Once settled by cruel and barbarous Vikings, Denmark today is one of the most peaceful societies on Earth. Perhaps that’s why if countries were people, Denmark would be that quirky but fun and interesting best friend. Here are 30 facts about Denmark to prove it.
Pieces of evidence found by archeologists in Denmark date all the way back to 130,000–110,000 BC. It is thought that humans have been living here continuously since 12,500 BC.
Say what? Yes, Denmark ranks as the 130th smallest country on Earth out of 195. At the same time, while Greenland has its own government, it’s owned by Denmark, bumping it up to the 12th largest country in the world.
Denmark isn’t often thought of as an island getaway, but it’s actually comprised of over 400 islands with 76 of them inhabited. Technically, even the capital city of Copenhagen sits on an island.
Another fun and interesting fact about Denmark is that it only shares a border with Germany. Water separates Denmark from Sweden and Norway, and you can get to Sweden from Denmark via the Oresund Bridge.
The water in Denmark’s harbor is clean enough to swim in, and the tap water is clean enough to be used for drinking water.
The official name of Denmark is the Kingdom of Denmark, and the country has a Royal family. In fact, it’s the world’s oldest monarchy. The current queen, Margrethe II can trace her lineage all the way back to the Vikings era.
The human population of Denmark is estimated to be around 5.4 million while the pig population is around 24 million. Not surprisingly, the country is the world’s leading exporter of pork.
Danes are obsessive about their bikes. In fact, there are twice the number of bikes in the country as cars, and over half of the residents in Copenhagen cycle their way to work. The country even has special traffic lights for bikers.
The United Nations consistently ranks at or near the top of the list as the “World’s Happiest Country.” The title is mostly earned because of social equality, economic prosperity, and a successful welfare system.
Unique to the Danish language, the word hygge (pronounced hue-guh) means happiness and describes the good feeling you get when around friends and family. It comes from a 16th-century Norwegian word meaning “to comfort” or “to console” and it is related to the English word for “hug.”
Well, maybe not exactly free. Taxes paid by the people pay for health care and education. But Danes are proud that it’s not only the wealthy who have the opportunity for good health care and education.
Being so close to so much water and with over 7,000 miles of shoreline makes it vital for Danes to know how to swim. Swimming lessons are a required course in all Danish state schools.
Women and Men in Denmark are all eligible for maternity leave. Women get paid leave for 18 weeks and men get 2 weeks. Couples get an extra 32 weeks that they can share between themselves.
Denmark citizens have some of the world’s highest tax rates. Some Danes pay as much as 25 percent. But surveys show that 90 percent are okay with the tax rate since the benefits are so good.
Parents must choose names for their babies from a list of 7,000 names provided by the government. The first name can’t also be a surname or have an unusual spelling.
One of the weirdest facts of all, Danes who aren’t married by their 25th birthday get doused in cinnamon. It is thought that the tradition comes from long ago when traveling spice salesmen were bachelors because they didn’t stay in one place long enough to settle down.
Freetown Christiania is a hippie-style community within the capital city of Copenhagen that has its own laws. It features lots of weed and a communal type of living. The Danish government doesn’t interfere as long as the residents keep it contained in their area. San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury is so jealous!
Denmark has no laws that limit the age for drinking alcohol, but you do have to be old enough to buy it. Beer can be purchased by 16-year-olds, and you must be 18 to buy hard liquor. This has lead to a relaxed yet controlled attitude towards drinking.
It seems like an odd choice for a Nordic country, but there’s a very good reason. Hans Christian Anderson, a Dane, wrote the famous fairy tale, The Ugly Duckling, a story about a misplaced duck that was really a swan.
Most of Scandinavia, including Denmark and Sweden, have a special fondness for the snack that most people detest. They add salted licorice to cakes and other desserts.
In spite of the name, the dog breed Great Dane is actually German. And Austrian bakers introduced Danish pastry, or Viennese bread to Denmark back in the 1840s. But you can certainly get delicious Danish in Denmark.
Bakken is the oldest amusement park in the world. And Denmark is also home to the second oldest, Tivoli Gardens. Bakken is a 20-minute train ride from Copenhagen central station and Tivoli Gardens is in the center of town across the street from the station.
Famous around the world, Lego blocks were born in Denmark in 1932. The well-known toy is also one of the country’s biggest exports. They’re also a worldwide phenomenon that has influenced theme parks, movies, video games, and more.
It’s the perfect destination for shopaholics. Downtown Copenhagen’s Stroget is the world’s largest car-free shopping street. It’s also a mecca for dining and entertainment.
It’s been said that music is the universal language. Or was it love? Either way, Denmark has the world’s oldest surviving musical instruments. Don’t get too excited. They’re curved horns from the Bronze Age from 3,000 B.C. to 1,200 B.C.
It’s probably not the oldest that ever existed, but Denmark’s flag is the oldest one in continuous use by an independent nation. Called the Dannebrog, the white cross on a red background turned 800 years old in 2019.
It began in 1980 with the legalization of same-sex unions. Then same-sex marriage was granted in 2012. Needless to say, the Gay Pride celebrations in Copenhagen are second to none.
The Danes were caught up in the surge of immigrants to America in the late 1800s, and one out of every 10 left their homeland behind to become Americans. Today, Copenhagen has the largest Fourth of July celebration outside the US.
Denmark is a cosmopolitan country that attracts lots of visitors. And most Danes speak several languages. This has been good for business and education as well as tourism.
According to social media legend, the ubiquitous technology is named after Danish King Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson. The name “Bluetooth” was a nickname assigned to the king whose teeth were stained by his incessant love of eating blueberries.
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.