Denmark History

Denmark History

Country data

Area: 42,925 km2 (world ranking: 130)

Residents: 5,770,000

Population density: 134 per km2 (as of 2017, world ranking: 112)

Capital: København (Copenhagen)

Official languages: Danish

Gross domestic product: 288.4 billion euros; Real growth: 2.2%

Gross national product (GNP, per resident and year): 55,220 US$

Currency: 1 Danish krone (dkr) = 100 Øre


Rauchstr. 1, 10787 Berlin
Telephone 030 50502000,
Fax 030 50502050

Head of State: Margrethe II., Head of Government: Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Outside: Anders Samuelsen

National holiday: 16.4. (Birthday of Queen Margrethe II.) And 5.6. (Constitution Day 1849)

Administrative structure
5 regions

State and form of government
Constitution of 1953
Parliamentary monarchy
Parliament (Folketing) with 179 members (including 2 representatives from Greenland and the Faroe Islands), election every 4 years.
Suffrage from 18 years.

Population: Danes, last census 2011 : 5,560,628 residents. Proportion of foreigners 2017: 8.4%

Cities (with population): Nuuk (Danish Godthab) As of 2018: 17,796 residents.

Religions: 77% Lutherans (Evangelical Lutheran Church is national church), 5% Muslims; Minorities of Catholics, other Protestants and others (as of 2006)

Languages: Danish; Recognized minority language: German (partly school language in North Schleswig)

Employed by the: agricultural sector. 3%, industry 19%, business 78% (2017)

Unemployment (in% of all labor force): 2017: 5.7%

Inflation rate (in%): 2017: 1.1%

Foreign trade: import: 82.4 billion euros (2017); Export: 90.8 billion euros (2017)

Early history to the Middle Ages

Denmark is one of the oldest countries in Europe. Presumably coming from southern Sweden, Danes invaded the land previously inhabited by Germanic tribes in the 6th century and founded kingships. After King Göttrik had built the Danewerk against the Franks at the beginning of the 9th century, the founder of the state, respected Grom the Old, united large parts of today’s territory into one empire around 950. His son Harald Blauzahn was baptized in 960, paving the way for the Christianization of the country. In the following century the Danish Vikings were feared all over Europe and their forays brought them to the coasts of France, Portugal, Italy, England, Norway and southern Sweden. During this time Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Norway were conquered.

  • COUNTRYAAH: See current national flag of Denmark. Download high definition image, and learn flag meanings as well as the history of Denmark flags.

The North Sea empire that emerged in this way broke up in the middle of the 10th century and many of the possessions were lost. After Norwegian dominance in the meantime, Waldemar the Great initiated a new Danish power era in the mid-12th century, in which, among other things, the pagan turns in Mecklenburg and Pomerania as well as Holstein and Estonia were defeated and occupied. A second great Viking Empire emerged within 50 years, but was largely lost again with the Battle of Bornhöved in 1227. The dominance of the Hanseatic League began in the Baltic Sea.

In 1389 Queen Margaret I united Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland under the Danish crown. This so-called Kalmar Union officially held until 1523, when it finally fell apart with the independence of Sweden, in fact it existed until 1448. Unlike Sweden, Norway remained closely linked to Denmark.

Modern times

According to AbbreviationFinder, the end of the Kalmar Union between 1523 and 1660 also brought about a change in power politics within the Scandinavian states. Sweden gained weight and Denmark lost more provinces and countries to its Scandinavian rivals.

In 1536 the Lutheran Reformation was introduced and in 1660 Denmark was turned into an inheritance monarchy against the resistance of the nobility. In 1665, monarchical absolutism was established by constitution. Absolutism in the second half of the 18th century was characterized by reforms. Liberation of peasants and equalization brought social peace.

19th century

British sea attacks on Copenhagen in 1801 and 1807 forced the Danes to deliver their fleet and join Napoleon. Napoleon’s defeat in the 1814 peace of Kiel resulted in the handover of Heligoland to Great Britain and from Norway to Sweden.

The national contrast between the Danes and the Germans in Schleswig-Holstein began in the mid-19th century. In 1848 there was the 1st German-Danish War, in which the Schleswig-Holsteiners, who were pressing for independence from Denmark, were defeated. The great European powers, however, forced the Danes to leave the inferior duchies in an independent position. In Denmark, the constitutional monarchy with a liberal constitution replaced the absolute monarchy in 1849, and in 1863 the constitutional amalgamation of Schleswig with Denmark began. The country developed into a successful agricultural state. The political contrasts, especially with Prussia, triggered the Second German-Danish War of 1864 and Denmark lost the Duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg.

The following governments pursued strict neutrality in foreign policy, an attitude that applied until the Second World War. Domestically, a period of far-reaching reforms began, and with the first fruitful cooperation between left and right-wing political forces, the beginnings were laid for the Danish model of cooperation. Due to the strong influence of the Social Democratic Party (founded in 1871), the end of the 19th century saw the adoption of a social legislative body with unemployment insurance, accident insurance and pension schemes.

20th century

In 1915 a democratic constitution was passed, which introduced, among other things, the right to vote for women. After the First World War, North Schleswig came to Denmark on the basis of a referendum set out in the Versailles Treaty. The welfare state that emerged in recent years was expanded into an exemplary welfare state in the 1920s, above all by the Social Democratic Prime Minister Stauning.

Despite a signed non-aggression pact, Denmark was occupied by German troops in 1940. At the same time, the Allies occupied Iceland, which used this fact in 1944 to declare independence. The increasing civil resistance in the years of occupation led the German Reich to put Denmark under martial law in 1943. Nevertheless, the Danes managed to allow around 7,000 Jews at risk of deportation to flee to Sweden.

  • HomoSociety: introduces social conditions of Denmark, including labor market, insurance, healthcare, gender equality and population information.

After the war, the Marshall Plan also got the Danish economy going again. Denmark participated in the establishment of important international institutions: in 1945 the country was a co-founder of the UN, in 1949 it joined the Council of Europe and NATO, in 1952 it became a founding member of the Nordic Council, in 1960 it joined EFTA, but was then voted through a referendum in 1973 member of the EC.

After the death of Frederick IX. in 1972 his daughter Margarethe II ascended the throne. Until 1973 mostly social democrats formed the government, from then on Denmark was predominantly governed by minority cabinets under the leadership of the social democrats. From 1982 followed eleven years with conservative-liberal governments, until 1993 the Social Democrats came to power again with a center-left government.

There was a shift to the right in the 2001 parliamentary elections: the right-wing liberal party “Venstre” under Anders Fogh Rasmussen defeated the ruling Social Democrats; the third strongest faction was the right-wing nationalist Danish People’s Party (DF). The party of the new prime minister AF Rasmussen formed a minority government with the conservatives, which was supported by the DF. In May 2002, the parliament approved the tightening of asylum and aliens law. In 2007, Rasmussen’s Venstre party lost some seats in the early parliamentary elections, but the Rasmussen government remained in office, although weakened. When Rasmussen was appointed NATO Secretary General in 2009, Lars Løkke Rasmussen took office.

Opinions on the highly controversial domestic issue of relations with the EU run across the parties. One example of this is the ratification of the Maastricht Treaty, which was first rejected in a referendum in 1992 and then adopted in renegotiations. In 1998 the population approved the Amsterdam EU Treaty in a referendum, but in 2000 the introduction of the euro was rejected. Denmark is one of the most prosperous countries in the world at the beginning of the 21st century. Although part of the EU, it is, like Great Britain, one of the more reserved and sovereign nations.

In September 2005, caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, triggered violent protests in Islamic countries. In the years that followed, attacks on the editors and caricaturists were carried out several times and suspects were arrested.

For Denmark, the global financial and economic crisis was particularly noticeable due to declining export earnings. However, it bottomed out in 2009 and since then Denmark has seen a slight economic upswing. Nevertheless, the government decided in 2010 to implement numerous austerity measures to curb public debt.

Since the parliamentary elections in 2011, the minority government has again consisted of the Social Democrats (SD), the Social Liberals (RV) and the People’s Socialists (SF). The government works closely with the left unity list (E).

Denmark President