Denmark

Constitution: Monarchy

National holiday: Birthday of the Queen, April 16.

Nature and climate: Denmark is a typical islandrealm consisting of the Jutland Peninsula and close to 500 islands of which 100 are inhabited. Highest point 173 m.a.s.l. The land is flat or gently rolling. Maritime climate with mild winters. Average temperature in January 0C and in July +16C. Percipitation 600 - 800 mm.

People: 95% Danish, the rest immigrants, mostly from the Scandinavian neighbours.

Economy: Denmark is since the beginning of the 20th century one of the worlds leading exporters of butter, cheese and meat. Extensive agriculture has led to a big industry for refining the agricultural resources. This industry accounts for 30% of the total industrial production and exportvalue. Main crops is barley mainly for cattlefood.
Extensive fishing makes Denmark the world number 10 in draught.<
The only minerals of importance are chalk, lime, clay and granite.
Oil and natural gas are extracted from the Danish sector of the North Sea, but is not enough for the domestic consumption.
Engineering industry accounts for 25% of production and exportvalue.
Characteristic for Denmark are the comparatively small companies.
With imported rawmaterials engines, industry-, agricultural- and household machineries are produced as well as telecommunications material, ships and electric and electronic devises.
Chemical industry accounts for scarcely 20% of production, in such as oilrefineries, fertilizers, plastic manufacturing and pharmaceutical industry.
Among the best known Danish products are beer, porcelain and toys (Lego).

History: Finds show that Denmark has been inhabited the last 50 000 to 100 000 years. During the Bronze Age 1800 - 500 BC the Danes maintained an extensive trade with the people southwards. The trading goods were shines, amber and slaves.
The Viking Age, 800 - 1050 AD, with extensive colonizing expeditions, is the period of real Danish greatness.
The main purpose of the Viking expeditions was partly trade and partly to find new cultivable land for the overcrowded nation.
In 793 Danish Vikings made the first attack at the English coast and after an invasion in 866 great parts of England came under Danish sovereignty.
In 911 a Danish chief received Normandy as fief (enfeoffment) from the French king. Denmark gained sovereignty over the whole of England and soon afterwards over Norway. Since earlier several parts of southern Sweden belonged to Denmark.
Soon enough the loosely tied nation fell apart. The English choosed a domestic king in 1042 and 1047 Norway was lost. The disintegration continued and at the middle of the 12th century a bitter civil war raged the nation.
In 1157 Valdemar the Great was king and with help from the church he managed to gain complete power. Under his son, Valdemar Seir ( the Victorious), Denmark reached a new period of prosperity with extensive international trade and some expansion. After his death in 1241 followed a new period of disintegration and decay, so deep, that the nation practically ceased to exist by 1332, when the whole realm was pledged or lost in battle.
1340 another Valdemar, Valdemar Atterdag, was elected king. He took over a small realm at the Jutland peninsula, but with cunnings, tricks, bargains and wars he succeeded to unite the whole nation. At his death in 1375 his grandson, the five year old Olof, was elected king. Olof was son of the Norwegian king (who in turn was son of the Swedish king) and in this way Denmark and Norway formed a union which lasted 400 years.
When Olof died in 1387, only 12 years old, his mother Margareta was proclaimed reigning queen. She proclaimed her six year old Erik as heir. Erik was crowned king of the three realms Denmark, Norway and Sweden in 1397.
The 15th century was impressed by expensive wars, several uprisings and fighting about power between kings and the noblesse. To win support against the noblesse, king Kristian in 1468 called a meeting with the four estates of the realm, the noblesse, the priests, the burghers and the peasantry. This was the first such meeting in Danish history.
The union with Sweden was dissolved in 1523.
In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries Denmark fought against Sweden about supremacy of the Baltic region.
1669 king Fredrik III made Denmark a hereditary kingdom and himself an absolute ruler. In this autocracy the noblesse lost power and benefits and a staff of civil servants gained influence over the administration and over the decisions.
In the Napoleon wars Denmark lost some areas. For example it had to cede Norway to Sweden.
In the later half of the 18th century opposition against autocracy increased. From 1830 the king was forced to call advisory meetings with the four estates. In the 1840:s popularly elected councils was introduced in the municipalities and in 1848 a coalition government was summoned to write a new constitution.
The constitution was signed by the king in 1849 and Denmark got a parliament with two chambers with members elected in popular elections were all free men had franchise. Though the rights of this parliament was limited it meant that autocracy was abolished.
At the end of the 19th century there was a political struggle between conservatives and liberals, won by the liberals. After a few years of negotiations parliamentarism was introduced in 1901. A new constitution was written and approved in 1915 stating parliamentarism and women's suffrage. During World War I Denmark was neutral. After the war Denmark kept a neutral policy in close collaboration with the other Nordic nations. In spite of this German troops in only a few days occupied the whole nation in 1940.
After the German surrender in 1945 a coalition government tried to restore the policy of neutrality. But in 1949 Denmark joined the Nato.
Since 1973 Denmark is a member of EC.

I wrote this text for the AmigaWorld-program during the early 1990:ies. If you have an Amiga computor you should have this program. You'll find it at Aminet.