and protected the Faroes from German invasion from 1940-45. The Faroes have been governed by Denmark since the fourteenth century, but a high degree of home rule was attained in 1948 and affirmed in the revised Danish Constitution of 1953. The 45,661 inhabitants (July 2001 estimate) are primarily descendants of Viking settlers who arrived in the ninth century. The Faroese language derives from Old Norse and Danish, and is similar to Icelandic and Norwegian.

Greenland (Danish: Gronland, Greenlandic: Kalaalli Nunaat), situated in the North Atlantic, was claimed in its entirety by Denmark in May 1921. Denmark colonized Greenland in the eighteenth century at the same time it established trading companies in the West Indies. Green-land's capital, Nuuk (formerly Godthab), is the oldest Danish settlement on the island (1721). In 1917, the United States purchased the Danish West Indies islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John (now the U.S. Virgin Islands) and, at the same time, relinquished all U.S. claims to the Peary Land, the north Greenland area explored by Robert Edwin Peary. Norway's claims to land on the eastern coast settled by Norwegian fishermen were declared invalid in 1933 by the Permanent Court of International Justice at The Hague.

Greenland, the largest island in the world, encompasses 2.18 million square kilometers (840,000 square miles) of land and ice. Except for about 410,450 square kilometers (18,430 square miles), a polar ice sheet, glaciers and smaller ice caps cover the island. Sometimes the ice sheet reaches a depth of 4,300 meters (14,000 feet). Less than 342,000 square kilometers (132,000 square miles) are suitable for habitation. More than 90 percent of Greenland's population lives along the southern and western coasts of the island.

Greenland's population of 56,376 (2002 estimate) are Inuit (Eskimo) or Greenland-born Caucasians, and the balance are mainly Danish. The primary language is Greenlandic, a mixture of Inuit and Danish, but Danish also is an official language. The Danish Constitution of 1953 integrated Greenland into Denmark, and gave Greenland the right to elect two representatives to the Danish parliament. In a January 1979 referendum Greenlanders voted for home rule and formed their own seven-member executive body, the Landsstyre, and a 31-member parliament, the Landting.

From 1660 to 1849, Denmark was an absolute monarchy. Absolutism ended on June 5, 1849, when King Frederik VII signed a constitution that made Denmark a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliament modeled on that of England. However, continual conflict between the Crown and the powerful Landting (Upper House) on the one hand, and the more liberal Folketing (Lower House) on the other, led to constitutional changes in 1866, 1901, and 1953. The reforms resulted in a constitutional monarchy, unicameral legislature (Folketing ) and a government organized by ministries that administer the present welfare state.

Newspapers came into existence in Denmark during the years of the absolute monarchy (1660-1849). Four newspapers founded in the eighteenth century still dominate the market. The oldest daily paper is the Berlingske Tidende in Copenhagen, founded by the Berling family in 1749, 35 years before The Times in London. The Berlingske Tidende adopted a moderate conservative viewpoint that appealed to the great landowners that made up the Landting and to business interests in the capital. Hence, from the beginning it has specialized in foreign and financial news as well as political debate, but also covered literature and the arts.

Three papers founded in the eighteenth century are the Stiftstidende dailies published in Aalborg (1767), Odense (1772), and Aarhus (1794). All three are independent, but the Fyens Stiftstidende in Odense expressed conservative views, while the other two took a liberal stance. Initially, each of these influential dailies published morning and evening editions. Political and social developments occurring simultaneously with industrialization during the latter half of the nineteenth century led to the establishment of a four-party political system and a parallel four-paper system.

Two major political parties that emerged from the bicameral legislature of 1849 were the Venstre (Liberal Party) and Det Konservative Folkeparti (The Conservative People's Party). A constitutional revision in 1866 led to the rise of two more political parties, the radical Social-Liberal Party (Det Radikale Venstre ), representing small landholders and some of the intelligentsia who broke away from the Venstre in 1905; and the Social Democratic Party (Socialdemokratiet ) that played a major role in the Danish labor movement. Each of the four political parties established a nationwide network of opinion-shaping newspapers that espoused the ideas of the party and resulted in a four-paper system.

The Venstre (Liberal Party), representing agricultural interests, and Det Konservative Folkeparti (Conservative Party) representing primarily the middle class, formed networks of about 60 newspapers each. The Berlingske Tidende and its sister paper in Copenhagen, the Nationaltidende, voiced conservative views in two editions daily. Both papers devoted sections to business interests such as shipping and agriculture, law and politics, and issued a special weekly sheet devoted to women's interests. A chief regional daily with conservative views was the Jyllandsposten (founded in 1871), a morning paper published in Aarhus. The Jyllandsposten rapidly gained a reputation for quality coverage of foreign and national business and commerce.

The Social-Liberal network grew to approximately two dozen papers, the most influential of which was Politiken (1884) in Copenhagen. Politiken became the most cosmopolitan paper in all of Scandinavia. It introduced the English system of small pages, prominent headlines, and heavy use of illustrations. Many important persons in the political and social movements of Denmark contributed columns and articles to this newspaper. Danish literature and art were well represented in its pages. Politikin 's owners also issued a successful evening paper, the Extrabladet (1904), which promoted social-liberal views.

The first Social-Democratic Party daily, the Social-Demokraten (later changed to Aktuelt ), appeared in Copenhagen in 1872. By 1900, there were 20 more Social-Democratic papers in circulation in the provinces. The Social-Democrats agitated for revision of the constitution and were instrumental in gaining recognition of the principle of parliamentary government in the constitutional revision of 1901. This ended many years of deadlock between the Folketing on one side, and the Crown andLandsting on the other. The Social-Democratic papers also played a vital role in obtaining the vote for peasants, workers, and women, and became the voice of the labor unions in Denmark.

Ironically, the government reforms of 1901 that were urged by the press, lessened to some extent the power of the press to shape opinions, as the reorganization of the government spread responsibilities among ministries and their accompanying bureaucracies.

When Henrik Cavling took over Politiken in 1905, he initiated changes in the newspaper world that would shift priority from politics to news and a broad range of social and cultural topics. The new trends in journalism set by Politiken led to steady increases in media consumption, and by 1913 there were 143 independent dailies in 30 Danish towns, reaching almost 100 percent of the Danish populace. However, the need for more reporters to serve the growing numbers of newspapers increased the costs, as did technological advances in the form of telephones, telegraph, typesetting machines and rotary presses. Between 1925 and 1938, competition for readers and advertising revenues to meet rising costs led to mergers and closures that reduced the number of daily newspapers to 60.

The surviving dailies faced competition from 15 illustrated weekly magazines with a combined circulation of 2.2 million, and 330 local district papers and advertising weeklies distributed free of charge to 1.3 million households. City newspapers increasingly focused on news and matters of general interest as well as editorial comment. Provincial dailies cultivated local material, but included hard news, background, and a range of topical interests. District weeklies reached 80-90 percent of the adult population of Denmark. Newspapers owned more than half the district weeklies, accounting for 60 percent of the total circulation.

Papers with similar content have been published, but with less than daily frequency, in Greenland (i.e., Atuagagdliutut/Gronlandposten ). Political viewpoints are more pronounced in the Faroe Islands by the moderate Dimmalaetting, the independent Dagbladid, and the state paper, the Social-Democratic Socialurin.

Weekly magazines fell into two primary categories: family and women's magazines. Typically, content was and is dominated by fashion, home and life styles, and serialized fiction. Popular early weeklies were the Familie Journal and Hjemmet. Illustrated weeklies like Ilustreret Tidende focused on news from the entertainment world. In appearance, they resembled the Illustrated London Times.

The magazine press includes highly specialized journals that focus on topics of interest to particular readers. Some are periodicals and bulletins published by trade unions and social organizations for their membership. Others are professional journals and technical publications. Two early monthlies, Tilshueren and Gads danske Magasin, were scholarly journals, while the popular Klods-Hans was a sort of Danish Punch.

World War II and the occupation of Denmark by the Germans from 1940-45 interrupted the publication of many papers, and after the war, much of the production equipment was worn out or had been destroyed. Only a few new post-World War II papers were established. These included the bipartisan Kristeligt Dagblad, the financial daily Bersen, the Communist organ Land og Folk, and Information, the latter two originally publications of the Resistance.

The Constitution of 1953 created a unicameral parliament (the Folketing ) and organized the Danish government into multiple ministries, headed by a prime minister. This led to the formation of more political parties representing special interest groups, so that the four-party system no longer applied. In the 1960s, under pressure of competition from radio and television, changes in reader interests, and increasing costs of technology, newspapers suffered a further decline. The number of Danish households receiving at least one daily paper dropped from 100 percent to 75 percent. Newspaper closures in 1958-71 coincided with the end of the four-party system and brought an end to the four-paper system at the same time.

In 1988 there were 46 general-interest dailies with a total circulation of approximately 1.85 million. Those figures have remained fairly constant. With the decrease in numbers, the national newspapers like Berlingske Tidendeand Politiken in Copenhagen, and Jyllands-Posten in Aarhus, increased their market share, while Copenhagen's midday tabloids, B.T. and Ekstrabladet, and evening papers Information and Berlingstke Aftenavis, lost almost 40 percent of their circulation. Larger regional newspapers merged with or took over the market share of smaller ones and increased circulation proportionately. Dominant regional papers remaining are Fyens Stiftstidende in Odense, Nordjyske Stiftstidinde in Aalborg, theAarhus Stiftstidende in Aarhus, and the Jydske Vestkysten in Esbjerg.

In addition to keen competition for advertising revenue and modernization of technology, a major factor in the increased popularity of large national newspapers is the content emphasis on foreign and national news, business, and cultural coverage. Each of Copenhagen's two large morning dailies has five or six foreign correspondents plus "stringers" in various areas, though much of their foreign news comes through Ritzau's Bureau and Reuters news services. To compete with the appeal of radio and television to the general populace, the newspapers have targeted their content to well-educated people who prefer the in-depth news coverage provided by newspapers to the sound bites on radio and television.

In appearance, all the general-interest dailies have virtually the same format. Typically, the Berlingske Tidende has a seven-column page (56 x 40 cm), with week-day editions of about 40 pages and Sunday editions of up to 84 pages. The largest regional and provincial dailies run about 20 pages on weekdays, and smaller papers 12-14 pages. On average, one-third of space is devoted to advertising, but it can run as high as two-thirds in some issues. The major city dailies published in Denmark in 2000 and their circulation estimates are shown below.

According to Danish Circulation Control, five of the major dailies published in Denmark in 2000 and their circulation estimates are: Berlingske-Tidende, published in Copenhagen, founded 1749, weekday circulation of 156,000; Politiken, published in Copenhagen, founded 1884, circulation of 143,000; Edstrabladet, published in Copenhagen, founded 1904, circulation of 135,000; B.T., published in Copenhagen, founded 1916, circulation of 123,000; Jyllands-Posten, published in Aarhus, founded 1871, circulation of 180,000.

The large daily newspapers, national and regional, are quality publications, with a high content of foreign and national news, business and commerce. The smaller provincials are less formal in tone and feature more local news and culture. Large headlines, pictures and illustrations enliven the appearance, but generally, Danish newspapers avoid lurid sensationalism.

Even celebrity-oriented illustrated magazines set limits on what is appropriate to publish. According to the 1997 World Press Freedom Review, one Danish magazine editor announced on the day following the death of Britain's Princess Diana in Paris that he would no longer use photographs taken by the intrusive paparazzi. The Review also reported that in August 1997, the Danish Press Council condemned Se og Hoer (See and Hear) for publishing a French paparazzo's photographs of Danish Crown Prince Frederik and a woman companion bathing in the grounds of a French chateau.

Economic Framework

Denmark lies directly in the path of European trade flowing in all directions via the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the Skagerrak. A merchant fleet of more than 1,500 ships engage in overseas trade. Inland vessels and ferries connect with a network of roads, bridges, and railroads that transport goods and people to Central Europe, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. Exports include agricultural products, pharmaceuticals, motor ships, dairy equipment, cement machinery and electronic equipment. Denmark imports coal and oil from Germany, Great Britain, and the United States, and industrial raw materials from various countries.

Copenhagen (Kobenhavn), Denmark's capital and largest city, has one of the busiest airports (Kastrup) of Northern Europe. It is the terminal port for the great arc over the North Atlantic from the United States and Canada, as well as the corresponding arc across the North Pole to Japan and East Asia. Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) operates worldwide. Likewise, Copenhagen's Free Port serves 5,000-6,000 ships annually as they exchange cargoes without the expense and formalities of clearing customs. Aarhus, Odense, and Aalborg also are centers of trade and commerce.

The fishing industry, individual and cooperative, is a major factor in the Danish economy. Denmark's 12,000 fishermen bring in cod, herring, eels, lobster and shrimp from the North Sea and numerous species of freshwater fish from the coastal waters and the fjords that penetrate deep into the interior. About half the catch is sold at auction. The skippers of fishing vessels are often the owners, but customarily, the crews share in the expense and profits.

Denmark's agricultural industry is dominated by cooperatives. About 70 percent of mainland Denmark's land area (43,094 square kilometers, 16,639 square miles) is devoted to agriculture. Approximately 179,000 medium-sized farms of 10-30 hectares (25-75 acres) account for one-half the cultivated area. About 27,000 "smallholdings" (farms of 5-10 hectares) were carved out of former large estates, but some wealthy landowners' manor houses with surrounding buildings can still be seen on the landscape.

Fifty percent of the land produces crops of cereal grains, mainly barley, but also oats, rye and wheat. The feed crops complement the grasslands in serving the important cattle and dairy industries, which provide 90 percent of all farm income. Danish animal husbandry and farming are productive due to applied scientific research in the selection of grains, soil treatment, automated milking machines and mechanized farm equipment.

Since the mid-1900s, industrial development has displaced agriculture as the most important segment of the economy. Urban industries employ about 40 percent of the labor force and contribute 40 percent of the gross national product (GNP). A third of Denmark's industrial workers are employed in manufacturing. One important export is cement, including products and expertise, as Danish engineers build cement plants at home and abroad. Denmark's largest corporation, the East Asiatic Company, Inc. (founded in 1897), has 100 branch offices and 35,000 employees worldwide. It maintains a fleet of 30 ships, and owns mines, rice mills, and rubber plantations. In Australia, the company is engaged in industry and timber. In Canada, it owns forests and operates sawmills and paper factories. In Brazil, it is in the coffee trade; in Africa, timber and auto imports.

Fishing and shipbuilding are paramount in the Faroe Islands. The rocky coasts of the Faroes provide nesting grounds for seabirds but very little arable land for agriculture. Dwarf shrubs and grassy heath are suitable for grazing sheep, so principal exports include mutton and wool, along with frozen and salted fish, and fish products such as liver oil. The Faroe Islands Dairy Centre supplies all 45,000 inhabitants in the islands with fresh milk and dairy products. The Centre serves as a cooperative, giving production and marketing assistance to producers in order to advance the quality and efficiency of Faroese agriculture. Nearby oil production in the North Sea offers hope that oil deposits will be found in the Faroes, allowing more diversification in the economy and lessening dependence upon the annual subsidy from Denmark. During World War II, the Faroe Islands were occupied and protected from German invasion by the British Navy. The Faroese import-export partners are Denmark, Norway, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Sweden, Iceland, and the United States.

Greenland, with its state-of-the-art communications and meteorological stations, is important to all nations traversing the airways and seas of the North Atlantic. When Germany occupied Denmark during World War II and threatened Greenland, the Danish minister in Washington negotiated an agreement with the United States to assume protective custody over Greenland for the duration of the war. The United States invoked the Monroe Doctrine and constructed landing fields, seaplane facilities, and installations necessary to protect Greenland and the American hemisphere. In 1947 Denmark requested an end to the 1941 wartime agreement. In April 1951 a new pact was negotiated, giving Denmark control of the U.S. naval station on Greenland, providing for joint defense areas, and authorizing members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to use all naval, air, and military bases on the island. The agreement further authorized the United States to build and maintain a strategic air base at Thule in northern Greenland, about 1,500 kilometers from the North Pole.

Greenland's main industry is fishing (salmon, cod, halibut and shrimp) and dozens of fish processing plants dot the southern and western coasts. Disko Bay boasts some of the world's largest shrimp beds. In the north and east, seals, foxes and polar bears are hunted for their fur. Seabirds are hunted for meat, eggs and down. Also, the southern area provides limited areas for sheep and cattle breeding. Greenland's major exports are fish and fur. Principal trading partners are Canada, Australia, the United States, Denmark and the United Kingdom.

In 1952 the Danish government and private interests in Denmark, Sweden and Canada formed a company to exploit deposits of iron, lead, zinc, tungsten and cryolite (a mineral used in the production of aluminum) in eastern Greenland. By 1990, mining had exhausted the reserves. Deposits of coal, copper, molybdenum and uranium have been located, but not fully exploited. Thule Air Base supports a community of military and civilian personnel from the United States and Denmark.

Denmark was the first industrialized country to establish a Ministry of the Environment. But despite its advanced stage of environmental planning and worldwide activism, all of Denmark's environmental problems have not been solved. Though 98 percent of sewage is treated and sulfur dioxide emissions reduced, agricultural runoff has caused harmful algae growth in the North Sea that increasingly threatens drinking water supplies. By 1997, 32.2 percent of the country had been placed in protected areas. Denmark is still working to clean up three thousand hazardous waste sites identified in the 1980s. In 1988, in response to ecological disasters that destroyed the lobster colonies in the strait between Denmark and Sweden, the Folketing passed more rigorous measures to protect the environment.

Denmark includes Greenland and the Faroes in regional and international environmental agreements pertaining to air pollution and the ozone layer, ship pollution and marine life, climactic changes, endangered species and habitats. In 1985 the Folketing passed legislation against the future construction of nuclear power plants in Denmark and agreed to help establish a Nordic nuclear-free zone.

Denmark joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949, the European Free Trade Association (1959), and the European Economic Community, now known as the European Union (1972). In 1992 Danish voters rejected the Maastricht Treaty, which provided for increased integration of currency and politics with the European Union, creating considerable political controversy within the government. Denmark remains a member of the EU, and elects 16 members of the European parliament. Greenland joined the EU with Denmark in 1972, but withdrew in 1985 due to a dispute over fishing quotas. The Faroe Islands are not part of the EU.

Press Laws

Freedom of the press is guaranteed under Denmark's Constitution of 1849, and this right is respected in practice. The chief limitation of fair comment in speech and writing has been to protect the privacy and reputation of the individual. Most press libel cases since World War II have hinged on this issue. Libel cases have rarely resulted in sentences of imprisonment, but in those few cases where it has, terms in prison have never exceeded three months. Under press law, legal responsibility for a signed article rests with the author, but for the unsigned article and other materials, legal responsibility rests with the editor. The trend in interpreting press law is toward increased freedom for journalists to protect sources. A special national agency operates as a "corrections board" to hear complaints about a newspaper's refusal or failure to print a correction of any factual material that has been incorrectly or wrongfully printed, and a fine may be imposed if the board holds the paper liable.

A new legal provision, resulting from the Danish experience under the Nazis, declares that no citizen may be deprived of liberty because of political or religious convictions or descent. The official state-supported church is Evangelical Lutheran, to which 91 percent of the Danes belong. Citizens do have the right to form other congregations for the worship of God. Citizens cannot be required to pay taxes to support a denomination to which they do not belong, but neither are they permitted to form a religious group and engage in practices that are "at variance with good morals or public order." This affects the press indirectly, in that aberrant religious practices may become the subject of reporting and editorial comment.

The 1997 World Press Freedom Review reported that for the first time in Denmark's history, a prison sentence was handed down for threats made against a journalist. The case grew out of a three-year war between the Hells Angels and Bandidos biker gangs that left 12 people dead and more than 70 wounded. The gangs threatened journalists who covered the trials. One Bandido was jailed for two months for threatening Per Rasmussun, a freelance photographer filming outside the court building where a Bandido member was on trial. Two other Bandidos were tried for making repeated visits to the home of photographer Flemming Keith Karlsen and threatening him with death. Conviction of the Bandidos was seen as a major victory for the press.


For more than 200 years under the absolute monarchy, Denmark's newspapers were subject to censorship. Since the adoption of the Constitution of 1849, which guaranteed freedom of the press, the Danish government has exercised no control over the press. Nor has it attempted to control the flow of news and information from government administrative agencies to the press.

The only exception is the censorship exercised by the Germans who occupied Denmark during World War II. A 1939 non-aggression pact with Germany allowed the Danes a measure of control over their legal and domestic affairs until 1943. But in 1943-1945, rigid censorship was imposed, and all publications were compelled to print only the news and articles approved by the Nazis.

State-Press Relations

Denmark's newspapers consistently have opposed direct financial aid from the government, but as an increasing number of newspapers failed, government expanded its indirect subsidies to the press. Subsidies take the form of relief from value-added taxes, reduced rates for telephone and postal charges, and government payments for agency advertisements and printing the results of the national lottery. Low-interest loans also are available from the government-created Financial Institution of the Daily Press to which the government makes annual contributions.

The Joint Council of Danish Newspapers (Danske Dagblades Faellesrepraesentation ) is made up of representatives of political associations, editors and publishers. Founded in 1936, this organization speaks to the authorities and the general public on behalf of the newspapers. The council has developed a code of ethics and a directive treatise on Good Press Habits in Reporting Criminal Cases. The Danish Press Council (Pressenaevnet) was established in 1965 for the purpose of passing judgment on interpretations and alleged violations of the code.

Most newspapers are members of the Danish Newspaper Publishers Union. The union handles common economic issues with the exception of wage agreements with typographical workers, which are handled by a special employers' union. On occasion, the government may be called upon to mediate a labor dispute such as the 1977 strike that shut down Berlinske Tidende and two other newspapers for six months.

The government has exerted greater control of radio and television media. From 1925 to 1964, the state maintained a monopoly over radio broadcasts, and from 1962 to 1998, a state monopoly of television.

Radio Denmark (Danmarks Radio or DR), an independent public monopoly, has sole rights to present radio and television broadcasts under the Broadcasting Act (Radioloven ) of June 11, 1959. Until May 1987 a governing Radio Council (Radioradet ) operated under the Ministry of Cultural Affairs. The council was charged with responsibility to establish general principles that govern the content and quality of programs. In May 1987 the Folketing passed legislation that replaced the Radio Council with an 11-member governing board. The Minister of Communications names the chair; the political parties in the Folketing select nine members; and DR personnel choose one. The board appoints the director-general of DR, and has overall responsibility for DR's operations.

A Program Committee advises the board. It is composed of 21 members, one-third chosen by listeners' and viewers' associations, two-thirds chosen by organizations representing business, labor, education, religion, art, sports, and consumers. The Program Committee authorizes program plans, suggests additional broadcast series, discusses political items and events, elections, and parliamentary transmissions that impact upon broadcast content and schedules. Complaints about DR are heard by a three-member independent agency.

DR operates two public television stations. Both are subject to public service obligations with regard to news and educational programming. Since 1988, local commercial television stations have been permitted to broadcast advertising. Since 1997, television stations are allowed to form networks. The government appoints a five-member board to manage the commercial station, TV2. Advertising commercials may be run only at the beginning and end of a program. No advertising is permitted for medicines, beer, wine, spirits or tobacco. No ads may be run for special interest organizations, political parties, or religious groups. DR is required to meet public service requirements, but commercial stations like TV2 are not.

In 1983 the Folketing enacted a temporary law, made permanent in 1987, allowing the operation of local and private radio and television stations. Stations must acquire a permit to operate from a board appointed by the municipal government. Stations cannot be operated or controlled by commercial interests or newspapers, but they may make agreements with newspapers to supply news programming. They are allowed to sell time to political parties and religious entities.

News Agencies

Ritzau's Bureau, founded in 1866, is the primary supplier of national and international news to Danish media. Since 1947 Ritzau's Bureau has been owned cooperatively by the Danish press. The Bureau disseminates more than 10,000 words of foreign copy per day, of which 50-55 percent comes from Reuters, 25-30 percent from AFP, and 6-7 percent each from DPA and the Swedish TT. Ritzau's Bureau handles all distribution of Danish news abroad. Content of the foreign-bound material is about 86 percent news and 11 percent information.

There is an International Press Center in Copenhagen, where the Foreign Ministry's Press and Information Department provides services to the Foreign Press and the foreign correspondents of Danish media. The Association of Danish Newspapers, Danish District Weeklies, and Danish Specialist Press, all headquartered in Copenhagen, serve their respective newspapers and other publications. Most Copenhagen papers import newsprint and equipment through a cooperative purchasing agency, and share distribution costs through their own agency, the A/S Bladkompagniet.

Broadcast Media

Amateur radio broadcasts began in Denmark about 1920, and by 1923 three Copenhagen newspapers were broadcasting news via radio. In 1925 Statsradiofonien, a state radio monopoly was established that lasted until 1964. During the 1930s, radio became an important news media, reaching 75 percent of all Danish households. In 1959, competing radio newscasts were replaced by a single radio news service (Pressens Radioavis, renamed Danmarks Radio or DR), with major newspapers editing the news. Additional radio channels were added in 1963-1964 when the state monopoly was broken.

DR operates four channels: Programme 1 (P1) broadcasts information and cultural programs; Programme 2 (P2musik) airs mainly classical music; Programme 3 (P3) is a music and news channel aimed at younger listeners; and Programme 4 (P4) broadcasts regional news and entertainment. In 1983, local radio stations appeared, initially financed by voluntary contributions from various organizations, but since 1988 also by advertising. Radio 2, a national commercial station, has been on the air since 1997.

DR began television news transmissions in 1953. Though the state television monopoly was not broken until 1988, the rapid growth of satellite and cable television channels posed serious competition for newspapers, tabloids and weekly entertainment magazines. In 1996 DR added a second television channel.

On October 1, 1988, TV2 began transmissions and in October 2000, TV2 added a second channel. The first commercial station in Denmark was TV3, owned by the international media group SBS, which began broadcasting from London via satellite on January 1, 1988. Since April 1997, TvDanmark has broadcast in eight regions, with programming primarily focused on entertainment and regional news. Since 2000, TvDanmark has operated two channels.

The four public service stations are partly or fully financed by license fees.

In 1999, DR channels 1 and 2 garnered 31 percent of the viewing audience, while TV2's share was 36 percent. TV3 gained 11 percent, and TvDanmark 8 percent. All other channels shared 14 percent of the market. The market report estimates that the average Danish viewer watches television for 2 hours and 38 minutes per day.

Radio Denmark has radio and television studios at Copenhagen, Aarhus, Abenra, Aalborg, and Odense. In 1986 there were 49 radio transmitters serving 2.05 million receivers and 32 television transmitters with 1.95 million receivers. Though TV2 generates advertising revenues, radio and television are financed primarily from license fees required of all radio and television set owners. Usually, the television license also covers radio use, but if the household has no television, it must have a license for radio receivers only. Radio licenses cost about one-fourth the fee for television licenses. A reduced fee applies for senior citizens and disabled pensioners.

Radio Greenland (Kalaalit Nunaata Radio or KNR) is an independent public entity administered by a seven-man board appointed by the Greenland government. A management committee operates KNR-Radio and KNRTV, broadcasting daily radio and television programs throughout Greenland. KNR-TV annually broadcasts about 300 hours in Greenlandic and 2,000 hours in Danish. It also transmits television news from DR daily. KNR-Radio broadcasts 2,500 hours in Greenlandic, 900 in Danish, and 2,200 hours of music each year. KNR has news departments in Nuuk, North and South Greenland and Copenhagen, and delivers news to Greenlanders in both Greenlandic and Danish languages. Local radio and television productions are culturally oriented, and financed partly by advertising revenue. KNR has its own production studios in Nuuk, the capital, where it employs about 120 people.

Faroese Radio is not under the jurisdiction of DR, but like Greenland, cooperates with it. Faroe Islanders are served by the state radio Utvaap Foroya, and Ras 2 radio station. Sjonvarp Faroya (SvF), the Faroes' national television company, is the only television station broadcasting in Faroese. The station transmits 40 hours a week, covering news, documentaries, entertainment, culture, sports and drama. The station employs 35 people plus 15-20 freelance workers and specialists. The station reaches about 13,000 households throughout the islands. Surveys confirm that SvF commands 70-80 percent of viewers, especially for local news and productions.

The Voice of Denmark shortwave radio service transmits daily 45-minute programs in Danish and 30-minute programs in Spanish and English. Transmissions are beamed to South America, North America, the Far East, Southern Asia, Africa and Greenland. Programs are generally free of political propaganda; they focus on news, commentaries, and interviews related to events in Denmark. The primary purpose of the foreign broadcasts is to promote a broader awareness of Denmark and its culture. A related publication, The Voice of Denmark, is published four times a year, and provides information about the shortwave broadcasts in Danish, English and Spanish. The expansion of broadcast media has placed increasing pressure on the print media, particularly tabloids and weekly entertainment magazines.

Electronic Media

Most major radio and television channels in Denmark have established Internet services to provide news updates, essays, film and other services, in Denmark, Greenland and the Faroes. Thirty-one Denmark newspapers provide online services. Media outlets with the resources to provide Internet services have a strong advantage in the advertising market. In the 1970s and 1980s, electronic media, radio and television took over much of the advertising market that had been dominated by the print media in the 1960s.

Education and Training

Denmark has a nine-year compulsory education system beginning at age seven. The education obligation may be fulfilled in the free municipal Folkeskole or private school, or by home schooling. In 1993 the Danish Parliament adopted a new Folkeskole Act, which led to numerous reforms aimed at achieving a balance between subject-specific and general education during the nine years of compulsory education. After completing the required education, the student make proceed to upper secondary education at either of two levels: general education qualifying for access to higher education, or vocational or technical education qualifying for access to the labor market.

All higher education is free to students, and all institutions are funded by the state, though they are self-governing and independent as to program offerings and budget decisions. The student may select the short-cycle non-university program of one to three years to study technical programs, market economics, or train as a computer specialist. These programs are primarily offered at business and technical colleges. The medium-cycle university programs of three to fours years comprise the bachelor's degree programs of universities and other higher education institutions in the university sector. The institutions collectively offer a diverse range of professional training choices in education, liberal arts, science, and medicine, in which a student may prepare for a profession or move toward a university master's degree program. The long-cycle higher education program of five to six years is research-based and offered by institutions in the university sector.

All institutions of higher education in Denmark are free to admit as many qualified applicants as they have space and qualified faculty to teach. There are no entrance examinations for students, but they must be recommended by the secondary school they attended. Each institution establishes its own criteria of selection if it cannot admit all applicants. State funding grants to the institutions are based on the specific programs offered and the number of active students per year.

The government operates a school for journalists in Aarhus, which graduates about 200 students each year. The program consists of 18 months of study, 18 months of practical experience, and a final year of study. In addition, there are vocational colleges and institutions for training production technicians in print media, radio and television, and electronic media.


The Danish press has made steady progress in quality and diversification for more than a hundred years, although faced by wars, political upheavals and financial reverses. The dominant positions of several large daily newspapers founded in the eighteenth century speaks to their survival capabilities and to the Danish people's attachment to their newspapers. Without doubt, the newspapers shall maintain their constitutional freedoms, despite the indirect government subsidies they accept to lower costs.

The shift to radio and television for mass media consumption is global, and newspapers have taken the competition in stride, adjusting their services to include use of the mass media outlets of radio, television and the Internet.

It remains to be seen whether the government will relinquish its remaining controls over radio and television and allow unfettered competition. The rapid growth from two to eight television stations after the state monopoly was broken may have evoked a slowdown in the government's relaxation of restrictions in order to avoid the financial instability that often comes with rapid expansion. Economic contractions in the private sector may have severe impact on the advertising revenue of the media. Government subsidies and capital outlay for communications facilities are dependent upon projected revenues from license fees and taxesmajor factors in decisions to limit or encourage growth.

The Danish press has diversified in the face of competition, and thereby increased the depth and quality of programming in newspapers, radio and television. One concern is maintaining credibility in the national media as coverage increasingly reflects the violence and immorality existing in the global society.

Another factor that may influence the future of the media is whether the Faroese and the Greenlanders will be content with home rule status or will seek complete independence from Denmark.

The Danish pressprint, broadcast, and electronicseems well able to adapt to circumstances. Constitutional freedom of the press is exercised by the print media, while radio and television are partly funded and controlled by the state. Media consumption increases along with the varieties of media. Even as the electronic media inspires more consumption of programs with international orientation, there is a corresponding rise in interest in media focused on local communities and national identity.

The Internet is both a challenge and an opportunity for the print and broadcast media to expand their reach and influence to audiences beyond Denmark, and to promote awareness of Danish culture and society at home and abroad. From its past performance and history, Denmark's press seems well able to meet the challenge and take advantage of the opportunities.

Significant Dates

  • 1997: Commercial Radio 2 began broadcasting nationally. Television stations received permission to form networks and expand.
  • 1999: Two Danmarks Radio (state) television channels, DR1 and DR2, lost market dominance to commercial station TV2.
  • 2000: Commercial television station TV2 began broadcasting on two channels, and TvDanmark implemented broadcasts on two channels.
  • 2001: Internet site designers in Denmark increased by 85 percent in one year.
  • 2002: Thirty-one Danish newspapers and two in the Faroe Islands provide services via electronic media.


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Harvey, William J., and Christian Reppien. Denmark and the Danes: A Survey of Danish Life, Institutions and Culture. Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press, 1915, 1970.

Kurian, George Thomas. Facts on File: National Profiles, Scandinavia. New York and Oxford: R.R. Donnelley & Sons, 1990.

Logan, F. Donald. The Vikings in History. Totowa, NJ: Barnes & Noble Books, 1983.

. Denmark: A Troubled Welfare State. Boulder, San Francisco and Oxford: Westview Press, 1991.

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Rying, Bent, Editor-in-Chief. Denmark: An Official Handbook. Copenhagen: Krak, for Press and Information Department, Denmark Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1970.

Marguerite R. Plummer, Ph.D.

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Kingdom of Denmark

Major Cities:
Copenhagen, Århus, Odense

Other Cities:
Ålborg, Esbjerg, Fredericia, Gentofte, Helsingør, Horsens, Kolding, Naestved, Randers, Ribe, Roskilde, Vejle


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated December 1992. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


DENMARK is the oldest kingdom in Europe, tracing its written history as far back as the Viking period of the eighth and ninth centuries. A country of gentle beauty, friendly people, and cosmopolitan life-style, modern Denmark is an industrialized nation with a high standard of living and one of the world's most advanced social welfare societies. The homogeneity of culture, breadth of economic activity, and variety of political opinion make it a stimulating place to visit.

A nation of rich cultural and intellectual heritage, Denmark continues to contribute to achievements of the modern world. Writers, scientists, philosophers, musicians, artistsall with international recognitionare indicative of the range of accomplishments that have been reached in this fairy-tale kingdom so honored by its most-beloved son, Hans Christian Andersen.



Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, lies on the eastern coast of the island of Zealand on the straits connecting the Baltic Sea to the North Sea. Between Zealand and mainland Denmark lie the island of Fyn and two channelsthe Great Belt and the Little Belt. Copenhagen's strategic location on a main trade route between the Baltic and northern countries has made it one of the great transit ports of northern Europe.

With over 1 million people, Copenhagen is Denmark's largest city. Starting as a small fishing village more than 1,000 years ago, the city has grown into a major European commercial and cultural center. Its name (Kobenhavn or Merchant's Harbor) reflects its historical association with shipping and international trade. Copenhagen's busy harbor and shipyards confirm the significant role these activities continue to play in the city's economic life.

Despite the modern pace of its commercial activity, Copenhagen maintains its Old World charm. The skyline is dominated by stately towers, their copper roofs green with age; thus its popular name, "city of beautiful towers."

Many buildings in the city's center date back hundreds of years, some as far back as the 16th and 17th centuries. The old houses that line the canals and cobblestone streets provide a sharp contrast to modern, high-rise apartment complexes that dominate the fast-growing suburbs and newer parts of the city.

The high standard of living of its citizens is reflected in the clean, well-maintained appearance of the city. Despite its size, many wooded parks and small lakes give Copenhagen an almost provincial quality. Copenhagen is a favorite of tourists, and thousands of Americans visit the city each year.


Most types of food are available on the local market year round.


Woolen clothing is worn most of the year. Even in summer, a light wrap or sweater is usually needed after sundown. Rainwear is a necessity. Ready-made clothing for men, women, and children is available at prices often higher than those in the U.S. Shoes for men, women, and children are imported from all over Europe, but narrow widths are not readily available.

Supplies and Services

Supplies: All major brands of toilet articles and cosmetics are available, but taxes on cosmetics are high. Few American patent medicines are available in Danish drugstores, since most medicines are sold only by prescription.

Basic Services: Tailors and dressmakers are available but increasingly rare. Laundries, Laundromats, dry-cleaners, and shoe repair shops do work comparable to that in the U.S. Adequate electronics repair is available, but usually slow. Spare parts for U.S. makes are in limited supply. Denmark has many good barbershops and excellent beauty shops. Most basic services are more costly than in the U.S.

Religious Activities

The Lutheran Church is the state church of Denmark. Roman Catholic, Reformist, Unitarian, Methodist, Baptist, Seventh-day Adventist, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also hold services here. A minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America holds services for the International Church of Copenhagen. Services in English are also held at the Anglican Episcopal Church of St. Albans and the International Baptist Church. Catholic services in English are held at two churches in greater Copenhagen. Jewish services are held at the synagogue weekday mornings, Saturday morning, and every evening at sunset.


The three English-language schools listed below are recommended for children of American travelers. Request admittance as far in advance as possible due to possible lack of vacancies in certain classes. The school year runs from mid-August to June. Use the following addresses:

Copenhagen International Schools Copenhagen International School (CIS)
Gammel Kongevej 15
1610 Copenhagen V
Tel.: 31 21 46 33

Copenhagen International Junior School (CIJS)
Stenosgade 4C
1616 Copenhagen V
Tel.: 31 22 33 03

Rygaards School
International Division
54 Bernstorffsvej
2900 Hellerup
Tel.: 31 62 10 53

The Copenhagen International Schools (Senior and Junior) are housed adjacently in a downtown location near public transportation.

The Senior School (CIS) was founded in 1963 to provide English-language secondary education for children of the international community (grades 10 to 13). The CIS curriculum is that of a U.S. general academic, college-preparatory public school. The school also prepares students for the international baccalaureate. English, German, French, and advanced Danish are taught as foreign languages, and all students must participate in a program of study of the Danish language and culture. The school's testing program includes the PSAT, SAT, and Achievement tests; ACT tests can be arranged.

The Copenhagen International Junior School (CIJS) was founded in 1973 to meet the growing demand for a school for younger children. It comprises pre-kindergarten and kindergarten (4-and 5-year-olds, with 3-year-olds who will be 4 before the end of December), primary school (grades 1 to 6), and middle school (grades 7 to 9). Pupils through grade 6 are taught in self-contained classrooms; those in grades 7 to 9 have a departmentalized curriculum taught by specialists in their fields.

The curriculum is international, combining the best of American and British education. The international school's curriculum will be followed as it becomes available.

The school is accredited by the European Council of International Schools and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Iowa tests of basic skills are available in grades 4, 6, and 8.

Rygaards School is located in a residential suburb of Copenhagen accessible by train and bus. The school was founded in 1909 by Catholic Sisters of the Assumption and is now recognized and supported by the Danish State. Children of all faiths are accepted.

The International Division consists of a preschool (4-to 6-year olds), a junior department (6-to 11-year-olds), and a senior department (12-to 16-year-olds). In addition to the International Division, Rygaards has a Danish Division. These two divisions function independently but in collaboration under one board and one headmaster.

The students at Rygaards come from 40 or more nations. Most of the teachers are British, and the academic instruction follows the British system, culminating in London University "O" level examinations in the final year. This corresponds to American kindergarten through grade 11.

Rygaards has an active Parents' Association. After-school activities are available for many age groups.

Special Educational Opportunities

Copenhagen has many nursery schools and kindergartens, both public and private. They are operated independently of the elementary schools, and completion of kindergarten is not a prerequisite for entrance to elementary school.

Musical instruction is readily available for adults and children. Excellent contemporary and abstract art and dancing instruction are available.

Many municipalities (kommune) in the greater Copenhagen area offer extensive and inexpensive adult education programs with a wide variety of subjects, some taught in English. Several such courses are offered for the study of Danish. These courses usually begin in September and end in February. Pamphlets listing the courses are widely distributed in the Copenhagen area.


Facilities are available for most popular sports. Many neighborhood gymnasiums in Copenhagen have indoor swimming pools. Tennis and badminton are popular, and several clubs have indoor and outdoor courts. Squash clubs are also available. A number of 18-hole, private golf courses are located near Copenhagen. Bowling, flying, gliding, and hang gliding are also available. Sports equipment is more expensive than in the U.S. but is available everywhere.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Summer sports are popular during the short, warm season. Yacht clubs are located along the coast, and sailing is enjoyed from May to October. Many swim in the sea in the summer, despite the chilly water temperature. Fishing on small, private lakes is available. Bicycling and hiking are popular, and hiking and biking clubs sponsor trips to some charming rural areas close to Copenhagen. You may hire horses at lower rates than in the U.S. Several reputable riding schools have indoor rings for winter riding.

Excellent pheasant and duck shooting and some deer hunting is possible, but a game license is required. To obtain one, you must pass a test or hold a U.S. hunting license.

Winter sports are limited to ice skating and occasionally some cross-country skiing north of Copenhagen. Serious skiers must travel north to Norway, or south to France, Germany, Austria, Italy, or Switzerland. Oslo is 8 hours away by train, or overnight by the excellent sleep ferry from Copenhagen. The Bavarian and Swiss Alps are 18-24 hours away by train. Copenhagen travel agencies offer excellent, modestly priced, 8-day package ski trips to these areas.

Many guided tours of Copenhagen are available. One popular tour takes you by boat through the canals of Copenhagen into the harbor and past the famous statue of the Little Mermaid.

The airline charter industry is highly developed and competitive here, providing inexpensive vacation packages to all parts of Europe and many other points abroad.


Copenhagen's movie theaters show the latest American and European films. Most feature films are shown in their original language, with Danish subtitles.

This Week in Copenhagen (which, despite its name, is a monthly publication) lists a wide variety of events of interest.

Copenhagen has symphony orchestras, a ballet (one of the world's finest), and a national opera company. The most famous of the orchestras is the Radio Denmark Symphony, which gives weekly concerts in winter and often features leading American and European artists. The ballet and opera each offer several performances a week from September through May. Ticket prices are reasonable. Half-price tickets are often available after 5 pm on the day of the performance.

Many fine museums are located in or near Copenhagen, including the National Museum of Art and the Carlsberg Glyptotek (with an excellent Rodin collection).

The world-famous Tivoli amusement park, in the heart of the city, is synonymous with the spirit of Copenhagen. Open from May 1 to early September, Tivoli features arcades, rides, restaurants, and light and serious music in an atmosphere for children and adults.

Copenhagen has many fine restaurants. Traditional Danish cuisine is good, though often bland. Modern Danish cuisine is modeled on that of France. Hard liquor and wine are expensive; a bottle of the house table wine can double the price of a meal. Most Danes stick to beer and snaps (a Danish drink made from potatoes and flavored with caraway) with their meals. Danish beer is deservedly world renowned.


The American Club of Copenhagen holds monthly luncheon meetings, with guest speakers talking on topics of interest to the membership, which consists of American and Danish business and professional men and women.

The American Women's Club in Denmark, founded in 1934, is a philanthropic and social organization whose membership is predominantly American, but also includes many Danes and women of other nationalities.

This is an active social club with both daytime and evening groups for bridge, handicrafts, sports, and cultural/educational activities. The club is actively engaged in projects to raise money for scholarships, art awards, and charities. The club meets monthly on the second Tuesday.

The International Women's Club of Copenhagen (IWC), a nonprofit organization founded in 1977, was formed to welcome and assist newcomers and their families to Denmark, to further goodwill and friendship, and to give financial and material support to philanthropic projects.

A regular, monthly luncheon is held on the fourth Thursday of each month. A program is presented at each luncheon, either with an international theme or on some aspect of life in Denmark. Also, a wide range of activities is offered, giving members an opportunity to meet in smaller groups. Sports, language, and cultural interests are catered to so that there is something for everyone.

Copenhagen also has local chapters of Rotary International, Free Masons, Odd Fellows, and American Legion.


Århus (also spelled Aarhus) is Denmark's second largest city. Located on the east coast of central Jutland on Århus Bay, the city has a population of over 217,000. A commercial, industrial, and shipping center, Århus is also one of Denmark's oldest cities, developing rapidly after becoming an episcopal see in the 11th century. A decline followed the Reformation of the 16th century, but Århus began to prosper again in the 18th century.

Århus is also an important cultural center, with a university, a theater, a large library, and restored-town museum consisting of several old Danish houses. Other buildings of note include the Cathedral of St. Clemens, built in the 12th century, and the town hall, constructed in 1942 of Norwegian marble.

Århus' museum of prehistory, Mosegård, contains a fascinating exhibition which includes the "Grauballe Man," a mummified person of two millennia ago. The city also is the site of the world's largest fire-engine museum, and of a fine aquarium.

Tivoli Friheden, Århus' large amusement park, is open daily from late April to mid-August; concert performances are frequent features.


Odense, Denmark's third largest city with a population of 145,000, is located in the north-central part of Fyn Island. Linked by canal with the Odense Fjord, the city is an important commercial, industrial, and cultural center, as well as a rail junction. Odense, meaning "Shrine of Odin" (the supreme Norse god), has large shipyards which export agricultural produce. Machinery, textiles, beer, electrical equipment, and motor vehicles are manufactured.

One of the oldest cities in northern Europe, Odense was founded in the 10th century and became an episcopal see in 1020. Its Cathedral of St. Knud, built in the 13th century, is one of the finest examples of Danish Gothic architecture. Odense is perhaps best known as the birthplace (in 1805) of Hans Christian Andersen, author of such fairy tales as The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor's New Clothes, The Snow Queen, The Little Mermaid, and more than 160 others. A small, red-tiled house at the corner of Han Jensensstraded and Bangs Boder, near downtown Odense, is Andersen's birthplace. The neighborhood has been restored to its 19th-century appearance and the Andersen home is now part of an impressive museum devoted to the Danish writer.

Other cities of importance on Fyn Island are Nyborg, with a population of 16,000, a seaside resort, known for its shipyards and textile mills; and Svendborg (population of 28,000), with its shipyards and breweries.


ÅLBORG (spelled Aalborg until 1948) is located on Jutland in northern Denmark. Jutland, the peninsula that divides the North Sea from the Baltic Sea, is the only part of Denmark attached to mainland Europe. It has unspoiled beaches, medieval hamlets, lush countryside, and an English-speaking population that is quite hospitable. Ålborg, the capital of Nordylland County, is situated on the Lim Fjord and is a major industrial and cultural center, as well as a commercial seaport. With a current population of about 120,000, Ålborg manufactures machinery, chemicals, cement, liquor, ships, and textiles. Known since the 11th century, the city was chartered in 1342. Of interest here is the 12th-century Cathedral of St. Botolph and a 16th-century castle. The local museum was designed by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. Scandinavia's largest festival of drama, dance, and music is held annually in Ålborg in September. Near the city is Rebild National Park, where American Independence Day is celebrated each year by Danes and Danish-Americans. Nearby, too, is Legoland, with its miniature cities, Mount Rushmore and Statue of Liberty replicas, and other wonders built from Lego blocks. Ålborg is also known for its oysters, both succulent and plentiful, from the Lim Fjord.

ESBJERG , Denmark's largest fishing port, is located in southwest Jutland on the North Sea. With a current population of 73,000, Esbjerg is a commercial and industrial center whose main development came after the construction of its port in the late 19th century. It was chartered as a city in 1899. Esbjerg's harbor, the best on the peninsula's west coast, exports meats and dairy products.

FREDERICIA , a seaport on the southeastern Jutland, has a population of close to 37,000. An important industrial center and rail junction, as well as a port of Lille Baelt, Fredericia manufactures textiles and chemicals and also has an oil refinery. Frederick III built the town as the main fortress on Jutland in 1650, and there was no expansion beyond the ramparts. Fredericia was the scene of the battle in which the Danes defeated the Prussians on July 6, 1849. Modern development began when the fortress was closed in 1909.

GENTOFTE , a suburb north of Copenhagen with a population of more than 77,000, is situated in eastern Denmark, less than 10 miles north of Frederiksberg. Many of the country's foreign embassies are located here. Gentofte has a horse-trotting course and is the home of the famous Tuborg breweries.

HELSINGØR (also called Elsinore) is located in northwestern Sjaelland directly across the Øresund Strait (or Sound) from Hälsingborg, Sweden. About 25 miles north of Copenhagen, Helsingør experienced its greatest growth from the 15th to the mid-17th century, when Danish kings collected tolls from the ships passing through the straits. Today, Helsingør is a fishing port, summer resort, and industrial center, manufacturing ships, machinery, textiles, and beer. Helsingør is probably best known as the site of Kronborg Castle, built between 1554 and 1585 and completely restored in the years 1925 to 1937. Considered the most secure fortress in the country, it was captured by Sweden in 1660. However, the castle is most famous as the scene of Shakespeare's Hamlet ; although Hamlet never lived at the castle, it is often the site of performances of the play. A maritime museum also is housed at Kronborg. The city is home to 35,000 residents.

HORSENS is a port on Horsens Fjord, on the east coast of central Jutland. With a population of 49,000, the city is a commercial and industrial center 23 miles south of Århus. It exports dairy products and manufactures tobacco products, textiles, and electrical equipment. A fortified town in the Middle Ages, the 13th-century monastery and church within its ramparts may be visited in Horsens today.

KOLDING is located in south-central Jutland on the eponymous fjord, an inlet of Lille Baelt. A seaport which exports cattle, fish, and grain, Kolding has a population of 53,000. Dating back to the 10th century, the city is the site of two important battles in Danish history; in 1644, the Danes defeated the Swedes here and, on April 12, 1849, the Danes were defeated in the Schleswig-Holstein conflict. Historical buildings include the oldest stone church in Denmark, built in the 13th century, and Koldinghus, a royal castle built in 1248.

Situated in southeastern Denmark, NAESTVED is about 35 miles south of the capital. Built around a Benedictine monastery which was founded in 1135, Naestved developed into a market center after the monks moved in the 12th century. The city's landmarks include St. Peder Kirke, the only reminder of the monastery; St. Morten's Kirke; and the remains of a medieval hospital, which is now a museum. The city manufactures textiles, glass, pottery, and paper. With a population of about 40,000, Naestved also has a fishing port.

RANDERS is a seaport on east Jutland, at the mouth of the Gudenå River. Located 22 miles north of Århus, Randers, whose population is 56,000, is a commercial and industrial center that produces dairy products. The city was founded in the 11th century and was an important trade center in the Middle Ages. Noted for its salmon fishing today, Randers has a 15th-century edificeChurch of St. Mortonand an 18th-century town hall.

About 15 miles south of Esbjerg is the town of RIBE , the capital of Ribe County. With a population of 8,000, the city is known for its architecture. Its cathedral, built about 1130, and restored in the late 19th century, is an excellent example of Dutch Romanesque design. Ribe prospered in the Middle Ages; the Black Friar's Abbey (built 1228), St. Catherine's Church (built about 1230), and the city hall (14th century) are examples of architecture from that period. There is also a wealth of 16th-and 17th-century houses.

ROSKILDE is a residential suburb 20 miles west of Copenhagen. A port on the Roskilde Fjord, it is one of the oldest cities in Denmark, serving as the country's capital from the 10th century until 1443, when it was replaced by Copenhagen. Roskilde was Denmark's ecclesiastical center from 1020 to 1536; then, during the Reformation, it was suppressed. The Treaty of Roskilde, signed in 1658, ceded Denmark's lands in southern Sweden to Charles X of Sweden. The city's cathedral, built late in the 12th century, contains about 40 royal tombs, including those of most Danish kings. There is also a museum of Viking ships and an atomic research center nearby. The city's current population is approximately 43,000.

VEJLE , in central Jutland, is a seaport on the fjord which bears its name. A commercial and industrial center and a rail junction, with a population of nearly 48,000, Vejle manufactures soap, textiles, and leather goods. St. Nicholas Church, built in the 13th century and later restored, is among the interesting local sights.


Geography and Climate

Denmark lies directly north of Germany and south of Norway. The European part of the country proper is slightly smaller than Vermont and New Hampshire combined. Denmark consists of the Jutland Peninsula and 406 islands, of which 100 are inhabited. The straits between these islands connect the Baltic and the North Seas.

About 40 percent of the population is located on the island of Zealand, the largest island in Denmark proper. Here, the capital, Copenhagen, can be found.

Greenland and the Faroe Islands, although self-governing, are parts of Denmark. Greenland is the largest island in the world.

Denmark is regarded as an agricultural country. However, dramatic changes have occurred in recent years, and today only about 5 percent of the population is employed in agriculture.

The coastline is irregular and dotted with inlets, breaks, gently sloping fjords, and impressive cliffs. The public has access, as a right, to all the beaches of the country, including right of passage along privately owned shore.

Because Denmark is almost entirely surrounded by sea, it has a moderate, maritime climate. This, however, produces changeable weather, which makes forecasting an imperfect art. The average temperatures range from 32°F in February to 61°F in July. Temperatures vary slightly from day to night. Average annual rainfall is 24 inches. August and October are the wettest months. Days are short in winter, with about 6 hours of daylight in December and January. Daylight in summer lasts 18-20 hours.


Denmark's population is about 5.4 million. About one-fourth live in Copenhagen and its suburbs.

The Danes, a homogenous Gothic-Germanic people, have inhabited Denmark since prehistoric times. Danish, the principal language, is one of the more difficult European languages to speak; a reading knowledge is more easily acquired. Most Danes speak English.

Education is compulsory from ages 7 to 16 and is free through the university level on the basis of competitive exams.

The Lutheran Church is state supported and accounts for about 95 percent of Denmark's religious affiliation. Several other Protestant denominations and other religions exist.

Public Institutions

Denmark is the oldest kingdom in Europe. During the Viking period (9th-11th centuries), Denmark was a great power, based on the Jutland Peninsula, the island of Zealand, and the southern part of Sweden.

It became a constitutional monarchy with the adoption of the Constitution of 1849, which removed the King's absolute power and provided for separate administrative, legislative, and judicial agencies. This system was retained in the Constitution of 1953, now in force.

The Danish royal family is the oldest dynasty in Europe. The present Queen, Margrethe II, ascended to the throne in 1972.

The Queen, as head of the government, holds formal executive power, but her authority is mostly symbolic. She governs through the Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who is chosen by the government party (or parties, in cases of coalitions) in the Parliament. The Prime Minister, in turn, appoints the Ministers, who implement government policy.

The Parliament, or Folketing, is unicameral. Its 179 members are popularly elected by universal suffrage. The usual term for the Folketing is 4 years, but the Prime Minister may call for national elections at any time. Eight parties are represented in Parliament, but none has enough seats to form a majority government alone.

The judicial branch of government is an appointed and independent Supreme Court.

Arts, Science, and Education

Denmark has a rich cultural and intellectual heritage and continues to contribute to the cultural achievements of the modern world. The astronomical discoveries of Tycho Brahe and the brilliant contributions to atomic physics of Niels Bohr are indicative of the range of Danish scientific achievement.

The "fairy tales" of Hans Christian Andersen (1805-75), the philosophical essays of Soren Kierkegaard, and the short stories of Karen Blixen (pen name Isak Dinesen) have earned international recognition, as have the symphonies of Carl Nielsen.

Danish applied art and industrial design have won awards for excellence. The name Georg Jensen is famous for outstanding modern design in silver, and "Royal Copenhagen" is among the best of fine porcelains.

The Royal Danish Ballet is an exceptional company, specializing in the work of the great Danish choreographer August Bournonville. Danes have distinguished themselves as jazz musicians, and the Copenhagen Jazz Festival has acquired an international reputation.

International collections of modern art enjoy unusually attractive settings at the Louisiana Museum, north of Copenhagen, and at the North Jutland Art Museum in Aalborg. The State Museum of Art and the Glyptotek, both in Copenhagen, contain treasures of Danish and international art. The Museum of Applied Art and Industrial Design in Copenhagen holds exhibits, featuring the best in Danish design.

Among Danish writers today, probably the most prolific is Klaus Rifbjergpoet, novelist, playwright, and screenwriter. Benny Andersen writes poems, short stories, and music. Poems by both writers have been translated into English by Curbstone Press. Kirsten Thorup's Baby, winner of the 1980 Pegasus Prize, is printed in English by the University of Louisiana Press. The psychological thrillers of Anders Bodelsen also appear in English.

In music, Hans Abrahamsen and Per Norgaard are the two most famous living composers. Hans Abrahamsen's works have been performed by the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C.

Two Danish films, "Babette's Feast" and "Pelle the Conqueror," won Academy Awards as Best Foreign Film in 1988 and 1989, respectively.

Danish education follows the traditional European system. School attendance is mandatory through age 15, when most students either continue their education or enter an apprenticeship program. Danes take great pride in achieving the status of skilled workers. Great emphasis is placed on adult education. Many evening courses are offered at Copenhagen University and in high schools.

Higher education is offered at commercial and technical colleges and universities. Denmark's universities are at Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense, Roskilde, and Aalborg. The University of Copenhagen, the oldest and largest, has five faculties: theology, law and economics, medicine, arts, and science. Other seats of higher learning include the Technical University of Denmark, Academy of Engineers, Dental Colleges, and School of Pharmacy. In addition to academic requirements, foreign students must be fluent in the Danish language.

Interest in science and the arts is promoted by universities and special foundations such as the Carlsberg/Tuborg Foundation. Other research is financed by the State.

One of Denmark's best known institutes is the Niels Bohr Institute of Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen.

Commerce and Industry

An agricultural economy until World War II, in the postwar period, initially assisted by the Marshall Plan, Denmark rapidly developed into a modern industry and services society. Agriculture and fishing today account for 3 percent of the economy, services 72 percent, and industry 25 percent. Metal working and food processing are the most important industries.

Denmark's few natural resources are farmland, fish, and oil and natural gas in the North Sea. The Danish economy is, therefore, based on adding value to domestic and imported raw materials. Its living standard is one of the highest in the world. It has a highly unionized, well-paid, and skilled labor force. Denmark is heavily dependent on foreign trade. About 73 percent of total commodity exports are manufactured products and 17 percent agricultural and fish products.

2000 saw a 2.8% increase in the economy, assisted by continued strong exports, but also by a recovery in domestic demand. The present inflation rate, 2.9 percent, is low among the OECD countries. Following more than a quarter of a century of recurring balance-of-payments deficits, resulting in a large foreign debt and consequently large interest payments, the balance shifted into a surplus in 1990 and 1991, where it has remained, with the exception of a temporary deficit in 1998.

The U.S., in 2000, ranked number seven among Denmark's trading partners, accounting for more than 4 percent of total Danish commodity trade worth $68 billion. The EU accounts for more than half of the trade, Germany alone for 22 percent. Major U.S. exports to Denmark are aircraft, machinery and EDP equipment. Major Danish exports to the U.S. are machinery and equipment, foodstuffs (mostly canned ham and pork), and furniture.

Denmark is a major shipbuilding and shipping nation. A large share of shipping earnings stem from liner trade to and from the U.S. Danish shipbuilding.



Traffic moves on the right. Copenhagen's public transportation system is excellent. It includes bus and train service that is quick, clean, safe, and convenient. Fares are reasonable and monthly passes are available at reduced rates. Trains provide quick service to the suburbs, but little between midnight and 5 am.

Taxis are usually plentiful. All taxis have meters for calculating fares. They are not expensive.


Copenhagen is connected to all major European centers by rail and air. Both TWA and Delta Air Lines have daily service between the U.S. and Copenhagen. Tower Air operates flights twice weekly. Scandinavian Air Lines and other international airlines also provide service between Copenhagen and major U.S. cities.

Daily rail service is available to most European capitals. Ferries travel to Norway, Sweden, Germany, Poland, and England.

Many Danes use bicycles, not only for recreation, but also as a primary means of transportation. Designated bicycle lanes exist on most major thoroughfares. They are situated between the street and the sidewalk. Bicycles are required to have reflectors and, at night, are required to display a white light in front and a red light on the rear. Insurance is recommended. New bicycles are more expensive in Denmark than in the U.S.

Bicycles have the right-of-way and cars must yield to them. The only time a bicycle must yield to a pedestrian or a motor vehicle is when a pedestrian exits a city bus or when a motor vehicle is turning with a protected turn green light.

Pedestrians and motorists must not walk or turn into a bicycle lane.


Telephone and Telegraph

Local and long-distance telephone services are good. International telephone and telegraph service is available from Copenhagen to all parts of the world. AT&T credit card "USA Direct" service, MCI, and Sprint are available for calls to the U.S. and result in significant savings. Local telephone bills are received quarterly. No itemized breakdown of charge per call is available, even for long-distance calls, unless an operator is used.

Radio and TV

Denmark has two national TV channels and three national radio stations. Two Swedish TV channels can be received in Copenhagen with a good antenna. American and British programs and movies are often shown on all four TV channels in the original English, with Danish/Swedish subtitles. Color transmission is excellent. The PAL standard is used for broadcasting by Danish TV. Cable TV is available in most areas. Both CNN International and BBC are available on cable, as well as French, German, and Norwegian stations. Where cable is not available, satellite reception is available. Both systems have costs similar to those in the U.S.

Radio reception from Swedish, German, and British stations, as well as the German-based American Forces network, is possible with a good receiver and antenna.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

Time, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune are sold locally. These and other English-language newspapers are sold at the main train station and in lobbies of large hotels. Danish libraries are good and have English sections. Books in English are also available at the British Council library.

Copenhagen bookstores sell the latest American and British books at about double the U.S. price.

Health and Medicine

Danish medical care is of high quality and is comparable to the medical care one finds throughout Western Europe. However, despite its high quality, the system for providing care in Denmark is different from that in the U.S. Waiting periods are common for routine, non-emergency surgery. Diagnostic tests take longer to schedule than in the U.S.

Medical Facilities

Diagnostic laboratories and specialists in all fields of medicine are available. Hospitals are well-equipped and reasonably priced. Maternity hospitals and many clinics are available. Most doctors and dentists speak English.

Most medicines are available locally. They may not, however, be the same brand names as those used in the U.S. Prices are higher than in the U.S., even though the prices are state controlled. Bring a supply of medicine that you know you will need.

Community Health

Sanitary conditions in Denmark are excellent. Danish law is strict about commercial processing, cooking, handling, and serving of foods. All dairies in the city supply pasteurized milk from tubercular-tested cows. All milk is safe to drink. Copenhagen is cleaner than most U.S. cities of comparable size.

Denmark has had no serious epidemics in years. Colds, influenza, and throat infections may be aggravated in winter by dampness and lack of sunshine. Persons with arthritis, rheumatism, and sinus troubles may find winter uncomfortable.

Preventive Measures

No special health risks occur in Denmark, and no special inoculations are required. Any needed immunization is available in Copenhagen.


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Jan. 6 Three King's Day

Feb. 14 Valentine's Day

Mar/Apr.Palm Sunday

Mar/Apr.Maundy Thursday*

Mar/Apr.Good Friday*


Mar/Apr.Easter Monday*

Apr. 16 Queen Margrethe's Birthday

Apr/May.Common Prayer Day*

May/JuneAscension Day*

May Mother's Day*



June 5 Constitution Day

June Father's Day*

June 15 Flag Day

June Mid Summer Party*

Dec. 24 Christmas Eve

Dec. 25 Christmas Day

Dec. 26 Second Christmas Day

Dec. 31 New Year's Eve



Travel to Copenhagen involves no special problems. Danish weather is variable, so bring clothing for cold and rain, whatever the season.

A valid passport is the only document needed for entry into Denmark. Neither a visa nor a vaccination certificate is required for entry.

U.S. visitors to Greenland and the Faroes require visas.

Cats and dogs imported from Australia, Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and the U.K. require no veterinary certificates. No stay is allowed outside these countries during travel to Denmark. The animals must be accompanied by their owner or other person.

Cats and dogs imported from other countries and Greenland require a special form, stating all relevant information, and certifying that the animal has been vaccinated against rabies, which must be presented to Customs. The certificate must further state that vaccination has taken place within the time limit of 1-12 months from the date of presentation. The pets must be accompanied by their owner or other person.

Import of other animals is subject to a special permit from the Danish Veterinary Authorities (contact Danish Consul).

A bilingual Danish-English certificate should be used if possible. A Veterinary Health Certificate, executed between 1 and 10 days before arrival in Copenhagen, is recommended.

The key to avoiding problems on arrival is to have the vaccination certificate, the health certificate, and the pet (s) accompany the traveler.

Denmark has decided not to convert to the euro. The Danish monetary units are kroner and ore, with 100 ore equaling 1 kroner. Coins are issued in 25 and 50 ore pieces, and 1, 5, 10, and 20 kroner pieces. Notes are issued in 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 kroner denominations. The current exchange rate is DKr 7.95=US$1.

The metric system of weights and measures is used in Denmark.


These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

Andersen, Ulla. We Live in Denmark. Watts, Franklin, Inc.: 1984.

Baedeker's Denmark. New York:Prentice-Hall, latest edition.

Birch, John H. Denmark in History. Gordon Press: 1976.

Borish, Steven M. The Land of the Living: The Danish Folk High Schools & Denmark's Non-Violent Path to Modernization. Blue Dolphin Publishing: 1991.

Flender, Harold. Rescue in Denmark. Repr. Paper. Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith. Gronlund, J. The Denmark Book. Vanous Arthur Company: 1988.

Hansen, Judith E. We are a Little Land: Cultural Assumptions in Danish Everyday Life. Ayer Company Publishers, Inc.: 1981.

Hartling, Poul., ed. The Danish Church. Repr. of 1964 ed. Nordic Books.

Holbraad, Carsten. Danish Neutrality: A Study in the Foreign Policy of a Small State. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Johansen, Hans C. The Danish Economy in the Twentieth Century. St. Martin's Press: 1986.

Jones, W. Glyn. Denmark: A Modern History, 2nd ed. Chapman & Hall, Inc.: 1986.

Jones, W. Glyn, and Kristen Gade. Blue Guide: Denmark. New York: Norton, 1992.

Lye, Keith. Take a Trip to Denmark. Watts, Franklin, Inc.: 1985.

MacHaffie, Ingeborg S., and Margaret A. Nielsen. Of Danish Ways. New York: HarperCollins, 1984.

Miller, Kenneth E. Denmark: A Troubled Welfare State. Westview Press: 1991.

Lerner, Geography Dept. Staff Denmark in Pictures. Lerner Publications Company: 1991.

P'alsson, Herman & Edwards, Paul. Kyntlinga Saga: History of the Kings Of Denmark. Coronet Books: 1986.

Tansill, Charles C. Purchase of the Danish West Indies. Repr. of 1932 ed. Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc.: 1968.

Danish Embassies have an excellent selection of government and tourist organization publications on Denmark.

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Basic Data
Official Country Name: Kingdom of Denmark
Region: Europe
Population: 5,336,394
Language(s): Danish, Faroese, Greenlandic, German, English
Literacy Rate: 100%

History & Background

Education is and has been regarded as one of the essential pillars of the Danish welfare state and has contributed to a relatively homogenous population and work force in Denmark. By international comparison, the Danish educational system today appears relatively coherent, comprehensive, and egalitarian. It is mainly controlled and financed by the State. School leaving, as well as the recognition of competences in further and higher education, is almost entirely regulated by the State through the Ministry of Education. However, the educational system includes a range of private institutions under public regulation and funding, and the participation of social interest groups and organizations in governing education is important for the function of the system. The core of education is a comprehensive primary school, which is, though locally governed, quite homogenous, and comprises a system of pathways into further and higher education. Furthermore, a wide range of education and training is available, particularly in adult and continuing education. The aim is for the system to be open and flexible; however, removing dead ends and detours caused by traditional admission criteria and lack of institutional coordination is still being attempted.

Until the sixteenth century, the Roman Catholic Church was responsible for education. After the Protestant Reformation, Denmark was one of the first European countries to establish a national Lutheran Church, and the Church had a huge historical influence on Danish education. The foundations of the system, stemming from Reformation statutes of the 1530s, survived until the end of the nineteenth century. In 1536, the State took over the grammar schools from the Catholic Church, and the history of the Danish national education system may be said to have begun from this date. State supremacy was accepted and even promoted by the Lutherans, with the result that the Church and the State were never in conflict.

The later development has been motivated by the national State and has been strongly influenced by the fact that Denmark was an agricultural society until World War II. Since then, a rapid development of the industrial and service sectors has taken place, and the development of the educational system may be regarded as a specific consequence of modernization.

The impact of modernization and novel philosophies of education was felt in three different directions, all related to social class. The most famous direction was the growing class of independent farmers, liberated from landlords and influenced by the revolutionary democratic trends in the rest of Europe. The result was a Free School Movement, which owes its origin to the ideas of N. F. S. Grundtvigpoet, clergyman and philosopher. Grundtvig criticized the grammar schools for being too academic and elitist, and was opposed to the rigid style of the Church. He defended a more joyous and lively religious practice. He believed in the "necessity of the living word for the awakening of life and the transmission of the spirit," as well as in the development of basic skills.

This rather romantic idea of a Nordic popular culture was to be promoted by folk high schools outside the control of the State. In 1852, Kristen Kold founded the first of many Scandinavian folk high schools. These schools had no entrance or leaving examinations, and instruction was confined to lectures. Students were generally adults from 18 to 30 years of age. The teaching includedwith local variationshistory, religion, Danish language and literature, mathematics, science, gymnastics, and practical farm work. The terms were five residential winter months and three residential summer months. This tradition of schooling based on an agricultural rural class endured until after World War II and has remained a part of nonformal Danish education, influencing the state school system and offering alternative schools of liberal as well as practical education.

During the nineteenth century, the rise of urban merchant classes needing a more practical type of schooling led to a secularization of the State school system, with the inclusion of modern languages and science in the curriculum. At the beginning of the twentieth century, a modern system of general education had thus already taken shape in the cities and towns, comprising the folkeskole ("school of the people") at the elementary level and the mellemskole ("middle school") at the middle level. The former Latin grammar schools were replaced by real-skoler (lower secondary schools). A three-year upper secondary school, or gymnasium, prepared students for university education of the German Humboldt'ian type. For another half century, however, the modernization mainly affected secondary education in urban communities. It was a very selective education system with a strong class bias, the streaming (or channeling) taking place at the mellemskole level.

The influence of the growing working class led to a demand for a more egalitarian school system. The labor movement secured public funding of primary schools and evening classes. The selectivity in admission to secondary education, however, remained unchallenged. Urban and rural communities had different types of school systems until the 1950s.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

The Danish Constitution from 1849 (section 76) states that education shall be compulsory (whether provided by the family or school) and free in public institutions. It defines the goal of education to be the development of the pupil's personality, aptitudes, and needs, and the promotion of academic achievement and practical skills on the one hand and spiritual values and community consciousness on the other. Danish education has further been shaped by a small number of historic statutes and regulations such as the Grammar Schools Act of 1809, the Act of 1857 abolishing the control of crafts training by the guilds, the Apprenticeship Act of 1889, and the Act of 1814 introducing seven years of compulsory education, as well as a number of pieces of legislation in the second half of the 1900s.

Educational SystemOverview

Denmark is generally considered a progressive country. Several factors, howeverthe late modernization, the parallel existence of very different lifestyles, the decisive political influence of a self-conscious class of independent farmers with its own educational ideashelp to explain the contradictory trends in educational development and the comparative absence of planning. Legislation has most often taken the form of national ratifications of existing developments and compromises.

After World War II, a whole range of educational reforms was passed for political, economic, and social reasons. The Act of 1958 unified urban and rural school systems and established the 10-year folkeskole with its two components: the elementary hovedskole (main school) and the optional lower secondary school, the realafdeling. The gymnasium (upper secondary school) was reformed by the Act of 1961. The first legislation on vocational education and training were the Act on Technical Schools and the Act on Labor Market Training in 1960.

In 1976, a new Education Act reshaped the school system as it exists today. It introduced nine years of comprehensive primary and lower secondary education for all, and an optional 10th year and an optional preschool year. The act permits local authorities to abolish the previous division between language and science in the eighth and ninth grades, and encourages individualized teaching in foreign languages, mathematics, physics, and chemistry. This is regarded as the last step towards abolishing streaming of children during their schooling. However, in upper secondary schools, children are still channeled into either an academic branch giving access to higher education or a less academic and more practical vocational branch.

The free school tradition remains alive and visible: Besides alternative primary schools, there are still about a hundred residential folk high schools that embody the ideas of Bishop Grundtvig. Rather than primarily rural, today's students come from a broad range of young people, as well as senior citizens. Group work and seminars dominate the instructional calendar. Furthermore, there are choices of free schools for 14- to 18-year-olds: Efterskoler (continuation schools) offer an alternative to tenth grade of the folkeskole, and ungdomsskoler (youth schools) are designed for school-leavers who lack particular skills.

Primary & Preprimary Education

In Denmark, education is compulsory for nine years and usually commences in August in the calendar year of the child's seventh birthday. While preschool is optional, the majority of children attend one or more of the three types: the vuggestuer, which are day nurseries for children younger than three; the bo rnehave, which are kindergartens for children between three and seven; and the bo rnehaveklasser or preschool classes for children between five and seven.

The municipal folkeskole and private schools offer optional preschool classes (i.e., bo rnehaveklasser ) for the year preceding compulsory education; 97 percent of families accept this offer for their children. Since 1986, preschool classes have been an integrated part of primary education as it has been made possible for schools to combine some of the teaching in preschool classes with that of the first and second forms of primary school.

Primary & Lower Secondary Education: In Denmark, educationand not schoolingis compulsory for nine years, which means that education can take place in the public folkeskole, in private schools, or at home, providing that national standards are met and that an adequate range of subjects is offered to the pupil. Primary and lower secondary schooling is not separated in Denmark, and pupils thus attend the same school from the first form through to the ninth. Approximately 89 percent of children go to public schools (folkeskolen ) free of charge, while approximately 11 percent attend private schools.

Folkeskolen : The Danish folkeskole provides nine years of compulsory education free of charge. It also offers optional preschool classes and an optional 10th form. The aim is to contribute to the all-round academic, social, and personal development of the individual child by providing subject-specific qualifications and preparing pupils for living in a democratic society. The latter requires that the school and its daily life be based on intellectual freedom, equality, and democracy. As the schools are required to emphasize the personal and social development of each pupil, an intimate collaboration between the school and the pupil's home is considered vital. Pupils and parents or guardians must accordingly receive information about the child's academic and social performance at school at least twice a year.

The school year starts in August and ends in June, and comprises two hundred school days. The folkeskole has virtually abandoned streaming of children, and all pupils therefore automatically proceed to the next level. Pupils remain together in the same class for all nine years. While class sizes must not exceed 28, the average is 19 children; the pupil-teacher ratio is 10:4.

The Danish folkeskole employs a unique "classteacher" system, whereby one teacher is responsible for a class for nine years. The class-teacher supervises the academic, social, and personal development of all pupils in the class and is the principal link between the children's homes and the school. The class-teacher is allocated one weekly hour called "Klassens time" ("the lesson of the class") for discussion of issues concerning the well being of the class. Moreover, the class-teacher may spend some teaching time on camps, outings, or work experience.

Curriculum: The Minister of Education is responsible for setting the targets of achievement for each subject taught in the folkeskole ; however, local authorities and schools are free to decide on how to reach these. The Ministry of Education provides curriculum guidelines for each subject; the guidelines are merely recommendations, and the schools are allowed to formulate their own curricula as long as they are in accordance with the overall target levels. Most schools appear to employ the guidelines articulated by the Ministry.

Danish, mathematics, physical education/sport, and Christian studies are compulsory all nine years. Art must be taught from the first to the fifth forms, science and music from the first to the sixth forms, and history from the third to the eighth forms. Textile design, woodwork and metal work, and home economics should be taught at one or more levels within the fourth to the seventh forms. English is compulsory from the fourth to the ninth forms, geography and biology at the seventh and eighth forms. Physics and chemistry must be taught from the seventh to the ninth forms, and social studies should be offered in the ninth form. Pupils are offered instruction in German from the seventh to the ninth forms, but may be offered French instead.

There are certain compulsory topics to be included in the educational program. These consist of traffic safety, health and sex education, and educational, vocational, and labor-market orientation. Furthermore, a wide range of optional subjects may be offered from the eighth to the 10th form, including, for instance, word processing, technology, drama, Spanish, and common immigrant languages.

Pupils in the ninth and tenth forms are required to complete and present an interdisciplinary project. The project is assessed in a written statement, and if the pupil so wishes, a mark may be given and indicated on the school-leaving certificate.

School Leaving Examinations: There are two levels of school-leaving examinations in the Danish folkeskole : The Folkeskolens Afgangspro ve (the Leaving Examination) and the Folkeskolens Udvidede Afgangspro ve (the Advanced Leaving Examination). Both comprise a mixture of written and oral exams. The former may be taken in 11 subjects after the ninth and tenth forms, while the latter may be taken in five subjects after the tenth form only. Marks are awarded on a scale from zero to 13. The Ministry of Education provides standard rules for the examinations; the questions in written exams are set and marked centrally.

Neither of the leaving examinations is compulsory, and the pupil, along with parents or guardiansand following consultations with the schoolare free to decide whether to take them. School-leavers receive a leaving certificate with marks for the performance in classes during the final year and their examination results. Furthermore, the pupil may wish to include the mark for the ninth or 10th form interdisciplinary project.

Alternatives to the Public Folkeskole : There are 421 private schools distributed throughout Denmark. Rather than having been founded for academic reasons, these schools are generally based on denominational preferences, pedagogic theories, or political and social ideologies. Eleven percent of children attend private schools for the compulsory nine years of education.

The State subsidizes approximately 80 percent of private schools costs, while parents pay the remaining 20 percent, which in average amounts to 700 DKK per month, with substantial variation. The combination of non-academic reasons for founding private schools and the relatively low tuition fees means that, in contrast to other countries, Danish private schools are not generally considered "elitist," and they do not necessarily provide pupils with higher social status or advantages in terms of entry to higher education. Private schools are free to articulate the content of their curricula, but they are required to meet national standards in their providing school-leaving examinations.

Education of Teachers for the Folkeskolen : Denmark has a unified training system, training a group of teachers who cover the whole period of compulsory schooling with a minimal specialization of subjects, clearly distinguishing primary and lower secondary school teachers from other categories of teachers. The training takes approximately four years and consists of a mixture of theoretical studies and practical training in the form of practice teaching. The curriculum includes common core subjects such as Danish, psychology, pedagogy, social studies, arithmetic, and religion, as well as the in-depth study of two optional subjects. The course contains 16 weeks of practice teaching, divided into four periods of four weeks each, in four different schools. There are currently 18 colleges offering teacher-training courses.

Secondary Education

Efterskoler & Ungdomsskoler : Efterskoler (continuation schools) are boarding schools for the eighth to the tenth forms, and are completed with either the Leaving Examination or the Advanced Leaving Examination. Previously, these schools catered to pupils who had encountered academic, social, or personal problems in the formal school system; however, this image has changed dramatically, and the continuation schools are now attended by an increasing number of young people who desire a year or more away from home.

Ungdomsskoler (youth schools) are designed for school-leavers who lack particular skills; they may be residential as well as non-residential.

Nearly all school-leavers continue in some type of secondary education; 53 percent continue in upper secondary schools, which are academically oriented, whereas 41 percent attend colleges emphasizing a vocational content (either technically or commercially oriented).

Gymnasium & Ho jere Forberedelseseksamen (HF) : The Danish gymnasium and HF (Higher Preparatory Examination) are two forms of academically oriented upper secondary education and are attended by as many as 53 percent of all school-leavers. These programs contain a general education in its own right that also prepares students for higher education. Denmark has approximately 295 gymnasiums and HFs, of which 85 percent are publicly owned; the State covers the cost of these. The remaining 15 percent are private institutions; the State subsidizes 80 to 85 percent of the costs of these.

The gymnasium is the most traditional type of upper secondary school; it consists of a three-year course directed to students who have recently completed nine years of compulsory education. The HF was introduced in 1967 and is parallel to the gymnasium, but directed at those who have left the education system and wish to return to study. HF can be taken as a two-year full-time course or a single subject at a time.

Full-time students at the gymnasium or HF receive instruction in approximately 13 subjects. The courses contain a core of compulsory subjects such as Danish, English, mathematics, basic science, and history; students are further required to choose a number of electives from a wide range of subjects such as music, art, philosophy, and social studies. Students must also complete a major written assignment in their final year of study.

The gymnasium is completed with the studentereksamen (upper secondary school leaving examination) comprising 10 parts, three written and seven oral. Students are also assessed continuously in terms of their oral and written performance in classes. The HF is completed with the HF eksamen (higher preparatory examination). In contrast to the gymnasium, no marks are given for oral and written performance during the year; instead, students are required to take examinations in every subject studied. Marks are given on a scale from zero to 13, and students must have an average of six to pass their upper secondary education. The national examination system is administered by the Ministry of Education.

Ho jere Handels Eksamen (HHX) & Ho jere Tekniske Eksamen (HTX) : The HHX (higher commercial examination) and HTX (higher technical examination) comprise a vocationally oriented upper secondary education, which qualifies students for admission to higher education as well as for employment in trade and industry, usually in training positions. The two programs take three years each and are offered at most business and technical colleges. Admission requires completion of nine years of compulsory education.

The HHX and HTX consist of a core of compulsory subjects such as Danish, English and a second foreign language, as well as subjects specifically related to either commerce (e.g., business studies, economics, and sales) or technology (e.g., technology studies, vocational studies, and natural sciences). Students are further required to choose five or six electives from subjects relevant to their course. In their final year, all students must complete a major written assignment.

Some commercial colleges also offer the ho jere handelseksamen, or HH (higher commercial examination), which comprises a one-year course available to students who have completed an upper secondary school leaving examination. The HH consists of compulsory subjects and electives.

Examinations: Students at the HHX, HTX, and HH are required to take examinations in all subjects studied; students are also assessed continuously in terms of oral and written performance in classes. Marks are awarded on a scale of zero to 13, and students must obtain an average of six to pass their upper secondary education. The Ministry of Education is responsible for administering the examinations.

Teacher Qualifications & Teaching Structure: Teachers must have completed a master of arts or master of science degree, as well as an additional course in educational theory and practice to teach at the gymnasium, HF, HHX, or HTX. Unlike teaching in the folkeskole, upper secondary teaching is specializedthat is, each teacher teaches only one or two subjects.

Vocational Education & Training: An alternative direction of upper secondary education consists of vocational educations. Through the 1950s, vocational education took the form of apprenticeship in a specific craft. Through several reforms it has now become organized in the form of a number of vocational education programs, each oriented to a set of related technical, commercial, or service functions and consisting of schooling as well as practical training or apprenticeship. Since the nineteenth century, employers' branch associations and skilled workers' unionsrather than classical guildscontrolled the craft education. The intervention of the State resulted in a trilateral governing system, which remains today. The State, employers, and the trade unions share control of the quality of practical training and examinations, as well as the curriculum.

Today, vocational education offers dual programs with intermittent schooling and practical training (vekseluddannelse ). Technical schools (tekniske skoler ) provide a range of vocational programs based on traditional crafts, leading to recognized skilled professions. But the schools also offer training in advanced technical domains. Commercial schools, or handelsskoler, offer two-year day or evening classesleading to an examination (handelseksamen ) in general subjects, languages, accounting, or retail trade. There have been no apprenticeships in agriculture, but the residential agricultural schools (landbrugsskoler ) accepted students in this field without examinations for a professional education; recently this education has been included in the umbrella legislation of the traditional crafts' education. Banks and some public services have their own basic training programs. There is a tendency towards merging these particular programs with those provided and regulated by the State.

It appears that an increasing number of companies employ young people with no specific vocational skills or experience and train them. Meanwhile, the general level of vocational education is increasing. The commercial and technical schools also provide a general upper secondary education intended to be equivalent to the gymnasium as a path to higher education, but it puts less emphasis on classical education, arts, and sports, and more on vocationally relevant skills. Obviously these provisions of erhvervsgymnasiale programs (vocational education and training) attract different groups of young people with somewhat different class backgrounds and motivations, and they probably counteract a general trend of students moving into the gymnasium and academic higher education.

Higher Education

Denmark has five universities and a number of professional colleges that have gradually achieved university status (e.g., engineering and commerce). Mass university education has developed without overhauling the fundamental structure of institutions and programs. However, two of the universities are relatively new ones: Roskilde and Aalborg. These differ from the others in that the courses are organized around project work, and research and teaching are regarded as interdisciplinary. They were established as reforms in the 1970s and have had some impact on teaching in other universities, but not generally on structure. During the 1970s, a democratic governing system replaced the faculty collegial government. An unusual democratic culture has developed and still prevails, although it is on the decline. Universities in general have not been able to meet the demands for general reforms and for more openness and sensitivity to problems of society. Universities have resisted political pressure to adapt directly to the needs of industry and the labor market, and thus fueled a political process of applying criteria of the labor market and reorganizing the governing system of universities by centralizing and delegating substantial executive powers to rectors, deans and department heads. The views on the possible impact on the quality of education and research and on academic independence vary substantially, as do views on the need to reform universities.

Besides institutions at university level, there is a range of professional colleges that train primary school teachers, kindergarten and preschool pedagogues, nurses, and social workers, among other professionals. These have grown separately from other educational institutions, but have gradually become essential parts of the education system. In 2000, these colleges began to establish direct links to university institutions and research to strengthen professional education and direct research to issues related to these fields. They are part of a more open system for continuing education (see below), which may create new and flexible educational pathways. A "professional bachelor degree" is being introduced, giving access to master's degree programs at universities, which could trigger major changes in the traditional universities as well.

Administration, Finance & Educational Research

Almost all types of education are legally regulated, in most cases placing the responsibility for the direction and quality on the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Labor has developed training and general education for the least educated and skilled members of the labor force, sometimes in competition with the Ministry of Education. In the new millennium, the trend is to bring all education and training into one comprehensive system. Most education is provided in public institutions; in most private institutions, there is public recognition and a legal framework as well as substantial public funding. Within this standardized framework, there is, guided by relative political consensus, a strong tradition for delegating responsibility to local authorities for primary school administration. While the State had a more direct influence on universities and vocational education from the 1950s to the 1970s, since then there has been a political struggle between a market-oriented management style and a local democracy based on self-administration.

The executive governing is, however, quite different in the various educational domains. Primary schools and the academic secondary schools (gymnasiums ) are state-regulated but run by local authoritiesmunicipalities for primary schools, counties for upper secondary. Likewise, municipalities and counties are responsible for general adult education in community colleges and evening classes within the legal regulation of their minimum provision. Fundamentally, these schools have been controlled and developed by teachers. Today, we see new relations: The school management is strengthened in relation to teachers while held responsible to school boards in which parents have direct executive influence. Furthermore, the pupils' council is, in general, entitled to influence all matters deemed to concern them.

Though formally State-owned, vocational schools and labor-market training centers are governed by boards with a strong representation from local and national employers' associations and trade unions. On a national level, advisory councils also play a role in the development as well as in setting priorities. The State control has been strengthened, but is now being delegated while school management is strengthened.

Universities and folk high schools are both characteristicalthough very differentsectors of selfmanaging institutions funded by the state. They both feel the indirect but persistent pressure to adapt to societal trends and government concerns.

Nonformal Education

Adult & Continuing Education: Adult education comprises at least three major sectors. One is the liberal adult education in folk high schools, in evening classes, and at university extensions. Today, the variety of forms in this sector consist of compromises and has been influenced by the traditions of the rural free school movement in the nineteenth century and the working class in the first half of the twentieth century. During the second half of the twentieth century, a generous and liberal State support enabled this sector to become an educational leisure culture of substantial size. The formats vary from evening classes once a week through the winter season, to block courses, to residential courses of a few days, to the 14-week residential course of folk high schools. Approximately three-fourths participants are women), and all age groups are represented. During the 1980s, an interesting innovation took place in the form of day folk high schools; inspired by the classical folk high schools, these schools provide day courses mainly for unemployed adultspredominantly unskilled women. The courses are usually full-time for at least eight weeks and comprise general subjects, arts, language, personal development, and citizenship training.

A second sector, begun in the 1950s, provides general schooling for adults in community colleges (voksenuddannelsescentre, or VUC literally, "adult education centers"). The VUC attract people with very different backgrounds and goals; women make up approximately two-thirds of attendees. Students may attend full time or take only a single subject with a few lessons per week, which can be accumulated for a full examination diploma. The community colleges are still largely concerned with general adult education; however, there is a clear trend towards including these in a wider market of continuing education that embraces and partly merges with vocational and general education.

A third sector consists of training and education related to the labor market. In 1960, the State introduced a program to retrain workers for industry and construction to facilitate labor market mobility (arbejdsmarkedsuddannelserne, or AMU literally, "labor market educations"). This has developed into programs that provide both complete professional education and supplementary upgrading programs converting unskilled workers into skilled workers. This education and training covers a wide range of branches of industry and services, including business services such as cleaning and catering, and new branches such as waste handling and personal services. In most branches, there is a strong male dominance; a few domains, however, are dominated by females, which reflects the gender division of the labor market at large. The courses consist of basic and specific skills, whereas the comprehensive programs comprise technical skills as well as basic technology and social and general knowledge. The AMU centers have provided additional training services for young unemployed people and disadvantaged groups with the specific purpose of enabling access to the labor market, at times including general and vocational education.

Since 1990, an enormous expansion has taken place in continuing education, not only among workers, but to a larger extent among professionals, managers, middle managers, and specialists. Well-researched information about the extent of this activity is sparse, but it can be assumed to engage 2 percent or more of the work force in terms of work time spent. Much of it is provided ad hoc in the form of private courses for a specific group, or for employees of a specific company. Recently, State and communal employees have taken up continuing education and training as part of their employment, from part-time evening classes to concentrated courses, often two to three days in residence. The cost is usually higher than similar courses provided by the State, and such market-based activity carries no formal recognition to the participants outside their workplace.

Reform of Continuing Education: In 2000, the Danish government launched a major reform of adult and continuing education, which contained three pivotal aims:

  • To re-orient the entire education system and its institutions to a more direct collaboration with industry and business enterprises, and to provide continuing education more extensively.
  • To create a coherent system of continuing educationparallel to the present basic systemthat enables people to accumulate competencies throughout their lives through a sequence of programs, admission to each of which requires practical professional experience after successfully completing the previous program.
  • To reconstruct the funding of continuing education so that users (participants as well as their employers) pay more of the costs, and so that training and funding are offered in response to market needs.

For this purpose, a new "parallel system of competencies" has been established, comprising a sequence of programs at four levels: general adult education, advanced adult education, diploma, and master's degree. Part of the philosophy of this system is to allow for different ways of attaining these levels, including recognizing nonformal competencies. However, programs of study at each step are assumed to correspond to the level of teaching in the "ordinary" education system. They should largely cover the same content. In most cases, however, one step amounts to only one year of full-time ("ordinary") study; it is assumed that professional experience contributes to learning. Access to each level is defined by the completion of the previous level, plus at least two years of active relevant work based on the previous level of competence. The system is thus intended to enable a full "ladder climbing"in principle even enabling someone to study at the Ph.D. level after the completing the master's level. This latter step is still controversial, however; bridging between the two ladders is possible, but not an ordinary path.

The system gives credit to relevant vocational and professional experience; it is also assumed, howeverfor better or worsethat the quality of the new levels is likely to be different from that of ordinary education.

The details of the system are still in the making, and it is, therefore, difficult to assess its future impact. Much will depend on funding mechanisms. The intention is to leave the burden to individual users and employers, depending on the type of education and training. In some domains, this may imply a substantial shift away from a system of public funding, and this is therefore subject to political discussion and organizational bargaining. However, there seems to be no doubt that the model represents a trend in the overall educational system in three ways: recognition of real competencies; modular programs and lifelong access routes; and more flexible and multiple uses of educational institutions and programs. There is thus no doubt that this trend will persist, with potentially great impact.


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Salling Olesen, H., and P. Rasmussen. Theoretical Issues in Adult Education: Danish Research and Experiences. Copenhagen: Roskilde University Press, 1996.

The Transition from Initial Education to Working Life in Denmark. Copenhagen: The Danish Ministry of Education, 1998.

Thodberg, C., and A. Pontoppidan. N. F. S. GrundtvigTradition and Renewal: Grundtvig's Vision of Man and People, Education and the Church, in Relation to World Issues Today, Copenhagen: The Danish Institute, 1983.

Webb, T. W., and L. Lerche Nielsen. Higher Education in Denmark. Roskilde: Institute VII and the Information Section, 1991.

Henning Salling Olesen and Thomas W. Webb

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DENMARK. Denmark was an expansive, sparsely populated kingdom. It embraced Denmark itself, the Scanian provinces at the southern tip of the Scandinavian peninsula (until 1660), the kingdom of Norway and its vassal state, Iceland, the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein-Segeberg, the Færoe Islands, and the Baltic island of Bornholm. Its aggregate population in 1600 numbered around 1.5 million, but territorial losses incurred in 16581660 reduced that number somewhat. Although not a wealthy state, at its height it produced and exported substantial quantities of grain, hides, timber, fish, and cattle. Its main source of wealth and power came from its position astride the Sound and the Belts, which gave Denmark control over maritime traffic entering or leaving the Baltic. From 1426, the kings of Denmark collected the Sound Dues, a commercial duty on shipping passing through the Sound at Helsingør. The Sound Dues became the monarchy's single most important source of revenue, and command of the Sound gave Denmark prestige and influence disproportionate to its small population and resource base.

Before 1660, the system of government was a conciliar, elective monarchy under the rule of the Oldenburg dynasty, with its administrative center at Copenhagen. The kings shared power with the Council of State (Rigsråd), whose membership was drawn from a handful of aristocratic families. Diets and popular assemblies were generally insignificant at the national level. From 1536 to 1660, Norway, with its vassal state Iceland, was a mere province of Denmark, while the "duchies" of Schleswig and Holstein were the monarch's personal patrimony. The kings' dual identities as Scandinavian sovereigns and as princes of the Holy Roman Empire ensured that Denmark would enjoy close commercial and cultural ties with the German lands.

The sixteenth century witnessed a considerable expansion of royal and state power in Denmark. At the beginning of the century, Denmark was still linked to both Norway and Sweden by the Kalmar Union of 1397, but separatist tendencies in Sweden had rendered the union meaningless before its dissolution in 1523. The autocratic and centralizing rule of Christian II (ruled 15131523) sparked a national uprising in Sweden in 1520, leading to Sweden's independence three years later. The king's policies, which favored mercantile and peasant interests over those of the nobility, likewise stirred discontent within Denmark and led to his deposition in 1523. The council replaced Christian II with his more passive uncle, Frederick I (ruled 15231533), who paved the way for the Protestant Reformation by his toleration for Lutheran preaching. Civil warthe so-called "Count's War" (15341536)broke out when Frederick died, as the king's son, the avowedly Lutheran Christian of Holstein, and the exiled Christian II fought over the throne. Ultimately, Christian of Holstein was victorious and was crowned Christian III (ruled 15361559). Christian III introduced Lutheranism as the state religion, and, although he brought greater power and wealth (the latter through the confiscation of church properties) to the central authority, he maintained good relations with the great magnates and kept the realm at peace for his entire reign. His enviable record in this regard was shattered by his son, Frederick II (ruled 15591588), who conquered the Ditmarschen region in Holstein (1559) and brought Denmark to war with Sweden in the Seven Years' War of the North (15631570). Denmark proved unable to vanquish Sweden, but the bloody conflict severely disrupted Baltic trade and thus drew the attention of all Europe. The remainder of Frederick II's reign was peaceful, and after 1570 the king devoted himself to ecclesiastical reform, endeavoring as well to craft an international Protestant alliance. Denmark was at the height of its power and cultural influence: the navy was, in 1588, the equal of the Elizabethan fleet, and the monarchy supported such luminaries as the theologian Niels Hemmingsen (15131600) and the astronomer Tycho Brahe (15461601).


The central event in seventeenth-century Denmark was the transition to absolute monarchy. Following a difficult regency, Frederick II's ambitious son came to the throne as Christian IV (ruled 15961648). Christian IV sought to expand Denmark's dominance in Baltic and north German affairs, taking control of several secularized bishoprics in the Holy Roman Empire, challenging the waning commercial power of the Hanseatic League, initiating a trade monopoly in Iceland, and trying without success to conquer Sweden (the Kalmar War, 16111613). The king's fears of Habsburg aggression prompted him to take up the leadership of a Protestant coalition and to intervene directly in the Thirty Years' War (16181648). Denmark's intervention, called the "Lower Saxon War" (16251629), proved calamitous. Denmark escaped utter destruction through a lenient peace treaty (Lübeck, 1629), but the war bankrupted the state, damaged Denmark's international reputation, and wrecked the relationship between king and council.

Christian IV's efforts to reassert his influence in German affairs, and to sidestep the opposition in the council, exacerbated the split between king and aristocracy. Sweden's invasion of Denmark near the end of his reign (the Torstensson War, 16431645) effectively ended Christian's political career. Christian's son and successor, Frederick III (ruled 16481670), was initially almost powerless because of the aristocratic reaction that followed his father's death. His attempt at revenge against Sweden (the Charles Gustav Wars, 16571660) was an abject failure; Swedish armies invaded Denmark and compelled the conclusion of a humiliating peace (Roskilde, 1658, and Copenhagen, 1660). Only Dutch intervention prevented the Swedish king Charles X Gustav (ruled 16541660) from partitioning Denmark. Denmark lost the Scanian provinces and much of Norway, and, thereby, control over the Sound.

The crushing defeat, a huge national debt, and a popular antiaristocratic backlash spurred a royalist revolution in the autumn of 1660. Frederick III accepted the diet's offer of hereditary and absolute kingship, confirmed by the Royal Law (Lex Regia) of 1665, Europe's only formal absolutist constitution. Under absolutism, which would survive until the revolutionary upheavals of 18481849, Denmark would gain a measure of order and efficiency, but it would never again attain the status of a major power. The old administration was replaced gradually by a collegial system, topped by a privy council; the nobility lost its tax-exempt status. During the reign of Christian V (ruled 16701699), the king and his chief ministers (notably Peder Schumacher Griffenfeld [16351699]) initiated a flurry of reforms and commercial endeavors, including the introduction of ranking in the noble estate (1671), the creation of the West Indies Company (1671), and a standardized law code (1683). Denmark had recovered sufficiently from the disasters of 16571660 to undertake an offensive war against Sweden (the Scanian War, 16751679), although all of the territories conquered by Danish forces were returned to Sweden as the result of French diplomatic pressure. Christian V's attempts to subjugate Hamburg and Holstein-Gottorp in the 1680s proved similarly fruitless.


The eighteenth century started with a new king (Frederick IV, ruled 16991730) and a new war. Denmark's resentment of its powerful neighbor Sweden continued unabated, and in 1700 Frederick IV attacked Sweden's ally Holstein-Gottorp in conjunction with offensives launched by Poland-Saxony and Russia (the Great Northern War, 17001721).TheyoungSwedishwarrior-king, CharlesXII (ruled 16971718), easily defeated Denmark and forced it out of the war within weeks. Although temporarily cowed, Frederick renewed the war after Charles XII's 1709 defeat at Poltava (in what is now the Ukraine), managing some limited territorial gains. The war continued in earnest after Charles XII returned in 1714 from his lengthy exile in Turkey but ground to a halt after the Swedish king's death in battle in Norway (1718). Although there were serious international crises involving Sweden in the 1740s and Russia in the 1760s, Denmark did not go to war again for the remainder of the century.

During the first half of the eighteenth century, the kings (Frederick IV, ruled 16991730; Christian VI, ruled 17301746; and Frederick V, ruled 17461766) steadily exerted greater control over Danish society while favoring the mercantile elite. The peasantry, already suffering the effects of falling grain prices, felt the most pressure: the creation of a national militia in 1701 restored to the landowning nobility considerable control over the lives of the peasants; to sustain the militia, further decrees enacted in 1733 restricted the movement of male peasants of military age. The trading companiesespecially the West Indies-Guinea Company, which managed the lucrative sugar exports from Denmark's colonies in the Caribbean (the present-day U.S. Virgin Islands)prospered, as did Copenhagen, the staple-town of several trade monopolies.

The Enlightenment had as profound an impact on Danish politics and society as it did on intellectual life. Mid-century witnessed the blossoming of literature and the arts in Denmark, as evidenced by the career of the author Ludwig Holberg (16841754). Though the last two kings of the century (Frederick V, 17461766; Christian VII, 17661808) were mediocrities at best, a series of ministers and royal favoritesAdam Gottlob Moltke (17101792), Andreas Peter Bernstorff (17351797), Johann Friedrich Struensee (17371773), and Ove Høegh-Guldberg (17311808)introduced typical "enlightened" reforms, aimed primarily at increasing agricultural productivity while improving the brutal living conditions of the peasantry. Struensee was personally responsible for sweeping reforms, including freedom of the press, but his unchecked ambition and scandalous affair with Queen Caroline Mathilde, the sister of King George III (ruled 17601820) of England, brought an end to both his career and his life in1772. Reforms continued despite this setback, culminating in the abolition of serfdom in 1788. At the closeoftheearlymodernperiod, Denmarkwasaprosperous, stable, and well-ordered state, but no longer a significant participant in international politics.

See also Absolutism ; Aristocracy and Gentry ; Baltic and North Seas ; Baltic Nations ; Brahe, Tycho ; Charles X Gustav (Sweden) ; Charles XII (Sweden) ; Enlightenment ; Habsburg Territories ; Holy Roman Empire ; Kalmar, Union of ; Luther, Martin ; Lutheranism ; Northern Wars ; Popular Protest and Rebellions ; Serfdom ; Sweden ; Thirty Years' War (16181648) ; Trading Companies .


Barton, H. Arnold. Scandinavia in the Revolutionary Era, 17601815. Minneapolis, 1986. The best account in English of the reform era in Denmark, particularly with regard to Struensee.

Christianson, John Robert. On Tycho's Island: Tycho Brahe and His Assistants, 15701601. Cambridge, 2000. Well-researched analysis of Brahe's career, and of the vibrant intellectual atmosphere of Frederick II's court.

Frost, Robert I. The Northern Wars: War, State, and Society in Northeastern Europe, 15581721. New York, 2000. By far the best account, in any language, of the complicated series of conflicts in early modern Scandinavia and the Baltic.

Grell, Ole Peter, ed. The Scandinavian Reformation: From Evangelical Movement to Institutionalisation of Reform. Cambridge, U.K., 1995. Includes articles on the course and implications of the Lutheran Reformation in Denmark by Martin Schwarz Lausten, Thorkild Lyby, and Ole Peter Grell.

Jespersen, Leon, ed. A Revolution from Above? The Power State of 16th- and 17th-Century Scandinavia. Odense, Denmark, 2000. A summary of the work of the "Power State Project" of the 1980s and 1990s, including valuable essays by Leon Jespersen (Denmark) and Øystein Rian (Norway). Includes a thorough bibliography.

Lockhart, Paul Douglas. Denmark in the Thirty Years' War, 16181648: King Christian IV and the Decline of the Oldenburg State. Selinsgrove, Pa., 1996. Examination of Denmark's involvement in the war, as well as of the constitutional upheaval that followed.

Munck, Thomas. The Peasantry and the Early Absolute Monarchy in Denmark, 16601708. Copenhagen, 1979. Far broader than the title suggests; an excellent description of the rural classes and of the ramifications of absolutism.

Paul Douglas Lockhart

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Official name : Kingdom of Denmark

Area: 43,094 square kilometers (16,638 square miles, not including the Faroe Islands and Greenland)

Highest point on mainland: Yding Forest Hill (Yding Skovhoj) (173 meters/568 feet)

Highest point in territory: Slaettaratindur (Faroe Islands) (882 meters/2,894 feet)

Lowest point on land: Lammefjord (7 meters/23 feet below sea level)

Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern

Time zone: 1 p.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 402 kilometers (250 miles) from north to south, 354 kilometers (220 miles) from east to west

Land boundaries: Germany 68 kilometers (42 miles)

Coastline: Main territory 7,314 kilometers (4,545 miles); Faroe Islands 1,117 kilometers (614 miles) Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)


The small nation of Denmark occupies most of the Jutland (Jylland) peninsula and a number of large islands that separate the North Sea from the Baltic Sea. It shares a land border with Germany to the south. With a total area of about 43,094 square kilometers (16,638 square miles, not including the Faroe Islands and Greenland), the country is slightly less than twice the size of the state of Massachusetts. Denmark is divided into fourteen counties and two kommunes.


Denmark has administrative control over the Faroe Islands, located in the North Atlantic Ocean northwest of Great Britain. Greenland, located off the coast of North America in the Arctic Ocean, is also a part of Denmark; however, Greenland also has a limited home-rule government.


The climate in Denmark is temperate. Days are typically humid and overcast; winters are mild and windy, and summers are cool. The mean temperatures are 0°C (32°F) in February, the coldest month, and 17°C (63°F) in July, the warmest month. Rainfall comes fairly evenly throughout the year, with the annual average amounting to approximately 61 centimeters (24 inches).


Denmark is primarily a low-lying country covered with glacial moraine deposits. The moraines consist of a mixture of clay, sand, gravel, and boulders, carried by glaciers from the mountains of Scandinavia and raised from the bed of the Baltic Sea, with an admixture of limestone and other rocks. These large deposits have formed gently rolling hills interspersed with lakes. Between the hills are extensive level plains, which were created when the meltwater washing away from the glaciers deposited sand and gravel outside the ice limit. The country's densest settlements are found on these heath-land plains.

The boundary line between the sandy West Jutland and the loam plains of East and North Denmark is the most important geographical division of the country. West of the line is a region of scattered farms. To the east, there are several villages with high population density. Valleys furrow the moraine landscape.

The coastlines of eastern Jutland and many of the nearby islands are heavily indented with fjords, bays, and other inlets, forming numerous natural harbors. Narrow straits separate most of the islands.


Seacoast and Undersea Features

Denmark is almost completely surrounded by water. The main bodies of water are the North Sea to the west of Denmark and the Baltic Sea to the east, both of which are inlets of the Atlantic Ocean.

Sea Inlets and Straits

There are a number of inlets that separate the main Jutland Peninsula area of Denmark from its surrounding islands and countries. The Skagerrak Strait separates Denmark from Norway in the northwest. The Kattegat Strait lies between Denmark and Sweden to the east. The narrow Lille Strait separates the island of Fyn from the mainland. The Store and Langeland Straits lie between Fyn and the easternmost islands. The Øresund separates Sjælland from Sweden, and the smaller islands of Falster, Lolland, and Møn lie to the south across the Småland Sound.

Along the west coast of the peninsula there are two great fjords, Ringkøbing and Nissum. Further north is Nissum Bay. The northern coast is more regular, with the broad Jammer and Tannis Bays. In the east are Ålbæk and Ålborg Bays. These are punctuated by a number of fjords, most notably Lim Fjord, which stretches all the way across Jutland from Ålborg Bay to Nissum Bay in the west. The southern coast of Ålborg Bay juts east to form the Djursland Peninsula, south of which is Arhus Bay and many smaller fjords. On Sjælland, the capital of Copenhagen is situated on Køge Bay, with Stevn Cliff and Fakse Bay further to the south.

Islands and Archipelagos

There are 406 islands in Denmark (of which only 97 are inhabited), accounting for over one-third of its land area. The largest islands are Sjælland (7,015 square kilometers/2,709 square miles); Fyn (2,984 square kilometers/ 1,152 square miles), Lolland (1,234 square kilometers/480 square miles), Bornholm (588 square kilometers/227 square miles), and Falster (514 square kilometers/198 square miles). All of these islands except for Bornholm lie between Jutland and Sweden. Bornholm, Denmark's easternmost island, is southeast of Sweden in the Baltic Sea. It is a nature reserve that is accessible only by boat. There are no cars, modern buildings, or domesticated animals (such as cats or dogs) on the island.

The Faroe Islands are an archipelago of seventeen inhabited islands and one uninhabited island in the Atlantic Ocean, northwest of Britain. Among the larger islands are Stromp (374 square kilometers/174 square miles), Ostero (266 square kilometers/110 square miles), Vago (178 square kilometers/69 square miles), Sydero (153 square kilometers/59 square miles), and Sando (114 square kilometers/44 square miles). The Faroe landscape is rugged, characterized by a stratified series of basalt sheets with intervening thinner layers of solidified volcanic ash (tufa). Glacial action has carved the valleys into trough-shaped hollows and formed steep peaks. The highest point is on Ostero, called Slaettaratindur (882 meters/ 2,894 feet).

The world's largest island, Greenland, is located off the coast of North America in the Arctic Ocean. Although considered a part of Denmark, Greenland also has limited home rule.

Coastal Features

The coastlines of the Jutland Peninsula and the nearby islands are highly indented.

White chalk cliffs are found along the coastline of the small island of Møn, lying south of Sjælland. The cliffs rise from the beach about 128 meters (422 feet) in an area known as Møn Cliff (Møns Klint).


Dozens of lakes dot the middle interior region of the Jutland, known as the Lakeland region. The largest lake in the country is Arre (40.6 square kilometers/15.7 square miles). It lies between Helsingør and Hillerød on Sjælland Island.


The Gudenå River is the longest river, at about 160 kilometers (100 miles) long. It flows from the interior of Jutland north to the Kattegat Strait. Other smaller rivers include the Storå, the Skjern, and the Varde, all of which flow from the interior Jutland into the North Sea. Many of the country's rivers have been artificially rerouted.


There are no desert areas in Denmark.


Over 10 percent of the low-lying areas of Denmark are covered with trees, but almost none of this is primary (natural) forest. The woodlands contain mostly beech and oak trees, with other species including elm, hazel, maple, pine, birch, aspen, linden, and chestnut. Denmark's largest contiguous area of woodland is Rold Forest (Rold Skov), a public forest (77 square kilometers/30 square miles) that contains Denmark's only national park, Rebild Bakker. Located near the city of Ålborg, it is the last section of natural forest that once covered the eastern part of Jutland.

While there are many hills and ridges, the highest point, Yding Forest Hill (Yding Skovhoj) in eastern Jutland, only exceeds sea level by 173 meters (568 feet).


There are no significant mountain ranges within Denmark.


There are no significant natural caves in Denmark; however, there are a few sites of underground chalk and limestone mines.


With mostly low-lying lands, there are no real plateau regions within Denmark.


A number of dikes and harbors have been constructed along sections of the coast of Denmark to protect the low-lying coastline regions from the flooding effects of the seawater.

Daugbjerg Kalgruber, located in western Denmark near Struer, is a carved chalk mine that extends underground for a length of about 35 kilometers (21 miles). The chalk once was used to produce lime, a major ingredient in concrete. Today, the mine is known to be a hibernating place for bats.

The Great Belt Fixed Link is a combination of bridges and tunnels that serve as a year-round transportation route between Denmark's two largest islands, Sjælland (on which Copenhagen is located) and Fyn. The twelve-year construction project (from 1986 to 1998) was the largest engineering project in the history of Denmark. The Link includes three components. First, the East Bridge is a 6.8-kilometer-long (4.2-mile-long) suspension bridge that crosses the strait between Sjælland and the small island of Sprøgo. Second, an 8-kilometer (5-mile) underwater tunnel connects Sjælland and Sprøgo as a railroad passage. And third, from Sprøgo to Fyn, a combined rail and road bridge runs for 6.6 kilometers (4.1 miles). The twin pylons of the East Bridge stand at 254 meters (833 feet) above sea level and are the highest structural points on Denmark.



Bendure, Glenda. Denmark. London: Lonely Planet, 1999.

Hintz, Martin. Denmark. Chicago: Children's Press, 1994.

Symington, Martin. Passport's Illustrated Travel Guide to Denmark. Lincolnwood, IL: Passport Books, 1996.


Kostyal, K. H. "Danish Light (Danish Jutland Peninsula)." National Geographic Traveler. July-August 1998, Vol. 15, No. 4, 96ff.

Web Sites

The Danish Ministry of the Environment. (accessed March, 2003).

The Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (accessed March, 2003).

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After World War I, psychoanalysis was diffused among artists and pedagogues, but the discipline was condescendingly dismissed by the leading university professors in philosophy, psychology, and psychiatry.

After hearing a speech by Ernest Jones in 1926, though, the psychologist Sigurd Næsgaard became the first Dane to undertake a serious study of Freud. In February 1933, Wilhelm Reich gave a speech in Copenhagen and the IPA was requested to allow him to come to Denmark as a training analyst; the answer, however, was negative. Instead the Danes were offered Jenö Hárnik from the Institute of Psychoanalysis in Berlin. Unfortunately he turned out to be psychically ill, and all that survives of his brief stay in Denmark are the reports of the scandal caused by his behavior. Reich was to come to Denmark anyway in May 1933, but as a political refugee. He was only granted six months' asylum, which was not extended, as he was suspected of practicing psychoanalysis without the requisite work permit.

Reich nonetheless remained in touch with a circle of disciples in Denmark during his ensuing stays in Sweden and Norway. Another influence came from Oskar Pfister, who enjoyed a certain popularity among prominent theologians and teachers. He gave a series of much-attended talks in Copenhagen in 1936.

From 1930 on, a series of more or less short-lived psychoanalytic societies were founded in Denmark, all marked by their respective founders and leaders. The most important was the group that surrounded Sigurd Næsgaard, who in the public eye was largely identified with Danish psychoanalysis. Another group was led by P. C. Petersen, who had a background in dairy production, and it represented especially the inspiration of Pfister. A third group arose around Reich's Danish pupils, led by the physicians J. H. Leunbach and T. Philipson; these were known in particular for their work in the movement for sexual reform.

The person with the greatest influence on the establishment of psychoanalysis in Denmark was Sigurd Næsgaard (1883-1956). He started as a teacher and then completed a university degree in philosophy and psychology. He had strong roots in the Danish high school movement, and considered general education, education reform, and sexual freedom his most important goals. As a psychoanalyst he was self-taught. His large authorship is characterized by a popularizing tendency and a predilection for pat and quick-witted interpretations. He is known for his analyses of a number of the important cultural figures of his time, among others the painter Asger Jorn. Some of the leading Danish IPA analysts after World War II also started their analytic careers on his couch.

The Danish-Norwegian Psychoanalytic Society that was founded at the IPA congress in 1934 had only one member with a Danish address, the Hungarian Georg Gerö, a pupil of Reich who had been educated at the Institute of Psychoanalysis in Berlin. Under pressure from the IPA, Gerö broke with Reich around 1937. The only known work of his in Denmark today is his training analysis of the psychiatrist Poul Færgeman. Gerö emigrated to the United States at the beginning of World War II.

Færgeman (1912-67) left for the United States in 1946 to terminate the training analysis he had started with Gerö in Denmark. He later became a member of the New York Psychoanalytic Society, but returned to Denmark in 1960 and joined the Danish society. He is best known for his work with psychogenic psychoses (Færgeman, 1963). Because of his premature death he was not to have the influence on Danish psychoanalysis to which he seemed entitled.

After the war, Næsgaard and Petersen each established new societies. Both sought admission to the IPA, but since neither had had IPA-accredited training, they were unsuccessful. Instead, the initiative slid to another group. The Swedish analyst Nils Nielsen, member of the IPA, came to Denmark in 1949 with a view towards starting a number of training analyses and founding a psychoanalytic society. The Danish psychiatrists Thorkil Vanggaard and Erik Bjerg Hansen, who had received accredited psychoanalytic training in New York and Vienna, respectively, later joined Nielsen. Their Danish Psychoanalytic Society attained status as a study group under the IPA in 1953 and obtained full IPA membership in 1957. The society hosted the international IPA congresses in 1959 and 1967. The accession of members was low, as was the level of activity throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Thorkil Vanggaard (1910-1998)) was the strong leader of the Danish Psychoanalytic Society in the years following World War II. He received his psychoanalytic training in New York with Robert Bak as his training analyst. His psychoanalytic authorship is not prolific, but a fairly original theory of the phallus as a meditating symbol in connection with the transfer of authority from master to pupil merits mention (Vanggaard, 1972). He was vice president of the IPA from 1967 to 1969, but then began to move away from psychoanalysis and left the psychoanalytic society in 1984. He is known to the Danish public rather for his highly controversial position on gender roles and incest than as a psychoanalyst.

Not till 1980 was the increasing general interest in psychoanalysis reflected in the number of members. Among the Danish public, psychoanalysis has mainly been represented by psychologists, researchers and writers with no analytical training (e.g., Andkjær Olsen and Køppe, 1988).

In the 1990s the Danish Psychoanalytic Society had around 30 full members, of whom more than one third are from the southern part of Sweden, having chosen to belong to the Danish society due to the fact that Copenhagen is closer than Stockholm. There is no institute, and the society depends greatly on its collaboration with the other Scandinavian societies, who among other things have cooperated since 1978 on the publication of the Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review (in English).

Among the societies that do not belong to the IPA are the Group Analytic Institute (established with the support of the British group analysts Colin James and Malcolm Pines) and the Psychoanalytic Circle (Lacanian).

Ole AndkjÆr Olsen


Andkjær Olsen, Ole, and Køppe, Simo. (1988). Freud's theory of psychoanalysis. New York: New York University Press.

Færgeman, Poul. (1963). Psychogenic psychoses. London: Butterworths.

Reimer, Jensen, and Paikin, Henning. (1980). On psychoanalysis in Denmark. Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 3, 103-16.

Paikin, Henning. (1992). Denmark. In P. Kutter (Ed.), Psychoanalysis international. A guide to psychoanalysis throughout the world (Vol. 1, Europe ). Cannstatt: Frommannn-Holzboog.

Vanggaard, Thorkil. (1972). Phallos. New York: International Universities Press.

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43,070sq km (16,629sq mi)



capital (population):

Copenhagen (615,115)


Parliamentary monarchy

ethnic groups:

Danish 97%


Danish (official)


Christianity (Lutheran 91%, Roman Catholic 1%)


Krone = 100 ore

Kingdom in w Europe. Denmark is Scandinavia's smallest country. It consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and more than 400 islands, 89 of which are inhabited. The capital, Copenhagen, lies on Sjaelland (the largest island) facing Sweden across The Sound, a narrow strait, which leads from the Baltic Sea to the Kattegat and the North Sea. Odense lies on the island of Fyn. To the nw lie the self-governing Danish dependencies of Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The island of Bornholm, off the s tip of Sweden, is also a Danish possession.

Denmark is flat and mostly covered by rocks deposited here by huge ice sheets during the last Ice Age. The highest point is only 171m (561ft) above sea level.

Climate and Vegetation

Denmark has a cool but pleasant climate due to North Atlantic Drift. In cold winter spells, The Sound may freeze over. Summers are warm, and rainfall occurs throughout the year. The wettest seasons are summer and autumn.

Much of Denmark is a patchwork of green fields, lakes and sandy beaches. Forests of oak and elm trees once covered the land, but most of the original forests have been felled. Today planted belts of beech, pine and spruce help to break the force of strong westerly winds.

History and Politics

In c.2000 bc, the Danes developed an advanced Bronze Age culture. Between the 9th and 11th centuries, Vikings terrorized much of w Europe and Danes were among the invaders who conquered much of England. In the 11th century King Canute ruled over Denmark, Norway and England. Queen Margaret unified the crowns of Denmark, Sweden and Norway in 1397. Sweden broke away in 1523, while Norway was lost to Sweden in 1814. Denmark adopted Lutheranism as the national religion in the 1530s and Danish culture flourished in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Christian IV led Denmark into costly wars with Sweden, and the Thirty Years War (1618–48) weakened the Danish aristocracy. Serfdom was abolished in 1788. In 1866 Schleswig-Holstein was lost to Prussia.

In the late 19th century, Denmark developed its economy and education system. Danes set up cooperatives and improved farming techniques. The Social Democratic Party dominated 20th-century Danish politics. Denmark remained neutral in World War I. In 1918, Iceland gained independence. During the 1920s, Denmark adopted progressive social welfare policies. In 1940 Germany occupied Denmark. In 1943, Christian X was arrested and martial law declared. Many Jews escaped to Sweden. In 1945, British forces liberated Denmark. Denmark played an important part in European reconstruction. In 1949, it relinquished its neutrality and joined NATO. In 1973, Denmark became the first Scandinavian member of the European Economic Community (EEC). In 1992, Denmark rejected the Maastricht Treaty by a slender majority, but reversed the decision in a second referendum (1993). In 1998 another referendum ratified the Amsterdam Treaty, which broadly expanded the power of the European Parliament. In 2000, Danes rejected joining the euro in a further referendum.


Danes enjoy a high standard of living (2000 GDP per capita, US$25,500). During the 1980s and 1990s, the Danish economy suffered from high unemployment and foreign debt. Other problems include pollution and the high cost of welfare provision. Despite being self-sufficient in oil and natural gas, Denmark has few natural resources. The economy is highly developed, with manufacturing employing 27% of the workforce. Products include furniture, electrical goods and textiles. Services, including tourism, form the largest sector, accounting for 63% of GDP. Farms cover c.75% of the land. Farming employs only 4% of the workforce but is highly technological and productive. Meat and dairy farming predominate. Fishing is also important.

Political map

Physical map


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Culture Name



Identification. The name of the country means "Borderlands of the Danes" in reference to a political unit created during the sixth through ninth centuries. This period was marked by a slow progression of sovereignty among the Danes, a people who originated in Skaane (today the southern part of Sweden) but eventually were based in Jutland. By the ninth century the Danes had gained mastery of the area known today as Denmark and maintained control until the late medieval period, including parts of modern Sweden and Norway. In the late medieval period, Denmark was reduced in size to approximately the area of contemporary Denmark.

Denmark is a small nation whose cultural unity is mitigated by regional traditions of rural, urban, and island communities with distinctions based on local language, food, and history. This situation has sometimes created friction between local history and national history.

Denmark historically includes the former colonies Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Greenland gained home rule in 1979. In 1948, the Faroe Islands became a self-governing territory within the Danish state.

Location and Geography. The kingdom of Denmark, which is situated in Scandinavia and northern Europe, is surrounded by the North Sea, Skagerrak, Kattegat, and the Baltic Sea. The country covers approximately 16,634 square miles (43,095 square kilometers). Roughly eighty of its more than four hundred islands are inhabited. Jutland, Zealand, and Funen (Fyn) are the largest and most densely populated regions. There is a relative homogeneity in topography, with few areas at a high elevation. Since the sixteenth century, the capital has been Copenhagen, which is also the largest city.

Demography. The first census in 1769 counted a total of 797,584 people; by 1998, the total population was 5,294,860. Infant mortality, epidemics, war and emigration, better hygiene, food, and housing influenced population changes. The population increased from 2.5 to 5.3 million during the twentieth century, showing an interdependency between decline in population growth and industrialization, with the average number of children per woman decreasing from 4 to 1.5. Free abortion and sterilization rights since 1973 caused slower population growth, which in certain years was negative (1981 through 1984).

Immigration increased from 35,051 in 1988 to 50,105 in 1997. Immigrants from other Scandinavian and northern European countries account for most of the increases, but immigrants from southern Europe and the Middle East are the most noticed in public debate.

Linguistic Affiliation. Danish belongs to the Germanic family language within the Indo-European languages. Linguistic relatives are English, German, Swedish, Norwegian, and Icelandic, all of which descend from the ancient Teutonic language.

Danish is differentiated in individual, geographic, and social dialects. Language varies in terms of pitch, tonality, intonation, and pronunciation. Some dialects are mutually unintelligible. "Standard Danish" is one dialect among many.

There is no secondary language, but several languages, including English, German, French, Spanish, and Russian, are taught in schools. Most Danes can speak some English and German.

Many foreigners complain that Danish is difficult to learn because the same wording can have differing and even opposing meanings, depending on the intonation and context. Also, pronunciation does not necessarily follow spelling.

Symbolism. Markers of the national culture include the national flag (the Dannebrog), the national anthem, public holidays, and hymns, songs, and ballads. According to myth, the national flag descended from the sky to the Danish army during a battle in Estonia in 1219 and was institutionalized as a national symbol in the seventeenth century. The flaga horizontal white cross on a red field symbolizes a membership community and a sense of belonging, marking an extensive number of social events. Danes use the flag at festive occasions, including birthdays, weddings, sports events, political meetings, and public holidays. Hymns, songs, and ballads provide metaphors associated with Danish nationality, the mother tongue, school, history, and homeland. The national anthem, "Der er et Yndigt Land" ("There Is a Lovely Land"), was written around 1820.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Denmark is a constitutional monarchy and the oldest kingdom in Europe. According to historical sources it dates back to the ninth century, but myth dates it as far back as the sixth century. The recent history of the nation features an outward-looking people focused on trade, welfare, equality, and democracy, which in Danish means "people's government" (folkestyre ). Fundamental values include a striving for freedom and equality, accomplished after battling for years with neighboring countries in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. After centuries of sovereign rule by the king, the first common constitution was completed and signed in 1849, initiating a government with an assembly consisting of a lower house (Folketing ) and upper house (Landsting ). The making of a common constitution was an important element in the nineteenth century's political emphasis on the formation of nationhood.

National Identity. Beer, allotment gardens, the flag, the national anthem, democracy, Christmas, folk high schools, personal well-being, and coziness are some of the elements of the national culture, but questions of how the cultural heritage can survive and what it is emphasize the fact that Denmark is a nation of cultural borrowers. Danes constantly negotiate and change their culture in response to contact with people and items from other countries. However, for many people, the national identity lies in the Danish language.

Danes rarely refer to Danishness, a term used for the first time in 1836, but that term has been a hotly debated topic since the increase of immigration in the 1960s and Denmark's affiliation with the European Union (EU) in 1972. Much political and public debate on elements of nationality, sympathies, feeling, and patriotism occurred in the late twentieth century. Many Danes seem to have a strong national identification, although differences exist and a "Danish community" may be more imagined than real in regard to culture and traditions.

Ethnic Relations. Denmark once was considered an open and welcoming country to foreigners, but tensions between native residents and immigrants arose during the last decades of the twentieth century, culminating in the establishment of political parties whose platforms called for the exclusion of inhabitants of foreign ethnicity from social services and other forms of public support. Immigrants of the second and third generations tend to be doubly socialized, displaying competence in Danish values in public and in the native language at home.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Within a span of one-hundred fifty years, Denmark changed from an agricultural to an industrialized society. In the late nineteenth century, two-thirds of the population lived in rural areas and engaged in agriculture; today, only 15 percent live in rural areas, and many of those people have city jobs.

After the "green wave" of the 1980s, many city dwellers moved to the countryside, hoping to return to nature. However, many returned to urban areas after years of unfulfilled dreams. The long winters; long commutes to work, shopping, and entertainment; and the prevalence of gossip in local rural cultures were unpleasant for people who were accustomed to city life.

In cities, people hope to escape the restraints of social control in rural communities and seek conveniences such as better shopping, entertainment, and job opportunities. Migration to urban areas is common in the pursuit of education, and many young people from the provinces remain in the cities after graduation.

Architecture is marked by a division between the ideals of Denmark as a "fairy-tale country" and as a modern, industrialized one. The first image is characterized by traditional small houses with small windows, low ceilings, straw roofs, and gardens with flowers and vegetables. Even the castles are small and more "cute" than "grandiose." The modern ideal is marked by houses with slender lines and large glass windows or walls, very little outside decoration, and the use of bricks, tile, and ferroconcrete. Common to both architectural traditions is the fact that there are very few tall buildings. Apart from a few buildings from the 1960s in the largest cities, it is unusual to see buildings with more than five floors. Family houses often have one floor, usually with a garden.

Towns and cities are characterized by a center area with older houses (some several centuries old) and a periphery with newer houses, divided into business and residential areas. Village size is from five to one thousand houses, and many villages have been enlarged by new residential areas.

The government is situated in a royal castle built by Christian IV in the seventeenth century in central Copenhagen, symbolizing a harmonious relationship between the government and the royal family. The royal castle and the many statues of kings and politicians in the city support this symbolic harmony.

Anthropologists have noted a sharp distinction between public and private space and a pronounced preference for the private and domestic sphere in Danish culture. In urban public space, people stand close to one another in buses, subways, parks, and streets, but pretend that they do not see each other. The symbolic demarcation of closed groups such as friends and spectators is clear, with a tendency to form closed circles. An intrusion by strangers often causes offense and creates an even stricter demarcation. In rural areas, people are more likely to connect across public space, greeting and talking about the weather.

Private houses commonly are divided into areas for cooking, dining, and television-viewing and preferably have a private room for each family member. Private homes are considered spaces to "relax" and "be yourself"; many foreigners find it difficult to be invited to the home of a Dane. Usually only family members and close friends have this privilege, experiencing the coziness of a social event celebrated by sitting down, lighting candles, and eating and drinking. Colleagues, sympathetic foreigners, and more distant friends preferably are met only in public (workplace, bar, café, museum).

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Danes eat most of their meals at home and in private settings, although public dining places ranging from small hot dog stands to fancy restaurants are available and are used.

A breakfast of coffee, bread, or cereal is eaten at home. Sunday breakfast commonly includes fresh bakery bread, boiled eggs, juice, tea or coffee, and the Sunday newspaper.

Lunch at a work place, school, or institution is either homemade or available in kitchens or canteens, offering open sandwiches, hot meals, or a buffet table. It also may be bought at butcher shops, cafes, and sandwich bars. Open sandwiches are traditional, consisting of rye bread with salami, liver pâté, herring, roast pork, fried plaice, cod roe, cheese, chocolate, or fruit. Dinner at home traditionally consisted of an appetizer, a main course, and dessert. Soup, porridge and fish dishes were served but today are rarely eaten on a daily basis. A main course is traditionally composed of boiled potatoes, boiled vegetables such as green beans and cauliflower, and fried meat such as meat balls, cutlets, or roast pork served with brown gravy. Pizza, pasta, rice, chicken, and turkey have become common food items among young people. Imported fruit, vegetables, and spices are also common.

Inns often dating back several centuries throughout the country offer traditional Danish food. Pizzerias are found in small towns and cities. In larger cities, there are Chinese, Italian, and Greek restaurants, along with fast-food establishments from America, the Middle East, and South America and restaurants that serve Danish open sandwiches (smørrebrød ) and pastry. Food taboos include pet animals such as cats, dogs, and horses. The ecological movement and informed consumers have been mutually dependent since the 1970s. The demand for and production of organically grown foods have grown, and most supermarkets offer a range of organically grown vegetables, meat, and dairy products.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Danes eat or drink at every social occasion, preferably traditional dishes, cakes, and drinks. However, the act of drinking and eating together is considered more important than what is actually consumed. Formal social occasions include birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, baptisms, confirmations, graduations, and funerals. Private parties held in community centers or restaurants are common. Hosts spend from one to six months' salary on a formal party for rent, food, drinks, and musicians.

Holidays with special meals include New Year's Eve, Easter, Martin Mass, and Christmas. New Year's Eve traditionally is celebrated with boiled cod, Easter with elaborate lunches and roast lamb for dinner, and Martin Mass with roast goose. The traditional Christmas Eve dinner includes roast pork, roast duck, or goose stuffed with prunes, served with pickled red cabbage, white boiled potatoes, fried brown sugared potatoes, and thick brown gravy. Desserts include rice porridge and ris a la mande (rice porridge mixed with whipped cream, almonds, and vanilla and served with hot cherry sauce). At Christmas and Easter, special seasoned beers are sold. Christmas is celebrated by eating a traditional extravagant lunch and dinner that bring the family together.

Basic Economy. Natural resources are limited to agricultural land, clay, stone, chalk, lime, peat, and lignite. The economy is therefore heavily dependent on international trade. Farming accounts for two-thirds of the total land area, and agriculture produces enough edible products for three times the population. Industrial exports account for about 75 percent of total exports, while the share of agricultural exports is about 15 percent.

Land Tenure and Property. Most farmers are freeholders, 91 percent of them on individually owned family-run farms, 7 percent on company-run farms, and the rest on farms owned by the state, local authorities, or foundations. Private family houses typically are fenced off to delineate private property, or an invisible line between the garden and the pavement may indicate the border between private and public property. Neighbors discuss which parts outside their homes should be cleared for snow and which parts should be taken care of by municipal services.

Commercial Activities. The major goods produced include foods and beverages, textiles, paper, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, glass, ceramics, bricks, cement, concrete, marine engines, compressors, agriculture and forestry machinery, computers, electric motors, radio and communication equipment, ships, boats, furniture, and toys. Agricultural products include beef, pork, poultry, milk, and eggs.

Major Industries. The main industries are food processing, furniture, diesel engines, and electrical products. Major agricultural products include dairy products, pork, beef, and barley. Commercial fishing includes salmon, herring, cod, plaice, crustaceans and mollusks, mackerel, sprat, eel, lobster, shrimp, and prawns.

Trade. Major commodity groups sold on the international market include animal products (cattle, beef and veal, pigs and pork, poultry, butter, cheese, and eggs), vegetable products (grains, seeds, fruit, flowers, plants, and vegetables), ships, fish, fur, fuel, lubricating goods, and electricity. The major industrial exports are machines and instruments, medicinal and pharmaceutical products, chemical items, industrially prepared agricultural products, fish, crayfish and mollusks, furniture, textiles, and clothing. Imports, which lag slightly behind exports, include automobiles, fuel, consumer goods (food, clothing, electronics, and others), and goods to be further processed at local industries. The major trading partners are Germany, Sweden, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, the United States, Japan, and Italy.

Division of Labor. The division of labor is determined by gender, industry and socioeconomic status. Although agricultural products constitute a major proportion of exports, only 4 percent of the population is employed in agriculture, which has become highly industrialized and machine-driven. Close to 25 percent of the population is employed in trade, a similar number in industry, and more than 40 percent in other service.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Most national surveys dealing with social strata do not divide the population into different income groups. Instead, the population is categorized into five social layers, according to level of education and occupation.

Those social categories are academics, owners of large farms, and persons with more than fifty employees (4 percent); farmers with at least four employees, owners of companies with more than six employees, and college-educated business owners (7 percent); farmers with a maximum of three employees, owners of small companies, and persons with jobs requiring expertise (21 percent); skilled workers, small landowners, and workers with a professional education (37 percent); and workers without skills training (32 percent).

In the adult population, there has been an increase in unemployed people who receive public support from 6 percent in 1960 to 25 percent today. Increasing demands for skills in reading, writing, mathematics, computers, and stress management are among the factors that have caused this development. Unemployment rates are somewhat higher among ethnic minorities, with persons of Turkish descent having the highest rate.

Figures from 1996 show inequality in income distribution: Twenty percent of the lowest-income families accounted for 6 percent of total income, while 20 percent of the highest-income families accounted for 40 percent of the income.

Symbols of Social Stratification. According to a code of morality (the "Jante Law") which was formulated by the author Aksel Sandemose in his 1933 novel A Refugee Crosses His Tracks, a person should not display superiority materially or otherwise. Wealth and high social position are downplayed in public in regard to dress, jewelry, and housing. The point is to be discreet about individual distinction and avoid public boasting while allowing one's wealth to be recognized by persons in a similar economic position.

Political Life

Government. Denmark is a constitutional monarchy in which succession to the throne is hereditary and the ruling monarch must be a member of the national church. The parliament has 179 members, including two from Greenland and two from the Faroe Islands. Members of parliament are elected for four-year terms, but the state minister has the right to dissolve the parliament and force an election. The voting age has been eighteen since 1978. Since 1989, immigrants without Danish nationality have been allowed to vote and be elected in local elections. The minimum percentage of votes required for representation in the parliament is 2 percent.

Leadership and Political Officials. The first political groupings appeared in 1848, shortly before the first constitution was promulgated, and consisted of liberals (farmers), the center (intellectuals), and the right (landowners and higher officials).

Party policy is based on political principles and working programs; the former include fundamental political ideas, while the programs are action-oriented. Currently, ten political parties are represented in the parliament, ranging from socialist to conservative to liberal. Representatives to parliament are elected in local areas and thus represent their home localities as well as a political party.

Liberal parties traditionally strive for individual freedom, including freedom of thought, belief, speech, expression, individual choice, and ownership, and attempt to strengthen the rights of the individual citizen in relation to the state. Conservatives stress individual freedom, choice, and responsibility and attempt to protect the national culture and tradition. Modern conservatism includes confidence in the individual, an open and critical outlook, tolerance, and a free market economy, combined with a commitment to social security. Social Democrats favor a welfare society based on freedom, equal opportunity, equality, dignity, solidarity, cultural freedom and diversity, ecology, and democracy. Socialist parties seek a society based on political, social, and cultural diversity; ecological sustainability; social security; equal opportunity; responsibility for the weak; individual freedom; self-realization; active work for peace and disarmament; and a commitment to end global inequality. The Christian People's Party favors a democracy based on Christian ethical values, focused on individual freedom, social responsibility and security, the family, and medical ethics. For this party, a Christian view of human nature forms the basis for equal human value regardless of race, sex, age, abilities, culture, and religion.

Social Problems and Control. Executive power lies with the monarch, while legislative power is based in the parliament. In executive matters, the monarch exercises authority through government ministers. Judicial power lies with the courts of justice. The most common crimes are offenses against property, offenses against special laws in some municipalities, crimes of violence, and sexual offenses.

The police force consists of approximately 10,000 officers, who work at police stations located in local communities. Traditionally, Danish police have been known for their easy-going manner and "gentle" approach to difficult situations, relying more on dialogue and communication than on brute force. After years of becoming more centralized and distanced from the Danish people, there is now a trend in policing that involves forming new, smaller police stations in more towns and cities. In this new environment, officers are moving out of their cars and walking the streets, gaining closer contact with the people.

In criminal cases, those over the age of 15 may be punished by the courts. Those between 15 and 18 are held in special youth prisons that provide social training. Those above the age of 18 are imprisoned in one of the country's 14 state prisons. Due to a lack of prison space, convicted criminals sometimes wait for up to two years before they are actually imprisoned.

Military Activity. Since World War II, Denmark has been a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and it participated in NATO's actions in the Balkan crisis in the 1990s, particularly in Bosnia and Kosovo. Denmark also contributes to the United Nations peace forces in the Middle East and other areas. In 1993, the population voted not to join in the development of a common EU military force.

The military is staffed through a system of compulsory enrollment. The term of service, depending on one's duties, ranges from four to twelve months. Full mobilization in the defense forces involves fifty-eight thousand soldiers, while in the absence of war the number is only fifteen thousand. The defense forces include the navy, air force, home guard, and national rescue corps. The defense budget in 1997 was under 2 percent of the gross national product.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

All residents receive social support when they are unemployed, either through union insurance or locally run programs. Idled workers receive compensation that is equal to slightly less than the lowest wages paid for regular, full-time employment, and they are also guaranteed housing, food, and other basic necessities. After six months of unemployment, an individual meets with an officer from the local unemployment office to formulate a specific strategy for getting a new job. That strategy can include training, further education, or a government job that is supported by the local community in which the person lives.

Public and private programs to aid disabled individuals are found in every major town and city. Food and shelter are always provided, and sometimes disabled persons are placed with a type of foster family.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Danes pursue common interests in leisure, sports, and politics. Associations are essentially nongovernmental, originating in the late nineteenth century, when farmers and workers formed interest groups. Today Denmark has one of the highest proportions of association membership in the world. More than 90 percent of the population belongs to an organization, and more than 73 percent of the people have multiple memberships in more than three hundred thousand organizations.

Organizations and associations play three important roles. First, they have been able to develop common interests and identities among different groups of people. Second, practical improvements in the form of production, increases in salary, and membership discounts have been achieved. Third, organizations participate in the political struggle for the distribution of values and goods in society.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Denmark has the highest percentage of women in the labor market in Europe, with close to 80 percent of women being employed. Since the 1980s, the country has had a public policy of equality of men and women in regard to wages and working conditions, yet men are more likely to get top positions and in general earn higher wages than women. Persistent beliefs associate women with the family and men with work. These practices are enforced by employers who encourage single women and married men to pursue careers.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Since 1924 there have been women in the government, and the representation of women in politics has grown significantly. Today nine of twenty ministers are women. However, state ministers have always been men. The Equal Status Council was founded in 1974 and closed in 2000, when a new equal status law was issued.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Individuals are free to choose their marriage partners. Many people cohabit at a young age. Polygyny and polyandry are not allowed, and it is forbidden to marry close family and kin members. Since the late 1980s, homosexuals have had the right to register their partnerships with the local city council. People marry for love, but convenience and economic gains may be equally important. Parents who are not married may wed to give legal security to their children in case of sudden or accidental death.

Forty percent of the adult population is married, 45 percent is unmarried, 7 percent is divorced, and 7 percent is widowed. Divorce typically involves separation followed by a legal procedure.

Domestic Unit. The ideal household unit consists of a married couple and their children who are below age twenty. However, more than 50 percent of households have only one adult (single, divorced with children, or widowed). Extended families living together are rare. Young people usually leave the parental home in their late teens. Previously children stayed in the same town or municipality as their parents, but today families are dispersed across the country. Some people choose to live in shared houses on the basis of similarities in age or ideology or for practical purposes such as ecological farming. A number of collective forms of housing for the elderly have emerged.

Inheritance. For many centuries, men and women have had equal inheritance rights. If one member of a couple dies, the other partner inherits all the possessions of the deceased. If both partners die, their children inherit equal shares of their possessions. There are also special circumstances such as wills, separate estates, joint property, and divided or undivided possession of an estate.

Traditionally, the oldest son inherited the farm or the position as head of the family company after the death of the father. However, the son in this case has to compensate his mother and siblings economically. This tradition extends to the royal family, where the title of king traditionally has been passed from father to oldest son. Because King Frederik IX had no sons, the constitution was changed in 1953 to make it legal for his oldest daughter to inherit the throne.

Kin Groups. Family relations are traced back equally both matrilineally and patrilineally, and active kin groups often extend to the great-grandparents. Rural residents often hold "cousin-parties" (fætter-kusine-fester ) that are attended by up to 90 people.


Infant Care. Three to six months of maternal leave is a legal right, but the mother may share the last three months of that leave with the father. Infants generally are breast-fed until the end of the period of maternal leave. Traditionally, the mother was the primary caregiver, but recently the father and other family members have been recognized as equally important in raising infants. Because Denmark has one of the highest rates of women in the labor market, most infants above six months of age spend the mother's working hours in public nurseries or private child care.

Infant care has been much debated, resulting in great variations in regard to ideas about how much an infant should be carried around, whether it should sleep alone or with the parents, whether parents should attend to a baby every time it cries, and how to manage infants who cry during the night. The overall tendency is that younger parents recognize the individual rights and needs of an infant more than older people do.

Child Rearing and Education. Most children enter kindergarten at age three, and many continue school attendance until their early teens. In 1997, more than 80 percent of three- to six-year-olds attended some kind of day care institution. The pedagogy practiced in nursery schools, kindergartens, and after-school centers is not research-based but is informed by changing ideologies of what children are like and what they need. An ideology of "self-management" is practiced in many institutions, leaving it up to the children to decide what they want to do and how, where, and when to do it.

In the ideal family, the mother and father share authority, including their children in decision making. In pedagogical circles, the term "negotiation-families" is used to illustrate this situation. Most children are materially well taken care of, with nourishing food, regular supplies of new clothes and toys, and a private room in the family house. Some people argue that working parents compensate for their absence by giving their children toys, videos, and computers.

Higher Education. There are five universities: the University of Copenhagen, the University of Southern Denmark, the University of Aarhus, Aalborg University, and Roskilde University Center. In 1996, 167,764 students were enrolled in those institutions: 93,544 women and 74,220 men. All children in Denmark are obligated to complete nine years of school, either at private or public institutions. After they have fulfilled that requirement, 50 percent of the students choose a trade by entering vocational training, which includes an apprenticeship and formal schooling. Thirty percent select a one- to three-year college training program, which prepares them for teaching, nursing, or other professional occupations. The remaining 20 percent enter university. Nearly two-thirds of graduating students apply for university, but the majority are not admitted; those who are turned down either reapply the next year or select one of the vocational or college options. Admission has become increasingly competitive, based on grade point averages. All higher education is free of charge.


Privacy is a primary value in Danish etiquette. One is not supposed to invite oneself into another person's house or look into other people's land, property, and salary. Danes show few emotions publicly, as the open expression of feelings is considered a sign of weakness. Unless provoked, Danes avoid getting into an argument, and they dislike being interrupted during a conversation.

Informality is considered a virtue. However, informality in social interaction makes it difficult to enter new social circles. At dinner parties, meetings, and conferences, there are no formal introductions, leaving it up to people to initiate interaction.


Religious Beliefs. Religious freedom is consonant with international standards on the right to freedom of religion. Eighty-six percent of the population belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which has for centuries been supported by the state and is considered the national church. Numerous other Christian communities exist, including the Catholic Church, the Danish Baptist Church, and the Pentecostal Movement. Other world religions represented in the country are Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Baha'i faith, and Sikhism. Recently, religious groups celebrating old Viking gods have emerged.

Religious Practitioners. The majority religion is Christianity, and at birth all Danes are considered to belong to the national church, with an obligation to pay church taxes as part of the income tax.

Since the fifteenth century priests have been educated in a university, and ministers in the national church are officials under the Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs. The official duties of religious leaders include performing church ceremonies for local members of the national church and keeping a register of births, marriages, and deaths. Many religious practitioners participate in worldly affairs as social workers or advocate for the underprivileged in public debates.

Rituals and Holy Places. Churches are situated within and outside villages, towns, and cities and are surrounded by churchyards with cemeteries. In a Lutheran service, there is a minister, a cantor, a servant, and an organist. Members attend ritual events such as baptisms, confirmations, wedding ceremonies, and funerals and major religious events such as Christmas and Easter. Only a minority of people attend services regularly, and on weekdays churches are virtually empty.

Death and the Afterlife. Danes are not great believers in God; therefore, practices concerning death, the deceased, funerals, and the afterlife are handled in a rational and practical manner.

Dead persons are buried in coffins on the grounds of a church or are cremated and have their ashes buried in the graveyard. Graves are decorated with a gravestone with the deceased's name, dates, and greetings and are surrounded by greenery and flowers. After twenty years the grave is neglected unless family members pay for its care. Generally, religious practitioners are available to support the surviving relatives and talk about life, death, and the afterlife. Neoreligious communities have emerged in which people are guided to the other side to communicate with deceased family members and kin.

Medicine and Health Care

Since 1973, a tax-financed health care system has provided free access to health care throughout the life span within a national system. Treatment for inclusion in this system must adhere to theories and practices based on the sciences of medicine and psychology utilized by organized practitioners trained at accredited colleges and universities.

Most children are born in hospitals. Health visitors give families support for infant care and development. All children are offered an extensive vaccination program and medical examinations on a regular basis (at least once a year) until they leave school.

Fee-for-service health care is available from alternative practitioners and private hospitals. Alternative medicines such as homeopathy, reflexology, acupuncture, massage, diet therapy, and healing have been popular since the 1960s. Alternative explanatory models adhere to notions of holism and energy as important factors in disease and healing, aiming at indirect disease elimination. Alternative medicines have been well received by the population, with 20 percent of the population seeking alternative treatments in the 1980s and more than 30 percent in the 1990s.

In the 1990s, a number of private hospitals offering orthodox medical services and staffed with medical doctors, nurses, and other biomedical professions were established. Limited resources for national health care that caused long waiting lists led to the establishment of private hospitals offering treatments such as hip surgery and bypass operations.

Medical professionals increasingly stress the individual's responsibility for health through changes in lifestyle and personal habits. Smoking, alcohol abuse, poor dietary patterns, and lack of physical exercise are considered the main causes of disease. In surveys of lay perceptions of health and disease, the focus has been on notions of the importance of varied eating patterns, fresh air, regular exercise, a positive mood, and good social relations.

Secular Celebrations

Among the traditional secular celebrations is "Shrovetide" (fastelavn ), which is held in February and features children dressed in fancy costumes going from house to house singing songs and begging for money, candy, or even buns. The "1st of May Celebrations" were originally intended to celebrate the formation of workers' unions, but they have evolved into public parties with demonstrations, speeches, music, and drinking. "Saint Hans" is a midsummer celebration held on June 23 that features singing, speeches, and a traditional bonfire at which a doll symbolizing a witch is burned. Besides these national celebrations, farmers and other rural residents regularly hold harvest parties in August and September to celebrate crops that have been brought in from the fields.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. Artists may join a union from which they receive insurance against unemployment. In this system of employment security, artists must produce input in the form of work, and many artists take menial jobs to maintain their union status. During their training, artists may receive subsidies through the State Education Grant and Loan scheme. A few artists are awarded a civil list pension on the basis of merit and talent. A few excellent artists are fully self-supporting.

Literature. Danish literature was initiated by the historian Saxo Grammaticus, who wrote about Danish history up to the end of the twelfth century, including Scandinavian mythology, with its traditional stories of gods and legendary heroes. Since that time, Denmark has had a long history of poetry and literature, with Hans Christian Andersen and Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen) being among the most famous writers.

Graphic Arts. There is an extended culture of painting, sculpture, textiles, and pottery. Those subjects are part of the school curriculum and are taught in leisure time courses. Many of the islands are known for their artifacts. Bornholm produces pottery, sculpture, and glass. Artifacts are exhibited at museums and art exhibitions attended by school children, university students, and tourists. Professional artists known outside Denmark include the sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (17701844) and the contemporary painter Per Kirkeby.

Performance Arts. Music and dance from Europe have been dominant, but genres from Africa and South America have become popular. The Royal Danish Music Conservatory was founded in 1867, and the Rhythmic Music Conservatory was founded in 1986. Conservatories are for those with special talents and ambitions, while many other schools are open to a wider range of people. Danish cinema has been awarded many international prizes.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

University life dates back to the fifteenth century, with theology, medicine, and law as the first areas of study. The terminal degree was for centuries the magistergraden, which was between a master's and a doctoral degree. Recently this degree has been replaced by the kandidatgraden, which is equivalent to a master's degree. Theology was the first social science degree awarded. Major social sciences today are economics, political science, anthropology, and sociology.

The physical sciences are well established. The Technical University of Denmark was founded in 1829 and today is a leading international institution, training construction, chemical, computer, and mechanical engineers. However, young Danes tend to choose humanistic or social science studies over the natural sciences.

Universities are public and are run by the state, as are the Ministry of Research and a number of research councils that fund basic and applied research. Much technical research is applied, supported by public and private authorities, and much natural science research is funded by private companies and foundations. The Danish Technological Institute and the Academy for Technical Sciences are important in technology and information services.


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Ministry of Trade and Industry, Erhvervsministeriet:

Women in Government:

Erling HØg and Helle Johannessen

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The people of Denmark are called Danes. They are almost all northern Europeans; the Danes are among the most homogeneous peoples of Europe. There is a small German minority in southern Jutland.

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