Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Recent studies have revealed that the Danes are the happiest people on earth. They currently enjoy a thriving economy, outstanding health care, and several of the world's best universities. In addition, the culture is beautiful, the architecture sublime, and the cuisine among the best in Europe. Although Denmark has never been a major world power, it has controlled vast empires, and now has considerable influence in NATO and the European Union.

Total Area: 16,629 sq. miles (as large as Maryland and Virginia combined)
Population: 5,432,335
Languages: Danish, Faroese, Greenlandic
Monetary Unit: Danish krone
Capital: Copenhagen
Prime Minister: Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Christianized in the 11th Century, Denmark ruled a great northern empire that included Greenland, England, Norway, Iceland, and the Faeroe Islands. Danish trade stretched from Russia to Egypt, and was the envy of the medieval world.

Growing discord between the Danish crown and nobility led to a struggle in which King Eric V was compelled to sign a charter, now known as the Danish Magna Carta. By the terms of this charter, the crown was made subject to the law, and the national assembly, or Danehof, shared power with the king.
Beginning in 1380, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden were combined under one king, called the Kalmar Union. Denmark was the dominant national power in the union, which endured until 1523, when Sweden won its independence.

The Reformation triumphed in Denmark, and the Lutheran church was established as the state religion. The intervention of Denmark in the religious struggles in Germany on behalf of the Protestant cause led to Danish participation in the Thirty Years' War.

Commercial rivalry with Sweden for control of trade on the Baltic Sea resulted in the indecisive War of Kalmar (1611-1613) and the Swedish Wars (1643-1660), in which Denmark was badly defeated. Economic woes, brought on by these costly wars, had far-reaching consequences in Denmark. The power of the nobility was diminished, feudalism ended, and the monarchy became nearly absolute.

The 18th century saw renewed prosperity, as colonies were established in Greenland, the West Indies, and the Far East. Demand for more equitable government led to the drafting of a new constitution in 1849.

The country was neutral during World War I, sold the Virgin Islands to the US in 1917, and surrendered to Germany without a fight when invaded during World War II. Niels Bohr made fundamental contributions to mankind's understanding of atomic structure, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1922.

In the 1950s, Denmark adopted a program of free enterprise, high taxes, and an extensive social welfare system. The general revival of the world economy, combined with shrewd government, led to renewed growth and low inflation.

In 2006, a Danish newspaper caused international outrage by printing a cartoon depicting Mohammed as a terrorist, and implying that Islam is a savage religion.

Hans Christian Andersen lived in Odense, Denmark. His fairy tales have been translated into over 150 languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide. Among them are The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid.
Shakespeare's fictional prince Hamlet was Danish. Famous Danes include Metallica's drummer Lars Ulrich, and Aqua, whose hit song Barbie Girl dominated pop music in 1997.

Click here for my previous posts on Nations of the World.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some mistakes here: I'll just mention one to begin with.. Norway was independent in the 11th century. Even though Norway joined a personal union with Denmark and Sweden, Norway was given to Sweden in 1814 because Denmark-Norway had lost in the Napoleonic war. Greenland and Iceland which originally were Norwegian were not included in the deal and therefore stayed Danish.

love your writings!