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The word ‘Denmark’ dates back to the Viking age and is carved on the famous Jelling Stone from around 900 AD. Today though Denmark is very different from its historical past. Between the 13th and 17th centuries, Denmark was a superpower whose influence was as powerful as that of the largest European countries. Today, the current size and influence of Denmark is the result of 400 years of forced relinquishments of land, surrenders and lost battles. For a small country though, Denmark still punches above its weight in many different areas including design, architecture, farming, green technology and pharmaceuticals.

The Jelling mounds, runic stones and church were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1994.  
The Jelling mounds, runic stones and church were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1994.
The runic text describes how Harald brought Denmark and Norway together and Christianised the Danes.

Danish history in 25 bullets point 

  • c. 12500 BC Immigration of the first hunters
  • 3900 BC Agriculture and animal husbandry
  • 400-700 Incipient urbanisation
  • 866-867 Viking conquest of York
  • c.965 Introduction of Christianty
  • 1015-1034 England under Danish rule
  • 1397-1523 The Kalmar Union with Norway and Sweden
  • 1479 Founding of Copenhagen University
  • 1536 The Reformation. Incorporation of Norway in Denmark
  • 1660-1661 Introduction of absolutism
  • 1666 1917 Danish colonies in Caribbean
  • 1807 Bombing of Copenhagen by the English navy
  • 1814 Norway’s departure from the Union
  • 1848 Abolition of absolutism
  • 1849 First liberal constitution, the June Constitution
  • 1864 Loss of the German duchies
  • 1901 Introduction of cabinet responsibility
  • 1914-1918 Danish neutrality during the First World War
  • 1915 Constitutional reform, enfranchisement of women
  • 1920 North-Schleswig vote in favor of re-union with Denmark
  • 1940-1945 German occupation
  • 1945 Founding membership of the UN
  • 1949 Membership of NATO
  • 1973 Membership of the EEC
  • 1993 Membership of the EU


Factsheet on History

The traditionally high degree of homogeneity and consensus in Danish society is closely connected with various historical features: the doctrinal influence of the Lutheran State Church, the uniformity of the broad population brought about by absolutism, the late industrialisation, and the inability of the political parties to muster an absolute majority on their own, which has made compromise a condition of political life. Download factsheet  [PDF]

Did you know

Denmark has three sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List: Jelling Monuments, Roskilde Cathedral and Krongborg Castle.