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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; many islands, most notably Zealand, Funen, Vendsyssel-Thy, Lolland, and Bornholm; and 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

Bertel Thorvaldsen. Painted by Karl Begas, c. 1820.

(Karl Albert) Bertel Thorvaldsen was a Danish-Icelandic sculptor of international fame, who spent most of his life in Italy (from 1789–1838). Thorvaldsen was born in Copenhagen into a Danish/Icelandic family of humble means, and was accepted to the Royal Academy of Arts when he was eleven years old. Working part-time with his father, who was a wood carver, Thorvaldsen won many honors and medals at the academy. He was awarded a stipend to travel to Rome and continue his education.

In Rome Thorvaldsen quickly made a name for himself as a sculptor. Maintaining a large workshop in the city, he worked in a heroic neo-classicist style. His patrons resided all over Europe.

Upon his return to Denmark in 1838, Thorvaldsen was received as a national hero. The Thorvaldsens Museum was erected to house his works next to Christiansborg Palace. Thorvaldsen is buried within the courtyard of the museum. In his time, he was seen as the successor of master sculptor Antonio Canova. His strict adherence to classical norms has tended to estrange modern audiences. Among his more famous works are the statues of Nicolaus Copernicus and Jozef Poniatowski in Warsaw; the statue of Maximilian I in Munich; and the tomb monument of Pope Pius VII, the only work by a non-Italian in St. Peter's Basilica.

Recently selected: Rasmus Rask - Piet Hein - Thorvald Stauning

Selected picture

Harlequin and Columbine from the mime theater at Tivoli, Copenhagen.
Harlequin and Columbine from the mime theater at Tivoli, Copenhagen.
Harlequin and Columbine from the mime theater at Tivoli.

Photo credit: Malene Thyssen

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

A view over Frederikshavn
Frederikshavn is a town in Frederikshavn municipality, Region Nordjylland on the northeast coast of the Jutland peninsula in northern Denmark. Its name translates to "Frederik's harbour". Frederikshavn has a population of 23,331 (1 January 2010), and is an important traffic portal with its ferry connections to Sweden and Norway. The town is well known for fishing, and its fishing and industrial harbours. The Danish term "frederikshavner" ("Someone from Frederikshavn") is used to denote a quality plaice fish, probably the most popular eating fish in Denmark.

Due to its advantageous proximity to the entrance to the Baltic Sea, Frederikshavn has historically been a naval base of some strategic importance. Peder Tordenskjold barricaded himself here in the fortress that German troops had already built in the 17th century.

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