Denmark may not take up much space on a map of the world, but this small nation has a long tradition of exporting high-quality culture. Names like Odense-born fairy-tale writer Hans Christian Andersen, Soren Kierkegaard and Lars von Trier are instantly recognisable to most people, but these are just the tip of the Danish cultural iceberg.
It is a little-known fact that the German poet Rilke taught himself Danish in order to read the novel Niels Lyhne by Jens Peter Jacobsen. Jacobsen was not only a great inspiration to Rilke, but indeed also to another German literary legend, Thomas Mann. Peter Hoeg put the spotlight on Denmark in the 90s with his bestselling novel Smilla's Sense of Snow, which is set in both Copenhagen and Greenland. Other notable writers to look out for include Hans Scherfig, Nobel prize winners Johannes V. Jensen and Henrik Pontoppidan as well as of course the very famous Karen Blixen who wrote under the name Isak Dinesen. Denmark has also made its mark on the world of cinema. Carl Th. Dreyer was a pioneer within the filmmaking industry, but it will undoubtedly be the Dogme-brethren Lars von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg and Soren Kragh-Jacobsen as well as Academy Award-winning director, Bille August who will spring to people's mind.
In recent years the Danish female directors Susanne Bier and Lone Scherfig have also attracted quite a lot of attention with highly praised films such as Brothers, After the Wedding and Italian For Beginners.