Last updated

Total population
c. 7 million
Danish people around the world.svg
Regions with significant populations
Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark 4,996,980 [1]
Flag of the United States.svg  United States 1,430,897 [2]
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 207,470 [3] [4]
Flag of Norway.svg  Norway 52,510 [5]
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 50,413 [6]
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 50,000 [7]
Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina 50,000 [8] [9]
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil 50,000 [10] [11] [12]
Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden 42,602 [13]
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom 18,493 (Danish born only) [14]
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain 8,944 [15]
Flag of France.svg  France 7,000 [16]
Flag of Greenland.svg  Greenland 6,348 [17]
Flag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland 4,251 [18]
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand 3,507 [19]
Flag of the Faroe Islands.svg  Faroe Islands 2,956[ citation needed ]
Flag of Iceland.svg  Iceland 2,802 [20]
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 2,084 [21]
Flag of Austria.svg  Austria 1,281 [22]
Flag of Ireland.svg  Ireland 809 [23]
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan 500 [24]
Flag of Lebanon.svg  Lebanon 400 [25]
Lutheranism (Church of Denmark) [26]
Further details: Religion in Denmark
Related ethnic groups
Other Germanic peoples
especially North Germanic peoples

Danes (Danish : danskere, pronounced  [ˈtænskɐɐ] ) are a North Germanic ethnic group native to Denmark [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] and a modern nation identified with the country of Denmark. [33] This connection may be ancestral, legal, historical, or cultural.


Danes generally regard themselves as a nationality and reserve the word "ethnic" for the description of recent immigrants, [34] sometimes referred to as "new Danes". [35] The contemporary Danish ethnic identity is based on the idea of "Danishness", which is founded on principles formed through historical cultural connections and is not based on racial heritage. [36]


Early history

Denmark has been inhabited by various Germanic peoples since ancient times, including the Angles, Cimbri, Jutes, Herules, Teutones and others. [37] The first mentions of "Danes" are recorded in the mid-6th century by historians Procopius (Greek : δάνοι) and Jordanes (danī), who both refer to a tribe related to the Suetidi inhabiting the peninsula of Jutland, the province of Scania and the isles in between.[ citation needed ] Frankish annalists of the 8th century often refer to Danish kings. The Bobbio Orosius from the early 7th century distinguishes between South Danes inhabiting Jutland and North Danes inhabiting the isles and the province of Scania.[ citation needed ]

Viking Age

The first mention of Danes within Denmark is on the Jelling Rune Stone, which mentions the conversion of the Danes to Christianity by Harald Bluetooth in the 10th century. [38] Between c. 960 and the early 980s, Bluetooth established a kingdom in the lands of the Danes, stretching from Jutland to Scania. Around the same time, he received a visit from a German missionary who, by surviving an ordeal by fire according to legend, convinced Harold to convert to Christianity. [39]

The following years saw the Danish Viking expansion, which incorporated Norway and Northern England into the Danish North Sea Empire. After the death of Canute the Great in 1035, England broke away from Danish control. Canute's nephew Sweyn Estridson (1020–74) re-established strong royal Danish authority and built a good relationship with the archbishop of Bremen, at that time the archbishop of all Scandinavia. Over the next centuries, the Danish empire expanded throughout the southern Baltic coast. [37] Under the 14th century king Olaf II, Denmark acquired control of the Kingdom of Norway, which included the territories of Norway, Iceland and the Faroese Islands. Olaf's mother, Margrethe I, united Norway, Sweden and Denmark into the Kalmar Union. [37]


In 1523, Sweden won its independence, leading to the dismantling of the Kalmar Union and the establishment of Denmark-Norway. Denmark-Norway grew wealthy during the 16th century, largely because of the increased traffic through the Øresund. The Crown of Denmark could tax the traffic, because it controlled both sides of the Sound at the time.

The Reformation, which originated in the German lands in the early 16th century from the ideas of Martin Luther (1483–1546), had a considerable impact on Denmark. The Danish Reformation started in the mid-1520s. Some Danes wanted access to the Bible in their own language. In 1524, Hans Mikkelsen and Christiern Pedersen translated the New Testament into Danish; it became an instant best-seller. Those who had traveled to Wittenberg in Saxony and come under the influence of the teachings of Luther and his associates included Hans Tausen, a Danish monk in the Order of St John Hospitallers.

In the 17th century Denmark-Norway colonized Greenland. [37]

After a failed war with the Swedish Empire, the Treaty of Roskilde in 1658 removed the areas of the Scandinavian peninsula from Danish control, thus establishing the boundaries between Norway, Denmark, and Sweden that exist to this day. In the centuries after this loss of territory, the populations of the Scanian lands, who had previously been considered Danish, came to be fully integrated as Swedes.

In the early 19th century, Denmark suffered a defeat in the Napoleonic Wars; Denmark lost control over Norway and territories in what is now northern Germany. The political and economic defeat ironically sparked what is known as the Danish Golden Age during which a Danish national identity first came to be fully formed. The Danish liberal and national movements gained momentum in the 1830s, and after the European revolutions of 1848 Denmark became a constitutional monarchy on 5 June 1849. The growing bourgeoisie had demanded a share in government, and in an attempt to avert the sort of bloody revolution occurring elsewhere in Europe, Frederick VII gave in to the demands of the citizens. A new constitution emerged, separating the powers and granting the franchise to all adult males, as well as freedom of the press, religion, and association. The king became head of the executive branch.


Danishness (danskhed) is the concept on which contemporary Danish national and ethnic identity is based. It is a set of values formed through the historic trajectory of the formation of the Danish nation. The ideology of Danishness emphasizes the notion of historical connection between the population and the territory of Denmark and the relation between the thousand-year-old Danish monarchy and the modern Danish state, the 19th-century national romantic idea of "the people" (folk), a view of Danish society as homogeneous and socially egalitarian as well as strong cultural ties to other Scandinavian nations. [40]

As a concept, det danske folk (the Danish people) played an important role in 19th-century ethnic nationalism and refers to self-identification rather than a legal status. Use of the term is most often restricted to a historical context; the historic German-Danish struggle regarding the status of the Duchy of Schleswig vis-à-vis a Danish nation-state. It describes people of Danish nationality, both in Denmark and elsewhere–most importantly, ethnic Danes in both Denmark proper and the former Danish Duchy of Schleswig. Excluded from this definition are people from the formerly Norway, Faroe Islands, and Greenland; members of the German minority; and members of other ethnic minorities.[ citation needed ]

Importantly, since its formulation, Danish identity has not been linked to a particular racial or biological heritage, as many other ethno-national identities have. N. F. S. Grundtvig, for example, emphasized the Danish language and the emotional relation to and identification with the nation of Denmark as the defining criteria of Danishness. This cultural definition of ethnicity has been suggested to be one of the reasons that Denmark was able to integrate their earliest ethnic minorities of Jewish and Polish origins into the Danish ethnic group. Jewishness was not seen as being incompatible with a Danish ethnic identity, as long as the most important cultural practices and values were shared. This inclusive ethnicity has in turn been described as the background for the relative lack of virulent anti-semitism in Denmark and the rescue of the Danish Jews, saving ninety-nine percent of Denmark's Jewish population from the Holocaust. [41]

Modern Danish cultural identity is rooted in the birth of the Danish national state during the 19th century. In this regard, Danish national identity was built on a basis of peasant culture and Lutheran theology, with Grundtvig and his popular movement playing a prominent part in the process. Two defining cultural criteria of being Danish were speaking the Danish language and identifying Denmark as a homeland. [42]

The ideology of Danishness has been politically important in the formulation of Danish political relations with the EU, which has been met with considerable resistance in the Danish population, and in recent reactions in the Danish public to the increasing influence of immigration. [43] [44]


The Danish diaspora consists of emigrants and their descendants, especially those who maintain some of the customs of their Danish culture. A minority of approximately fifty thousand Danish-identifying German citizens live in the former Danish territory of Southern Schleswig, now located within the borders of Germany, forming around ten percent of the local population.[ citation needed ] In Denmark, the latter group is often referred to as "Danes south of the border" (De danske syd for grænsen), the "Danish-minded" (De Dansksindede), or simply "South Schleswigers". Due to immigration there are considerable populations with Danish roots outside Denmark in countries such as the United States, Brazil, Canada and Argentina.[ citation needed ]

Danish Americans (Dansk-amerikanere) are Americans of Danish descent. There are approximately 1,500,000 Americans of Danish origin or descent. Most Danish-Americans live in the Western United States or the Midwestern United States. California has the largest population of people of Danish descent in the United States. [45] Notable Danish communities in the United States are located in Solvang, California, and Racine, Wisconsin, but these populations are not considered to be Danes for official purposes by the Danish state, and heritage alone can not be used to claim Danish citizenship, as it can in some European nations.

According to the 2006 Census, there were 200,035 Canadians with Danish background, 17,650 of whom were born in Denmark. [3] [46] Canada became an important destination for the Danes during the post war period. At one point,[ when? ] a Canadian immigration office was to be set up in Copenhagen. [47]

See also

Related Research Articles

Demographics of Denmark demographics of country

This article is about the demographic features of the population of Denmark, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

Danish language North Germanic language

Danish is a North Germanic language spoken by about six million people, principally in Denmark, Greenland and in the region of Southern Schleswig in northern Germany, where it has minority language status. Also, minor Danish-speaking communities are found in Norway, Sweden, Spain, the United States, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina. Due to immigration and language shift in urban areas, about 15–20% of the population of Greenland speak Danish as their first language.

Pan-Germanism Pan-nationalist political idea

Pan-Germanism, also occasionally known as Pan-Germanicism, is a pan-nationalist political idea. Pan-Germanists originally sought to unify all the German-speaking people – and possibly also Germanic-speaking peoples – in a single nation-state known as Großdeutschland.

Scandinavia Region in Northern Europe

Scandinavia is a subregion in Northern Europe, with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties. The term Scandinavia in local usage covers the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The majority national languages of these three belong to the Scandinavian dialect continuum, and are mutually intelligible North Germanic languages.

Scandinavian Peninsula peninsula in Northern Europe which covers Norway, Sweden, and most of northern Finland

The Scandinavian Peninsula is a peninsula of Eurasia located in Northern Europe, which roughly comprises the mainland of Sweden, the mainland of Norway, and the northwestern area of Finland.

Slavs European ethno-linguistic group

Slavs are ethnolinguistic groups of people who speak the various Slavic languages of the larger Balto-Slavic linguistic group of the Indo-European language family. They are native to Eurasia, stretching from Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe all the way north and eastwards to Northeast Europe, Northern Asia (Siberia) and Central Asia, as well as historically in Western Europe and Western Asia. From the early 6th century they spread to inhabit most of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Today, there is a large Slavic diaspora throughout North America, particularly in the United States and Canada as a result of immigration.

Wends Historical term for Slavs

Wends is a historical name for Slavs living near Germanic settlement areas. It does not refer to a homogeneous people, but to various peoples, tribes or groups depending on where and when it was used. In the modern day, communities identifying as Wendish exist in Lusatia, Texas, and Australia.

Denmark Scandinavian country

Denmark, officially the Kingdom of Denmark, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. Denmark proper, which is the southernmost of the Scandinavian countries, consists of a peninsula, Jutland, and an archipelago of 443 named islands, with the largest being Zealand, Funen and the North Jutlandic Island. The islands are characterised by flat, arable land and sandy coasts, low elevation and a temperate climate. Denmark lies southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and is bordered to the south by Germany. The Kingdom of Denmark is constitutionally a unitary state comprising Denmark proper and the two autonomous territories in the North Atlantic Ocean: the Faroe Islands and Greenland. Denmark has a total area of 42,924 km2 (16,573 sq mi), land area of 42,394 km2 (16,368 sq mi), and the total area of the Kingdom including Greenland and the Faroe Islands is 2,210,579 km2 (853,509 sq mi), and a population of 5.82 million in Denmark proper.

Norsemen Historical ethnolinguistic group of people originating in Scandinavia

The Norsemen were a North Germanic ethnolinguistic group of the Early Middle Ages, during which they spoke the Old Norse language. The language belongs to the North Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages and is the predecessor of the modern Germanic languages of Scandinavia. During the late 8th century, Norsemen embarked on a large-scale expansion in all directions, giving rise to the Viking Age. In English-language scholarship since the 19th century, Norse seafaring traders, settlers and warriors have commonly been referred to as Vikings. The identity of Norsemen derived into their modern descendants, the Danes, Icelanders, Faroe Islanders, Norwegians, and Swedes, who are now generally referred to as 'Scandinavians' rather than Norsemen.

The Danes were a North Germanic tribe inhabiting southern Scandinavia, including the area now comprising Denmark proper, and the Scanian provinces of modern southern Sweden, during the Nordic Iron Age and the Viking Age. They founded what became the Kingdom of Denmark. The name of their realm is believed to mean "Danish March", viz. "the march of the Danes" in Old Low German, referring to their southern border zone between the Eider and Schlei rivers, known as Danevirke.

Norwegians are a North Germanic ethnic group native to Norway. They share a common culture and speak the Norwegian language. Norwegian people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Icelanders are a North Germanic ethnic group and nation who are native to the island country of Iceland and speak Icelandic.

History of Scandinavia aspect of history

The history of Scandinavia is the history of the geographical region of Scandinavia and its peoples. The region is in northern Europe, and consists of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Finland and Iceland are at times, especially in English-speaking contexts, considered part of Scandinavia.

Germanic-speaking Europe Geolinguistic region

Germanic-speaking Europe refers to the area of Europe that today uses a Germanic language. Over 200 million Europeans speak a Germanic language natively. At the same time 515 million speak a Germanic language natively in the whole world (6.87%).

Icelandic independence movement 19th and 20th century efforts to achieve Icelandic independence from Denmark

The Icelandic Independence movement was the collective effort made by Icelanders to achieve self-determination and independence from the Kingdom of Denmark throughout the 19th and early 20th century.

The Flemish or Flemings are a Germanic ethnic group native to Flanders, in modern Belgium, who speak Flemish Dutch. They are one of two principal ethnic groups in Belgium, the other being the French-speaking Walloons. Flemish people make up the majority of the Belgian population.

Swedes are a North Germanic ethnic group native to the Nordic region, primarily their nation state of Sweden, who share a common ancestry, culture, history and language. They mostly inhabit Sweden and the other Nordic countries, in particular Finland, with a substantial diaspora in other countries, especially the United States. Swedes are an officially recognized minority in Finland and Estonia.

The Scandinavian diaspora may refer to

Christianity in Denmark

Christianity is a prevalent religion in Denmark; 25% of Danes believe Jesus is the son of God, and 18% believe he is the saviour of the world. Aside from Lutheranism, there is a small Catholic minority, as well as small Protestant denominations such as the Baptist Union of Denmark and the Reformed Synod of Denmark.

North Germanic peoples

North Germanic peoples, commonly called Scandinavians, Nordic peoples and in a medieval context Norsemen, are a Germanic ethnolinguistic group of the Nordic countries. They are identified by their cultural similarities, common ancestry and common use of the Proto-Norse language from around 200 AD, a language that around 800 AD became the Old Norse language, which in turn later became the North Germanic languages of today.


  1. "Find statistics - Statistics Denmark". Dst.dk. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  2. Archived 13 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  3. 1 2 "Ethnocultural Portrait of Canada - Data table". 2.statcan.ca. 6 October 2010. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  4. "Ethnic Origin, both sexes, age (total), Canada, 2016 Census – 25% Sample data". Canada 2016 Census . Statistics Canada. 20 February 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  5. Statistics Norway. "Persons with immigrant background by immigration category, country background and sex. 1 January 2009 (Immigrants and Norwegian-norn to immigrant parents + Other immigrant background)". Archived from the original on 12 November 2011. Retrieved 27 August 2009.
  6. "Improved access to historical census data". Censusdata.abs.gov.au. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  7. Archived 24 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  8. Flott, Søren (2020). Rejsen mod syd. Historien om de danske udvandrere til Argentina. Lindhardt og Ringhof. p. 315. ISBN   9788711906675.
  9. Archived 16 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  10. https://www.iom.int/world-migration
  11. Sá, Carlos Augusto Trojaner de. "Por uma busca de dinamarqueses no Brasil: um estudo de caso inicial" (PDF). Revista do Historiador.
  12. "Reportagens". revistagloborural.globo.com. Archived from the original on 28 January 2016.
  13. "Tabeller over Sveriges befolkning 2005" (PDF). Scb.se. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  14. "UK | Born Abroad | Denmark". BBC News. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  15. "Demografia" (PDF). Ine.es. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 July 2008. Retrieved 2015-03-11.
  16. Gynther Adolphsen. "6000-7000 danskere bor ved den franske Riviera - Frankrig". Udvandrerne.dk. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  17. "CIA - The World Factbook -- Greenland". CIA. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  18. "Hvor mange dansker bor i udlandet". Statsborger.dk. 28 June 2010. Archived from the original on 23 February 2015. Retrieved 2015-03-11.
  19. Archived 24 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  20. "Population by country of birth 1981-2006 by country and year: Denmark, 2006". Statistics Iceland (English version). 31 December 2006. Retrieved 6 March 2008.
  21. Archived 12 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  22. "Bevölkerung nach Staatsangehörigkeit und Geburtsland". www.statistik.at.
  23. Kent Dahl. "500 danskere i Tokyo - Japan". Udvandrerne.dk. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  24. Archived 23 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  25. Fler lämnade kyrkan i Danmark 3.1.2015 Kyrkans tidning
  26. Thompson, Stith (1995). Our Heritage of World Literature. Cordon Company. p. 494. ISBN   0809310910. The North Germanic, or Scandinavian group, consists of the Norwegians, Danes, Swedes, and Icelanders. It is particularly interesting to follow the literary activity of three of these Germanic peoples, the Anglo-Saxons, the Scandinavians, and the Germans.
  27. Pavlovic, Zoran (2007). Europe. Infobase Publishing. p. 53. ISBN   978-1-4381-0455-3 . Retrieved 9 March 2014. Germanic stock includes Germans, Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, Dutch (Flemish), and English (Anglo-Saxon)
  28. Minahan, James (2000). One Europe, many nations: a historical dictionary of European national groups. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 769. ISBN   0313309841 . Retrieved 25 May 2013. Germanic nations:.. Danes...
  29. Wicherkiewicz, Tomasz (2003). The Making of a Language. Walter de Gruyter. p. 449. ISBN   311017099X . Retrieved 26 March 2019. The Germanic [peoples] still include: Englishmen, Dutchmen, Germans, Danes, Swedes, Saxons. Therefore, [in the same way] as Poles, Russians, Czechs, Serbs, Croats, Bulgarians belong to the Slavic [peoples]...
  30. Marshall Cavendish (2010). World and Its Peoples: Scandinavia And Finland. p. 1186. ISBN   978-0761478973 . Retrieved 26 March 2019. Danes, Icelanders, Norwegians, and Swedes are Germanic, descendants of peoples who first moved northward from the North European Plain some 10,000 years ago, when the ice sheets of the last glacial period retreated.
  31. Homans, George Caspar (2017). Coming to My Senses: The Autobiography of a Sociologist. Routledge. p. 48. ISBN   978-1351527675 . Retrieved 30 March 2019. The English are ultimately of Germanic origin, as are the Flemish, Dutch, Frisians, Danes, Swedes, Norwegians, and Icelanders
  32. Christopher Muscato (2018). "Denmark Ethnic Groups". University of Northern Colorado.
  33. Jeffrey Cole (2011). Ethnic Groups of Europe: An Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 103. ISBN   978-1-59884-302-6.
  34. Jorgen Nielsen (2011). Islam in Denmark: The Challenge of Diversity. Lexington Books. p. 233. ISBN   978-0-7391-7013-7.
  35. "Denmark Demographics". WorldAtlas.
  36. 1 2 3 4 Waldman & Mason 2006 , pp. 211–213
  37. "daner | Gyldendal - Den Store Danske". Denstoredanske.dk. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  38. Adam of Bremen, History of the Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen, trans. Francis J. Tschan (New York, 2002), pp. 77–78.
  39. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 November 2011. Retrieved 12 July 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  40. Yael Enoch. 1994. The intolerance of a tolerant people: Ethnic relations in Denmark. Ethnic and Racial Studies. Volume 17, Issue 2, 1994
  41. Østergård, Uffe, Peasants and Danes: The Danish National Identity and Political Culture. Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 34, No. 1 (Jan., 1992), pp. 3-27
  42. Lise Togeby (1998). "Prejudice and tolerance in a period of increasing ethnic diversity and growing unemployment. Denmark since 1970". Ethnic and Racial Studies, 21, 6: 1137-115
  43. Jens Rydgren. 2010. Radical Right-wing Populism in Denmark and Sweden: Explaining Party System Change and Stability. Volume 30, Number 1, Winter-Spring 2010
  44. "Danish Americans" . Retrieved 10 March 2011.
  45. "Statistics Canada : 2006 Census Topic-based tabulations". Statcan.ca. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  46. Bender, Henning. Danish emigration to Canada


Commons-logo.svg Media related to Danes at Wikimedia Commons