192-Part Guide To The World: Denmark - Europe - Travel - The Independent

192-Part Guide To The World: Denmark

Official name: The Kingdom of Denmark

Language: Danish. English and German are also commonly spoken.

Population: About 5.3 million.

Size: Comprising the Jutland peninsula and more than 400 islands, Denmark is not much bigger than Belgium at 16,571 square miles.

National dish: Don't expect too much because buttered bread, smorrebrod, is about as national as things get. But it is what is piled on to this simple slice of rye bread that turns it into something special: from roast beef to tiny shrimps or a tasty fish fillet.

Best monument: "Christiania", the much-criticised and politically feared "free state" at the heart of Copenhagen, still stands as exotic testament to the original hippies who converted the 19th-century barracks in 1971 into a sort of commune. The "Christianites" have since converted further sites where they continue to live and work.

Most famous citizen: With more than 150 stories published and translated into more languages than any other book except the Bible, Hans Christian Andersen remains Denmark's literary flag-bearer. In 1834 the Kongelige Bibliotek (Royal Library) in Copenhagen turned down the author's application for work, but now considers this and other Andersen documents to be part of its valued archives.

Best moment in history: The 1970s oil crisis pressured the government and the Danish people into becoming world leaders in ecology. Since then, fuel prices have been kept artificially high to fund research and the implementation of such alternative policies as a universal "can ban" on drinks.

Worst moment in history: "They took us by telephone," were the resigned words of a Danish minister in 1940 when, to avoid bombing and bloodshed, Denmark acquiesced to Nazi demands that the country be used as a German military base. Five years of occupation followed.

Essential accessory: A hatpin; Denmark must be the windiest place on earth.

What not to do: Ignore the busy cycle lanes situated between roads and pavements in major cities. Cyclists have the same rights and obligations as motorists and tend to move accordingly.

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