DENMARK is the southernmost part of Scandinavia with Germany on its lower border. It also includes the Faroe Islands (between Scotland and Iceland) and Greenland (the world’s largest island). It’s a flat country with the highest point being just 170m (KL’s Twin Towers are 370m) and includes the peninsula, Jutland and 443 islands (73 inhabited). The nation’s lands are arable and agriculture is important and it has sandy coastlines.
Copenhagen (1.3 million) is the capital where the Christiansborg (or ‘Borgen’) is the seat of parliament and it’s a city that really comes alive in summer. Tivoli Gardens, founded in 1843 are a major attraction and a place to relax, eat and drink as well as enjoy the rides (Walt Disney got the inspiration for Disneyland here). City Hall and Central Station are nearby.
The city centre is dominated by Main Square and the Hotel d’Angleterre is where visiting celebrities check in for grand Danish hospitality. It’s located a few steps from the Stroget, one of Europe’s oldest and longest pedestrian shopping precincts.
Nyhavn Harbour with its restaurants, renovated old houses, canal, cafes and bars is nearby too. The working harbour, tall ships and fishing boats make this the essential scene that captures the soul of Copenhagen. Take a canal tour past Amalienborg Palace, Opera House, Black Diamond Library and, the famous Little Mermaid statue. The Playhouse is the centre for Danish dramatic arts.
Denmark is a constitutional monarchy with Queen Margrethe II the head of state (sadly, her husband Prince Henrik just passed away). Royal Family members are popular leaders with Crown Prince Frederik and his wife Crown Princess Mary (from Tasmania) and her children capturing media attention. Royal palaces of Amalienborg and Fredensborg are national landmarks.
Danish poet and writer Hans Christian Andersen’s penned stories like The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling that continue to entertain children around the world. Known for its Viking heritage, Denmark’s Viking Museum in Roskilde has five original boats dating to the 11th century.
The Danish krone is the currency. Roads and public transport are good with trains operated by DSB and a metro in Copenhagen while ferries radiate across the North and Baltic Seas. Being so flat, Denmark is a great country to discover on a bicycle. The country is served by Scandinavian Airlines (SAS). Denmark has a 25 per cent VAT, but the Copenhagen Card offers discounts. Contact VisitDenmark (www.visitdenmark.com) for details.
HIDDEN TOURISM GEMS
Funen is where the residents of Copenhagen escape from the stresses of the world. Mind you, there aren’t too many stresses in Denmark with the Danes having a high living standard and being constantly ranked highly on the world happiness index. But to really escape, they go to a small island just off Funen called Aero with its rolling hills, small villages, farms and the perfectly preserved heritage market town of Aeroskobing.
The world’s original Legoland is in Billund close to the country’s second busiest airport (closed November through March). Roskilde Festival (near Copenhagen) is the largest music festival in North Europe. Oresund (separates Denmark from Sweden) and the Danish ‘Riviera’ is home to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art with artworks by Picasso, Henry Moore and Alberto Giacometti.
Lunch in Denmark (and now around the world) is an open rye bread sandwich called smorrebrod (Restaurant Ida Davidsen in Copenhagen has almost 200 variations including pigeon with mushroom and, pureed smoked salmon). Meat, fish and potatoes dominate the diets of most Danes with specialty dishes of frikadeller (meat balls), polser hot dog with fried onions and, poached cod with mustard sauce being popular. Denmark gave the beer world Carlsberg and Tuborg brands (brewhouse visits are possible). Visit Papiroen to appreciate Copenhagen’s first and only genuine street food trucks.
New Danish cuisine has captured the imagination of global diners with three Copenhagen restaurants in the world’s top 50 — Noma (5th), Geranium (28th) and Relae (40th).
Population: 5.7 million
Area: 24,931 km2 (Malaysia is 330,803 km2)
The Competition: Denmark is in Group C of the World Cup against France, Australia and Peru.