Denmark


Denmark
Denmark is a country in northern Europe. 5,400,000 people live there. There are many islands, but there are no mountains. Denmark is on the North Sea.
Denmark is a kingdom. The capital of Denmark is Copenhagen.
In geography, "Denmark" is the land in northern Europe, where the Danes live. In the political sense, "Denmark" also includes the Faroe Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, and Greenland in North America. All three parts of the country have different languages and culture. In 2006 and 2007, surveys ranked Denmark as "the happiest place in the world," based on standards of health, welfare, and education.
Geography.
Denmark is the smallest of the Scandinavian countries. The neighbours are Germany (to the south), Sweden (to the east), Norway (to the north) and the United Kingdom (to the west). The country is surrounded by the sea except for Jutland, the largest part of Denmark. It is connected to Germany by land. To the south-east there is the Baltic Sea, to the west the North Sea, to the north the Skagerrak and to the north-east the Kattegat.
The western part of Denmark is the peninsula of Jutland (pronounced "yut-land"), bordering Germany. This is the only part of Denmark that is not an island. The rest of Denmark includes 76 islands people live on, and many tiny islands. To the east is the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, the only place in Denmark where the bedrock can be seen.
The country is quite flat. There are many small hills, lakes, creeks, forests and farmland. And nobody lives more than 60 km from the coast.
Climate.
The weather in Denmark is quite windy and rainy. In the winter, it does not get very cold; in most years, there are only a few weeks of snow. Every ten years or so, the sea around the islands freezes over, but in most winters, it does not. The climate and topography are not good for winter sports.
Most summers are not very hot. People always dress to be ready for rain or wind. There are also very sunny times, but nobody can know ahead of time when these will be. The best time of the year for outdoor activities is the months of May and June until midsummer.
People.
The biggest part (91%) of Denmark's population of just under 5.5 million is of Danish descent. Of the rest 8.9% who are immigrants or descendent from recent immigrants, many come from South Asia or the Middle East. There are also small groups of Inuit from Greenland and Faroese.
Language.
The Danes speak Danish. Most Danes speak English, too. Many also speak German.
On the Faroe Islands, Faroese is spoken, and people living in Greenland speak Inuit. In the southern part of Jutland, a German minority speaks German.
The Danish language is much like Norwegian and Swedish.
Regions and municipalities.
Denmark is divided into five regions (Danish: "regioner", singular: "region"). The regions are "Hovedstaden", "Midtjylland", "Nordjylland", "Sjælland", "Syddanmark" and a total of 98 municipalities (Danish: "kommuner").
Traffic.
Because of the many islands, Denmark is a country of bridges. The main parts of the country, and most of the bigger islands, are connected by roads and railroads. One of the world's longest bridges connects the eastern and the western parts of the country, and there is a large bridge to Sweden also. There is still no bridge across the Baltic Sea to Germany, but it will most likely be built in a few years. The bridge to Sweden was expensive, took a long time to build, and required much planning by engineers.
There are still many islands with no bridges to the mainland. People have to go by boat or airplane to reach these islands. Many islands will never be reached by bridges, because they are too small or too far away. If the island has too few people, bridges are often not built because it is expensive to build. Somebody has to pay for it, nothing is free.
Culture.
The people of Denmark have always depended on the sea. In earlier days, people could not travel anywhere unless they went by boat. Many Danes were fishermen or merchants. Even today, many Danes spend much time near or at the sea.
Farming has always been one of the main occupations. Because of the climate and the soil, Denmark is a good place for agriculture. Export of food to the neighbouring countries is one of the most important sources of income for the country. Danish hams and cookies are exported throughout the world.
Many Danes have become famous around the world, such as the scientist Ole Rømer, who discovered the speed of light, the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, the author Hans Christian Andersen, the physicist Niels Bohr, and Lars Ulrich from Metallica.
Danish food.
The cuisine of Denmark is like the other Nordic countries (Finland, Norway, Iceland, and Sweden), as well as that of northern Germany, consists mainly pork meat and fish. Traditional Danish food includes "frikadeller" (fried meatballs, often served with potatoes and various sorts of gravy). Fish is also widely eaten, especially on the west coast of Jutland.
Holidays.
Christmas is the main feast of the year. Christmas is celebrated on the eve, December 24.
In midwinter, a fast is celebrated. Children are dressed up, and go from house to house begging for candy. A barrel is smashed with clubs, and the person who hits the last stick is appointed king or queen of cats.
Midsummer is celebrated with a huge bonfire in the evening of June 23. Most Danes have a three week summer holiday in July og August.
Sports.
The most popular sport in Denmark is football (soccer). Sailing and other water sports are also very popular, the same are sports indoor like badminton, handball and many others.
King and Queen.
Denmark does not currently have a King. The Queen is Margrethe II. Her husband is called a prince because he is the son-in-law, not the son, of the previous King. The royal couple have two children.
In 2008 Prince Joachim have married for the second time. His new wife is from France and is called Marie.


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