Denmark is a monarchy in the Nordic countries, and is the southernmost of the Nordic countries. Denmark consists of the Jutland peninsula and a number of islands. Jutland borders Germany in the south and extends like a tongue between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, divided across the Limfjord and the archipelago east.

The largest islands are Zealand, Funen, Møn, Lolland and Falster. In total, Denmark consists of about 443 named islands, of which 79 are inhabited. The islands make up about a third of the land area. The North Sea borders Denmark to the west, Skagerrak to the north, while the islands separate the Baltic Sea from the Kattegat.

The location makes the country a link between the continent and Scandinavia. The national community also includes the Faroe Islands and Greenland, both with internal self-government. Denmark has been a member of the EU since 1973.


Agriculture has traditionally been the lifeblood of the Danish economy. A total coastline of approximately 7300 kilometers has promoted shipping and trade, and thus the industry, which now employs far more people than agriculture. As in other industrialized countries, in the 2000s, the service industries account for the vast majority of employment and economy.

Denmark has an open economy where trade with the outside world is important. About 70 per cent of trade takes place with other EU countries, while the rest are distributed to a large number of trading partners, with Norway and the United States being the two most important.

The name Denmark appears at the earliest in a rune inscription on Lille Jellingestein, Gorm’s stone, about 930. It is derived from the popular name Danes, which is probably related to Irish dune and means ‘people’. The last link is Old Norse mark with the meaning ‘cultivated and uncultivated land’ and ‘wooded land’ (compare Norwegian Telemark and Hedmark).

Geography and environment

Denmark lies between 54 ° and 58 ° north latitude and 8 ° and 15 ° east longitude. It is a distinctly lowland where the average height is 31 meters above sea level. Although the landscape is hilly and occasionally varied, the highest point of Møllehøj measures only 170.86 meters above sea level. The location of the islands by the shipping route between the Baltic Sea and the world seas has had an impact on both trade and political and military strategy.

About 66 per cent of the land is cultivated land, 16 per cent is forest and arid areas while about seven per cent are lakes, rivers and other wetlands. Buildings and roads make up the remaining eleven percent. The arable land is the dominant landscape type, while the forests were formerly.

Denmark has a northern temperate coastal climate characterized by proximity to large sea areas, and enjoys the Gulf Stream. No place in Denmark is further than 52 kilometers to the sea, and the climate is therefore characterized by the interaction between sea and land. It often blows, most strongly in winter and weakest in summer. The greatest precipitation falls in September, October and November, while February and April are the most precipitous months.

The temperature differences in the country are small, but the coastal areas have less fluctuations between summer and winter due to the sea’s smoothing effect. South Zealand and Lolland-Falster have the highest summer temperatures. In 2017, the lowest maximum temperature ever measured after the measurements started in 1874 was 26.8 ° C.

In 1995, the total number of animal species in Denmark was estimated by the Danish Forest and Nature Agency to be 424 species of vertebrate animals (including 49 mammals, 209 birds, 5 reptiles, 14 toads, 37 freshwater fish and 110 saltwater fish) and 21,000 invertebrates, including 18,000 insects.

People and society

The population in Denmark has increased steadily since the 1970s, and on 1 January 2014 it was 5,627,235 inhabitants. According to the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Interior, the number of voters in 2015 was 4 151 381, of which the oldest was 110 years old.

The average life expectancy is 78.6 years for men and 82.5 years for women (2015). The increase in life expectancy in recent years has been slower in Denmark than in countries it is natural to compare with, especially for women. There is a clear link between mortality and lifestyle factors such as smoking and drinking habits.

From 1966 to 1984, fertility per woman decreased from 2.6 to 1.4, while rising to 1.75 in 2011. The reason for the changes in fertility is due to changes in social and economic social conditions. Women have had a significant increase in education and vocational participation, which has made it more difficult to have many children. At the same time, family planning has become simpler, with the development of contraceptives such as birth control pills. In 1973, free abortion was introduced before the twelfth week of pregnancy.

In 2013, immigrants and descendants accounted for 10.7 percent of the total population. In total, these have backgrounds from 192 countries. The largest group consists of people with a Turkish background. About two-thirds of all immigrants have retained their foreign citizenship, while for the descendants it is the opposite; here two-thirds have Danish citizenship. Syrians make up the largest group that is granted asylum, followed by Iranians and Afghans. These three groups make up three-quarters of all asylum permits. Chinese are the largest group that receives a residence permit for education, while half of all residence permits are granted for work.

According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Interior, about 28,000 non-Western families live in a parallel society, where Somalis and Lebanese make up the two largest groups.

The sole written language and mother tongue for the majority of the population is Danish. In Greenland and the Faroe Islands, Greenlandic and Faroese are officially equated with Danish. Immigration has not had a demonstrable impact on the Danish language, except in some youth groups.

The Constitution regulates the ecclesiastical and religious conditions in Denmark, and the main principle is that the Evangelical- Lutheran Danish National Church, as the only religious community, should be supported by the state. 79.8 percent of the population are members of the national church, while Muslims constitute 4.1 percent.

State and politics

The cornerstone of the Constitution of Denmark is the Constitution of the Kingdom of Denmark of 5 June 1953. It is the result of a constitutional development that began in 1849. Denmark has a one-chamber system, a parliamentary government system and a queen, which has only formal and ceremonial functions. The Constitution has not been amended since 1953, but significant changes have been made by legislation and treaties, not least as a result of Danish EU membership.

The 1953 Constitution also applies to the Faroe Islands and Greenland. These areas have extensive self-government, so-called home government (the Faroe Islands from 1948; Greenland from 1979).

The most important political bodies in Denmark are the Parliament and the government.

The parliament consists of 179 members, two of whom are elected from Greenland and two from the Faroe Islands. The other 175 members are elected in Denmark. 135 out of 175 parliamentary members are elected on the basis of voting numbers in local circles, while the remaining 40 members are elected to ensure a proportionate representation of the parties. It is possible to run for elections outside the political parties.

The government is appointed by the queen. It consists of the prime minister and other ministers, each with their own area of ​​expertise. The parliament and the government cooperate on legislation. Bills are made in the Folketing, where they are dealt with three times. When a bill is passed, it must be ratified by the queen and the government. The Queen follows the government’s attitude.

If the Parliament resolves distrust of the government, it shall resign or print new elections. It can also ask cabinet questions or print new elections without leaving. According to the Constitution, elections must nevertheless be printed at least every four years. The Danish governments have usually been minority governments, and therefore Danish politics has been characterized by compromises.

The voting age since 1978 has been 18 years. Immigrants without Danish citizenship do not have the right to vote in the Folketing, but have since 1989 had the right to vote and have been eligible for municipal elections. At the 2015 general election, 4 145 105 Danes had the right to vote, and at the municipal and regional elections in 2017, 4,557,652 had the right to vote. The number of voters is determined one week before the election.

The turnout in 2015 was 85.9 per cent of the country as a whole, compared with 87.7 per cent in the 2011 election.

Independent courts belong to the distribution of power. Litigation is usually dealt with in the first instance by a district court, and the court’s judgment can be appealed to one of the two national courts. The Supreme Court is the Supreme Court which only deals with cases that have previously been dealt with by one of the two national courts.

The municipal self-government is constitutionally established and a large part of the administrative tasks is added to the 98 municipalities and five regions in which Denmark is divided.

The top management of the defense is organized so that the chief of defense, who is responsible for the minister of defense, has command of the army, the navy and the air force. The Defense Staff assists the Chief of Defense in these tasks and forms the Defense Command together with the Chief of Defense.

Denmark is a member of the EU after a referendum in October 1972, which provided a significant majority for membership. Referendums were also held in 1992 and 1993 on the Maastricht Treaty and the Edinburgh Agreement.


Denmark was probably inhabited during the last Middle Ages, 120,000 years ago, and possibly during warmer periods during the last Ice Age. All the time the country has been in contact with the outside world, but it was not until about the beginning of the Viking Age that around 800 the country entered European history.

The Viking Age

At the same time as the Viking trains, the Danes supported France, and in 811 came the settlement between Danish and Frankish great men that Eider should be the border between the kingdoms. Under Hårek the Elder (death 854) and Hårek the Younger (death 870), the Viking trains gained considerable scope, which may be due to overcrowding in the cultivated areas.

Denmark was torn by internal strife, until Gorm the old (dead before 950) succeeded in uniting the country. The son Harald Blåtand expanded the kingdom with parts of Holsten and Norway. His son Svend Tveskæg fortified the Danish dominion in southern Norway and joined England in 1013. When he died in 1014 his son Knud became the great king of England and inherited Denmark. In 1028 he expelled Olav Haraldsson from Norway and had supremacy until 1035.

After Knud’s death in 1035, his son Harde-Knud sought to keep the kingdom together, but when he died in 1042, the English chose a king of his own princely lineage. Denmark came into association with Norway when Magnus the Good was elected Danish King.

The Middle Ages

Svend Estridssøn took over after Magnus and the war against Harald Hardråd. In the following peace period, Svend succeeded in increasing and consolidating the royal power in collaboration with the church, which received the king’s support to develop and establish his own organization. The agreement with the pope to establish an archdiocese in Lund in 1104 led to increased independence for the Danish church, and the church’s financial position was enhanced by the introduction of tithing.

After bloody civil wars, Valdemar became the great monarch in 1157. It was in particular Archbishop Absalon (dead 1201) who under Valdemar’s son Knud was responsible for the conquest policy.

In Valdemartiden a nobility of royal officials arose, who were granted privileges in exchange for war service. The church strengthened its position and became tax-free, got its own court and chose its own bishops. The state government created a permanent administration and the country’s old rules of law were incorporated into the landscaping laws.

The centenary after Valdemar 2 ‘s death in 1241 was a time of conflicts between king, church and great men and the collapse of state finances. Erik Menved (1286–1319) wanted to resume Baltic Sea politics by gaining influence in Northern Germany and Sweden, but could only raise money on the condition that creditors were allowed to leave parts of the kingdom in pledge.

Kalmar Union

Valdemar’s daughter Margrete (died 1412) again made Denmark a powerful kingdom. In 1376, the National Council elected her and Håkon 6 ‘s son Olav to the Danish king with Margrete as the child king’s guardian. When Håkon 6 died in 1380, Denmark and Norway became united under one king and after Olav’s death in 1387, Margrete became the reigning queen. At the Kalmar Union in 1397, Sweden became united with Denmark and Norway with Margretes sister-in-law Erik of Pomerania as king. He continued Margaret’s Union policy, wanted to make Denmark the main country and inaugurated Danish bailiffs and bishops in Norway and Sweden. As a counter to the power of the Hanseatic Empire, he was interested in promoting the urban industries, and therefore allowed the cities the sole righton trade and crafts, and introduced the Øresundtoll, which until the 19th century was an important source of income for the treasury. Erik was deposed as king in 1439, and under the successor Christoffer of Bavaria (1439-1448) it was the national council that ruled.

The Eneveld (1660–1849)

In 1660, a stender assembly was convened in Copenhagen by nobles, clergy and citizens. The king carried out a coup which made the crown hereditary in Frederik 3’s lineage and gave the king unequal power. Christian 5 and his successor Frederik 4 tried to regain the lands that were forfeited to Sweden, but achieved nothing, neither with the Scanian War 1675–1679 nor the participation in the Great Nordic War 1709–1720.

During the seriously mentally ill Christian 7, the king’s lifelong Johann Friedrich Struensee carried out a series of reforms in the spirit of the enlightened monarchy in the period 1770–1772.

In the mid-18th century, the Danish expansion of Greenland began. Most of the Danish settlements were founded in the period 1734-1769.

Denmark-Norway’s foreign policy orientation towards France was the cause of the British attack on Copenhagen in 1807 where the Danish war fleet was put out of play. Crown Prince Frederik (King 1808-1839 under the name of Frederick 6 ) declared war and made a covenant with Napoleon. The war years 1807–1814 entailed huge expenses with subsequent inflation leading to the state bankruptcy in 1813. At the peace in Kiel in 1814, Denmark had to relinquish Norway to Sweden, but had to retain Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

Influenced by the national-liberal movement in Germany, from around 1830 a demand for a free position for Schleswig-Holstein in the Danish monarchy arose. In 1848 Holstein and the German-speaking Schleswig revolt supported by Prussia, but ended separate peace with Denmark in 1850 following Russian pressure. The monarchy was restored, but no solution to the Schleswig-Holstein question was achieved.

From 1914 to 1940

An important task for the government during the First World War was to preserve Denmark’s neutrality. An approach to Norway and Sweden came into being, and several meetings were held between the kings and the governments of the three Scandinavian states.

At the defeat of Germany in 1918, the South Jutland question again created political strife. The Danish Southern Jews raised demands for incorporation in Denmark. The Versailles Treaty of 1919 stipulated that the area should be divided into two zones, one northern and one southern, where referenda should decide whether the areas should be incorporated in Denmark or remain German. By a vote in zone 1 on February 10, 1920, there was an overwhelming majority for affiliation with Denmark, while the March 14 election in zone 2 (including Flensburg ) gave a large majority to remain German.

In 1920, Denmark joined the newly formed League of Nations following a unanimous decision in the Riksdag.

The election in 1924 led the Social Democrats to become the largest party in the Folketing. Thorvald Stauning formed the first social democratic government.

Denmark’s demands for all of Greenland met resistance in Norway, which in 1931-1932 occupied a couple of land routes in East Greenland. When the case was presented to the International Court of Justice in The Hague in 1933, Denmark won.

From 1940 to the 1970s

Denmark was occupied by German troops on April 9, 1940. The attack was followed by an ultimatum not to resist; In return, Germany would respect Denmark’s political independence. The king and the government bowed to the demand, but the cooperation policy presented great challenges. The Danish Freedom Council was formed in the autumn of 1943 to coordinate the resistance movement. Germany capitulated on May 5, 1945. The war had then cost about 7,000 Danes.

A reform of the Electoral Act was passed in 1948 to give the capital stronger representation, and in 1949 the voting age was reduced to 23 years for both parliamentary and municipal elections.

After six years of discussions, a new constitution was passed in 1953. All parties except the Communists had participated in the preparations. Female succession was introduced, and Princess Margrethe became Denmark’s successor. The county council was abolished. As the only chamber of the National Assembly, the Folketing had 179 members, two of them from the Faroe Islands and two from Greenland, who moved from colony to part of the kingdom. The new constitution was accepted by referendum and came into force on June 5, 1953.

Like the other Scandinavian countries, Denmark was dominated by social democratic governments in the post-war period, but unlike in Norway and Sweden, the Danish governments were often coalitions. In 1966, for the first time, the Folketing got a socialist majority. Jens Otto Krag was leader of a purely social democratic government and also took over as Foreign Minister. In 1967, Krag signed a cooperation agreement with the Socialist People’s Party and secured its parliamentary position, but the Socialist People’s Party nevertheless did not join the government.

After 1973, the government gained increasingly weak parliamentary foundations. The 1973 election became a disaster for the traditional parties, especially the conservatives and social democrats, while two new protest parties, the Progress Party with Mogens Glistrup as leader and the Center Democrats formed by right-wing socialist Erhard Jakobsen, received considerable support. Another three small parties came along, resulting in a total of ten party groups in the Folketing.

The last half of the 20th century

In 1945, Denmark joined the UN. Denmark joined the Council of Europe upon its founding in 1949 and was instrumental in forming the Nordic Council in 1952.

Two main issues that have dominated Danish foreign policy since 1945 are the relationship with NATO and with the market formation in Western Europe. A prerequisite for Danish membership in NATO was that foreign forces and nuclear weapons should not be stationed on Danish soil during peacetime. The accession to NATO led to protests from the Soviet Union and Poland.

In 1983, Denmark voted to extend the missile negotiations in Geneva, in violation of NATO’s dual decision of 1979. The same year, the country withdrew from the deployment of new nuclear mid-range missiles in Europe. In 1988, the government was required to inform foreign warships that Denmark did not allow nuclear weapons in its territory. This was poorly addressed by Denmark’s NATO partners. The opinion was shared by Prime Minister Poul Schlüter, who refused to resign as a result of security policy, because he believed the cases were being promoted for tactical reasons.

Denmark joined EFTA in 1958 and followed the British government asking for membership negotiations with the EEC (EU) in 1961. When France stopped an enlargement of the EC in 1963, it was not until summer 1970 that negotiations for Denmark’s membership came. The negotiations led the Danish government, like the Norwegian, British and Irish, to sign a membership agreement in Brussels in 1972. It was approved by the Parliament, and the resolution was confirmed by referendum later that year, with 63.5 per cent against 36, 5 percent of the votes. Denmark joined the EC on 1 January 1973.

In connection with the amendments to the Treaty of Rome in 1986, Denmark received a new EC debate. Denmark tried to postpone the reforms, but they were approved in a 56.2 percent majority referendum. The referendum was perceived as a yes or no to the EC, and the result showed a much greater skepticism towards the EC than at the entry in 1973. Following the negotiations on the Maastricht Treaty in 1991, the proposal for a European Union ( EU)) put to the referendum. This third referendum was conducted in 1992 and gave a no-majority with 50.7 percent; a result that came very surprisingly on the political environment in Denmark and in Europe as a whole. The Danes then entered into separate negotiations with the EU on some exceptions to the agreement. After reserving itself against common currency, common defense and citizenship (the Edinburgh Agreement), the union was approved by Denmark in a new referendum in 1993. 56.8 percent of voters voted for the union.

In 2000, 53 percent of the population voted against the introduction of the euro.

In 2011, Helle Thorning-Schmidt from the Social Democrats became Denmark’s first female prime minister.

Economy and business

Denmark has limited resources from nature. They mainly consist of agricultural land, and the absence of minerals has not provided the basis for large-scale industry that we find in Norway. Modern Denmark must therefore rely on intensive agriculture and quality-based processing of imported raw materials. In relation to the size, Denmark has extensive foreign trade.

After the last ice age, the first Danes fed on hunting, fishing and sinking berries and plants. Gradually, there was a gradual transition to agriculture, which for thousands of years was the main industry. Even in the mid-1800s, more than half of the population was employed in agriculture, and it was only when substantial overproduction was created that one could feed a larger urban population or export. A minority lived by crafts, but gradually came traders and seafarers. In the development of the state, administrative functions also arose.

At the end of the 18th century, about one fifth of the population lived in the cities. Most of them were craftsmen, but in Copenhagen a quarter of the population was associated with the army and the navy. Most craft establishments were small, but in some provincial towns some garment factories were established with state aid. As a result of the economic crisis in the years after 1814, support fell away and business stagnated.

Grain production increased at the end of the 18th century, and the profits could be exported to England with good profits when the market opened. Agriculture could move away from self-sufficiency to a greater extent. A number of products were to be purchased, which in turn gave the basis for a wider business community and greater growth in the urban population. The advantages of economies of scale and inventions such as the steam engine and other machines laid the foundation for industrial development. The transition to an industrialized and urban society led many to move to cities and gain employment in new businesses.

In the 1850s and 1860s, the railway and the telegraph were expanded, shipping traffic between the regions was improved and the first commercial banks were established. Development accelerated due to infrastructure measures. Progress continued until World War I in 1914.

The post-war period was characterized by crises and uneven developments, but extensive protection against foreign competition was implemented in the early 1930s. Industrial production grew and attracted manpower from a crisis-prone agriculture, and during the 1930s, crafts and industry came to employ more people than agriculture. Due to large exports, Denmark maintained high agricultural activity throughout the 1950s compared to other western countries.

In the 1960s, major structural changes occurred; the urban industries experienced a boom, while agricultural outlook was weakened by other countries’ state aid to their own farmers. The industry invested in new and modern machines, and the growth of the professional life occurred in the service professions, primarily the public sector such as health and education. Growth has continued in the public sector, but also in private services such as banks and insurance companies.

At the turn of the year 2016–2017, there were five times as many passenger cars as in 1961–1962. The number of cars has increased from 470,000 to 2,466,000 and the passenger car is on average 8.9 years old. The average life expectancy is 15.7 years. The total number of motor vehicles is 3,119,000; of this, electric vehicles, gas or hybrid vehicles constitute 8833 vehicles.

The total number of wage earners was 2,795,700 in 2019. Today, the public sector is the largest in the business sector. Denmark has moved from agricultural society through industrial society to service society, but the country is still an agricultural country. Despite the declining importance of agriculture for the Danish economy, 62 per cent of the area is still cultivated land (2017), of which cereals account for 54 per cent, feed 28 per cent and rapeseed seven per cent. In comparison, about seven percent of Sweden’s land and less than three percent of Norway’s land are cultivated.

Tourism had 135,700 jobs in 2016 and generated sales of NOK 108 billion. Denmark accounts for 45 per cent of the total number of foreign tourist nights in the Nordic countries, and as Norwegians make up 17 per cent. The largest groups of tourists are Dutch, Germans, Swedes and Irish who live in cottages or hotels.

The ten largest tourist municipalities are:

  • Copenhagen
  • Aarhus
  • Aalborg
  • Ringkøbing-Skjern
  • Varde
  • Vejle
  • Frederikshavn
  • Odense
  • Bornholm
  • Elsinore

Knowledge and culture


The first Danish court ballet was erected during the wedding of Prince Christian and Magdalene Sibylle in 1634, culminating in Frederik 3, whose Queen Sophie Amalie was a ballet enthusiast and danced at the head of the court as an Amazon, peasant girl, Spanish lady or war goddess.

The 19th century’s big name in Danish ballet is August Bournonville, who became ballet master at the Royal Theater in 1830 where he became almost coherent until 1877, and managed to lift the Danish ballet to an international level.

The renewal of Danish ballet came in the 20th century. Harald Lander introduced a contrast between a modern repertoire and fidelity to the Bournonville tradition. Harald Lander was also a choreographer with a repertoire built around the fine ballerina Margot Lander, which made the ballet very popular. In a collaboration with composer Knudåge Riisager and author Kjeld Abell, he used ballet as a national gathering point in the occupation years 1940–1945.

In 1966 Flemming Flindt took over the role of ballet master, and a new era began, first and foremost with the introduction of “modern dance”.

The centenary of August Bournonville’s death in 1979 became an event that showed that Denmark, by virtue of its inheritance from romance, has a special position on the world map. Today, The Royal Ballet appears as a modern, classical ensemble with a repertoire ranging from George Balanchine to major Russian classics such as Tchaikovsky Swan Lake, Tornerose and Nutcracker.

The dance life outside the Royal Theater was modest for many years. Tivoli’s pantomime theater has since 1844 cultivated a pantomime form that descended from the Italian commedia dell’arte, mixed with a Danish ballet tradition.

New Danish Dance Theater originated around 1980, and with Randi Patterson, Warren Spears and Anette Abildgaard as choreographers, Denmark received a modern high-level ensemble.

The big summer events such as Festival of Fools and Dancin ‘City have had a great impact on the dance interest, and brought the international dance wave to Copenhagen. In 1985 the Dance House was established; in 1992, Denmark finally received a degree in modern dance, and in 1993 the Copenhagen dance scene became a modern dance.


After the war, Danish design has become internationally accepted, and has produced several great personalities and icons. The architect Jørn Utzon (1918–2008) is famous for the Sydney Opera House, while the architect and furniture designer Arne Jacobsen (1902–1971) made chairs, lamps and houses. The lamps for architect, reviewer and film director Poul Henningsen are still popular props in film. The designer Georg Jensen (1866-1935) made jewelry and crafts.

Design Award The Lunning Award was awarded in the period 1952-1970 and contributed greatly to the profiling of Scandinavian design. The Danish Design Center is a hub for Danish design policy and works to improve the value creation of Danish companies through increased use of design, thereby strengthening Denmark’s competitiveness. The industrial company Bang & Olufsen is known for bold designs that have won international reputation.


The first cinema was established in Copenhagen in 1904. Ole Olsen started Nordisk Films Kompagni in 1906 and started an extensive production. Thanks to talented artists in front and behind the camera, the films became export goods, and the period 1908-1916 became the first golden age in Danish film. Directors like Urban Gad, Benjamin Christensen and Viggo Larsen were praised in the US, Germany and France for their expressive and innovative style. Actors Asta Nielsen and Valdemar Psilander achieved great international success. The repertoire consisted of both crime series, adventure films and erotic melodramas.

World War II also provided material for films in Denmark, such as Theodor Christensen’s documentary about the Danish resistance struggle, It applies to your freedom (1946). Apart from Carl Theodor Dreyer ‘s films, Danish film did not claim itself in the 1940s and 1950s with the exception of Astrid and Bjarne Henning-Jensen, who with Ditte Menneskebarn (1946) contributed with a socially engaged realism.

In the 1960s a new generation came, including Palle Kjærulff-Schmidt with Weekend (1962) and Henning Carlsen with Hunger (1966) and People meet and sweet music arises in the heart (1967). With the film The Olsen Band (1968), Erik Balling and Henning Bahs initiated the most popular Danish film series of all time. The Danish state became more involved in film production and secured financial support in 1964. The scheme was revised by the Danish Film Institute in 1972.

Gabriel Axel gained international success ( Oscar in 1987) with Babette’s guest bid and Bille August with Pelle Conqueror (1987). Other central names are Søren Kragh-Jacobsen with Want to see my beautiful navel? (1978), Morten Arnfred with Johnny Larsen (1979), Niels Arden Discover with the Dream (2006) and the animator Jannik Hastrup.

Lars von Trier has since the debut in 1984 played the role of Denmark’s internationally famous enfant terrible through the so-called Dogme95 where to make films without added effects, such as Breaking the Waves (1996) and Dogville (2003).


Legends and folk tales from the 12th and 13th centuries are the first Danish literature. As a result, part of this consists of Icelandic sagas and Snorre Sturlason, because the Nordic cultural heritage and narrative art were similar at the time. Absalon’s Chronicle Gesta Danorum, authored by Sven Aggesen and Saxo Grammaticus, was completed in 1200-1220. Danish literature began in earnest with Ludvig Holberg’s comedies. As a precursor to the romance can be mentioned Johannes Ewald and Jens Baggesen. The author Hans Christian Andersen is the internationally best-known Danish author, and began writing in romance. He is known for his adventuresabout the ugly duckling, the girl with the sulfur sticks and the emperor’s new clothes. Pastor Steen Steensen Blicher wrote highly realistic short stories that did not conform to the romantic main directions of the time, but which have gained lasting value.

Henrik Pontoppidan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1917 for his authentic descriptions of contemporary life in Denmark; an award he won with Karl Adolph Gjellerup. The same award went to one of the 20th century’s most important Danish writers, Johannes Vilhelm Jensen, for “the rare power and lushness of his poetic imagination, combined with a broadly based intellect and bold, innovative style of art.”

Other well-known Danish authors are Herman Bang, Karen Blixen, Jens Christian Hostrup, Peter Høeg, Ole Lund Kierkegaard, Søren Kierkegaard, Tom Kristensen, Poul Martin Møller, Martin Andersen Nexø, Kaspar Colling Nielsen, Klaus Rifbjerg, Hans Scherfig, Johan Herman Wessel, Gustav Wied and Christian Winther.


In the early 19th century, Danish tone art was mainly characterized by Carl Nielsen ‘s symphonies, operas, chamber music works, songs and piano music. He is considered to be one of the greatest Danish composers.

In the music of electron music, the composers Else Marie Pade and Jørgen Plaetner were pioneers who led the way for electroacoustic music. The last two decades of the 20th century have shown new talents in electro acoustic and computer music, including Gunner Møller Pedersen, Ivar Frounberg and Wayne Siegel. The peers Bent Sørensen, Erik Højsgaard, Anders Nordentoft, Niels Rosing-Schow, Svend Hvidtfelt Nielsen and Karsten Fundal have marked themselves as influential in their generation.

At the end of the 1600s, ballets and operas were erected at the court. The Opera House in Bredgade was opened in 1702 and satisfied the taste of the higher circles for Italian opera. The more nationally oriented gathered in the circle around Holberg. Opera was also given a wide seat at the Royal Theater, which was established in 1748. Johan Herman Wessels and Paolo Scalabrini’s Curiosity without Socks (1772) triggered a reaction to Italian dominance. The Royal Theater’s opera house for the performance of both opera and ballet in Copenhagen was inaugurated in 2005, and has been donated by AP Møller and his wife Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller’s Foundation to general purpose.

Post-war Danish youth music in the 1950s was characterized by the Americanization that took place all over Western Europe. The dance, film and records of the rock’n’roll culture were imported, and in Denmark jazz and dance orchestras performed the new style, including Ib Glindemann and Peter Plejls orchestras and soloists Ib “Rock” Jensen and Otto Brandenburg. In the late 1950s, groups of role models were formed in English The Shadows ; the best known were The Cliffters and The Rocking Ghosts. The 1960s English rhythm & blues style inspired The Beefeaters and The Defenders, and in 1967 the group released the Steppeulvene LP “Hip” which became a breakthrough for the Danish beat.

The lyrics were written in Danish, were fabulous and personal, and the music was influenced by folk rock (including Bob Dylan ) and West Coast rock. One of Danish rock music’s greatest audience successes was Gasolin (1969–1978), with singer and composer Kim Larsen as front figure. Other well-known and well-known names were Shu-bi-dua, CV Jørgensen and the Aarhusian groups Gnags and Shit & Chanel, who proved that rock was not just a capital phenomenon. The 1980s, the Danish rock scene was characterized by sounding and beautifully produced pop and rock, like Sneakers with Sanne Salomonsen, and soloists Lis Sørensen, Anne Linnet and Sebastian, but also punk and new wave-inspired groups such as Kliché, Sods / Sort Sol and Miss B. Haven made their mark on the period.

Rap and hip hop really got Danish expression in the 1990s with groups such as the East Coast Hustlers, the Humleridderne and The Crazy Pose. Female songwriters such as Marie Frank, Tina Dickow and Karen Busck renewed the rock scene. Among experimental Danish-speaking artists are the techno- and ballad inspired group Sorten Muld and the folk rock group Under the City as well as the ingenious Tobias Trier. Danish pop experienced export success in the 1990s with Aqua, Cartoons and Michael Learns to Rock.

The show Svante’s Happy Day (1972) by Benny Andersen became so popular that it was proposed for a new Danish national anthem.

Mass media

From the 1930s there has been a development where only the strongest, or most adaptable newspaper has survived. The number of daily newspapers fell from 123 in 1945 to 33 at the end of 1994. Among the reasons were increased journalistic resources to satisfy the reader’s need for broader orientation and information, both abroad and domestic. In addition, the competition came from electronic media; television began to broadcast news in 1965. The introduction of local radio and advertising-financed television (1988) in addition to the license-financed Danish Radio (DR) has led to strong progress for electronic mass media. Growth has also been high among advertising-financed free newspapers, which had a total circulation of 500,000 in 2005.

The release papers BT (Berlingske Tidende) and Ekstra Bladet have performed well in the competition, and BT dominates the capital press together with Politiken. Politics is Social Democratic with the strength of reports and cultural material, while BT is conservative based on politics, economy and culture. Jyllands-Posten is the only nationwide morning newspaper with its head office outside Copenhagen, and has become Denmark’s largest Sunday newspaper.

Among the weekly magazines, the largest sales are in the family and women’s magazines. The publisher Aller Press has a market share of about 60 percent, while Egmont has about 30 percent. Magazines and trade press have become more specialized; In addition, various customer magazines are published.


In Denmark there are 3000 schools and other educational institutions. Kindergartens and preschools in Denmark are administered by the Ministry of Social Affairs, otherwise the Ministry of Education is responsible for all education. All educational institutions are subsidized by the state.

From 2005, free school choice was introduced within and across municipal boundaries.

There are private schools at all levels, and the proportion of private schools is increasing. In order to be approved for a private school, it is required that the standard corresponds to that in public schools and that there is a minimum number of students.

Almost all pupils in primary school continue in high school. Denmark has 225 secondary schools, which have been developed and coordinated since the 1960s. The high school is three years old and divided into four main areas of study after the 2005 reform; general high school, higher preparation exam, higher trade exam and higher technical exam.

Vocational training, vocational education, was changed in 1996. It lasts for 3-4 years and is based on a collaboration between school and working life with part of the education in a business school or technical school, and part as an apprentice in business. In 2006, the opportunity for master’s education was introduced.

It is a political objective (2006) for 95 per cent of a year to complete upper secondary or vocational education.

Denmark has 150 higher education institutions and twelve universities; 44 per cent of young people take higher education.

The University of Copenhagen was founded by Christian 1 in 1479 and has six faculties. Aarhus University began in 1928 as a semi-private, semi-municipal institution, was taken over by the state in 1970 and from 2012 all teaching and research has moved to Amager. Odense University started its business in 1966. The university centers in Roskilde and Aalborg started their business in 1972 and 1974 respectively.

The Polytechnic Institute of Education, the Technical University of Denmark, was founded in 1829 and is located in Lyngby. In Copenhagen is the Danish School of Education (1856) with further education for primary school teachers, the Veterinary and Agricultural College (1856), the Danish School of Pharmacy (1892), the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (1754) and the Royal Danish Music Conservatory (1867). Business colleges are found in Copenhagen (1917) and in Aarhus (1939).


Three pillars are central to Danish research: universities and other higher education institutions, public research institutions and private companies’ research.

All universities receive annual basic funding for research, where their use is decided by the university management. In addition, funding comes from research programs, contracts or participation in research collaboration with Danish or foreign partners. The universities are primarily responsible for basic research.

Outside the universities, there are a number of research institutes with a major focus on applied research. Sector institutes have been established in all major areas in addition to research-oriented archives, libraries and museums. Also included in the picture is the research carried out in hospitals

World cultural and natural heritage

Three Danish objects are listed on UNESCO’s list of the world’s cultural and natural heritage sites:

  • Kronborg Castle at Elsinore, one of Northern Europe’s most important Renaissance castles.
  • Roskilde Cathedral, the first Gothic cathedral built in Scandinavia in the 12th and 13th centuries and mausoleum for the royal family since the 15th century.
  • The Jelling Hills, burial mounds from the late 900s, the Jelling stones and Jelling church, built at the beginning of the 1100s.