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Flag Coat of arms
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

Carl Nielsen.

Carl August Nielsen (June 9, 1865, Sortelung October 3, 1931, Copenhagen) was a conductor, violinist, and the most internationally known composer from Denmark. He is especially admired for his six symphonies and his concertos for violin, flute and clarinet.

Nielsen was born one of twelve children in a poor peasant family in Sortelung, not far from the city of Odense. His father was a housepainter and amateur musician. Carl first discovered music by experimenting with the different sounds and pitches he heard when striking the logs in a pile of firewood behind his home. His family was relatively poor, but he was still able to learn the violin and piano as a child.

He also learned how to play brass instruments, which led to a job as a bugler in the 16th Battalion at nearby Odense. He later studied violin and music theory at the Copenhagen Conservatory, but never took formal lessons in composition. Nonetheless, he began to compose. At first, he did not gain enough recognition for his works to support him. During the concert which saw the premiere of his first symphony on March 14, 1894 (conducted by Johan Svendsen), Nielsen played in the second violin section. However, the same symphony was a great success when played in Berlin in 1896, and from then his fame grew.

Recently selected: Christian IV of Denmark - Ole Rømer - Karen Blixen

Selected picture

Denmark seen from space
Denmark seen from space
Denmark seen from space.

Photo credit: NASA

Selected article

Buildings which burned are shown in yellow/orange on this map of Copenhagen in 1728 by Joachim Hassing.
The Copenhagen Fire of 1728 was the largest fire in the history of Copenhagen, Denmark. It began on the evening of October 20, 1728, and continued to burn until the morning of October 23. It destroyed approximately 28% of the city (measured by counting the number of destroyed lots from the cadastre), left 20% of the population homeless, and the reconstruction lasted until 1737. No less than 47% of the section of the city, which dates back to the Middle Ages, was completely lost, and along with the Copenhagen Fire of 1795, it is the main reason that few traces of medieval Copenhagen can be found in the modern city.

While the human and property losses were staggering, the cultural loss is still felt today. The University of Copenhagen library was without a doubt the greatest and the most frequently mentioned of such. 35,000 texts and a large archive of historical documents disappeared in the flames. Original works from the historians Hans Svaning, Anders Sørensen Vedel, Niels Krag, and Arild Huitfeldt and the scientists Ole Worm, Ole Rømer, Tycho Brahe and the brothers Hans and Caspar Bartholin were lost. Atlas Danicus by Hansen Resens and the archive of Zealand Diocese went up in flames as well. The archive of the diocese had been moved to the university library the very same day the fire started.

Several other book collections were lost as well. Professor Mathias Anchersen made the mistake of bringing his possessions to safety in Trinitatis Church. Árni Magnússon lost all his books, notes and records, but did manage to rescue his valuable collection of handwritten Icelandic manuscripts. At Borchs Kollegium 3,150 volumes burned along with its Museum Rarirorum containing collections of zoological and botanical oddities. The burned out observatory in Rundetårn had contained instruments and records by Tycho Brahe and Ole Rømer. The professors Horrebow, Steenbuch and the two Bartholins lost practically everything. And on top of all that a large part of the city archive of records burnt along with city hall.

Selected place

Rønne - Sct. Nicolai Church
Rønne is the largest town on the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. It has a population of 13,924 (1 January 2010). Once a municipality in its own right, it is now the administrative centre of the Bornholm municipality.

Owing to its natural harbour and its strategic position in the Baltic Sea, Rønne has an interesting history coming under German and Swedish influence during its development as a herring fishing port. Today, with its quaint cobbled streets, half-timbered houses and interesting museums, it attracts visitors mainly from Denmark, Germany, Sweden and Poland.


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