Facts about Denmark

Denmark is situated in northern Europe and is part of Scandinavia. Greenland and the Faeroe Islands are also part of Denmark, but they are autonomous regions with governments of their own. Listed below are some of the most important facts about Denmark which might be nice for you to know before travelling here.

Geography

The country consists mainly of islands with the exception of the peninsula, Jutland. It is relatively flat with the highest point rising to only 173 metres above sea level. About 65 per cent of the country is farmland, 11 per cent is woodland and the rest is built-up areas, roads and lakes.

Population

The total population of Denmark is 5,3 million and the population density is 120 people per square kilometre. The capital is Copenhagen, which has approximately 1,2 million inhabitants.

Language

Denmark's official language is Danish, and most people also understand and speak English. You might also be able to get by speaking German, Swedish or Norwegian.

Weather

The weather in Denmark is often very unpredictable. However, there are general forecasts of the four seasons that might help you get an idea of the Danish climate:

The winters are generally wet with occasional snow. It can be as cold as -5 to -15°C and also very windy.

The summers are generally sunny and warm, but some summers are very  rainy, and the temperature rises to about 15-25°C.

You might find that  Danes spend a lot of time inside because of the long periods with rain, wind and chilly weather. But as soon as the sun peeps out between the clouds most Danes , no matter what temperature the barometer shows. With snow it is the exact same story. It never fails to fascinate young and old.

Check out local weather forecasts at the Danish Meteorological Institute, DMI, here.

Religion

More than 80% of the Danish population are members of the Danish National Evangelical Lutheran Church. The majority of the members see themselves as protestants, but they do not practice or act very much on the religion and its doctrines.

Many  Danes go to church at Christmas, for weddings, funerals, baptisms and confirmations, but very seldom every Sunday.

Religion is regarded a private matter and you will usually not see explicit signs of people's religion in public.

You should be aware that some Folk high schools are based on Christianity. You find both Lutheran and Pentecostal schools, and also schools not explicitly run Christian but still defining themselves as Christian.

If you are specifically interested in these schools - or if you wish a more secular school - you should inquire as to what the school of your interest is founded on. Do not be afraid to ask the schools questions about this matter.

National holidays and weekends

Weekends run from Saturday to Sunday. Usually the schools expect that the students stay at the school every second weekend.

The Danes also celebrate several holidays during the year. Some of them are religious holidays and some have  cultural or historical roots.
Specific traditions with regard to food, decoration and celebration of the day are connected to most of the holidays, which are usually celebrated with friends and family.

Most shops, supermarkets and institutions are closed on holidays  and Sundays.

Bear in mind that the 24th of December is not a national holiday.  However, most Danes  celebrate Christmas on the evening of the 24th. Christmas Day and Boxing Day are national holiday.

Politics

Denmark is a modern welfare state and a constitutional monarchy. A democratically elected government and a parliament, Folketinget, govern the country.

Denmark has a law on freedom of religion, ethnic equality, and also a law stating that it is illegal to treat people differently on the grounds of gender, race and religion. There are additional laws to ensure gender equality and the country also has a minister for gender equality.

Denmark has a strong international political commitment and is a member of the European Union, the Nordic Council, the United Nations and NATO.

The country has been a member of the European Union since 1973, but opinions are divided about how the membership of the union should progress. In 1993, the Maastricht Treaty allowed Denmark to opt out of four areas, including common defence policy, the Monetary Union and union citizenship.

Welfare state

Denmark has one of the highest standards of living in the world. Since 1963, industry has accounted for the majority of exported goods. However, North Sea oil and natural gas become increasingly important to the economy, as have biotechnology and information technology. A very high percentage of women are active on the labour market and the unemployment rate has been relatively low since the mid-1990s.

Denmark has a high level of social security and free public services, including a high quality medical and educational sector. A comparatively high tax rate makes it possible to provide this level of service.

Education

Education in Denmark is provided free of charge at all levels and there are nine years of compulsory education. Public expenditure on education and training corresponds to 7 per cent of the country's GDP and around 13 per cent of total public expenditure.

Adult learning plays a considerable role in the educational system, and many Danes participate in some kind of formal or informal learning. Denmark is also known for its many local associations and organisations at grass root level.

Infrastructure

It is easy to get around in Denmark. You can travel to most cities in Denmark by either train or bus. The transportation infrastructure is well-developed and Danish rail, DSB, as well as various bus companies operate throughout the country.

The capital, Copenhagen, also has a relatively new and small subway, calledthe Metro, with only two lines and a third line opening in 2018. One of the stops is Copenhagen Airport.

You can easily find out which trains or buses to use and their timetables by using the website Rejseplanen.dk. The site has an English version and connects the various Danish bus and train companies.

Most of the citizens in Denmark have their own bike and use it every day as their only means of transport. You might experience, that many of the Danish students bring their bikes to the folk high schools.

If you have a bike and if it is possible it would be a good idea to bring it along. Otherwise, some schools have bikes either to lend or rent for a small fee. On occasion you might be able to borrow a bike from a fellow student.

Attractions

Denmark is a country with a long history and many monuments have been preserved. Thus, a trip to Copenhagen (the capital) is an attraction in itself, and here you will find many historical monuments as well as get a good impression of the Danish culture - fx. by visiting 'Nyhavn', a small harbour area, for a drink.

In Copenhagen you will also find:

  • Hans Christian Andersen's "TheLittle Mermaid
  • The Queen's castle, "Amalienborg"
  • The National Gallery of Denmark
  • The Tivoli Gardens

And many, many more...

For further information about Danish attractions and events in Copenhagen as well as the rest of Denmark please click here.

Famous Danes

You may find that  Danes are very proud of their history and heritage, and that they love to talk about it. They have a strong sense of nationality and celebrate every time a Dane achieves success internationally.
Several Danes have made a name for themselves throughout history world-wide, including writers, physicists, philosophers, athletes, designers, architects and movie directors. Just to mention a few there are:

  • Tycho Brahe, a nobleman, known for his accurate and comprehensive astronomical and planetary observations.
  • Søren Kierkegaard, a philosopher, known for being the father of existentialism.
  • Hans Christian Andersen, a writer, known and loved for his fairytales and poetry.
  • Niels Bohr, a physicist, known for the explanation of the periodic system of elements, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize.
  • Jørn Utzon, an architect, especially known for designing the opera house in Sydney.
  • Michael Laudrup, a footballer who has played for Juventus, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, etc.
  • Lars Ulrich, a musician, known as the drummer of the band 'Metallica'.
  • Lars von Trier, the movie director, known for his uncompromising art films and for shocking the press.
  • N. F. S. Grundtvig, identified the democratic need for enlightening the often both uneducated and poor peasantry - and inspired the birth of the folk high school.

Just to name a few…

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