Denmark, officially Kongeriget Danmark or “Kingdom of Denmark" in the Danish language, is a kingdom with a constitutional monarchy for its system of government. Located in northern Europe, it is the southernmost nation of the Scandinavian countries, which always include Norway and Sweden, and usually include Finland and Iceland. The nation of Denmark itself is the smallest of the Scandinavian lands, but because it also holds Greenland and the Faroe Islands as possessions, it is much larger. The capital of Denmark is Copenhagen. Notable attractions in Copenhagen include the Tivoli Gardens, the Amalienborg Palace (home of the Danish royal family), and the famous statue of The Little Mermaid in the harbor.
Citizens of Denmark are called Danes; the principle language spoken in Denmark is called Danish, although German is also spoken by a small percentage of the population near the Danish-German border. Danish is a Germanic language, sharing common heritage with other Germanic languages including English, Dutch, and especially Swedish, Norwegian, and Icelandic. Most Danes are of Scandinavian descent, but there are also small native groups of Inuit from Greenland, and an immigrant population of around 9% (as of 2007). As in other parts of Europe, anti-immigration sentiment in Denmark has been on the rise.
During the 8th, 9th, and 10th centuries, Danes were known as Vikings, fierce Germanic explorers and traders who colonized and raided much of Europe. The Danes were united around 965 by Harald Bluetooth, at which time they were also forced to give up their native, earth-based religion which they shared with all the Germanic peoples of northern Europe. Today, about 95% of Danes are members of the Lutheran Church of Denmark. Other religions represented in the remaining 5% include Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam.
Like most of the Western world, Denmark has a mixed economy &mdah; an economy featuring both capitalistic and socialistic elements. While the Danes enjoy a very high standard of living, they pay both broad-based — VAT (Value Added Tax) and excise taxes — in addition to high income tax rates. The minimum income tax rate for adults in Denmark is around 40%. Similar tax models are used in its fellow Scandinavian countries of Norway and Sweden. Denmark boasts a socially progressive culture, as was evidenced in its being the first nation in the world to legalize same-sex unions.
Famous Danes include Hans Christian Andersen, author of some of the world’s most renowned fairy tales, such as "The Emperor's New Clothes" and "The Ugly Duckling"; and the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard.