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.

The Kingdom of Denmark includes the territories of the Faroe Islands and Greenland.


  • Capital: Copenhagen
  • Area: 42,926 sq km (Denmark)
  • Population: 5.9 million (Denmark)
  • Languages: Danish, Faroese, Greenlandic, German
  • Life expectancy: 79 years (men) 83 (women)


Queen: Margrethe II

Denmark's Queen Margrethe and Prince Consort Henrik
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.

She announced she would abdicate on 14 January 2024, 52 years to the day since she became queen, in a December 2023 television address. Her son, Crown Prince Frederik, will become king.

Prime Minister: Mette Frederiksen

Danish PM Mette Frederiksen

Social Democrat leader Mette Frederiksen led her party back to power in the June 2019 general election, ending four years of centre-right rule.

She campaigned on a combination of traditional centre-left calls for stronger welfare policies, combined with a promise to be tough on immigration.

She took over the party leadership in 2015, when her predecessor and Denmark’s first woman prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, lost power.

Taking office at the age of 41, she is the youngest prime minister in Danish history.


Danish TV crew covering a story

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. Facebook is the top social media destination.


Kronborg Castle in Helsingor, Denmark
Image caption,Kronborg Castle in Helsingor, immortalized as “Elsinore” in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet

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.

1814 – Denmark cedes Norway to Sweden.

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

1914-18 – Denmark is neutral during World War One.

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.

1953 – Constitutional change leads to a single-chamber parliament elected by proportional representation; female accession to the Danish throne is permitted; Greenland becomes integral part of Denmark.

1959 – Denmark joins European Free Trade Association.

1973 – Denmark joins the European Economic Community.

1972 – King Frederick IX dies and is succeeded by his daughter Margrethe II.

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.

2008 – Greenland referendum approves plans to seek more autonomy from Denmark and a greater share of oil revenues off the island’s coast.

2009 – Denmark plans to set up an Arctic military command and task force because the melting ice cap is opening access to Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

2014 – Denmark submits a claim to territory around the North Pole to a United Nations panel gathering evidence to determine control of the region.

2018 – Denmark bans the wearing of face veils in public.

The Nyhavn harbour area of Copenhagen

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