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By Norbert Figueroa, an experienced architect, travel writer, long-term budget traveler, and photographer with over 13 years of travel experience in over 139 countries and counting. @globotreks

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When most people think about Denmark, they associate it with a very specific part of northern Europe and its history. Denmark is, of course, part of the great Viking History, where stories of tough warriors from snow-laden lands would invade much of Western Europe and beyond.

Denmark does have a lot of fascinating history beyond that, though. Through various ancient traditions, modern cultural phenomena, and interesting notes about the Danish flag, Danish language, and culture, there’s plenty to talk about when it comes to Denmark.

As a European country and an active member of the European Union, the Danish government has a notable impact on European and world culture and economics. The country still uses Danish Krone as opposed to the Euro, though. It is a constitutional monarchy, with one of the oldest Royal families at the head.

Copenhagen, where the Danish Parliament sits, also happens to be one of the best cities in Europe to cycle. So here’s a fun list of awesome tidbits to regale your dinner guests with, all of which you can list as legitimate facts about Denmark.

Key Facts About Denmark

It’s useful to start with the basic historical and fun facts about Denmark and what makes it such a fascinating county, even before you dig into the interesting culture and history.

Map of Denmark

1. Denmark is an… Island Paradise?

In a manner of speaking, Denmark is an island paradise, though not like the traditional tropical one. The country consists of a peninsula (The Jutland Peninsula), and more than 400 islands in the northwestern part of Europe.

Bizarrely, only 76 of them have people living on them. All of Denmark has less than six million people living in it in total.

The Forest Tower near Copenhagen, Denmark

2. Denmark Has No Mountains

Denmark has more than 400 islands but no mountains! Maybe you could think of those islands as “mountains in the sea.”

On a sadder note, most of Denmark was once covered in forest. Long before conservation was an issue, though, most of the trees in Denmark were chopped down. More efforts exist today to either restore or conserve nature in most of the world, including Denmark.

Still, Denmark has made efforts to showcase the best of their nature (and expansive flat lands) with miradors like The Forest Tower and the lost giant statues.

This incredible piece of innovative architecture allows visitors to marvel at its unique design while admiring the nature of the surrounding forest. Climb the tower and walk the walkways to the observation deck for a stunning view 460 feet (140 m) above sea level.

So we know that the country is relatively flat, which leads to the next fact very conveniently. There are also nearly 7,500 miles of cycling tracks and trails in the country.

3. Denmark has a Strong Bicycle Culture And a Cycling Embassy

Maybe the lack of mountains contributed to the fact that there are bicycles everywhere you look in Denmark. There are no steep mountains to struggle up!

So many people use bicycles in Denmark that several cycling organizations and experts gathered and formed a cycling embassy. It’s a formal authority that consults on town planning, cycling safety, and public knowledge and resources.

Tivoli Gardens in Denmark

4. Denmark Has the World’s Oldest Amusement Parks

It turns out that Denmark has the oldest amusement park as far as anyone can remember. In fact, it has the two oldest. Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark, opened in 1843 and is still a major attraction today. It is the second oldest in the country. Walt Disney is said to have visited here, inspiring his own concept for a park.

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The oldest amusement park in the world is Dyrehavsbakken (Bakken for short), about 20 minutes outside Copenhagen. It started out as a natural spring attraction in 1583. People would journey here to relax and drink the refreshing waters.

Over time, merchants and entrepreneurs set up trading posts in the area, and the site evolved into what we today would call an amusement park. This was further developed in the 1600s when King Frederick decided to add an animal park.

Facts About The Danish Language

To the foreign ear, the Danish language may at first seem rather impenetrable. But it is a beautiful language to listen to, especially if you know a little about its makeup and history.

5. Danish Came From Old Norse

Danish is one of several languages that separated from Old Norse, which was used by the original Vikings. Along with Swedish and Norwegian, the languages seem to have separated some time between 250 AD and 1000 AD.

Writing with an Old Pen

6. Extra Words in Danish

In most vernaculars, there are words that are unique. They may come to mean specific things that only speakers of the language understand. In the case of the Danish, they have a few words that do not have a direct translation.

For example, one unique Danish word is “hygge”,  which refers to a feeling of togetherness or community. Maybe that’s why you sense a unique feeling of soul and unity in the streets of Danish old towns.

7. Missing Words

Conversely, some words used in many other languages do not have an equivalent in Danish. A funny example: “Please”. Such a word simply does not exist in the land of the Danes.

8. Extra Letters

There are a few additional letters in the Danish alphabet that sets it apart from other Latin and German-based languages. Using our common alphabet, these letters are written with additional symbols such as Æ, Ø, and Å. There are a few other tricky bits in the language, too, like specific pronunciations, that you wouldn’t find in conventional English.

Interesting Facts About the Danish Flag

The Danish Flag has a fascinating history, which includes a legend that may have had a few embellishments added through the years.

Denmark's Flag

9. The Legend of Dannebrog

Dannebrog is the name of the flag of Denmark. It is said that Danish King Valdemar II undertook an invasion of modern-day Estonia, which at one point saw him close to defeat.

Close to the end, the heavens opened up, and a flag fell from the sky. At that moment, the Danes rallied and won an unlikely and incredible victory, becoming a true Danish kingdom in the process.

10. Dannebrog is The World’s Oldest National Flag

Whether or not you accept the legend, Dannebrog has been in use since 1219 – more than 800 years. It is, therefore, easily the oldest flag representing a state in the world.

The colors have been used by the Danish Monarchy, with the red fittingly representing battle and the white cross the advent of Christianity to the region. Does that make Denmark the First Country, so to speak, of Planet Earth?

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Facts About Danish History

Like the oldest flag accolade, much of Danish History casts a long shadow within Denmark’s culture and across the world. Danish history also contains some of the most interesting Denmark facts.

Viking Runes and a Feather

11. The Viking Age

The Viking aspect of Scandinavian history remains fascinating to all and sundry, in part because of their reputation for exploration and conquest. The Age is recognized as starting in 793 AD, with expansion across what is today England, France, parts of Europe, and some say the Americas.

12. The Norse Kingdom

The Viking Age technically lasted around 250 years but was incredibly successful. It’s believed that at one point, Kings Sweyn Forkbeard and his heir Canute the Great were rulers of Denmark, Norway, parts of Sweden, France, England, Shetland, the Faroe Islands, and even Greenland. That’s a nice kingdom if you can control it!

13. The Defiance of King Christian

It’s no surprise that the Danish nobility carries a proud history. In a more modern example of what that means, it’s worth noting the defiance of King Christian X.

During World War II, when the German forces occupied Denmark, the King would ride around the capital city of Copenhagen on his horse, with no bodyguards. He also famously saved scores of Danish Jews against Nazi persecution.

Facts About the Danish Monarchy

In light of that historic gesture from King Christian X, it is interesting to note some other unique, interesting Denmark facts with regard to the Monarchy. For the record, the current monarch of Denmark is King Christian’s granddaughter.

14. Queen Margrethe’s Royal Heritage

The Danish Royal Line is considered one of the oldest in the world. It dates back over 1000 years. The current monarch is officially named Queen Margrethe II. The first monarch in her line, the colorfully-named Gorm the Old, was said to be born around 900 AD.

White iPhone with Bluetooth On

15. The Bluetooth Connection

The royal line also contains the famously-named Danish King Harald Bluetooth, who it is said provided the name for the modern communication protocol. The story goes that Harald united a bunch of disparate tribes under the Danish flag, and Bluetooth today connects devices, so… that sort of makes sense. Right?

16. Denmark Hasn’t Had Many Queens

Queen Margrethe II is only the second Danish Queen since the 14th century due to the old rules of succession. Under those rules, only the oldest living son could succeed to the throne. Those rules were changed only as recently as 2009. Now, the oldest child, regardless of gender, can inherit the throne.

The previous Queen before Margrethe II was Margrethe I (not hard to remember), who reigned between 1388 and 1412.

17. There Aren’t Many Monarch Names

One of the most interesting fun facts about Denmark concerns names. As a Danish Monarch, you don’t seem to have much choice when it comes to a name. Kings have been named either Christian or Frederick since 1513. Usually, a father named one would name his first son the other. We already know the story with Margrethes.

18. Denmark’s Royal Family is Very Down-to-Earth

A truly heartwarming fact about Denmark concerns its monarchy. Unlike some other monarchies and Royal Families, the monarchy seems to have little time for pomp and ceremony when it comes to daily life.

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The family’s young children attend ordinary public schools, and adult members can be seen shopping at normal grocery stores or cycling about the city like every other citizen.

Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark

19. There are Nine Official Royal Castles

Despite being pretty much a casual bunch of folks when it comes to daily life, the Royal Family still lives in a castle. In fact, they own nine across the country. They mainly live in Copenhagen, though, at the gorgeous, storied Amalienborg Palace. To their credit, they do allow part of it to be used as a museum for the public.

Kronborg Castle in Denmark

20. Hamlet’s Castle is Also in Denmark

In Shakespeare’s iconic play, Hamlet, the Danish Prince travels home to face his father’s murderer. Much of the story references Kronborg Castle in Helsingør. The castle is also listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Interesting Facts About Danish Culture

If you’re planning to visit Denmark or understand a little more about Danish traditions and its people, here are some facts about Denmark culture to marvel at. Here are a few Danish traditions we could all get behind.

21. Denmark is the World’s Happiest Country

Numerous wellness surveys routinely place Danish society on top (or very near the top) of happiness index lists, suggesting that this is one of the happiest populations in the world. A lot of it has to do with lifestyle, security, social services and general public life.

22. You Are No Better Than Anyone Else

In Denmark, that idea is sort of a law. It may not be a legislated piece of paper, but it is considered in all aspects of life and law and officially referred to as “Janteloven”.

In a nutshell, it implies that what is good for one is good for everyone, and the same applies to bad. Maybe that’s why the Royal Family has no issue with participating in public life like everyone else. Sometimes it feels like we all need a little more Janteloven in the world.

Biking in Copenhagen, Denmark

23. More Danes Own Bicycles Than Cars

As previously mentioned, bicycles are a major deal in Denmark. The stats reveal that nine out of ten Danes own a bicycle, while only four out of ten own a car. More than half of all Danes cycle to and from work every day. No wonder Danish people are so happy – they stay fit and get lots of fresh air.

24. Danes Prefer Family Time Over Going Out

You are more likely to find a Danish family gathering for dinner at home than find them out at a restaurant. Danish culture seems to value the idea of gathering to talk about the day and life in general rather than the pursuit of a party in social circumstances.

Canal in Copenhagen

Which Fun Fact about Denmark Intrigues You Most?

These fun facts about Denmark are just a few of the amazing things to know about this beautiful country. We haven’t even discussed the standard lunch or smorrebrod, or the boat experiences. Don’t worry; if you intend to visit here, know that you will not be bored or disappointed.

For more interesting and fun facts about Nordic countries, find out more about Askja, routinely called the most beautiful place in Iceland.

24 Fascinating & Fun Facts About Denmark & Its Culture
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