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language: Danish Prime minister: Lars Lokke Rasmussen
Kingdom of Denmark
Denmark is the
only country in the Baltic region with a net
export of agricultural products, producing 3
times the amount of food it needs for itself. A
good percentage of arable land and moderate
climate has been conducive to agriculture, but
the sector's extremely advanced technology and
infrastructure are what have made it so
productive in recent years. Although
agriculture's role in the Danish economy has
steadily decreased as industrialization and
economic development has progressed, it is still
essential as a source of foreign currency, a
direct and indirect source of jobs, and as a
supply of everyday foodstuffs.
Environmental legislation has been on the
increase in the past decade, some of which has
directly affected productivity. For example, the
greater emphasis on forests and parks has meant
that some land had to be turned away from
farming use. New restrictions on waste disposal
and contamination have also forced some farmers
to limit or end production
The kingdom of Denmark has, despite its relatively small size, often punched above its weight internationally.
Vikings raiding from Denmark and the other Nordic nations changed the
course of 9th- and 10th-century European history; in the Middle Ages, the Union of Kalmar united all of Scandinavia under Danish leadership.
In recent times, Denmark has been known for its modern economy and extensive welfare system, while enjoying an often difficult relationship
with the European Union.
The Danes rejected the euro as the national currency in a referendum in September 2000. Analysts believe that Danish fears of loss of political independence and national sovereignty outweighed any economic arguments about the benefits of joining the eurozone.
Maritime trade fuelled Copenhagen's growth
Denmark's euroscepticism put it at odds with many of its European partners
seven years previously when Danish voters rejected the Maastricht Treaty
which proposed monetary union and a common European defence force.
Denmark had to be granted opt-outs from these provisions before the
treaty was approved in 1993.
The Social Democrats led a string of coalition governments for most of the second half of the last century in a country generally known for its liberal traditions.
Poul Schluter then became the first-ever Danish prime minister representing the Conservative People's Party in 1982, leading a centre-right coalition until 1993, when he was succeeded by the Social Democrat Poul Nyrup Rasmussen.
A new centre-right coalition headed by Anders Fogh Rasmussen came to power
in November 2001 promising tighter immigration controls.
Denmark has won plaudits for running a healthy economy. Its employment levels are the envy of many industrialised countries and it accommodates a competitive economic edge as well as a generous social security system.
Danish cinema has won international recognition, not least for its willingness to experiment. Through the late 1990s and early 2000s the Dogme movement directors often used hand-held cameras to dynamic effect in a conscious reaction against high-tech, big-budget cinema.
Greenland and the Faroe Islands are self-governing territories of Denmark.
Mr Rasmussen took over from Anders Fogh Rasmussen as prime minister and acting leader of the Liberal Party when the latter was elected NATO secretary-general in April 2009.
He had served as interior, health and, since 2007, finance minister in Mr Fogh Rasmussen's successive centre-right coalition governments, having previously been mayor of Fredriksborg County.
He was responsible for a major reorganisation of local government in 2007 and a scheme to cut hospital waiting lists by allowing patients to be treated in private hospitals if the state health service could not treat them within a certain time limit.
In February 2009 he negotiated a major tax reform that saw income tax cut at the expense of higher taxes on pollution. The opposition Social Democrats said the measure benefited higher earners and did little for those on lower salaries.
Born in 1964 and a lawyer by profession, Mr Rasmussen has been involved in the Liberal Party since his student days.
Denmark's public broadcaster, Danmarks Radio (DR), operates two TV networks and national and regional radio stations. It is funded by a licence fee.
TV2, a government-owned commercial broadcaster, operates regional outlets and an internet-based on-demand service. Private stations are available via satellite and cable.
There are some 250 local commercial and community radio stations. Two commercial networks, one national and one semi-national, were launched in 2003 and quickly gained large audiences.
Freedom of expression is provided for in law. This principle was reiterated by the Jyllands-Posten daily amid a backlash by some Muslims in early 2006 over its publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
The images sparked violent protests in some countries as well as unofficial boycotts of Danish goods.