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Country profile: Denmark

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Map of Denmark

The kingdom of Denmark has despite its relatively small size often 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 recent times Denmark has been known for its modern economy and extensive welfare system while enjoying an often difficult relationship
with the European Union.



The Danes rejected the euro as the national currency in a referendum in September 2000. Analysts believe that Danish fears of loss of political independence and national sovereignty outweighed any economic arguments about the benefits of joining the eurozone.

Copenhagen - waterfront view
Maritime trade fuelled Copenhagen's growth

Denmark's euroscepticism put it at odds with many of its European partners
seven years previously when Danish voters rejected the Maastricht Treaty
which proposed monetary union and a common European defence force.
Denmark had to be granted opt-outs from these provisions before the
treaty was approved in 1993.

The Social Democrats led a string of coalition governments for most of the second half of the last century in a country generally known for its liberal traditions.

Poul Schluter then became the first-ever Danish prime minister representing the Conservative People's Party in 1982 leading a centre-right coalition until 1993 when he was succeeded by the Social Democrat Poul Nyrup Rasmussen.

A new centre-right coalition headed by Anders Fogh Rasmussen came to power
in November 2001 promising tighter immigration controls.

Denmark has won plaudits for running a healthy economy. Its employment levels are the envy of many industrialised countries and it accommodates a competitive economic edge as well as a generous social security system.

Danish cinema has won international recognition not least for its willingness to experiment. Through the late 1990s and early 2000s the Dogme movement directors often used hand-held cameras to dynamic effect in a conscious reaction against high-tech big-budget cinema.

Greenland and the Faroe Islands are self-governing territories of Denmark.


  • Full name: Kingdom of Denmark
  • Population: 5.5 million (UN 2009)
  • Capital: Copenhagen
  • Area: 43098 sq km (16640 sq miles)
  • Major language: Danish
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 76 years (men) 81 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 krone = 100 ore
  • Main exports: Machinery and equipment foodstuffs chemicals
  • GNI per capita: US $59130 (World Bank 2008)
  • Internet domain: .dk
  • International dialling code: +45


Queen: Margrethe II

Prime minister: Lars Lokke Rasmussen

Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen

Mr Rasmussen took over from Anders Fogh Rasmussen as prime minister and acting leader of the Liberal Party when the latter was elected NATO secretary-general in April 2009.

He had served as interior health and since 2007 finance minister in Mr Fogh Rasmussen's successive centre-right coalition governments having previously been mayor of Fredriksborg County.

He was responsible for a major reorganisation of local government in 2007 and a scheme to cut hospital waiting lists by allowing patients to be treated in private hospitals if the state health service could not treat them within a certain time limit.

In February 2009 he negotiated a major tax reform that saw income tax cut at the expense of higher taxes on pollution. The opposition Social Democrats said the measure benefited higher earners and did little for those on lower salaries.

Born in 1964 and a lawyer by profession Mr Rasmussen has been involved in the Liberal Party since his student days.


Denmark's public broadcaster Danmarks Radio (DR) operates two TV networks and national and regional radio stations. It is funded by a licence fee.

TV2 a government-owned commercial broadcaster operates regional outlets and an internet-based on-demand service. Private stations are available via satellite and cable.

There are some 250 local commercial and community radio stations. Two commercial networks one national and one semi-national were launched in 2003 and quickly gained large audiences.

Freedom of expression is provided for in law. This principle was reiterated by the Jyllands-Posten daily amid a backlash by some Muslims in early 2006 over its publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

The images sparked violent protests in some countries as well as unofficial boycotts of Danish goods.

The press


  • DR TV - public operates DR1 and DR2
  • TV2 - state-owned national
  • TV3 - private satellite/cable
  • Kanal 4 - private satellite/cable


News agency








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