Portal:Denmark

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Introduction

National Coat of arms of Denmark.svg

Denmark (Danish: Danmark, pronounced [ˈdanmɑɡ] (About this soundlisten)), officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Nordic country and the southernmost of the Scandinavian nations. The sovereign state is south-west of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. The Kingdom of Denmark also comprises two autonomous constituent countries in the North Atlantic Ocean: the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark proper consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and an archipelago of 443 named islands, with the largest being Zealand, Funen and the North Jutlandic Island. The islands are characterised by flat, arable land and sandy coasts, low elevation and a temperate climate. Denmark has a total area of 42,924 km2 (16,573 sq mi), land area of 42,394 km2 (16,368 sq mi), and the total area including Greenland and the Faroe Islands is 2,210,579 km2 (853,509 sq mi), and a population of 5.8 million ().

The unified kingdom of Denmark emerged in the 10th century as a proficient seafaring nation in the struggle for control of the Baltic Sea. Denmark, Sweden, and Norway were ruled together under one sovereign ruler in the Kalmar Union, established in 1397 and ending with Swedish secession in 1523. The areas of Denmark and Norway remained under the same monarch until 1814, often referred to as the Dano-Norwegian Realm, or simply Denmark-Norway. Beginning in the 17th century, there were several devastating wars with the Swedish Empire, ending with large cessions of territory to Sweden. After the Napoleonic Wars, Norway was ceded to Sweden, while Denmark kept the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Iceland. In the 19th century there was a surge of nationalist movements, which were defeated in the 1864 Second Schleswig War. Denmark remained neutral during World War I. In April 1940, a German invasion saw brief military skirmishes while the Danish resistance movement was active from 1943 until the German surrender in May 1945. An industrialised exporter of agricultural produce in the second half of the 19th century, Denmark introduced social and labour-market reforms in the early 20th century that created the basis for the present welfare state model with a highly developed mixed economy.

The Constitution of Denmark was signed on 5 June 1849, ending the absolute monarchy, which had begun in 1660. It establishes a constitutional monarchy organised as a parliamentary democracy. The government and national parliament are seated in Copenhagen, the nation's capital, largest city, and main commercial centre. Denmark exercises hegemonic influence in the Danish Realm, devolving powers to handle internal affairs. Home rule was established in the Faroe Islands in 1948; in Greenland home rule was established in 1979 and further autonomy in 2009. Denmark became a member of the European Economic Community (now the EU) in 1973, but has later negotiated certain opt-outs; it retains its own currency, the krone. It is among the founding members of NATO, the Nordic Council, the OECD, OSCE, and the United Nations; it is also part of the Schengen Area.

Selected biography

Nicolas Steno.

Nicolas Steno (Danish: Niels Stensen) (10 January 1638 – 25 November 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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Selected image

Kongens Nytorv
Kongens Nytorv in central Copenhagen. In December an ice-skating arena is erected for public use. To the left the Royal Theatre is visible and in the background the shopping mall Magasin du Nord.

Selected article

Haraldskær Woman in a glass covered coffin, Vejle, Denmark
The Haraldskær Woman is a well-preserved Iron Age bog body naturally preserved in a bog in Jutland, Denmark. The body was discovered in 1835 by labourers excavating peat on the Haraldskær Estate. Disputes regarding the age and identity of this mysterious well preserved body were settled in 1977, when radiocarbon dating determined conclusively that her death occurred around 500 BC. This archaeological find was one of the earliest bog bodies discovered, the other two known being Tollund Man from Denmark and Lindow Man from the UK.

The body of the Haraldskær Woman is remarkably preserved due to the anaerobic conditions and tannins of the peat bog in which she was found. Not only was the intact skeleton found, but also the skin and internal organs. Her body lies in state in an ornate glass-covered coffin, allowing viewing of the full frontal body, inside the Church of Saint Nicolas in central Vejle, Denmark.

After discovery of the body, early theories of her identity centered around the persona of the Norwegian Queen Gunhild, who lived around 1000 AD. Most of the bog bodies recovered indicate the victim died from a violent murder or ritualistic sacrifice. These theories are consistent with the body being hurled into a bog as opposed to burial in dry earth.

Selected place

View of The Old Town
The Old Town in Aarhus is an open-air village museum consisting of 75 historical buildings collected from 20 townships in all parts of the country. In 1914 the museum opened for the first time as the worlds’ first open-air museum of its kind and till this day it remains one of just a few top rated Danish museums outside Copenhagen serving some 3.5 million visitors every year.

The museum buildings are organized into a small village of chiefly half-timbered structures originally erected between 1550 and the late 1800s in various parts of the country and later moved to Aarhus during the 1900s. There are several groceries, diners and workshops spread throughout the village with museum staff working in the roles of typical village figures i.e. merchant, blacksmith etc. adding to the illusion of a "living" village.

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