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Denmark - Background:  
Once the seat of Viking raiders and later a major north European power, Denmark has evolved into a modern, prosperous nation that is participating in the general political and economic integration of Europe. It joined NATO in 1949 and the EEC (now the EU) in 1973. However, the country has opted out of certain elements of the European Union's Maastricht Treaty, including the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), European defense cooperation, and issues concerning certain justice and home affairs.  

Location:
Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, on a peninsula north of Germany (Jutland); also includes two major islands (Sjaelland and Fyn)  
note: includes the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea and the rest of metropolitan Denmark (the Jutland Peninsula, and the major islands of Sjaelland and Fyn), but excludes the Faroe Islands and Greenland  

Natural hazards:  
flooding is a threat in some areas of the country (e.g., parts of Jutland, along the southern coast of the island of Lolland) that are protected from the sea by a system of dikes  

Geography - note:  
controls Danish Straits (Skagerrak and Kattegat) linking Baltic and North Seas; about one-quarter of the population lives in greater Copenhagen  

People    
Population: 5,432,335 (July 2005 est.)  

Ethnic groups:  
Scandinavian, Inuit, Faroese, German, Turkish, Iranian, Somali  

Religions:
Evangelical Lutheran 95%, other Protestant and Roman Catholic 3%, Muslim 2%  

Languages
Danish, Faroese, Greenlandic (an Inuit dialect), German (small minority)
note: English is the predominant second language  

Country name:  
conventional long form: Kingdom of Denmark
conventional short form: Denmark
local long form: Kongeriget Danmark
local short form: Danmark  

Government type:  
constitutional monarchy  

Capital:
Copenhagen  

Administrative divisions:
metropolitan Denmark - 14 counties (amter, singular - amt) and 2 boroughs* (amtskommuner, singular - amtskommune); Arhus, Bornholm, Frederiksberg*, Frederiksborg, Fyn, Kobenhavn, Kobenhavns*, Nordjylland, Ribe, Ringkobing, Roskilde, Sonderjylland, Storstrom, Vejle, Vestsjalland, Viborg
note: see separate entries for the Faroe Islands and Greenland, which are part of the Kingdom of Denmark and are self-governing overseas administrative divisions  
Independence:  first organized as a unified state in 10th century; in 1849 became a constitutional monarchy  
National holiday:   none designated; Constitution Day, 5 June (1849) is generally viewed as the National Day  
Constitution:   5 June 1849 adoption of original constitution; a major overhaul of 5 June 1953 allowed for a unicameral legislature and a female chief of state  

Legislative branch:
unicameral People's Assembly or Folketing (179 seats, including 2 from Greenland and 2 from the Faroe Islands; members are elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 8 February 2005 (next to be held February 2009)
election results: percent of vote by party - Liberal Party 29%, Social Democrats 25.9%, Danish People's Party 13.2%, Conservative Party 10.3%, Social Liberal Party 9.2%, Socialist People's Party 6%, Unity List 3.4%; seats by party - Liberal Party 52, Social Democrats 47, Danish People's Party 24, Conservative Party 19, Social Liberal Party 16, Socialist People's Party 11, Unity List 6; note - does not include the 2 seats from Greenland and the 2 seats from the Faroe Islands  

Flag description:  
red with a white cross that extends to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side, and that design element of the Dannebrog (Danish flag) was subsequently adopted by the other Nordic countries of Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden  

Economy   
This thoroughly modern market economy features high-tech agriculture, up-to-date small-scale and corporate industry, extensive government welfare measures, comfortable living standards, a stable currency, and high dependence on foreign trade. Denmark is a net exporter of food and energy and enjoys a comfortable balance of payments surplus. Government objectives include streamlining the bureaucracy and further privatization of state assets. The government has been successful in meeting, and even exceeding, the economic convergence criteria for participating in the third phase (a common European currency) of the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), but Denmark has decided not to join 12 other EU members in the euro; even so, the Danish krone remains pegged to the euro. Growth in 2004 was sluggish, yet above the scanty 0.3% of 2003. Because of high GDP per capita, welfare benefits, a low Gini index, and political stability, the Danish people enjoy living standards topped by no other nation. A major long-term issue will be the sharp decline in the ratio of workers to retirees.  

Disputes - international:  
Iceland disputes the Faroe Islands' fisheries median line; Iceland, the UK, and Ireland dispute Denmark's claim that the Faroe Islands' continental shelf extends beyond 200 nm; Faroese continue to study proposals for full independence; uncontested sovereignty dispute with Canada over Hans Island in the Kennedy Channel between Ellesmere Island and Greenland




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