The first humans in Denmark arrived about 10,000 BC after the end of the last Ice Age. The first Danes were Stone Age hunters and fishermen. However about 4,000 BC farming was introduced into Denmark. The earliest Danish farmers used stone tools and weapons. However about 1,800 BC bronze was introduced into Denmark. Danish craftsmen soon became expert at making goods from bronze. By 500 BC iron was introduced into Denmark. The Iron Age Danes had contact with the Romans. They sold Roman merchants slaves, furs, skins and amber in return for Mediterranean luxuries. Furthermore by about 200 AD the Danes had started to use Runes (a form of writing) for inscriptions.
After the fall of the Roman Empire in the West in the 5th century the Danes continued to trade with the eastern half of the Roman Empire, which became known as the Byzantine Empire.
DENMARK IN THE 19th CENTURY
During the war the British navy tried to stop France importing war materials so they stopped and searched vessels from neutral countries. In 1794 Denmark and Sweden formed an armed neutrality to stop the British doing this .In 1800 Russia and Prussia joined. Britain decided to take action. In 1801 a British fleet under Nelson attacked a Danish fleet in Copenhagen Harbor and destroyed part of it.
In 1805 the French fleet was destroyed at Trafalgar. Britain feared the French might seize the Danish fleet and use it to attack Britain. Therefore the British fleet attacked Copenhagen. The British ships bombarded the city and fired rockets at it. Parts of Copenhagen were burned. Copenhagen was forced to surrender and the British took the Danish fleet.
Worse was to come. In 1813 the Swedes attacked Norway. In 1814 Denmark was forced to surrender Norway to them.
On a brighter note in 1814 universal primary education was introduced into Denmark.
Moreover during the 19th century the kings power was gradually reduced. In 1834 the king created 4 assemblies called diets for the islands (including Iceland), Jutland, Slesvig and Holstein. Only men who owned a certain amount of property could vote and the diets only had the power to advise the king but it was a start
Furthermore between 1837 and 1841 local self-government was created in Denmark. Yet the liberals demanded more reforms. So finally in 1849 King Frederick VII agreed to a new constitution. A new assembly was formed made up of 2 houses, the Folketing and Landsting. Freedom of the press and of religion were also granted in Denmark.
Joined to Denmark were two duchies, Holstein and Slesvig. Holstein was German but Slesvig had a mixed German and Danish population. The Danes tried to make Slesvig an integral part of Denmark. As a result a rebellion began in Slesvig-Holstein. The Prussians and other Germans intervened but the Tsar persuaded them to withdraw. The war against Slesvig-Holstein ended in January 1851. By agreements of 1851 and 1852 the Danes agreed not to try and make Slesvig closer to Denmark than Holstein.
However war began again in 1864. Despite the agreement Denmark tried to absorb Slesvig in 1863. On 1 February 1864 Prussian and Austrian forces crossed the Eider. The Danes fought bravely but the Germans occupied Jutland and they captured the island of Als (a Danish stronghold). So on 20 July peace talks began. In October the two duchies were surrendered to Prussia and Austria by the Treaty of Vienna.
Despite this disaster the Danish economy grew rapidly in the late 19th century. Land was drained for farming. The brewing and sugar beet industries boomed. Engineering and shipbuilding flourished. Meanwhile Copenhagen grew very rapidly. By 1911 it had a population of 560,000. In 1870 only about 25% of the population of Denmark was urban but by 1901 it had reached 44%. (Today the figure is about 70%).
DENMARK IN THE 20th CENTURY
Denmark remained neutral during the First World War and in 1915 the constitution was changed to make it more democratic. Women in Denmark were granted the right to vote.
Denmark suffered severely during the depression of the 1930s. Unemployment soared. At the worst point in 1932-1933 it reached 32%. The government responded by creating public works to reduce the numbers of unemployed. At the same time a number of laws were passed to create a generous welfare state.
However in the early 21st century the Danish economy began to flourish and unemployment was low. Like the rest of Europe Denmark suffered a recession in 2009 but soon recovered. Today Denmark is a prosperous country with a high standard of living.
Today the population of Denmark is 5.5 million.
Denmark has 1 cities with more than a million people, 3 cities with between 100,000 and 1 million people, and 71 cities with between 10,000 and 100,000 people. The largest city in Denmark is Copenhagen, with a population of 1,153,615 people.
Copenhagen became the capital of Denmark in the early fifteenth century.
Aarhus is the cultural and economic core of the region and the largest center for trade in Denmark.
There has been human settlement in the Odense area for over 4,000 years.
Aalborg is the third most populous city in the Denmark after Copenhagen and Aarhus.
Frederiksberg is officially an independent municipality, but is generally treated as being part of Copenhagen.