1. A constitutional monarchy in northern Europe; Also called: Danmark.
2. City in South Carolina (USA); zip code 29042.
3. Village in Wisconsin (USA); zip code 54208.
Peninsula and islands in N Europe, bounded N by the Skagerrak, E by the Kattegat, S by Germany, and W by the North Sea.
Under the 1953 constitution (Grundlov), there is a hereditary monarch with no personal political power and a single-chamber parliament, the Folketing. The prime minister and cabinet are drawn from and responsible to the Folketing, which has 179 members elected by adult franchise— 175 representing metropolitan Denmark, two for the Faroe Islands, and two for Greenland. Voting is by proportional representation; the Folketing has a life of four years but may be dissolved within this period if the government is defeated on a vote of confidence. The government need only resign on what it itself defines as a “vital element” of policy.
The original home of the Danes was Sweden, and they migrated in the 5th and 6th centuries. Ruled by local chieftains, they terrified Europe by their piratical raids during the 8th–10th centuries, until Harald Bluetooth (c. 940–985) unified Denmark and established Christianity. King Canute (ruled 1014–35) founded an empire embracing Denmark, England, and Norway, which fell apart at his death. After a century of confusion Denmark again dominated the Baltic under Waldemar I (ruled 1157–82), Canute VI (ruled 1182–1202), and Waldemar II (ruled 1202–41). Domestic conflict then produced anarchy, until Waldemar IV (ruled 1340–75) restored order. Denmark, Norway, and Sweden were united under one sovereign 1397.
Loss of Sweden.
Sweden broke away 1449 and after a long struggle had its independence recognized 1523. Christian I (ruled 1448–81) secured the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, fiefs of the Holy Roman Empire, in 1460, and they were held by his descendants until 1863. Christian II (ruled 1513–23) was deposed in favor of his uncle Frederick, whose son Christian III (ruled 1535–59) made Lutheranism the established religion 1536. Attempts to regain Sweden led to disastrous wars with that country 1563–70, 1643–45, and 1657–60; equally disastrous was Christian IV's intervention, 1625–29, on the Protestant side of the Thirty Years' War.
Policy of neutrality.
Frederick III (ruled 1648–70) made himself absolute monarch 1665 and ruled through a burgher bureaucracy. Serfdom was abolished 1788. Denmark's adherence 1780 to armed neutrality against Britain resulted in the naval defeat of Copenhagen 1801, and in 1807 the British bombarded Copenhagen and seized the Danish fleet to keep it from the expansionist French emperor Napoleon. This incident drove Denmark into the arms of France, and the Allies at the Congress of Vienna took Norway from Denmark and gave it to Sweden 1815. A liberal movement then arose that in 1848–49 compelled Frederick VII (ruled 1848–63) to grant a democratic constitution. The Germans in Schleswig-Holstein revolted with Prussian support 1848–50, and Prussia seized the provinces 1864 after a short war. North Schleswig was recovered after a plebiscite 1920.
Neutral in World War I, Denmark tried to preserve its neutrality 1939 by signing a pact with Hitler, but was occupied by Germany 1940–45. Although traditionally neutral, the country joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) 1949 and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) 1960 but resigned 1973 to join the European Economic Community (EEC). Iceland was part of the Danish kingdom until 1945 and the other parts of nonmetropolitan Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, were given special recognition by a constitution that has been adapted to meet changing circumstances.
Moderation in politics.
Left-wing policies have dominated Danish politics, and proportional representation has encouraged a moderate approach. In a referendum 1992 on European Community (EC) policies, the Danish people rejected the Maastricht Treaty, triggering referendums and debates elsewhere in the EC. The Danish government subsequently proposed modifications (codicils) and the treaty was approved in a second referendum May 1993.
Prime Minister Poul Schlüter resigned Jan 1993 after 11 years in office, accused of lying over his role in an incident involving Tamil refugees. He was succeeded by Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, heading a Social Democrat-led coalition. The 1994 general election saw greater support for left-wing parties but allowed Rasmussen to continue in office with a reconstituted coalition.
Država na severu Evrope.