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maanantai 8. helmikuuta 2016

Denmark, Cool Facts #98

<= 97. Lithuania                                                                                                              99. Sweden =>

1. Dannebrog 

Denmark has the world's oldest national flag still in use, Dannebrog is the name of the flag. The flag with a cross on red background was adopted in 1625 and the current square shaped flag was adopted in 1748. 

Different variations of the flag had been although used since the 1300s, when it was used in king Valdemar IV Atterdag's coat-of-arms. The legend behind the flag dates back to the 1200s to a battle in Estonia.

It's told that the Danes were fighting against the Estonians in the battle of Lyndanisse. The Danes were losing but then miraculously the Dannebrog fell from the sky, which the king took and showed to the troops, who won the battle after being filled with courage.

No historical record support this legend, which was mentioned twice in written sources from the 1600s.

The Danish flag was a model to all the other Nordic flags and the half-mast custom spread to the world from Denmark. 

Danish flag falling from the sky miraculously

2. Vikings 

The Viking Age extends roughly from the 790s to 1066 until the Norman conquest of England. Norway, Sweden and Denmark were the central areas of the Vikings from where they raided, traded and traveled around Europe.

A large part of the Vikings were Danish and the designation Viking comes from the word "vik", which means "bay" referring to the bay areas in Scandinavia where they lived.

The Viking flag with the black raven spread fear and the illusion of the apocalypse as it was almost 1000 years since the birth of Jesus. The Vikings conquered areas from Germany, France, Scotland and England, mainly from the coastal areas.

First king Gudfred united the Danes in the 800s to defend the expansion of Charlemagne's Empire and in the end of the 900s Harald Bluetooth united Norway and Denmark and succeeded to convert Denmark into Christianity.

Viking Age

3. Kalmar Union

The Kalmar Union was a personal union between Norway, Denmark and Sweden. 

Norway = then including Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands and the Northern Isles
Sweden = then including Finland 

The union lasted from 1397 until 1523 and there were several short interruptions. The countries remained separate independent states, which only had a common monarch with their domestic and foreign policies. 

The union was formed to defend the increasing power of the German Hanseatic League in the Baltic Sea, but the union had internal conflicts between the dominant Danish nobility and the Swedes. 

In 1523 Sweden broke up from the union when Gustav Vasa became the king of Sweden. Norway remained a part of Denmark until 1814.

Kalmar Union map

4. Danish Colonies

Denmark was a colonial empire between the 1500s and 1944, when it lost Iceland. At its apex the Danes had colonies in Europe, South America, Africa and Asia covering an area of about 3 million square km in 1800. 

The downfall of the Danish colonial empire was caused by the lack of sufficient resources. Thus Denmark was quickly eclipsed by France, Britain and the Netherlands as a colonial power. 


Estonia - In the 13th-14th century and between 1559-1645 other parts of Estonia 
Greenland 1814 - Denmark took Greenland from Norway as Norway was annexed to Sweden after the Napoleonic Wars
Faroe Island 1814 - Denmark inherited them from Norway after the Napoleonic Wars

Iceland 1814 - Denmark inherited them from Norway after the Napoleonic Wars


India 1620 - Denmark-Norway's first colony at Tranquebar, later the towns of Achne and Pirapur near Calcutta in the late 1700s
Nicobar Islands -  in the Indian Ocean 1754 to 1868


Ghana 1661 - various trading stations, which were later purchased by Sweden

South America 

Danish West Indies - St. Thomas in 1671, St. Jan in 1718, St. Croix in 1733. These all were sold to USA in 1916 for 25 million dollars

Danish colonies, green areas and dots

5. Danish Society 

- 4th highest ratio of tertiary degree holders in the world 
- one of the highest minimum wages in the world - first country to legalize porn in 1969
- first country to create "registered partnership" laws in 1989
- one of the lowest levels of income inequality

Porn in the world: Green = legal, Yellow = legal under some restrictions, Red = illegal 
Same-sex marriages, blue = marriage open to same-sex couples


700 Denmark's oldest city, Ribe was founded
700-1000s Dans, Swedes and Norwegians colonized, raided and traded in all parts of Europe
800s Viking explorers discovered Iceland by accident
965 Harald Bluetooth united and Christianized the Danes
1000s Danish vikings conquered and settled parts of England and Ireland and together with Norwegian vikings founded Normandy in France
1000s Cnut the Great united England, Norway and Denmark for almost 30 years
1200s Danes occupied Sweden's southern parts from where king Valdemar II started conquering areas from northern Estonia
1219 Danish rule in Tallinn and northern Estonia started
1397 Denmark enters into a personal union with Sweden and Norway called the Kalmar Union
1459 Schleswig-Holstein is incorporated into Denmark
1523 Sweden separated from the Kalmar Union
1536 Denmark converted into Lutheranism
1611-1613 Kalmar War, Denmark tried to force Sweden to return to the union
1644 Sweden claimed Scania from Denmark
1645 Treaty of Bromsebro, Denmark surrenders Halland, Gotland and the last parts of Danish Estonia
1658 Peace of Roskilde, Denmark had unsuccessfully attacked Sweden and lost a lot of areas to Sweden
1675-1679 Denmark tried to regain Scania in the unsuccessful Scanian War
1700-1721 Great Northern War, Denmark restored the control of Schleswig and Holstein
1807-1814 Gunboat War, Denmark-Norway against the United Kingdom
1814 After the Napoleon Wars the Danish-Norwegian union was dissolved, but Denmark kept Iceland, Greenland and Faroe Islands, which had been governed by Norway for centuries
1849 After the European Revolutions in 1848 Denmark became a constitutional monarchy
1864 Second Schleswig War against Prussia and Habsburg Austria, where it lost Schleswig and Holstein to Prussia
1910s Denmark remained neutral during the World War 
1920 Northern Schleswig was recovered by Denmark after a plebiscite
1939 Denmark signed a 10-year non-aggression pact with Germany
1940 Despite the pact, Nazi Germany invaded Denmark 
1944 Iceland, which was occupied by the British, became independent from Denmark
1945 German occupation ended in Denmark after the Germans surrendered and lost the war
1949 Denmark joined Nato
1973 Denmark joined the European Economic Community
2000 After a referendum Denmark rejected using the Euro
2009 Denmark awarded Greenland self-determination 

"Maailman maat liput ja historia" by Kimmo Kiljunen

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