Denmark country profile

Map of Denmark

The Kingdom of Denmark has, despite its relatively small size, punched above its weight internationally.

Vikings raiding from Denmark and the other Nordic nations changed the course of 9th- and 10th-century European history; in the Middle Ages, the Union of Kalmar united all of Scandinavia under Danish leadership.

In more recent times, Denmark has developed a highly-competitive service-based economy with high employment levels and a generous social security system.

The Social Democrats led coalition governments for most of the post-war period until the 1980s, consolidating the country's liberal reputation, although concerns at high taxation levels and tension over immigration have put the centre-right in office for several long periods since then.


Kingdom of Denmark

Capital: Copenhagen

  • Population 5.6 million

  • Area 43,098 sq km (16,640 sq miles)

  • Major language Danish

  • Major religion Christianity

  • Life expectancy 77 years (men), 81 years (women)

  • Currency krone

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Queen: Margrethe II

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Image caption Denmark's Queen Margrethe and Prince Consort Henrik, who died in 2018

Queen Margrethe became monarch only because a change in the law in 1953 allowed a woman to ascend to the throne. She succeeded on the death of her father, King Frederick IX, in 1972.

The queen is a skilled artist, clothes designer and translator. She speaks English, French and German, in addition to her native Danish, and her work as an illustrator has been widely published. Prince Henrik died in 2018.

Prime Minister: Lars Lokke Rasmussen

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Lars Lokke Rasmussen formed a minority government consisting solely of his centre-right Venstre - or Liberal - Party after elections in June 2015, ousting the centre-left government of Helle Thorning Schmidt.

His government hoped to pass laws with support from different parties at different times. In 2016, it formed a coalition with two other parties to expand its parliamentary support and reduce the risk of an early election, while still falling short of a full majority.

Mr Rasmussen served as prime minister in 2009-2011, when he narrowly lost an election to Helle Thorning Schmidt - Denmark's first female head of government.


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Public Danmarks Radio (DR) runs national TV networks and national and regional radio.

TV2 is a government-owned commercial station. The main privately-owned TVs broadcast via digital terrestrial, satellite and cable.

Freedom of expression is provided for in law.

Around 97% of Danes are online. Facebook is the top social media destination.


Some key dates in Denmark's history:

10th century - Kingdom of Denmark unified and Christianity introduced.

1397 - Union of Kalmar unites Denmark, Sweden and Norway under a single monarch. Denmark is the dominant power.

1729 - Greenland becomes Danish province.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The Nyhavn harbour area of Copenhagen

1814 - Denmark cedes Norway to Sweden.

1849 - Denmark becomes constitutional monarchy; two-chamber parliament established.

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

1930s - Welfare state established by governments dominated by social democrats.

1939 - Denmark signs 10-year non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany.

1940 - Nazi invasion meets virtually no initial resistance. Government accepts occupation in exchange for measure of control over domestic affairs.

1943 - A determined campaign by the Danish resistance prompts Germany to take over full control of Danish affairs. Thousands of Danish Jews manage to escape to Sweden.

1945 - Germany surrenders and occupation ends. Denmark recognises Iceland's independence.

1949 - Denmark joins Nato.

1952 - Denmark becomes founder member of Nordic Council.

1959 - Denmark joins European Free Trade Association.

1973 - Denmark joins the European Economic Community.

1979 - Greenland is granted home rule. Denmark retains control over Greenland's foreign affairs and defence.

2000 - Danes reject adoption of the euro as their national currency.

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