All Danes have a little Viking blood in them. From the 8th-11th centuries the population of Scandinavia was known as Vikings - Norse explorers and merchants, warriors and pirates who raided and raped their way through Europe from around 800 to 1066. The Vikings settled all over Europe, some areas in Asia and the North Atlantic.
Do not fret. They are a little more civilised nowadays. However you will find many traces and artifacts from the Vikings and the Viking Age in Copenhagen.
Copenhagen became capital of Denmark in 1167, when Bishop Absalon founded the city. Over the following years herring fishing brought great wealth to Copenhagen and, under the reign of King Christian IV in the 17th century, the city grew to become the important regional capital it remains today. With a population of 1.9 million, it is the largest city in Scandinavia.
The world's oldest monarchy
Copenhagen is home to the world’s oldest monarchy and an extremely popular royal family. To fully understand the otherwise very modern and democratic Danes’ love for their royal family, one needs to look at our national identity. Denmark is a small country with a population of merely 5.5 million people, and many Danes perceive the royal family as moral protectors and representatives of our nation and way of life.
Danes who lived during World War 2 will remember King Christian 10th of Denmark riding daily through the streets of Copenhagen on his white horse during the German occupation. He was only accompanied by one guard. Danes saw it as a heroic act and a symbol of resistance. A light in the darkness. It made him one of the most popular Danish monarchs of modern times.
Modern royal family
Head of the present royal family is monarch Queen Margrethe 2nd, married to Prince Consort Henrik. Next in line to the Danish throne is their eldest son Crown Prince Frederik, wed to Crown Princess Mary. They have four children: Christian, Isabella, Vincent and Josephine.
Many Danes regard Mary and Frederik as role models and representatives of a modern Danish family, balancing life between work and play. They represent Denmark and Danish values and talents very well internationally. That is also how many of us justify their royal status and financial benefits paid for by the state.
Another reason why Danes love the royal Danish family and especially Queen Margrethe 2nd, is because she has always been very relaxed and down to earth. She literally let her hair down on one occasion, is a heavy smoker, and does not mind showing she is just like the rest of us, and yet not.
Copenhagen politics and Nordic noir
Denmark has a parliamentary democracy. It has the world's highest level of income equality with a mixed market economy and a large welfare state. The Danes are frequently ranked as the happiest people and the least corrupt country in the world.
In 2011 Helle Thorning Schmidt was elected prime minister, as the first woman in the country’s history. She represents The Social Democratic Party, Socialdemokratiet. Denmark is in general a very liberal country with a multi-party structure, where several political parties can be represented in Parliament at any one time.
Danish politics have recently been depicted in award-winning TV series like The Killing and Borgen, inventinga new Nordic noir, and triggering an enormous interest in the Danish parliament and its resident inside Christiansborg Palace on Slotsholmen in Copenhagen.
A Brief History of Denmark's Capital City- Copenhagen
1000s – The first settlement.
1160-67 – Copenhagen founded by Bishop Absalon, counsellor to King Valdemar I. Slotsholmen fortress is built to protect the new city.
1443 - Copenhagen replaces Roskilde as the capital city of Denmark.
1449 - Copenhagen celebrates its first coronation as the nation’s capital, for King Christian I.
1479 -Copenhagen University founded.
1583 - The world's oldest amusement park, Bakken, opens for business. Located just north of the city, you can still enjoy it today.
1588-1648 – Copenhagen’s most remarkable buildings are built during the reign of King Christian IV, including Rosenborg Castle, the Round Tower, the Old Stock Exchange, Copenhagen’s canals and Kastellet (The Old Citadel).
1658 – The Swedes besiege Copenhagen.
1700s – Most of the old medieval city is destroyed by fires during different decades.
1748 – Amalienborg Palace, residence of Denmark’s current Queen, and the Royal Danish Theatre (still at Kongens Nytorvtoday) are built.
1775 – Royal Copenhagen Porcelain founded.
1801-1807 - The British attack Copenhagen.
1830-1840 - Vesterbro, Nørrebro and Østerbro become a part of Copenhagen.
1843 - Tivoli Gardens amusement park founded at the city’s West Gate (Vesterport).
1847 - Carlsberg Brewery founded. The original site will soon be a Carlsberg Experience Centre.
1847 – Copenhagen Central Station (Hovedbanegården) built.
1863 - Copenhagen’s first tram, the first of its kind in Europe. Trams disappeared from city life in 1972.
1875 - Hans Christian Andersen, the world famous fairytale writer, dies in Copenhagen. You can visit his grave in Assisten's Churchyard (Assitens Kirkegaard).
1905 - Copenhagen City Hall (Rådhuset) is completed.
1905 - The first Pølsevogn (Sausage cart) established in Copenhagen.
1910 – Copenhagen opens its first bike path separated from road traffic.
1913 - The Little Mermaid statue is unveiled.
1925 – Copenhagen Airport opens for business.
1940-1945 – Copenhagen and Denmark occupied by the Nazis during WWII.
1962 - The world’s longest pedestrian shopping street, Strøget, is inaugurated for happy shoppers.
1971 – The freetown of Christiania is founded by squatters on an old military site in the city’s Christianshavn district.
2000 – The impressive Oresund Bridge, joining Denmark and Sweden, opens.
2002 – Copenhagen’s first metro line welcomes passengers.
2004 – The distinctive new Opera opens on the waterfront.
2008 - British lifestyle magazine Monocle ranks Copenhagen as the best city in the world to live in.
You don’t have far to go to find yourself in rich and varied countryside in Denmark. With an exceptionally long coastline and hundreds of Danish islands waiting to be explored, Denmark is a haven for beach-lovers. The south coast dramatically meets the Baltic Sea with high cliffs and the whole country is crisscrossed by walking and cycling trails. Whether you are looking for peace and tranquility or the rush of an exhilarating outdoor adventure, Denmark is the place to find it.
Denmark measures 43,098 square kilometers and is located in the European region of Scandinavia and the Baltic. The country is flat without hills and mountains. The highest point is only 173 metres above the sea.
Apart from Jutland, which is attached to Germany, Denmark is a concentration of small islands. The biggest ones are Sealand, where you will find Copenhagen, Funen and Bornholm. Denmark has one of the largest coast lines in Europe, meaning you are never far from the sea.
But Denmark is actually more than that. The Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic and Greenland, which is part of the North American continent, also belong to Denmark but have autonomous self-rule.