Denmark is simultaneously both the southernmost Scandinavian and Nordic country, a geographical location that has made the country to be seen as the gateway to the Nordics as well as the gateway to the Baltic Sea.
This strategic geographical location has played its part in making the Danish capital Copenhagen into the most populous Nordic city and an important transport hub.
Denmark is a country with close relation to the sea – no place in Denmark is more than 50 km from the sea – and a large part of the country consists of islands in varying sizes. The largest of the islands being Zealand (Sjælland), where Copenhagen is situated.
Denmark is a part of the large North European lowland which stretches from Belgium all the way into eastern Europe. The landscape is dominated by plains with low hills, never higher than 170 m.
The Kingdom of Denmark is traditionally considered to be founded by the Norse viking Gorm, who proclamed himself king of Denmark in AD 950.
Between 1397 and 1523 Denmark was in a personal union with Norway and Sweden – the Union of Kalmar.
In 1660 Denmark was forced to cede all of what had up until then been east Denmark – the provinces of Scania, Halland and Blekinge to Sweden. Also the island of Bornholm was ceded but returned to Danish rule a couple of years later due to a popular uprising.
During the Second World War Denmark was invaded by Nazi Germany on 9 April 1940 and remained occupied up until the end days of the war.
Denmark was one of the founding members of NATO and joined the European Community in the 1970s, the first of the Nordic countries to do so.
In the year 2000 the Öresund Bridge linking Denmark and Sweden was inaugurated. Another bridge between Danish Rødby and German Puttgarden providing for a straighter land route between Copenhagen and northern Germany is under construction.
Denmark is a parliamentary monarchy where the legislative power is vested in the unicameral parliament (Folketinget) which consists of 179 members. Due to the low two percent treshold for how many votes are needed to get a seat it is common with ten parties or more to be represented in parliament, leading to coalition governments being the norm.
The monarch – currently queen Margrethe II – is head of state and as such formally the one to propose a candidate for prime minister. Since the prime minister has to have the support of the parliament it is however a formal duty without influence. The monarch also has to sign new laws into force but refusal to do so is considered unthinkable.