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13 Facts That Will Change What You Think About Denmark

13 Facts That Will Change What You Think About Denmark

Picture of Aliki Seferou
Updated: 2 January 2018

Denmark is known for being Hans Christian Andersen‘s birthplace, for the Little Mermaid statue, and for being the Happiest Nation worldwide. However, there are much more to know about this small Scandinavian country that most foreigners haven’t found out yet.

Copenhagen has more bikes than cars

In 2016, bikes outnumbered cars in Copenhagen for the first time since 1970. Over the past few decades the Danish government had been trying to make Copenhagen a cycle city and it seems they’ve been rewarded for their efforts and the huge amount of money they spent for infrastructures. Last year bicycle censors counted 265,700 bikes and only 252,600 cars, which led to a new problem: extensive bike traffic in the center of Copenhagen.

Bike traffic at Nørrebrogade | © Aliki Seferou

Danes follow the ten rules of Jante Law

It is said that the way the Danish society works nowadays is in a great extent based on the Law of Jante, 10 rules that Dano-Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose had written in his novel Fugitive Crosses His Tracks (En flyktning krysser sitt spor) back in 1933. According to these 10 rules, no one should believe that he/she is special or better compared the rest of the community and that everyone should show humility. Janteloven has many supporters claiming that the Danish society is among the best in the world because of these principles, as well as opponents who believe that because of these principles Danes are characterized by homogeneity.

Denmark has a birthrate problem

In the past few years, Denmark has been facing a birth rate decline, even though in 2014 there was an increase in fertility rate. According to government statistics in 2013, the birthrate was 10 per 1,000 residents, which is the lowest since 1983 and in 2012, only 57,916 children were born. Therefore campaigns that aim to increase the birthrate are often released. The most known are the bizarre and, for some, funny campaigns, like “Do it for Denmark and “Do it for Mom that were launched in 2014 and 2015 from Spies Rejser company. 

Denmark #29 Tornby Strand

Baby stroll | © Nelson L./Flickr | © Nelson L. / Flickr

The jewelry law

In 2016 Denmark passed a law which allows the seizure of jewelry and other valuable items worth of more than 10,000 kroner (1,595 US$) from asylum seekers in order to cover their expenses while they’re in the country. Even though many European countries and organizations criticized this decision, the Danish parliament voted on the law in January last year.

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Jewelry | © Linnaea Mallette / Public Domain | © Linnaea Mallette / Public Domain

Among the top countries for antidepressant use

Many people know that Denmark has ranked first more than once on the World Happiness Report. What they probably don’t know though is that the so called World’s Happiest nation is among the top countries when it comes to antidepressant consumption. According to a report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in Denmark, around 80 out of 1000 people take antidepressants daily.

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Pills | © Erich Ferdinand/Flickr | © Erich Ferdinand / Flickr

Danes have the world’s highest household debts

In 2016 Denmark was on the top of the list as one of the most positive to spend countries. Danes love giving themselves a special treat, but sometimes more often than they should. Until 2014 they had the world’s largest household debts, with 305% of disposable income. It seems that saving money wasn’t a part of Danes’ habits for many years. Statistics now show that this has started to change and more and more people have started using saving jars.

Denmark has the oldest monarchy in Europe

Even though historians still debate this, many claim that the Danish monarchy is the oldest continuous monarchy in Europe and the fourth oldest worldwide, with Japan being the first. According to historical evidence, the Kingdom of Denmark was formed in the 10th century by Harald Bluetooth, who was the country’s first king. Nowadays, Queen Margrethe II is the head of the Danish Royal Family.

Their habit to hygge has become an international success

The Danish concept of hygge has become internationally known, and nowadays more than 700 books have been published all over the world on the subject. Hygge can’t be exactly translated in other languages, but it’s about finding the real meaning of life and being cozy and relaxed, surrounded by your beloved ones. It seems like many people around the world want to reach the Danish version of happiness and therefore the concept of hygge has become a commercial success worldwide, and hundreds of items, garments, and delicacies that are supposed to bring hygge into people’s lives are sold.

Their traditional smørrebrød’s history traces back to 19th century

The traditional Danish delicacy, smørrebrød, that nowadays is served at high-end restaurants not only in Denmark, but in countries all over the world. In the 19th century, it used to be farmers’ main meal. The open-faced sandwich that is combined with salmon, frikadeller, or fresh vegetables, at the time, was a slice of bread with yesterday’s leftovers on top.

Salmon on smørrebrød | © Aliki Seferou

Pigs outnumber humans in Denmark

Denmark is among the world’s largest pig meat exporters and a large part of the country’s income is based on the pig industry. It’s estimated that every year, 28 million pigs are produced and more than 70% are exported to other European countries. The Danish pig meat industry is so big that nowadays there are 5.2 pigs per human in the country.

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Party pigs | © Tim Geers/Flickr | © Tim Geers / Flickr

Denmark was the first to recognize same-sex unions

It is known that Denmark is one of the most LGBTQ friendly countries in the world, and every year in August, thousands of people head to the country’s capital for Copenhagen Pride. It is worth mentioning that Denmark has legalized same sexual activities since 1933 and was the first country to pass a law that recognized same-sex unions.

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Copenhagen Pride | © Leif Jørgensen/Wikimedia Commons  | © Leif Jørgensen / WIkimedia Commons

Shakespeare was inspired to write Hamlet in a Danish castle

The castle that inspired Shakespeare to write Hamlet is located in Denmark and is open to visitors who want to explore all the hidden cellars and listen to the secret stories of the kings and queens who used to live there. Kronborg Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and every year, attracts hundreds of tourists who want see Hamlet performed by professional actors in the actual place that the renowned English poet had imagined the drama taking place.  

Danes are the world’s second-largest candy eaters

According to a report that was released in 2015 by Sugar Confectionary Europe, Danes have a guilty pleasure: candy. Their love for candy has placed them second on the list of Europe’s biggest candy consumers and that means they consume twice as much as the average person in other European countries. Candy can never be missed when it’s time for hygge and many claim that this a reason that the country’s average consumption is so high.

Fried Eggs Candy Colors Eggs Boqueria Sweets

Candy Unknown | © Max Pixel | Unknown / maxpixel