Monday, June 3, 2013

Week 45: Denmark

Denmark: Land of the Vikings

This week we are visiting Denmark, a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe.  Once the rulers of most of Northern Europe, the territory of Denmark has shrunk dramatically since the 20th century.  Now the country consists of  Jutland, a peninsula on the Northern tip of Germany, and about 474 islands.  The largest island, in fact, the largest island in the world, is Greenland. 

The country has the oldest monarchy in Europe- over 1000 years ago, Gorm the Old was crowned.  The current monarch is Queen Margrethe II, who has reigned since 1972. 

Here are a few other interesting facts about Denmark:
  • The capital is Copenhagen (55.67°N / 12.56°E) which is located on the island of Zealand.  

  • The flag of Denmark, called the Dannebrog, claims to be the oldest flag still in use today.  It has been flying since the 13th century when it was "dropped" down from the gods during a battle.

  • Coins found near the city of Ribe dating back to 700 AD make the city the oldest in Scandinavia.
  • The Vikings, who hailed from Denmark, were great sailors and feared warriors for centuries.  Danes are very proud of their Viking heritage (and they should be!)

  • 2 of the oldest amusement parks in the world are in Denmark.  Park "Bakken", which first opened in 1583 and Tivoli Gardens which is the biggest and most popular park in Europe.  It is said that Tivoli Gardens was one of the inspirations for Disneyland.

  • Hans Christian Andersen, author of many of the world's favorite fairytales was from Denmark.  One of his famous stories, the Little Mermaid, has been immortalized by a statue in Copenhagen harbor.

  • Lego bricks, the toy blocks we all love (until you step on one in the middle of the night) were invented in Denmark in 1932.  The word "lego" is an abbreviation of two Danish words, "leg godt" which means "play well".

Whew, we've got a lot of areas we can talk about this week- Vikings, legos, fairytales, Danish pastries (!!!), and a very intriguing concept they have called "hygge" that I will explain later!  I'd better get a move on :)