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Native name:
Stevns Klint Juli 2019.jpg
Denmark location sjalland.svg
Location Danish straits
Coordinates 55°30′N11°45′E / 55.500°N 11.750°E / 55.500; 11.750 Coordinates: 55°30′N11°45′E / 55.500°N 11.750°E / 55.500; 11.750
Area7,031 km2 (2,715 sq mi)
Highest elevation122.9 m (403.2 ft)
Highest pointKobanke
Region Capital Region of Denmark, Region Zealand
Largest settlement Copenhagen (pop. 1,627,705 (urban) [1] )
Pop. density327.41/km2 (847.99/sq mi)

Zealand or Sealand (Danish : Sjælland [ˈɕɛˌlænˀ] , in English also occasionally), at 7,031 km2, is the largest and most populous island in Denmark proper (thus excluding Greenland and Disko Island, which are larger in size). Zealand has a population of 2,319,705 (as of 1 January 2020). [2]


It is the 13th-largest island in Europe by area and the 4th most populous. It is connected to Sprogø and Funen by the Great Belt Fixed Link and to Amager by several bridges in Copenhagen. Indirectly, through the island of Amager and the Øresund Bridge, it is also linked to Scania in Sweden. In the south, the Storstrøm Bridge and the Farø Bridges connect it to Falster, and beyond that island to Lolland, from where the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel to Germany is planned.

Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, with a population between 1.3 and 1.4 million people in 2020, is located mostly on the eastern shore of Zealand and partly on the island of Amager. Other cities on Zealand include Roskilde, Hillerød, Næstved, Helsingør, Slagelse, Køge, Holbæk and Kalundborg.

Administratively, Zealand is divided between two Danish regions: The Copenhagen metropolitan area and North Zealand belong to the Capital Region, while the major and more rural part of the island belongs to the Zealand Region.


The origin of the Danish name Sjælland is not exactly known. Sjæl in modern Danish means "soul", but this interpretation can be excluded. A derivation from siô/ (meaning "lake" or "sea") has been assumed. However, today a common hypothesis is that the Old Danish form Siâland is based on the word *selha- with the ending *wundia-. The latter means "indicates, resembles". The word *selha- may have two different meanings: "seal" (in modern Danish sæl) or "deep bay, fjord". Since Roskilde is a major and ancient settlement on Zealand, accessible by sea through the narrow Roskilde Fjord (branched from the Isefjord), it has been assumed that the sailors named the island after this. [3]

The English form may be borrowed from the German form Seeland. These forms might be based on the assumption that the first part means sea or lake (German See), or they could simply be based on an alternative Danish form of the name, Sælland, which was common until the 19th century. [4]

Unlike the Danish island, the Pacific nation of New Zealand is named after the Dutch province of Zeeland.

Mythological origins

Gefion carving Zealand from Sweden. Gefion.jpg
Gefion carving Zealand from Sweden.

In Norse mythology as told in the Gylfaginning , the island was created by the goddess Gefjun after she tricked Gylfi, the king of Sweden. She removed a piece of land and transported it to Denmark, which became Zealand. The vacant area was filled with water and became Mälaren. [5] However, since modern maps show a similarity between Zealand and the Swedish lake Vänern, it is sometimes identified as the hole left by Gefjun. Gefjun is queen of King Skjöldr, eponymous ancestor of the Scyldings, related to the etymological debate.


The island of Zealand (Sjaelland) and the Danish Straits between Denmark and Sweden, connecting the Baltic Sea - on the right - and the Atlantic Ocean. Belte inter.png
The island of Zealand (Sjælland) and the Danish Straits between Denmark and Sweden, connecting the Baltic Sea – on the right – and the Atlantic Ocean.

Zealand is the most populous Danish island. It is irregularly shaped, and is north of the islands of Lolland, Falster, and Møn. The small island of Amager lies immediately east.

Copenhagen is mostly on Zealand but extends across northern Amager. A number of bridges and the Copenhagen Metro connect Zealand to Amager, which is connected to Scania in Sweden by the Øresund Bridge via the artificial island of Peberholm. Zealand is joined in the west to Funen, by the Great Belt Fixed Link, and Funen is connected by bridges to the country's mainland, Jutland.

On June 5, 2007, the regional subsidiary of national broadcaster DR reported that Kobanke in the southeast near the town Rønnede in Faxe Municipality, with a height of 122.9 metres (403 ft), was the highest natural point on Zealand. Gyldenløveshøj, south of the city Roskilde, has a height of 126 metres (413 ft), but that is due to a man-made hill from the 17th century and its highest natural point is only 121.3 metres (398 ft).

Zealand gives its name to the Selandian era of the Paleocene.

Cities and towns

Urban areas with 10,000+ inhabitants:

#Urban areaMunicipalityPopulation
1 Copenhagen Multiple1,213,822
2 Greve Greve Municipality 47,980
3 Roskilde Roskilde Municipality 47,828
4 Helsingør Helsingør Municipality 46,368
5 Hørsholm Multiple45,865
6 Næstved Næstved Municipality 41,857
7 Køge Køge Municipality 35,295
8 Taastrup Høje-Taastrup Municipality 32,719
9 Slagelse Slagelse Municipality 32,133
10 Hillerød Hillerød Municipality 30,570
11 Holbæk Holbæk Municipality 27,195
12 Ringsted Ringsted Municipality 21,412
13 Ølstykke-Stenløse Egedal Municipality 20,984
14 Birkerød Rudersdal Municipality 19,919
15 Måløv-Smørumnedre Multiple19,143
16 Farum Furesø Municipality 18,422
17 Kalundborg Kalundborg Municipality 16,303
18 Lillerød Allerød Municipality 15,795
19 Frederikssund Frederikssund Municipality 15,602
20 Solrød Strand Solrød Municipality 15,159
21 Korsør Slagelse Municipality 14,538
22 Værløse Furesø Municipality 12,842
23 Frederiksværk Halsnæs Municipality 12,191
24 Vordingborg Vordingborg Municipality 11,643
25 Hedehusene-Fløng Høje-Taastrup Municipality 11,345
26 Haslev Faxe Municipality 11,201

See also

Related Research Articles

Transport in Denmark

Transport in Denmark is developed and modern. The motorway network covers 1,111 km while the railway network totals 2,667 km of operational track. The Great Belt Fixed Link connecting the islands of Zealand and Funen and the New Little Belt Bridge connecting Funen and Jutland greatly improved the traffic flow across the country on both motorways and rail. The two largest airports of Copenhagen and Billund provide a variety of domestic and international connections, while ferries provide services to the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Germany, Sweden, and Norway, as well as domestic routes servicing most Danish islands.

Øresund The strait between Denmark and Sweden

Øresund or Öresund, commonly known in English as the Sound, is a strait which forms the Danish–Swedish border, separating Zealand (Denmark) from Scania (Sweden). The strait has a length of 118 kilometres (73 mi); its width varies from 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) to 28 kilometres (17 mi). It is 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) wide at its narrowest point between Helsingør in Denmark and Helsingborg in Sweden.

Storstrøm County

Storstrøms Amt is a former county on the islands of Zealand (Sjælland), Møn, Falster, Lolland and some minor islands in southeast Denmark. The county was formed on 1 April 1970, comprising the former counties of Maribo and Præstø. The county was abolished effective January 1, 2007, when it merged into Region Sjælland.

Maribo Town in Denmark

Maribo is a town in Lolland municipality in Region Sjælland on the island of Lolland in south Denmark. To the north of Maribo is Nørresø and to the south is Søndersø. Søndersø is the largest lake on Lolland. There are more islands in Søndersø than in any other lake in Denmark. These include the islands of Fruerø, Hestø, Præstø, Borgø, Lindø, Askø and Worsaaes. This is part of the Maribo Lakes Nature Park, which spans the towns of Maribo, Holeby, Sakskøbing and Nysted.

Nykøbing Falster Place in Zealand, Denmark

Nykøbing Falster is a southern Danish city, seat of the Guldborgsund kommune. It belongs to Region Sjælland. The city lies on Falster, connected by the 295-meter-long Frederick IX Bridge over the Guldborgsund waterway to the island of Lolland. The town has a population of 16,940. Including the satellite town Sundby on the Lolland side, with a population of 3,038 the total population is 19,978.

Nakskov Town in Zealand, Denmark

Nakskov is a town in south Denmark. It is situated in Lolland municipality in Region Sjælland on the western coast of the island of Lolland. The town has a population of 12,707. To the west is Nakskov Fjord, an inlet from the Langeland Belt (Langelandsbælt) that runs between the islands of Lolland and Langeland. Nakskov Fjord is a wildlife reserve, known for its bird life.


Amager in the Øresund is Denmark's most densely populated island, with more than 210,000 inhabitants on the small appendix to Zealand. The protected natural area of Naturpark Amager makes up more than one-third of the island's total area of 96 km2.

Ven (Sweden) Swedish island in Øresund

Ven is a small Swedish island in the Øresund strait, between Scania and Zealand (Denmark). It is part of Landskrona Municipality, Skåne County. The island has 371 inhabitants and an area of 7.5 km2 (2.9 sq mi). During the 1930s, the population was at its peak, with approximately 1,300 inhabitants. There are four villages on the island: Bäckviken, Tuna By, Norreborg and Kyrkbacken. The island is best known as the location of Tycho Brahe's 16th century observatories.

Great Belt Strait in Denmark linking the Baltic Sea to the Kattegat strait and the Atlantic Ocean

The Great Belt is a strait between the major islands of Zealand (Sjælland) and Funen (Fyn) in Denmark. It is one of the three Danish Straits.

Øresund Region Transnational region in Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmö, Sweden

The Øresund Region, also known as Greater Copenhagen for marketing purposes, is a metropolitan region that comprises eastern Denmark and Skåne in southern Sweden. Centred around the Øresund strait and the two cities which lie on either side, Copenhagen in Denmark and Malmö in Sweden, the region is connected by the Øresund Bridge, which spans the strait at its southern end, and the HH Ferry route between Helsingør, Denmark, and Helsingborg, Sweden, at the narrowest point of the strait.

History of rail transport in Denmark

The history of rail transport in Denmark began in 1847 with the opening of a railway line between Copenhagen and Roskilde. The Kiel-Altona line in Holstein was completed three years earlier, but the region was later lost to the German Confederation in the Second War of Schleswig.

Capital Region of Denmark Region of Denmark

The Capital Region of Denmark is the easternmost administrative region of Denmark. The Capital Region has 29 municipalities. The regional council consists of 41 elected politicians. The chairperson as of 1 January 2014 is Sophie Hæstorp Andersen. She is a member of the Social Democrats political party.

Region Zealand Region of Denmark

Region Zealand is the southernmost administrative region of Denmark, established on January 1, 2007 as part of the 2007 Danish Municipal Reform, which abolished the traditional counties ("amter") and set up five larger regions. Zealand Region has 17 municipalities.

Danish straits

The Danish straits are the straits connecting the Baltic Sea to the North Sea through the Kattegat and Skagerrak. Historically, the Danish straits were internal waterways of Denmark; however, following territorial losses, Øresund and Fehmarn Belt are now shared with Sweden and Germany, while the Great Belt and the Little Belt have remained Danish territorial waters. The Copenhagen Convention of 1857 made all the Danish straits an international waterway.

Dano-Swedish War (1657–58)

The Dano-Swedish War of 1657–58 was a conflict between Sweden and Denmark–Norway during the Second Northern War. In 1657, Charles X of Sweden and his Swedish army were bogged down in Poland. Frederick III of Denmark saw an opportunity to recover the territories lost in 1645 and attacked Sweden. The outbreak of war with Denmark provided Charles with an excuse to withdraw from the Polish campaign and move against Denmark.

Tårnby station

Tårnby station is an underground railway station on the Øresund Line. It is located in Tårnby, on the island of Amager. Tårnby is a municipality of its own, but its build-up parts are included in Copenhagen's urban area. Travels from this station are included in the common ticket system in and around Copenhagen. Departures take place every approximately 10 minutes in both directions. The station building is owned by Sund & Bælt. There are two tracks located at an island platform which is 320 metres long, around 15 metres wide and its tracks are located at a depth of 6 metres below the surrounding ground level.


Lolland is the fourth largest island of Denmark, with an area of 1,243 km2 (480 sq mi). Located in the Baltic Sea, it is part of Region Sjælland. As of 1 January 2013, it has 62,578 inhabitants.


Sydhavsøerne, sometimes also referred to simply as Lolland-Falster from the two largest islands, is an informal but common term used in Danish to refer to the archipelago just south of Zealand, Denmark's largest island where its capital Copenhagen is located. Part of the Baltic Sea, the term covers Lolland, Falster and Møn as well as the numerous smaller islands of the surrounding straits, fjords and waters.

Insular Danish are the traditional Danish dialects spoken on the islands of Zealand, Langeland, Funen, Falster, Lolland, and Møn. They are recorded in the Dictionary of Danish Insular Danish (Ømålsordbogen) which has been collected since the 1920s, and published in biannual volumes since 1992. There are significant differences between the different insular varieties, but they also share a number of features. A major difference is between Modern Danish and the traditional insular dialects are that some of them lack the stød but kept the tonal accent. Also, they kept three noun genders.


  1. "StatBank Denmark - data and statistics". Statistics Denmark. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  2. BEF4: Population 1 January by Islands, Statistics Denmark
  3. Katlev, Jan (4 August 2009). "Sjælland …". www.sprogmuseet.dk (in Danish). Danish Language Museum. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  4. Sælland, Holberg Dictionary
  5. Den Store Danske Encyklopædi, article Gefion