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Location of Denmark within Europe

Denmark is the smallest and southernmost of the Nordic countries. Unified in the 10th century, it is also the oldest. Located north of its only land neighbour, Germany, south-west of Sweden, and south of Norway, it is located in northern Europe. From a cultural point of view, Denmark belongs to the family of Scandinavian countries although it is not located on the Scandinavian Peninsula. The national capital is Copenhagen.

Denmark borders both the Baltic and the North Sea. The country consists of a large peninsula, Jutland, which borders Schleswig-Holstein, and many islands, most notably Zealand, Funen, Vendsyssel-Thy, Lolland, and Bornholm, as well as hundreds of minor islands often referred to as the Danish Archipelago. Denmark has historically controlled the approach to the Baltic Sea, and those waters are also known as the Danish straits.

Denmark has been a constitutional monarchy since 1849 and is a parliamentary democracy. It became a member of the European Economic Community (now the European Union) in 1973. The Kingdom of Denmark also encompasses two off-shore territories, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, both of which enjoy wide-ranging home rule. The Danish monarchy is the oldest existing monarchy in Europe, and the national flag is the oldest state flag in continuous use.

Selected biography

Nicolas Steno.

Nicolas Steno (Danish: Niels Stensen) (January 10, 1638 - November 25, 1686) was a pioneer both in anatomy and geology.

After having completed his university education in Copenhagen, the city of his birth, he set out travelling in Europe; in fact, he would be on the move for the rest of his life. In the Netherlands, France, and Italy he came into contact with prominent physicians and scientists, and thanks to his eminent power of observation he very soon made important discoveries. At a time when scientific studies consisted in the study of ancient authorities, Steno was bold enough to trust his own eyes, even when his observations differed from traditional doctrines.

Steno first studied anatomy, beginning with a focus on the muscular system and the nature of muscle contraction. He used geometry to show that a contracting muscle changes its shape but not its volume.

However, in October 1666, two fishermen caught a huge shark near the town of Livorno, and Duke Ferdinand ordered its head to be sent to Steno. Steno dissected it and published his findings in 1667. Examination of the teeth of the shark showed a striking resemblance to certain stony objects, called glossopetrae or "tongue stones," that were found in certain rocks. Ancient authorities, such as the Roman author Pliny the Elder, had suggested that these stones fell from the sky or from the moon. Others were of the opinion, also going back to ancient times, that fossils naturally grew in the rocks. Steno's contemporary Athanasius Kircher, for example, attributed fossils to a "lapidifying virtue diffused through the whole body of the geocosm."


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Danish maritim colours
Danish maritime colours on navy vessels

Photo credit: User:Hebster

Selected article

Interior of a metro train in Copenhagen
Copenhagen Metro (Danish: Københavns metro) is a rapid transit serving Copenhagen, Frederiksberg and Tårnby in Denmark. The 20.5-kilometer (12.7 mi) system opened between 2002 and 2007, and has two lines, M1 and M2. The driverless light metro supplements the larger S-train rapid transit system, and is integrated with DSB local trains and Movia buses. Through the city center and west to Frederiksberg, both M1 and M2 share a common line. To the south-east the system serves Amager, with the 13.7-kilometer (8.5 mi) M1 running the new neighborhood of Ørestad, and the 14.2-kilometer (8.8 mi) M2 serves the eastern neighborhoods and Copenhagen Airport. The metro has 22 stations, of which 9 are underground. In 2009, the metro carried 50 million passengers.

Selected place

Aerial view of Aggersborg
Aggersborg is the largest of Denmark's former Viking ring castles, and one of the largest archaeological sites in Denmark. It is located near Aggersund on the north side of the Limfjord. It comprised a circular rampart surrounded by a ditch. Four main roads arranged in a cross connected the castle centre with the outer ring. The roads were tunnelled under the outer rampart, leaving the circular structure intact. The modern Aggersborg is a reconstruction created in the 1990s. It is lower than the original fortress.

The ring castle had an inner diameter of 240 metres. The ditch was located eight meters outside the rampart, and was approximately 1.3 metres deep. The wall is believed to have been four metres tall. The rampart was constructed of soil and turf, reinforced and clad with oak wood. The rampart formed the basis for a wooden parapet. Smaller streets were located within the four main sections of the fortress.

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