Official name : Kingdom of Denmark
Area: 43,094 square kilometers (16,638 square miles, not including the Faroe Islands and Greenland)
Highest point on mainland: Yding Forest Hill (Yding Skovhoj) (173 meters/568 feet)
Highest point in territory: Slaettaratindur (Faroe Islands) (882 meters/2,894 feet)
Lowest point on land: Lammefjord (7 meters/23 feet below sea level)
Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern
Time zone: 1 P.M. = noon GMT
Longest distances: 402 kilometers (250 miles) from north to south, 354 kilometers (220 miles) from east to west
Land boundaries: Germany 68 kilometers (42 miles)
Coastline: Main territory 7,314 kilometers (4,545 miles); Faroe Islands 1,117 kilometers (614 miles) Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)
The small nation of Denmark occupies most of the Jutland (Jylland) peninsula and a number of large islands that separate the North Sea from the Baltic Sea. It shares a land border with Germany to the south. With a total area of about 43,094 square kilometers (16,638 square miles, not including the Faroe Islands and Greenland), the country is slightly less than twice the size of the state of Massachusetts. Denmark is divided into fourteen counties and two kommunes.
Denmark has administrative control over the Faroe Islands, located in the North Atlantic Ocean northwest of Great Britain. Greenland, located off the coast of North America in the Arctic Ocean, is also a part of Denmark; however, Greenland also has a limited home-rule government.
The climate in Denmark is temperate. Days are typically humid and overcast; winters are mild and windy, and summers are cool. The mean temperatures are 0°C (32°F) in February, the coldest month, and 17°C (63°F) in July, the warmest month. Rainfall comes fairly evenly throughout the year, with the annual average amounting to approximately 61 centimeters (24 inches).
Denmark is primarily a low-lying country covered with glacial moraine deposits. The moraines consist of a mixture of clay, sand, gravel, and boulders, carried by glaciers from the mountains of Scandinavia and raised from the bed of the Baltic Sea, with an admixture of limestone and other rocks. These large deposits have formed gently rolling hills interspersed with lakes. Between the hills are extensive level plains, which were created when the meltwater washing away from the glaciers deposited sand and gravel outside the ice limit. The country's densest settlements are found on these heath-land plains.
The boundary line between the sandy West Jutland and the loam plains of East and North Denmark is the most important geographical division of the country. West of the line is a region of scattered farms. To the east, there are several villages with high population density. Valleys furrow the moraine landscape.
The coastlines of eastern Jutland and many of the nearby islands are heavily indented with fjords, bays, and other inlets, forming numerous natural harbors. Narrow straits separate most of the islands.
Denmark is almost completely surrounded by water. The main bodies of water are the North Sea to the west of Denmark and the Baltic Sea to the east, both of which are inlets of the Atlantic Ocean.
There are a number of inlets that separate the main Jutland Peninsula area of Denmark from its surrounding islands and countries. The Skagerrak Strait separates Denmark from Norway in the northwest. The Kattegat Strait lies between Denmark and Sweden to the east. The narrow Lille Strait separates the island of Fyn from the mainland. The Store and Langeland Straits lie between Fyn and the easternmost islands. The Øresund separates Sjælland from Sweden, and the smaller islands of Falster, Lolland, and Møn lie to the south across the Småland Sound.
Along the west coast of the peninsula there are two great fjords, Ringkøbing and Nissum. Further north is Nissum Bay. The northern coast is more regular, with the broad Jammer and Tannis Bays. In the east are Ålbæk and Ålborg Bays. These are punctuated by a number of fjords, most notably Lim Fjord, which stretches all the way across Jutland from Ålborg Bay to Nissum Bay in the west. The southern coast of Ålborg Bay juts east to form the Djursland Peninsula, south of which is Arhus Bay and many smaller fjords. On Sjælland, the capital of Copenhagen is situated on Køge Bay, with Stevn Cliff and Fakse Bay further to the south.
There are 406 islands in Denmark (of which only 97 are inhabited), accounting for over one-third of its land area. The largest islands are Sjælland (7,015 square kilometers/2,709 square miles); Fyn (2,984 square kilometers/ 1,152 square miles), Lolland (1,234 square kilometers/480 square miles), Bornholm (588 square kilometers/227 square miles), and Falster (514 square kilometers/198 square miles). All of these islands except for Bornholm lie between Jutland and Sweden. Bornholm, Denmark's easternmost island, is southeast of Sweden in the Baltic Sea. It is a nature reserve that is accessible only by boat. There are no cars, modern buildings, or domesticated animals (such as cats or dogs) on the island.
The Faroe Islands are an archipelago of seventeen inhabited islands and one uninhabited island in the Atlantic Ocean, northwest of Britain. Among the larger islands are Stromp (374 square kilometers/174 square miles), Ostero (266 square kilometers/110 square miles), Vago (178 square kilometers/69 square miles), Sydero (153 square kilometers/59 square miles), and Sando (114 square kilometers/44 square miles). The Faroe landscape is rugged, characterized by a stratified series of basalt sheets with intervening thinner layers of solidified volcanic ash (tufa). Glacial action has carved the valleys into trough-shaped hollows and formed steep peaks. The highest point is on Ostero, called Slaettaratindur (882 meters/ 2,894 feet).
The world's largest island, Greenland, is located off the coast of North America in the Arctic Ocean. Although considered a part of Denmark, Greenland also has limited home rule.
The coastlines of the Jutland Peninsula and the nearby islands are highly indented.
White chalk cliffs are found along the coastline of the small island of Møn, lying south of Sjælland. The cliffs rise from the beach about 128 meters (422 feet) in an area known as Møn Cliff (Møns Klint).
Dozens of lakes dot the middle interior region of the Jutland, known as the Lakeland region. The largest lake in the country is Arre (40.6 square kilometers/15.7 square miles). It lies between Helsingør and Hillerød on Sjælland Island.
The Gudenå River is the longest river, at about 160 kilometers (100 miles) long. It flows from the interior of Jutland north to the Kattegat Strait. Other smaller rivers include the Storå, the Skjern, and the Varde, all of which flow from the interior Jutland into the North Sea. Many of the country's rivers have been artificially rerouted.
There are no desert areas in Denmark.
Over 10 percent of the low-lying areas of Denmark are covered with trees, but almost none of this is primary (natural) forest. The woodlands contain mostly beech and oak trees, with other species including elm, hazel, maple, pine, birch, aspen, linden, and chestnut. Denmark's largest contiguous area of woodland is Rold Forest (Rold Skov), a public forest (77 square kilometers/30 square miles) that contains Denmark's only national park, Rebild Bakker. Located near the city of Ålborg, it is the last section of natural forest that once covered the eastern part of Jutland.
While there are many hills and ridges, the highest point, Yding Forest Hill (Yding Skovhoj) in eastern Jutland, only exceeds sea level by 173 meters (568 feet).
There are no significant mountain ranges within Denmark.
There are no significant natural caves in Denmark; however, there are a few sites of underground chalk and limestone mines.
With mostly low-lying lands, there are no real plateau regions within Denmark.
A number of dikes and harbors have been constructed along sections of the coast of Denmark to protect the low-lying coastline regions from the flooding effects of the seawater.
Daugbjerg Kalgruber, located in western Denmark near Struer, is a carved chalk mine that extends underground for a length of about 35 kilometers (21 miles). The chalk once was used to produce lime, a major ingredient in concrete. Today, the mine is known to be a hibernating place for bats.
The Great Belt Fixed Link is a combination of bridges and tunnels that serve as a year-round transportation route between Denmark's two largest islands, Sjælland (on which Copenhagen is located) and Fyn. The twelve-year construction project (from 1986 to 1998) was the largest engineering project in the history of Denmark. The Link includes three components. First, the East Bridge is a 6.8-kilometer-long (4.2-mile-long) suspension bridge that crosses the strait between Sjælland and the small island of Sprøgo. Second, an 8-kilometer (5-mile) underwater tunnel connects Sjælland and Sprøgo as a railroad passage. And third, from Sprøgo to Fyn, a combined rail and road bridge runs for 6.6 kilometers (4.1 miles). The twin pylons of the East Bridge stand at 254 meters (833 feet) above sea level and are the highest structural points on Denmark.
Bendure, Glenda. Denmark. London: Lonely Planet, 1999.
Hintz, Martin. Denmark . Chicago: Children's Press, 1994.
Symington, Martin. Passport's Illustrated Travel Guide to Denmark . Lincolnwood, IL: Passport Books, 1996.
Kostyal, K. H. "Danish Light (Danish Jutland Peninsula)." National Geographic Traveler. July-August 1998, Vol. 15, No. 4, 96ff.