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Denmark, nation in northwestern Europe. Denmark’s official name in Danish is Kongeriget Danmark (Kingdom of Denmark). The Vikings founded the Danish kingdom more than 1,100 years ago, making it one of Europe’s oldest continuous kingdoms. The national flag, the Dannebrog, has been in use since 1219, when it is said to have fallen from heaven to inspire battle-weary troops to victory. Copenhagen (Kobenhavn in Danish) is Denmark’s capital and largest city.
Historically and culturally, Denmark is part of Scandinavia. In centuries past, the Danish monarch at times ruled all or parts of both Norway and Sweden, as well as the island nation of Iceland. Geographically, Denmark remains a bridge between continental Europe and the more northerly Scandinavian countries.
Today, Denmark is a small country that occupies most of the Jutland Peninsula (Jylland in Danish), as well as the hundreds of islands of the Danish archipelago. The southern border of Jutland touches Germany, Denmark’s only land boundary with the European mainland. The boundary measures just 68 km (42 mi) long. Denmark’s principal islands lie to the east, between Jutland and Sweden. The largest and most important island is Sjaelland (also called Zealand). The greater part of Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital for 600 years, covers the eastern shore of Sjaelland.
The Kingdom of Denmark also includes the Faroe Islands, a collection of 18 islands that lie northwest of Scotland; and Greenland, far to the northwest across the North Atlantic Ocean, near North America. Politically, both Greenland and the Faroe Islands are part of Denmark, but they are self-governing in all matters except defense and foreign affairs.
Despite its northerly location, Denmark’s climate is relatively mild. The climate is moderated by the warm waters of the North Atlantic Drift, a part of the Gulf Stream, which sweeps north along Denmark’s west coast. Denmark is a low-lying country of rolling hills, tidy farms, and green moorlands. The sea is never more than 64 km (40 mi) away, giving the country a seacoast atmosphere. Rain, fog, and gray skies are common.
Denmark is a wealthy and thoroughly modern country, and its citizens enjoy one of the highest standards of living in Europe. Through skill and imagination, the Danes have made very effective use of limited natural resources. Denmark maintains one of Europe’s oldest and most extensive welfare states. Denmark’s contributions to the arts are numerous, especially in fashion, industrial design, cinema, and literature. Denmark’s best-known writers include Hans Christian Andersen, whose fairy tales are famous throughout the world, and the religious philosopher Soren Kierkegaard.
For younger readers
Hansen, Ole Steen. Denmark. Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1998. For readers in grades 4 to 7.
Levine, Ellen. Darkness over Denmark: The Danish Resistance and the Rescue of the Jews. Holiday House, 2000. A vivid account of life in Denmark under Nazi rule; for readers in grades 5 to 7.
Pateman, Robert. Denmark. Benchmark, 1995. For readers in grades 4 to 7.
Budd, John, ed. Eight Scandinavian Novelists. Greenwood, 1981. Criticisms and reviews of selected Scandinavian novelists.
Faowens, Lily, ed. The Complete Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales. Grammercy, 1993. Stories from the Danish master storyteller.
Lonnrot, Elias, trans. The Kalevala: An Epic Poem After the Oral Tradition. Oxford University Press, 1989. The national epic poem of Finland.
Naess, Harald S., ed. A History of Norwegian Literature. University of Nebraska Press, 1993. From the Vikings to the 1980s.
Rossel, Sven H., ed. A History of Danish Literature. University of Nebraska Press, 1992. From the ancient runic inscriptions to post-World War II trends.
Schoolfield, George C., ed. A History of Finland's Literature. University of Nebraska Press, 1998. Surveys Finnish-language literature and Finland's Swedish-language literature.
Warme, Lars G., ed. A History of Swedish Literature. University of Nebraska Press, 1996. From the Middle Ages to the 20th century.
Lauring, Palle. Denmark: A History. 7th ed. Nordic, 1986. Popular history from ancient times detailing the royal houses and wars against Sweden and England.
Miller, Kenneth E. Friends and Rivals: Coalition Politics in Denmark, 1901-1995. University Press of America, 1995. An in-depth examination of Danish politics in the 20th century.
Nagel's Encyclopedia Guide: Denmark-Greenland. National Textbooks, 1990. Comprehensive coverage of Denmark and its remote Greenland possession.
Nordstrom, Byron S. Dictionary of Scandinavian History. Greenwood, 1986. The histories of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden from AD 1000, covered in 400 articles and alphabetically arranged by subject.
Denmark: Politics, Society, and Culture
Denmark in Pictures. Lerner, 1991. Illustrated introduction for younger readers.
Hintz, Martin. Denmark. Children's Press, 1994. The geography, history, and culture of Denmark; for middle school and high school readers.
Holbraad, Carsten. Danish Neutrality. Oxford University Press, 1991. A study of Denmark's foreign policy.
Miller, Kenneth. Denmark: A Troubled Welfare State. Westview, 1990. Critical analysis of politics and society after 40 years of democratic socialism.
Nagel's Encyclopedia Guide: Denmark-Greenland. National Textbooks, 1987. Comprehensive coverage of Denmark and its remote Greenland possession.
Woodward, Christopher. Copenhagen. St. Martin's, 1998. A guide to the city's architecture.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation.
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