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Denmark in brief

Denmark lies between 54° and 58° of latitude north and 8° and 15° of longitude east. In addition to Denmark itself, the kingdom also includes the Faroe Islands and Greenland.
Denmark consists of the peninsula of Jutland and c. 407 islands, of which c. 79 are inhabited (2009). Of these, the largest and most densely populated are Zealand on which the capital of Copenhagen is situated, Funen and the north Jutland island.
The North Sea defines Denmark to the west, while the islands divide the Baltic from the Kattegat. The Danish islands are thus on the sea lane from the Baltic to the main oceans of the world and at the same time on the trade route from the Nordic countries to central Europe.
Throughout the entire history of the country, this position has been influential on the circumstances governing developments in trade and on political and military strategy.
Administratively, the country is divided into 5 regions (regioner) and 98 local authorities (kommuner).
Towards the end of the 10th century, Denmark was united into a single kingdom. It has been an independent country ever since, and is thus one of the oldest states in Europe.
The form of government is a parliamentary democracy with a royal head of state. The system of production is capitalist (economic liberalism) with private ownership of businesses and production. The state and other public authorities, however, exercise a considerable regulatory control and provide comprehensive services for the citizens.
Denmark is a developed industrialised country. By international standards, the standard of living is high, and the differences between rich and poor are smaller than in many of the countries with which Denmark is traditionally compared.
Denmark is a member of the European Union. The proximity of Germany has traditionally orientated the country south in an economic and political sense, but close co-operation with Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland, with which Denmark enjoys a passport union, also ties Denmark to the North.
The country has a coastline totalling 7,314 km in all and a 68-km-long frontier with Germany. It is a distinctly low-lying country, the highest point being only 173 metres above sea level, but the landscape is undulating and varied; only occasionally is it possible to find undisturbed nature, and the view everywhere shows signs of human activity. Only on the island of Bornholm do we find bedrock, and otherwise the land is characterised by fertile clayish or sandy moraine landscapes.
Denmark is poor in mineral deposits. However, chalk for the production of cement is found in considerable quantities, and more oil and gas is extracted from the North Sea than is needed for home consumption.
Most of the country, c. 66%, is under cultivation. 12% is covered by deciduous or coniferous forest, while meadow, heath, marshland, bogs, sandhills and lakes constitute c. 10%. Built-up areas and traffic areas make up the remaining c. 12%. The climate is temperate, and precipitation is sufficient to provide all the water needed.
The population stands at c. 5,511 million, and the population density is c. 126.4 per square kilometre. Foreign immigrants and their descendants amount to c. 498,000.
The language is everywhere Danish, and the vast majority of the population has been baptised into the established protestant church. Denmark is therefore nationally and culturally very homogeneous.
85% of the population lives in towns. Greater Copenhagen accounts for c. 1,16 million inhabitants. The second city is Århus (237,551 inhabitants). In addition the entire country is otherwise covered by a network of medium-sized towns.
Danish agriculture is highly developed, producing a considerable surplus of manufactured foods which are exported to other countries. Industrial production is very varied in relation to the size of the country. Among the commodities that have made Denmark known abroad are, in addition to agricultural produce, beer, medicines, furniture, shipping, wind turbines and products of the advanced metal industries.
Both agriculture and industry are highly effective. Agriculture and fisheries employ only 3.7%, and industry and construction 23% of the population. The remaining 73% are employed in the service sector, 35% in public and personal services and 38% in private business, including financial activities and the traditional shipping trade. Denmark is well provided with traffic systems. The road network is good everywhere in the country; railways and air links provide quick transport, and the islands are connected by ferries and a large number of bridges. Kastrup near Copenhagen is the largest international airport in the country and is at the same time a crossroads for air traffic to and from the other Scandinavian countries.

From Superpower to Miniature State

The country has probably been periodically inhabited for more than 120,000 years. The first certain proofs of human habitation date from around 12,500 BC. The Stone Age people among other things lived on oysters and the shells are still found in the so-called "køkkenmøddinger" (kitchen middens) - a Danish expression which has passed into other languages.
The Danes attracted international attention in the Viking Age from the late 8th to the mid 11th century, but not only positively. They were skilful shipwrights with a love of adventure. They travelled far, for instance to the Mediterranean. The Vikings acted as merchants, but equally often as marauders and invaders. For a short time in the 11th century, Denmark subjugated England. From the 14th century, Denmark also ruled over Norway and parts of Sweden. At that time, Denmark stretched from Nordkapp to the Elbe. As a result of ill fortunes of war, arrogance and poor choice of allies, Denmark's territory and population were heavily reduced over the period until 1658.
Many wars have been fought with Sweden in particular, but in the 19th century, it was the relationship with the southern neighbour Germany that led to wars. After the last major war, the Second Schleswig War in 1864, the Danish territory was reduced by a third when Schleswig and Holstein were ceded to Germany. This led to a movement in Denmark with the motto "What is lost externally shall be regained internally", which resulted in the cultivation of moorlands and the draining of bays and inlets for farming purposes. North-Schleswig returned to Denmark following a plebiscite in 1920.
The Occupation 1940-1945
During the Second World War, Denmark was occupied by Germany in 1940-1945. Forced by circumstances during the German "peaceful occupation", King Christian X and the Danish government led by the Social Democrat Thorvald Stauning chose to collaborate with the occupying power. In this way, they hoped to create the easiest conditions for the population.
In 1943, Germany intensified its demands on the collaboration. This formally collapsed, but in connivance with the politicians, Danish civil servants continued the collaboration during the Heads of Departments Government. From 1943, the increasing popular resistance to the Germans created the basis for an underground movement. Denmark was the German-occupied country where the smallest number of Jews died: helped by, among others, the resistance movement, most of Denmark's Jewish population managed to escape to the neutral Sweden.

The Danish Constitution

Originating in the chieftain rule of the Viking Age, the Danish constitution was Absolute Monarchy, followed by Enlightened Absolutism 1660-1848. In 1848, the new King Frederik VII abolished Absolutism and the following year a free Constitution was codified. However, democracy did not fully unfold until 1901, when the provision that a government must not have a majority in parliament against it was introduced.

The Royal House

Since then, the royal family has, with great loyalty and subtlety, fulfilled the role of neutral mediating link between changing governments and as a dignified and popular, but entirely apolitical, uppermost superstructure on the Danish machinery
of power.
The current monarch, Queen Margrethe II, b.1940, is the daughter of King Frederik IX (1899-1972) and Queen Ingrid (1910-2000). She is married to the French count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, now Prince Henrik, b.1934. They have the sons Frederik, b.1968, who is the Crown Prince, and Joachim, b.1969.
In 2004, Crown Prince Frederik married Australian-born Mary Elizabeth Donaldson, b.1972. In 2005, they had a son, Prince Christian, who in accordance with the Constitution will succeed his father on the throne. On 21 April 2007, the couple had their second child, Princess Isabella.
In 1995, Prince Joachim married Alexandra Manley, born in Hong Kong in 1964. They have the sons Prince Nikolai, b.1999, and Prince Felix, b.2002. The couple divorced in 2005. In 2007 Alexandra married a commoner and she now has the title Countess of Frederiksborg. May 24 2008 Prince Joachim married Marie Cavallier, born in France, Paris, 1976.
The Queen was born a week after Denmark's occupation during the Second World War and already through the time of her birth became a bright spot for the population. As queen since 1972, she has adopted an open style and further increased the popularity of the monarchy with her informality, charm and artistic gifts. As a creative artist, she has, among other things, created several chasubles and designed the ballet "Et folkesagn" ("A Folk Tale") at The Royal Theatre in Copenhagen.
The two princes have received demanding academic educations and military training. Images treasured by the Danes include the two princes freefalling during their time in the air force and the Crown Prince on a four month sledge journey in the polar frost on Greenland.

The Danish Population

Denmark has a population of 5,511,451 (2009), distributed on 2.5m households and the number is almost constant these days. Immigrants and their descendants now constitute 9.1% of a population, which is otherwise very homogeneous and therefore highly coherent. The population density is high - 127 per sq. km.
The language spoken is Danish. It has many vowels - including the special letters æ, ø and å - and many significant glottal stops, which make it difficult for foreigners to learn Danish. Although the distance from the west coast of Jutland to the capital in the east is less than 300 km, there is a distinct division into dialects with associated alleged character differences - from the taciturn Jutlanders in the west through the garrulous natives of Funen in the middle to the Zealanders in the east, whose broad and drawling dialect calls to mind the fat lands owned by their ancestors. The metropolitan population speaks a flat and rapid language, suggesting that here the pace is fast and people do not put up with anything.
For every three marriages, there is a divorce. Thus, in 2005, there were 36.0 marriages per 1,000 unmarried men over 18 years of age and 14.0 divorces per 1,000 married men. The free and respected position of women was among other things demonstrated by their getting the vote in 1915 and already in 1908 for local elections.
The latest constitutional amendment in 1953 introduced female succession to the throne, although a prince will always precede his sister even if he is younger than she.

Gender Equality, Association Life and the Media

Denmark has still to experience a female Prime Minister. 37% of the members of the parliament, the Folketing, are women. Equal pay has to a considerable extent been achieved. Gender discrimination in job advertisements is prohibited. The public childcare system enhances women's opportunities to pursue a career outside the home. Around 95.7% of all children aged 3-5 are looked after in day-care institutions.
83.3% of the Danes belong to the Lutheran National Church. Moreover, church and state - politics and religion - are strictly separated in Denmark. The second- largest religious group is the Muslims, who constitute about 5% of the population.
There is no differential treatment in the education system. Muslim free schools receive public support in line with Danish schools. Danes form associations whenever they spot a sensible or enjoyable reason for doing so. Every third Dane has attended at least one association meeting within the last month.
Association life is also training in democracy. The Danes are newspaper readers. In the past, every major provincial town had a newspaper for each of the four main parties. The introduction of television led to many newspaper closures, but there are still over 30 daily newspapers and many district weeklies and trade papers.
A fresh threat to the traditional newspapers is the internet, where news is now reported almost as it is happening. This has made the newspapers themselves establish contact with their readers through the internet and at the same time restructure the printed editions to provide more opinion and background material. To achieve higher overall advertising revenue, the large newspaper groups also publish household distributed free papers.
"Estelle Mærsk" from the shipping company A.P. Møller-Mærsk - launched in 2006 - ploughs through one of the oceans. With its length of 397 metres, it and six similar sisters constitute a fleet of the world's largest container vessels. The vessel is shown here as a symbol of the entrepreneurial spirit and good investment climate in Denmark. Like many other well-known Danish companies, such as Danfoss, Lego and Grundfos, A.P. Møller-Mærsk started on a tiny scale, but has long since reached world format and now the second generation has taken over with great skill. The Danish Government wants to develop Denmark into a leading entrepreneurial nation. Newcomers do not have to look abroad for role models. Gentofte Gladsaxe Glostrup Greve Gribskov Guldborgsund Haderslev.

The Personality of the Danes

Common to all Danes is their tendency to take the ups and downs of life with a touch of irony, often self-irony. Foreign spouses in mixed marriages often complain that they find it difficult to understand what their partners really mean because they tend to say the opposite of what they think, in keeping with the nature of irony.
The tone between Danes is relaxed. Almost everyone is addressed by the informal "du". The formal "De" is rarely used and only when speaking to an older, distinguished person. In the schools, the pupils are on first-name terms with the teachers.
With an open economy and great dependence on what is happening in the surrounding world, the Danes have benefited from their open and international attitude. Thus they consistently support maximum free trade in the world.
Over the years, there have also been traces of local insularity, snobbery and conformity. It was best not to be different. "The Ugly Duckling" of the fairytale writer Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) is given a hard time because it is odd. The Danish- Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose (1899-1965) invented the concept "Janteloven" ("The Jante Law") with the bigoted rules he felt dominated his birthplace, a provincial town in Jutland. The (fictitious) rules include: "Do not imagine you are anything special" and "Do not imagine you can teach us anything".

The "Free Town" of Christiania

For a time, Denmark experienced very violent clashes between biker gangs such as Hells Angels and Bandidos, but through
the mediating intervention of the police, relative peace has descended since 1997. A hood ban has been introduced as one of the measures against riots by autonomous groups. The police do not use water cannons for street disturbances, although tear gas is sometimes used.
An area of Copenhagen, Christiania, has declared itself a "free town" and to a large extent observes its own laws and rules
of conduct. The authorities have now turned a blind eye to the experiment for more than 25 years, although the police occasionally carry out raids in the area. In the past year, the future of Christiania has once again been hotly debated.
Danish youth cannot be called phlegmatic. Nonetheless, the establishment in Denmark found it overwhelming when a conflict between young people and the Municipality of Copenhagen about a free youth centre in early 2007 resulted in street demonstrations and clashes with the police.

Denmark in Words and Figures

The gross domestic product per capita was $47,867 in 2005, which places Denmark in the top fifth of the EU countries. In addition to the state-funded welfare and security, Danes are materially well off - also in terms of their own means.
Out of 100 Danish households in 2006, 59 owned their house or flat, 11 also had a holiday home, 81 a washing machine,63 a dishwasher, 71 a microwave oven, 19 a flat screen television, 83 a video player, 94 a CD player, 83 a DVD player, 85 a home computer, 51 an answer-phone, 94 a mobile phone and 80 access to the internet. There is also free internet access in all libraries.
Traditionally, Denmark has been placed high on international barometers of quality of life. The welfare system pushes it up. However, it is pulled down by the average life expectancy of 75.6 years for men and 80.2 for women, which is lower than in Denmark's neighbouring countries. The experts attribute this to rich food, too little exercise (although many jog) and too much smoking. However, the health authorities act with campaigns on every front and in the past five years or so, the life expectancy has improved considerably.
Life in Denmark cannot be entirely unhealthy when the average height of the conscripts rose from 168.4 centimetres in 1896 to 180.9 centimetres in 2005. Cancer is the main cause of death(27.3% of the men, 25.7% of the women). Heart diseases account for 23.7% and 21.9% respectively, accidents 4.0% and 3.2%. 1.8% of the men and 0.7% of the women commit suicide.
The old myth of Denmark as a country with many suicides is greatly exaggerated. In 2004, 31 persons died of aids-related illnesses. Some 250 drug-related deaths are registered annually. Abortion was legalised in 1973. In 2005, there were 15,103 legal abortions, corresponding to 12.5 per 1,000 women aged 15-45.
In 1966, the ban on written pornography was lifted and in 1969, Denmark was the first country in the world to legalise picture pornography.

The Kingdom of Denmark

Denmark has never been a major colonial power, but it had small tropical colonies in Africa, Asia and the West Indies. Denmark was the first country in Europe to prohibit slave trading in 1793 (with effect from 1803), but that cannot explain away. Denmark's active participation in the human transport until then or the existence of slavery in the Danish West Indies until 1848.
In the North Atlantic, Denmark has ruled over Iceland, which withdrew from the union with Denmark in 1944. The Faroe Islands and Greenland, the world's largest island, are still part of the Danish Realm. There has been home rule on the Faroe Islands since 1948 and in Greenland since 1979. Neither territory is a member of the EU.
Both have two seats in the Folketing. The Faroe Islands are considering full independence from Denmark, to which the Danish Government has responded that Denmark would then phase out its economic support of the Islands over a shorter term than the Faroese wish.

The Political System

Until 1953, Denmark had a bicameral system. After the abolition of the Landsting, the Folketing remains. The voting age is 18.
The election period is four years, but the Prime Minister may call an election at any time. If the Folketing passes a vote of no confidence in the government, it must resign or call an election. Elections are by proportional representation.
135 seats are allocated on a constituency basis, which ensures an even distribution across the country, with a small advantage to sparsely populated areas. 40 supplementary seats ensure that parties with perhaps more dispersed support also have a chance of being elected. If a party cannot obtain 2% of the votes, it will not be represented in the Folketing. This minimum percentage is low in an international context.
For the last 20 years, the poll has varied between 82% and 88%.
Since 1909, no party has had an absolute majority. That is why the legislation is compromise-led and centre-seeking, which has given Danish politics the name "collaborative democracy". Since 1955, the Folketing has after every election nominated an Ombudsman, who may criticise the administration by the central and since 1998 also the local authorities. Around 200 new acts are passed every year.
The developments within for instance IT, traffic and hospital techniques necessitate larger administrative units in local politics and from 2007, Denmark's 271 municipalities has been consolidated into 98 larger municipalities, while the 13 counties have been replaced with 5 regions. In addition, the 54 police districts have been merged into 12 and the 82 city court districts into 24.
There have been both single-party and coalition governments. The Prime Minister has most often been a Social Democrat, thus Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, b.1943, was the Prime Minister in a series of centreleft governments from 1993 to 2001.

The Present Political Situation

The Government and Folketing are not leaning back comfortably to admire the robust welfare state they have created. They are aware that action is needed to protect the welfare at a time when the demographic development will result in more and more elderly people with fewer and fewer working age people to support them. In addition, Denmark has fully accepted globalisation as the new condition of life and working principle for the nations of the world.
The reforms to protect the welfare state are therefore in quick succession followed by initiatives to turn Denmark into a leading growth, knowledge and enterprise society. Some examples from the extensive catalogue of new activities:
Welfare: In order to create more workers to support the many elderly people, the age for early retirement has been raised from 60 to 62 and the state pension age from 65 to 67. They will be raised further if the average age continues to increase. -unemployed people must be available to the labour market more quickly and effectively than before. - Immigrants and their escendants must be integrated more effectively on the labour market. Among other things, the police are trying to recruit them. Workplace polls show that 87 of 100 ethnic Danes value their new colleagues and welcome them. - School children must decide on their choice of employment earlier and students must finish their studies more quickly. - The green card system must attract foreigners with useful knowledge.
Quality reform: All types of public service, such as hospitals, care for the elderly and other social services, must be made more effective and more user-friendly.
Globalisation: The Government has established a programme aimed at making Denmark world class within education, research and innovation within ten years. One of the decisions is that from 2010, publicly financed research must constitute 1% of GDP.
Education: Denmark's 12 universities and 15 research institutes will be merged into a smaller number, so that Denmark among other things gets three elite universities that bear comparison with the best in the world. Students who complete their studies quickly are given top marks simply for that. Studies should be finished before the age of 25.
Energy and environment: Denmark regards the UN decision to hold its 2009 Climate Summit in Copenhagen as a recognition of the country's attitude to environmental issues. The purpose of the Summit is to renew the epoch-making Kyoto Agreement of 1997. Denmark is already a world leader with regard to the exploitation of wind power and export of wind turbines and environmental protection equipment. Every second wind turbine in the world is manufactured in Denmark. The aim is that a third of Denmark's energy consumption will come from renewable sources by 2025. Already now (2005) the percentage is 15.5% - a figure attracting international attention. Increased energy self-sufficiency also has security policy implications.
Foreign policy: In extension of the already close collaboration in EU, UN, NATO and WTO, Denmark intends to strengthen its links with G8, ASEAN, ASEM, The Arab League, The African
Union and The Organisation of American States.
The reform programme is implemented on the basis of a national economy which is one of the strongest in Europe.
The economic growth was 2.2% in 2006 and is expected to be 2.1% in 2007. The rate of inflation was 1.8% in January 2007. The rate of unemployment was 2.8% in January 2007 - one of the lowest in Europe - and the figures for inflation, interest, public deficit and debt and currency stability, which are the EU indicators of a healthy economy, are all fully satisfactory. As a striking example, Denmark, which had had foreign debts since the Second World War, has been debt-free since 2006.

An Environmentally Aware Country

Denmark strongly advocates environmental protection and makes its own contribution. The motto is sustainable development. The economic growth must not damage the environment or put a strain on nature.
Means to achieve this include taxes on energy consumption and waste water discharge. Although it could reduce the CO2 emission, nuclear power will not be introduced in Denmark. 66% of all waste is recycled. The Danes use water sparingly, resulting in a usage reduction of almost 30% over the last 10 years.
The bathing water is clean. In 2004, bathing was only prohibited on 8.5 km of the total 5,400 km of bathing beach. The cars run on unleaded petrol. More than 6% of the farm land is cultivated organically. The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries conducts campaigns against salmonella and other threats to food healthiness and increasingly publishes the names of offenders. Shopkeepers and consumers together watch out for genetically modified food.
Animal welfare is also given a high priority. Unit trusts increasingly avoid investing in companies with a questionable working environment, child labour, etc. A state institution has sold its shares in a tobacco producing company.

Denmark and the World

During the history of Denmark, the image of the Danes has changed completely. The barbaric Viking has been replaced by the Danish UN soldier with a child on his arm in Kosovo or Eritrea.
The war against terrorism, peacekeeping, dissemination of democracy and support of developing countries are among the objectives given top priority in Danish foreign policy.
Among other things, this is achieved through membership of the UN (Denmark was a co-founder in 1945), NATO (since 1949), the Nordic Council (since 1952) and the EEC/EU (since 1973). In the European Commission, the Danish member, Mariann Fischer Boel, is Commissioner for Agriculture.

Danish Participation in International Actions

Measured by population, Denmark has sent out more soldiers and policemen than any other country in the world - more than 87,000 between 1948 and 2007 - to undertake peacemaking, peacekeeping and humanitarian tasks for the UN, NATO, OSCE and as EU monitors. So far, Denmark has reserved its position with regard to participation in the EU's military task force. Naturally, this is not a result of cowardice, but the general deliberations about the extent of Denmark's participation in EU.
By contrast, Danish troops are very active when Denmark itself is involved or goes into action as a member of NATO. Already in 1999, Danish fighter planes took part in NATO's Kosovo action. After the terrorist attack in the US on 11 September 2001, Denmark spontaneously and unconditionally supported the international reaction. From day one, Danish troops took part in the initially US-led and now NATO-led action in Afghanistan
against the Taleban and Al Qaeda, and the presence will be stepped up in 2007.
In Iraq, Danish troops participated in the action against Saddam Hussain's rule and the subsequent effort to prevent a civil war.
The Danish battalion will be withdrawn in 2007, but increased helicopter surveillance, military instruction and training of local police will continue in Baghdad. This active participation at the front shows a new side of Denmark, which has traditionally been a reticent and militarily cautious small country.
New foreign political initiatives generally have also been demonstrated in Denmark's condemnation of the human rights situation in China in 1997 and India's nuclear tests in 1999 as well as the conditions of the prisoners at the Guantanamo base.The development is reminiscent of Shakespeare's play "Hamlet", which is of course set in the Danish castle at Elsinore.
Initially the Danish prince Hamlet hesitates for a long time, but when it comes to the crunch, he acts. Accordingly, Denmark was an active member of the UN Security Council in 2005 and 2006. As chair of the Anti- Terror Committee, Denmark worked to make the Committee's work more targeted. Another result was an improvement of the UN's crisis management capacity.

The Danish Development Assistance

Denmark contributes large amounts to developing countries and has for many years complied with the UN request that a developed country should give at least 0.7% of its gross domestic product as development assistance. Moreover, Denmark abstains from demanding full export opportunities for the assistance.
Thus almost half the money is handed over to the UN and similar organisations for administration. Through its own direct development assistance, which goes for instance to 16 selected programme cooperation countries (ten in Africa, four in Asia and two in Latin America), Denmark seeks to benefit the poor, the women and the environment of the recipient country.
The former random aid projects have been superseded by a sector policy, so that support is given not to a single school, but the country's entire education system or agriculture or fishing, etc. 50.9% of the bilateral assistance goes to Africa, 26.5% to Asia, 9.4% to Latin America and 1.7% to the Balkans, while 11.5% is not country- specific. Recognising that any well-intentioned assistance effort can be overthrown by wars, corruption, etc., Denmark now imposes certain political conditions on its assistance. The Anders Fogh Rasmussen Government has reduced the assistance, but this will in no way impair Denmark's pioneering position as a leading donor country.
At the same time, the Government has initiated a close scrutiny of ongoing development and environmental projects in the third world to establish whether money is being wasted through corruption or the Danish assistance used against its purpose by dictatorships. Here too, the small country has thus abandoned its customary reticence. In addition, help is offered towards converting authoritarian regimes to democracy, for instance with the drafting of a new constitution and training in election technique. Denmark has also established a rehabilitation centre for victims of torture, which has received great international recognition.

Denmark and the EU

Since joining the EEC/EU in 1973 after a referendum where 63.3% voted in favour of membership, Denmark has worked for transparency in the EU decision-making, the inclusion of environmental concerns in all decisions, the creation of more jobs in Europe and the opening up of the EU to, among others, Central and Eastern Europe so that it does not become "a club
for the rich".
Above all, Denmark from the beginning advocated that the Baltic countries should be allowed to join the EU as soon as possible. In the EU, Denmark has likewise championed that the 20% of the Union's energy consumption must come from renewable sources by 2020 - a target adopted in March 2007. Denmark has signed the Schengen Agreement, which came into force in 2001 and allows completely free passage between a number of European countries.
The Danish Reservations towards the EU
The Danish population has always regarded the EU as an excellent forum for economic cooperation, but has only reluctantly accepted political integration.
As a result, the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 with its chapters on increased integration was only accepted at a Danish referendum in 1993, after the so-called Edinburgh Agreement had allowed Denmark to take a step back from the cooperation in four areas. This manifested itself in reservations on the final phase of the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and the euro, the defence political cooperation, an extension of the legal cooperation and union citizenship. In 2000, a referendum was held to test if the population was prepared to abandon one of the reservations - the change from krone to euro. The answer was no by 53.2% of the votes.
On the other hand, many Danes now regard the defence reservation as absurd. They find it inconsistent that their country participates in the war against terrorism or peacekeeping actions when UN or NATO-led, but not if the uniform happens to say EU.
The present Government will work towards the removal of the four Danish reservations, but will not call a referendum on the issue before it is almost certain that the Danes will approve.

Denmark and the Euro

Despite the rejection of the euro, many Danish companies are prepared to trade in euros if their trade partner so wishes. Many shops also accept euros and prices are often displayed both in kroner and euros. In addition, opinion polls show that the Danes now favour replacing the krone with the euro. The voters did not reject the euro in 2000 because they feared that Denmark could not meet the standards of economic health required of a euroland member. On the contrary, Denmark has for many years been better qualified than many of the current members.
The stable economy is primarily attributed to Denmark's change in 1982 from frequent devaluations to a fixed exchange rate policy. This tied the krone rate to the German mark. Now it is tied to the euro with a central rate of 7.46038 and an allowable fluctuation of 2.25% on either side. As one of its first actions, the Anders Fogh Rasmussen Government I in November 2001 confirmed its determination to plan economic policy, etc. so that the fixed exchange rate policy can continue.
Given its position outside the EMU and the euro, Denmark can no longer expect the same support as before from EU-partners in cases of assaults on the krone exchange rate by international speculators. That is why Denmark has to lead an economic policy which is even healthier and more stable than if it had joined Euroland.

Trade, Industry and Exports

Trade, Industry and Exports From the mid 1960s, industrial exports exceeded agricultural exports. A thousandyear old farming and fishing country was thus rapidly changing into a fully developed industrial nation, where airplanes, cars and heavy weapons are among the very few items not produced. However, farming has by no means ceased. It still feeds 15 million people, corresponding to for instance the total populations of London and Tokyo.
The rapid industrial development may seem baffling, as Denmark's only natural resources worth mentioning are oil and natural gas and these were only discovered recently, in the 1960s. However, the Danes have managed to extend the natural resources concept. Instead, milk, sugar beets, eggs and meat from the farms were used as natural resources.
They became the basis of a production of powdered milk, sugar, cakes, tinned meat, etc. For their processing, machines were needed, so the Danes also started producing - and exporting - these.
The export goods needed transportation.
This started a ship-building industry. The ships needed painting, so a paint and varnish industry developed. The goods needed to be kept cold during transport. This created a refrigeration industry. And so on and so forth. Seen from outside, this colossal industrial growth and constant ramification into new types of production may appear random, but in fact there was - as shown above - a strong, logical, inner coherence.

Danish Companies

International market leaders among Danish companies includes firms producing for instance cement-making machinery, hearing aids, enzymes for food processing and washing powder, water purification equipment, draught beer fittings, medical measuring instruments, insulin, wind turbines and much more.
The transformation into a post-industrial information society is already far advanced. Proofs of this include a large software export and the fact that service provision (public as well as private) has become by far the largest occupation, employing 38% of all workers.
An export branch that is becoming increasingly visible in the balance of payment is culture, including films such as the groundbreaking so-called Dogme films, bestseller books such as Peter Høeg's "Frøken Smillas fornemmelse for sne" ("Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow") and music successes such as the percussion duo Safri Duo and the pop duo Junior Senior.
The Genesis of Danish Companies Danish companies have their own genesis. They have often sprung from a good idea or a small invention which the inventor starts producing using his own savings. In this way, industry has become dispersed all over the country.If the inventor is in luck and has found a niche in the world market which has not previously been intensively cultivated by others, the small workshop in the village or provincial town can grow into an international corporation. This has been the development so far for companies such as Danfoss (thermostats), Grundfos (pumps) and Lego (toys). Denmark actively participates in globalisation. Many Danish firms buy foreign companies and foreign investors are welcomed in Denmark, where the low company tax (28%) is among the magnetic factors.
The industrial development benefits from the excellent Danish infrastructure. As an island country, Denmark has needed to build bridges between the regions. The engineers have created aesthetic masterworks such as the Farø and Great Belt bridges and Danish bridge-builders are now in demand for instance in the Far East.
A bridge-tunnel link between Denmark
and Sweden at Copenhagen and Malmö was opened in 2000. This is creating a regional force field, which will be particularly attractive to pharmaceutical companies from many countries. The name Medicon Valley is already being used.
Nonetheless, the full explanation of how the farming and fishing country Denmark has turned into a fully developed industrial nation without the help of natural resources perhaps still eludes us?
From Adscription to Cooperative Movement
The last part of the explanation is the high quality of the Danish workforce combined with the above-mentioned flexicurity model on the labour market . In the 18th century, the Danes were a cowed people. The farm workers were serfs and not allowed to move from the landowner's property. For fear of evil powers and the dark of night, the farms were placed in a protected cluster, far from the fields.
Through farsighted political efforts during Absolutism, adscription was abolished and the peasants liberated in 1788. This created a type of free farmer who dared to place his farm at the point of production. The same free-born attitude spread to the workers in the towns when industrialisation emerged.
The spiritual liberation was given added impetus by N.F.S. Grundtvig. He was the father of further education for young people, especially from the country - the so-called folk high schools, the first of which opened in 1844 - where the young learned to value and use the spoken word and freedom of thought.
Self-aware as they now were, they became able farmers, who also respected their neighbours, so that they could join together in groups on a cooperative basis around production, breeding and export with equal voting rights for all irrespective of the size of their land or herd. The folk high school concept and the cooperative movement have both been imitated in many countries and are among the offers to countries receiving Danish development assistance.

The Labour Market

Apart from what has been said above about the flexicurity model, the following points are worth noting:
● Danish workers are mainly organised according to industry, rarely religion.
● Denmark opposes abuse of children, which sometimes occurs in connection with child labour in developing countries, but in fact, many children in Denmark work, as 26% of the 7-14 year old have spare time jobs. However, this is entirely on their own initiative, in order to earn money for fashionable clothes, mobile phones, CDs, etc.
● Some of the latest collective bargaining decisions have been an increase of the annual holiday from five to six weeks at some workplaces, an increased proportion of the wages set aside for pensions and increased access to further education. In the new agreements in 2007, many industries introduced three weeks' paternity leave on full pay. Woman already have four weeks' pregnancy leave and 20 weeks' maternity leave.


School attendance is not compulsory in Denmark, but nine years of education are. As a result, 13% of the children are taught outside the state school system in private independent schools, which may receive up to 70% government subsidy. The elementary and lower secondary school is comprehensive, i.e. the children are not divided up on the basis of ability or social background. The average percentage of bilingual children, especially children from immigrant families, is 8.2%, but in some boroughs in large cities it can reach a third. Formerly, pupils wanting to continue in upper secondary school had to be vouched for by the school they were leaving. From 2001, this is no longer necessary - the pupils decide themselves.
For the cultural area, a catalogue - the so-called canon - has been created of important Danish works through the ages within literature, painting, music, architecture, etc. It is not compulsory, for instance for school children, to know all the works, but the list is intended to guide and inspire both young and old.
Almost all education is a free benefit as part of the welfare system. From the age of 18, young people receiving education may obtain public support, the so-called State Educational Grant SU (Statens Uddannelsesstøtte), of up to DKK 4,852 per month, so that no one is precluded from further education because of social or economic status.
As part of the efforts to increase the workforce, the state educational grant will be adapted to encourage quicker completion of studies. Local authorities and political educational associations offer extensive evening education opportunities for adults.

The Social System

The social system acts as a fine-meshed safety net under the Dane from birth to death. The many individual benefits include maternity and parent leave, which the parents may choose to share.
It is regarded as an advantage - both for the individual and the exchequer - if people weakened by illness or age remain in their own homes as long as possible. Here, elderly people can receive home help from the local authority. If that is not sufficient, they are offered protected housing or nursing home accommodation.
The welfare system does not escape criticism. The hygiene at the hospitals has been criticised and improved. Treatment guarantees have been issued for life-threatening illnesses such as cancer and heart disease, but nonetheless waiting times do occur.
Sick people who cannot be treated in Denmark within the guaranteed time-limit are now offered treatment abroad at the public expense.


The Danes have made their contribution to solving the mysteries of the universe, nature and the human body.
As examples may be mentioned that Ole Rømer (1644-1710) calculated the speed of light, that Niels Stensen (1638-1686), among other things, founded geology as a science and made important anatomical discoveries, that H.C. Ørsted (1777-1851) discovered electro-magnetism and that Niels Bohr (1885-1962) was one of the theorists who had a decisive influence on quantum mechanics and among other things made the development of nuclear weapons and the exploitation of nuclear power possible.
Thomas Bartholin (1616-1680) discovered the human lymphatic vessels and Niels Finsen (1860-1904) proved that rays of light have a healing effect on skin diseases. In addition, Henrik Dam (1895-1976) discovered vitamin K and Johannes Fibiger (1867-1928) demonstrated that cancer can be caused by external factors, such as contact with tar products.

Arts and Culture


Denmark has never been a major colonial power, but it had small tropical colonies in Africa, Asia and the West Indies. Denmark was the first country in Europe to prohibit slave trading in 1793 (with effect from 1803), but that cannot explain away.
Denmark's active participation in the human transport until then or the existence of slavery in the Danish West Indies until 1848. In the North Atlantic, Denmark has ruled over Iceland, which withdrew from the union with Denmark in 1944. The Faroe Islands and Greenland, the world's largest island, are still part of the Danish Realm. There has been home rule on the Faroe Islands since 1948 and in Greenland since 1979. Neither territory is a member of the EU.
Both have two seats in the Folketing. The Faroe Islands are considering full independence from Denmark, to which the Danish Government has responded that Denmark would then phase out its economic support of the Islands over a shorter term than the Faroese wish.

Music, Film and Ballet

The composer Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) is becoming increasingly popular in concert halls all over the world. So is the
recently discovered Rued Langgaard (1893- 1952).In the world of jazz, the violinist Svend Asmussen, b.1916, belongs to the world elite and the double bass player Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (1946-2005) was in great demand internationally. The pianist Victor Borge (1909-2000) was a much-loved entertainer all over the world. His philosophy of life was that a smile reduces the distance between people.
Danish cinema had a golden age during the silent film period, among others with Carl Th. Dreyer's (1889-1968) film about the passion and death of Joan of Arc.
In this new millennium, the spotlight is again sweeping over Danish cinema, with several directors winning Oscars and Golden Palms, including Bille August, b.1948, and a new generation of directors headed by Lars von Trier, b.1956, charging ahead with their so-called Dogme films.
Danish actors are receiving offers from Hollywood. Iben Hjejle, b.1971, appeared in "High Fidelity" and "Dreaming of Julia". Viggo Mortensen, b.1958, among other things played Aragon in "Lord of the Rings", and Mads Mikkelsen, b.1965, is the villain in the James Bond film "Casino Royale".
Another Danish strength is television drama series. They have won Denmark Emmy Awards for series such as "Nikolaj og Julie" ("Nikolaj and Julie"), "Rejseholdet" ("The Flying Squad"), "Ørnen" ("The Eagle") and "Unge Andersen" ("Young
Danish humour flourishes in film series such as "Olsen Banden" ("The Olsen Gang") and television series such as "Matador" ("Magnate"), which has many viewers also outside Denmark as do many Danish films for children. Within ballet, August Bournonville (1805-1879) as ballet master at The Royal Theatre raised Danish ballet to an international standing that has not faded.

Visual Arts

Danish painters from the first half of the 19th century, the so-called Golden Age, are experiencing an international renaissance. Over the years, painters have often joined together regionally. Groups such as the Skagen Painters and the Funen Painters now have their own, well-attended museums. Asger Jorn (1914-1973) co-founded the international Cobra group (named after Copenhagen, Bruxelles and Amsterdam).
Major contemporary names include Bjørn Nørgaard, b.1947, who, among other things, has designed tapestries featuring the history of Denmark as a birthday present for Queen Margrethe, and Per Kirkeby, b.1938.
The sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844) preferred to work in Rome, where his marble statues are seen for instance in St Peter's.

Design, Applied Art and Architecture

The Danes are world-famous for applied art and design within a broad spectrum of fashion, furnishing fabrics, furniture, silverware, porcelain and jewellery.
The silversmith Georg Jensen (1866-1935) created magnificent hollowware and cutlery. The architect Poul Henningsen (1894-1967) explored the effects of light and designed lamps which are outstanding in terms of lighting technique and aesthetics.
Jacob Jensen, b.1926, designs radios and televisions, telephones, cars, etc., and some of his works have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The Lego toy bricks familiarise the Danes with appealing design already in the nursery.
Together with deeply quality-conscious craftsmen, furniture designers such as Hans J. Wegner, b.1914, have made Danish furniture synonymous with sophisticated design and comfort. Thousands of international customers include the UN Security Council. The sense of design also benefits less obvious products such as industrial machinery, public signage and much else.
Danish architects make their mark outside their native country as well. Jørn Utzon, b.1918, designed Sydney Opera House, Johan Otto von Spreckelsen (1929-1987) the Grande Arche in Paris, Arne Jacobsen (1902-1971) St Catherine's College in Oxford and Henning Larsen, b.1925, the Foreign Ministry in Riyadh.
The firm of architects 3XNielsen has designed the highly acclaimed new Danish embassy in Berlin.


The Danish national sport is football and Danish players are often to be found in the line-up of great European clubs, such as AC Milan, Chelsea, Inter, etc.
Other strong Danish disciplines, for instance at the Olympics, include women's handball, yachting, rowing, swimming, cycling and badminton. With Ulrik Wilbek as national coach, Denmark has won international handball championship medals, first for women and later for men.