Denmark is a country in northern Europe. It is made up of the Jutland Peninsula and more than 400 islands in the North Sea. It shares a border with Germany to the south. The country is almost two times the size of Massachusetts.
Denmark's terrain is mostly flat, with gently rolling hills. During the Ice Age, glaciers moved slowly across the landmass and shaped the country that exists today. Denmark has a long coastline with many lagoons, gulfs, and inlets. No part of Denmark is more than 32 miles (67 kilometers) from the sea.
Although Denmark is in northern Europe, the warm waters of the Gulf Stream make the climate mild.
Map created by National Geographic Maps
PEOPLE & CULTURE
The people of Denmark are known as Danes. They are Nordic Scandinavians, many of which are blond, blue-eyed, and tall. In the southern part of the country, some people have German ancestry.
Danes have one of the highest standards of living in the world. All Danish families receive over $1,500 each year for each child under 18 years old. About 85 percent of Danish people belong to the National Church of Denmark. The capital city of Copenhagen is home to more than 1 million people.
Open sandwiches called smørrebrød are a typical Danish lunch. These sandwiches are made of cold cuts, cheese, and spreads on a piece of dark, rye bread.
Danes often ride bicycles as a form of transportation.
Denmark was once covered with trees, but almost all of the original forest has been chopped down. The largest mammal living in Denmark today is the red deer. There are about 300 species of birds in Denmark. During the summer, many different butterfly species can be found in Denmark.
Denmark is a constitutional monarchy. Queen Margrethe II celebrated 40 years on the throne in January 2012. Denmark has the longest unbroken line of rulers in Europe. Queen Margrethe II can trace her ancestry back to King Gorm in the tenth century.
Although the Queen is the head of state, the prime minister is the head of the government. Denmark's Parliament has a single chamber called the Folketing, made up of 179 elected members.
People have lived in Denmark since the Stone Age, but there is evidence that people lived there around 50,000 B.C. In the 9th to 11th centuries, Viking warriors from Denmark and other Scandinavian countries raided Europe. Most of Denmark's modern cities were founded after the Viking era.
Denmark, Norway, and Sweden were united as the Union of Kalmar by Queen Margrethe in the late 14th century. Although Sweden broke away from the Union in 1523, Norway was ruled by Denmark until 1814.
During World War II, the governments of Germany and Denmark agreed that they would not attack each other, but Germany made a surprise attack on Denmark in 1940. Although the country was able to keep its own government at first, Germany took over in 1943.