The unification of the country under a central power began 700 AD and during much of the Viking Age (from c. 800), and completed under Harold I Bluetooth (d. 987) in the form of a strong royal power. Denmark is still officially a monarchy. Denmark consist of 5,3 mill. people mainly living on Jutland and the main islands Sealand and Funen. Greenland and the Faeroe Islands - which are also under Danish rule - have obtained increased sovereignty (home rule) - though the struggle for self-government continues, especially on the Faeroe Islands.
The industrialisation of Denmark came relatively late by European standards. Though industrialisation slowly expanded in the late 19th C. it was not until the mid 1950s (and the help of the Marshall Plan) that industrialisation really took off. In 1963, the value of industrial exports for the first time surpassed that of agriculture. Traditionally, Denmark's foreign trade has been intense. Denmark co-operates closely with the economic organisations: EEC, OECD and WTO. Regarding Foreign and Defence Policy Denmark co-operates closely with the Nordic countries, the EU, the UN and NATO.
By early and continuous influence of the Social Democrat/Social Liberal governments Denmark was one of the first countries in the world to establish a public welfare system. In the period from the 1890s to the 1930s, the welfare system was properly established expanded in the 1930s, as a so-called national insurance system. The Danish welfare state is - like many other European welfare states - currently undergoing change or 'modernization', privatisation and restructuring.
Danish society is often said to be characterised by a high degree of homogeneity and consensus. Danes often like to see themselves as one - 'the people'. Nevertheless, there are many political parties in the Danish parliament, the Folketing - and one of the major issues on the popular and political agenda has been the (so called) threat of the appearing multicultural and multiethnic society. The Danish political system is traditionally characterised by compromises and coalitions between centre left (Social democrats) and right (Liberals and Conservatives). Successive governments has thus over the last 5-10 years introduced still more strict laws on emigration and (refugee) integration - answering the disturbing rise of populist racism.
Notable aspects of Danish welfare state policies has been its fundamental universalism and its general commitment to the provision of publicly funded care services, such as child care provision (with pedagogical objectives) for children from the age of 6 months. No doubt this has been a central prerequisite for the very high level of women participating in the labour force.
Last Modified: 15.04.2002