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A modern, progressive nation, Denmark has long abandoned the less sophisticated ways of its Viking heritage. What highlights Denmark as an attractive place to visit is the lack of obstinate over-development and polluted modernity: its capital and largest city, Copenhagen is a thriving cosmopolitan city, but one which reveals the Danes' remarkable sensitivity to environmental aesthetics. Water fountains, parks and gardens abound; historical architecture remains superbly intact; and running through the city center is the world's longest pedestrian mall.
Denmark also boasts Scandinavia's oldest town, at Ribe. Ribe is a good place to visit if you want an insight into Danish history: not only because of its various museums heralding Viking artifacts, but also because of its relative lack of development over the last few centuries, leaving it much like it was three centuries ago.
People lived in the area of present-day[update] Denmark more than 100,000 years ago, but probably had to leave because of the ice-cap that spread over the land during the period of the Weichsel glaciation (ca 70,000 BC to ca 12,000 BC). Traces of permanent human habitation in Denmark exist from around 12,000 BC; agricultural settlers made inroads around 3,000 BC.
The exact origins of the Danish nation have been lost in the mists of time. However, a short note about the Dani in "The Origin and Deeds of the Goths" from 551 by historian Jordanes is believed by some to be an early mention of the Danes, one of the ethnic groups from whom the modern Danish people are descended. During the 8th–11th centuries, the Danish people were amongst those known as Vikings. Viking explorers first discovered and settled Iceland in the 9th century, on their way toward the Faroe Islands. From there, Greenland and Vinland (probably Newfoundland) were also settled. During the Viking period the Danes became a great power based on the Jutland Peninsula, the island of Zealand, and the southern part of present-day Sweden. In the early 11th century King Canute (died in 1035) ruled Denmark and England as a single realm for almost 20 years.
The Reformation, which originated in the German lands in the early 16th century from the ideas of Martin Luther (1483-1546), had a considerable impact on Denmark. The Danish Reformation started in the mid-1520s. Some Danes wanted access to the Bible in their own language. In 1524 Hans Mikkelsen and Christiern Pedersen translated the New Testament into Danish; it became an instant best-seller. Denmark grew wealthy during the sixteenth century, largely because of the increased traffic through the Øresund, which Danes could tax because Denmark controlled both sides of the Sound. The trade in grain exports from Poland to the Netherlands and to the rest of Europe grew enormously at this time, and the Danish kings did not hesitate to cash in on it. The Sound duty was only repealed in the 1840s.
The Danish economy benefited from the Eighty Years' War (1568-1648) in the Netherlands because a large number of skilled refugees from that area (the most economically advanced in Europe) came to Denmark. This helped to modernize many aspects of society and to establish trading links between Denmark and the Netherlands.
For most of the 18th century, Denmark was at peace. The only time when war threatened was in 1762 when the Duke of Gottorp became Tsar Peter III of Russia and declared war on Denmark. But he was soon deposed, and the threat ended. Throughout the 18th century the Danish economy did very well, largely on the basis of expanded agricultural output to meet growing demand across Europe. Danish merchant ships also traded around Europe and the North Atlantic, venturing to new Danish colonies in the Caribbean and North Atlantic, like the current US Virgin Islands, Faroer and Greenland, but also coastal areas in India and Ghana. Danish control ended for most of the colonies in the 19th and early 20th century, though up until now Faroer and Greenland are still influenced by the mother country Denmark.
Germany's invasion of Denmark on 9 April 1940 – code named Operation Weserübung – met only two hours of military resistance before the Danish government surrendered. Economic co-operation between Germany and Denmark continued until 1943, when the Danish government refused further co-operation and its navy sank most of its ships and sent as many of their officers as they could to Sweden.
Iceland severed ties to Denmark and became an independent republic, and in 1948, the Faroe Islands gained home rule. After the war, Denmark became one of the founding members of the United Nations and NATO, and in 1973, along with Britain and Ireland, joined the European Economic Community (now the European Union) after a public referendum. Since then, Denmark has proven a hesitant member of the European community, opting out of many proposals, including the Euro which it rejected in a referendum in 2000.
Denmark is a small flat peninsula. There are also several islands that are connected by bridges or boats, including the road towards Sweden. Denmark shares international borders with Germany to the south (68 kilometres) and Sweden to the east (by bridge). It covers a total 43,094 square kilometres. Denmark's northernmost point is Skagens point and the southernmost is Gedser point; the westernmost point is Blåvandshuk and the easternmost point is Østerskær. This is in the archipelago Ertholmene 18 kilometres northeast of Bornholm. Denmark consists of the peninsula of Jutland and 443 named islands of which 72 are inhabited, the largest being Zealand and Funen. The island of Bornholm is located east of the rest of the country, in the Baltic Sea. Many of the larger islands are connected by bridges; the Øresund Bridge connects Zealand with Sweden; the Great Belt Bridge connects Funen with Zealand; and the Little Belt Bridge connects Jutland with Funen. Denmark has an average height of 31 metres above sea level, making it one of the flattest countries in the world. The highest natural point is Møllehøj, at 171 metres.
Denmark is divided into 5 administrative regions.
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Christiansø Island in Ertholmene is an island in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Denmark. Since the Middle Ages fishermen used these islands as place of shelter. In the late 17th century Denmark needed a naval base in the central Baltic Sea against Sweden. Therefore the Danes built two large naval bases one on Christiansø and the other on Frederiksø. The outposts were used from 1684 to 1810 and the population dropped greatly after that. Today the population is around 96 people and they live mainly in the old fortresses. For a romantic weekend couples can even rent rooms in the old fortresses for a few nights.
One of the most recognisable landmarks of Copenhagen is the famous statue of the little mermaid. It is situated in the harbour of the city, which means it's a pretty long walk (30-45 minutes) from the center of Copenhagen to the statue. If you don't feel walking that far, note that most of the channel tours have a route that takes you along the statue. The statue was placed in Copenhagen in 1913, as a gift from Carl Jacobsen, who was impressed by the performance of the little mermaid that he had seen earlier. The statue was made by Edvard Eriksen.
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Møns Klint (Cliffs of Møns) are impressive bright chalk cliffs stretching 6 km down the coast from Liselund. Some of these sheer cliffs are over a 120 m dropping drastically into the sea. Møns is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe with hundreds of thousands of visitors a year. There are several great and clearly marked paths for hikers, riders and cyclists.
Råbjerg Mile is a natural sand dune that is being allowed to do its thing. That means the sand dune is slowly moving north-easterly 18 m every year. As it travels across the land scape it is leaving behind a moist layer of sand that can be followed back to were it started over 300 years ago. The sand dune lies between Skagen and Frederikshavn.
Ribe is one of the country's highlights. A small town with just over 8,000 people, this is the oldest town of Denmark and one of the oldest places anywhere in Scandinavia. Spend a few nights in this wonderfully preserved old town, just walking around the old and narrow streets and admiring the beautiful homes, the cathedral, castle and some great museums about art and vikings.
Trelleborg is the collective name for six viking villages and forts that are located in present day northern Denmark and southern Sweden. Most of them were built in the late 10th and early 11th century. These impressive towns helped to rain havoc on most of the Northern Europe for several years. Many of the ones in Denmark are located near present day Limfjorden, Hobro, Odense and Slagelse.
Denmark has a maritime climate and is in fact a transition zone between the warmer parts south of the country, like Germany and the colder ones (especially in winter) to the north, like Sweden. Most of the country has the same climate and weather and differences are only marginal. For example, the western parts of the country are just slightly wetter and cooler than the parts to the east (although it is a bit warmer in winter, because of the influence of the sea). Temperatures in summer (June to August) are between 18 °C and 22 °C, around 13 °C or 14 °C at night. Winters are mostly around zero on average, a few degrees above during the day, a few below during the night. Although some winters might have like 30 days of snow coverage, other years go by withouth significant snow at all. Summer and autumn (June-November) are the wettest times of year, but precipitation is quite evenly spread out, differences are small.
The Copenhagen Airport (IATA: CPH, ICAO: EKCH), originally and commonly known as Kastrup Airport, is the major hub for Scandinavia. It is a large airport, and has connections to destinations around the world. If you go to the countries north of Denmark, there's a good chance that you will make a stop at this airport. There are also commercial flights from smaller airports in Aalborg (airport code AAL), Aarhus (airport code AAR), Billund (airport code BLL) and Esbjerg (airport code EBJ).
The Oresund Bridge connects Copenhagen by train to Malmö in Sweden. Hamburg in Germany is the hub for mainland Europe to access Denmark via either the Great Belt rail link, the Little Belt Bridge or a train ferry that operates between Rødby in Denmark and Puttgarden in Germany.
Check Danske Statsbaner for more information about services, for example to Sweden but also as far as Frankfurt or Oslo.
Eurolines provides extensive services to and from Denmark, including the capital Copenhagen. Destinations are plentiful to other European countries and cities.
Faroe Islands and Iceland
The Icelandic cargo ship Eimskip has two vessels, the Dettifoss and Goðafoss which travel the route Rotterdam-Hamburg-Göteborg-Århus-Fredrikstad-Tórshavn-Reykjavík. It takes 8 days in total and the return trip goes via eastern Iceland and Tórshavn only. The vessel can take a maximum of 3 passengers but only between mid-April and mid-October.
SAS and Sterling Airlines are the two main domestic airlines which serve surprisinly many airports for such a small country. As a result, most flights don't take any longer than half an hour. The main airports are in Copenhagen, Aalborg, Aarhus, Billund, Bornholm, Karup and Sønderborg.
The Danish State Railways offers a wide range of domestic train services. There are express train and intercity services to and from Aalborg, Copenhagen, Esbjerg, Herning, Horsens, Odense and Randers, among other smaller places.
Denmark has a very well maintained network of roads, including highways and primary and secondary roads which are all perfectly paved. Driving is on the right side of the road and you can bring your own car or rent one from many of the international and local companies offering rental cars at airports and major cities. A national driver's licence is required and be sure to have sufficient insurance for you and third parties.
Where there are no trains, some regional buses make up for the lack of public transportation but services are not very frequent. Most buses leave and arrive in time with train connections to places further away.
There are many ferries throughout the country. The most common routes include Kalundborg to Arhus (with Mols Linien and Samso Linien), Ebeltoft to Sjaellands Odde (with Mols Linien) and Ronne to Copenhagen. Most ferries carry passengers as well as cars, as many islands around the country are inhabited and have no bridge or tunnel connection. Scandlines is one of the major operator on a number of routes including Esbjerg to Fano, Fynshavn to Bojden, and Spodsbjerg (Langeland) to Tars (Seeland). Bornholmstrafikken offers ferry connections to and from Bornholm island from Koge.
Finally, Lasoe Linien has ferries between Laeso and Frederikshavn.
Denmark is one of the most perfect countries in the world to have a biking holiday, if it weren't for the variable weather conditions. There is an extensive network of biking lanes and the country is almost flat. You can take your bike at most ferries as well.
If you are a European Union (EU) citizen, you may travel in Denmark without any restriction as per your EU citizenship rights. If you are not an EU citizen and Denmark is the first stop on your visit, you will need to obtain a Schengen Visa. This visa is valid for any country in the Schengen zone.
See also: Money Matters
The official currency of Denmark is the Danish krone (DKK). One krone (plural kroner) is divided into 100 øre. Banknotes are in denominations of 50 kroner, 100 kroner, 200 kroner, 500 kroner, 1000 kroner.
Coins come in 25 øre, 50 øre, 1 krone, 2 kroner, 5 kroner, 10 kroner, 20 kroner.
As of 8 april 2010, the exchange rates against other major currencies are EUR 1 = DKK 7.44, GBP 1 = DKK 8.50, USD 1 = DKK 5.58. For the current rates check a currency converter
There was a referendum on joining the Euro zone in 2000. The majority voted against.
ATMs cover all of Denmark although not all of them accept international debit cards. Make sure to find an ATM near you that takes international cards.
Danish is an east Scandinavian language (its closest relative is Swedish), a Germanic language developed from Old Norse. Danish is divided into multiple dialects, but the standard version, which is used in media and official relations is used by almost everybody. Danish is commonly understandable for Swedes, Norwegians and to some extent people from Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland.
Dining in Denmark can be fairly expensive, but a worthwhile cost. Traditional Danish fare includes items as pickled herring, fried plaice, and other assorted seafood items. Hearty meat dishes are also prevalent, as seen in items such as frikadeller (pork only or pork and veal meat balls topped by a brown sauce) and "stegt flæsk og persillesovs" (thick fried pork bacon slices topped by a parsley cream sauce).
In the past few years, Copenhagen has emerged as a very happening place for food enthusiasts and gastronomic travelers, the highlight being the world-renowned restaurant Noma. Restaurants offering examples of international cuisine are common, mostly in major cities, especially Italian, Greek and Chinese restaurants, though Japanese, Indian and even Ethiopian restaurants can be found too. Quality is generally high, as the competition is too sharp for low-quality businesses to survive.
The traditional Danish lunch is smørrebrød, open sandwiches usually on rye bread - fish except herring, plaice and mackerel are served on white bread, and many restaurants give you a choice of breads. Smørrebrød served on special occasions, in lunch restaurants, or bought in lunch takeaway stores, are piled higher than the daily fare. The Danish rye bread (rugbrød) is dark, slightly sourish and often wholegrain.
For Budget accommodation, Danhostel is the national accredited Hostelling International network, and operate 95 hotels throughout the country. Only the country's two largest cities - Copenhagen and Aarhus, have a few independent youth hostels. It is worth noting that the Danish word for hostel is Vandrehjem, which also what hostels in Denmark are usually signposted as.
Hotels are expensive, but alternatives include a well developed network of Bed & Breakfasts which are bookable through the national tourism organization. The Danish Camping Board maintains a list of official camping grounds on their website. These grounds are mostly geared towards Caravans and Motorhomes, but tents are still seen and cabins are also available at many camping grounds.
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See also: Travel Health
The Danish healthcare systems is one of the best in the world. There hospitals are world class and the service is great. Most doctors and nurses will be able to speak English. Since Denmark is a small country getting to a major hospital in a major city is not hard if an emergency should arise.
There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Denmark. It is only recommended to have a vaccination against tick borne encephalitis when you go hiking and/or camping for 4 weeks or more in the period of March to November, but only on the island of Bornholm and the north of Seeland.
See also: Travel Safety
Denmark in general is a very safe country with few problems for travellers. Just keep an eye on your belongings at busier places like markets and stations like you would elsewhere, and avoid walking alone at night in quiet places; instead take a taxi.
See also: International Telephone Calls
Post Danmark A/S is Denmark's national postal service, and has a good reputation regarding service, speed and reliability. Sending a standard letter or postcard (up to 50 grams) costs 5 DKK within Denmark, 8 DKK to other European countries and 9 DKK outside Europe. Parcels up to 1 kilogram start at 75 DKK within Denmark, but are mostly 200 DKK or more to all other countries. The website has details about more prices and also about the opening hours of post offices, which vary widely from region to region but are usually open from around 9:30am until 5:00pm, 5:30pm on Thursdays. Most are open on Saturdays until 1:00pm. Apart from the post offices, some kiosks and newsagents sell stamps as well, and you will find postcards in many places. National and overseas mail must be placed in the red letterboxes that you will find almost everywhere. Collection times are posted on the letterboxes.
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Ask askgudmundsen a question about Denmark
When I'm not on the move I live in the country's capital, Copenhagen (making the city my special area of expertise), and since Denmark is a fairly small country I've visited most sight and interesting places enough to be able to give an advise or two about them as well.
Ask jancassoe a question about Denmark
I´m a Dane, born and raised in Esbjerg located at the west coast of Jutland. I can help you get all the information you need to know about my lovely country.
Ask stevieh a question about Denmark
Ask susse a question about Denmark
I live in Houston, Texas, but was born in Copenhagen. I moved to Indonesia at age 22 and stayed there for two years (Borneo). After that I moved to the US where I have lived for over 30 years. I go home to Denmark every year to be with my family. I am still fluent in Danish and my English is relatively good. I am a permanent resident in the US, but is still a Danish citizen. I love Denmark and have brought many of my American friends to Denmark with me when I go home. If I can be of help to anyone who plan to go to Denmark let me know.
Ask Pipin a question about Denmark
I am a danish citizen that lives in Copenhagen. I have visited all parts of Demark and what I do not know at the present I can certainly find out quickly!
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