Denmark, situated on a peninsula north of Germany, is the most southern of the Scandinavian countries.
Generally, one finds a pro-European and international outlook among professionals. There is a large expatriate community and newcomers will feel welcome there. In Copenhagen, in particular, they will find that educational and cultural institutions are flourishing.
While best known around the world for the organization of its welfare state, Denmark is also famed for its attention to the environment, education and more recently, international trade. It is a highly developed country with a very good quality of life and a large and efficient government. Danes are attentive to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and to protecting and caring for fellow citizens. Women have equal status in society and in the workplace. The elderly are provided with comfortable pensions and medical care.
Government and politics
Under the constitution of 1953, Denmark is a constitutional monarchy. The head of state is the monarch - since 1972, Queen Margrethe II. Joint power is granted to the monarch, who is vested with executive authority but has no personal political power, the Prime Minister, and the unicameral Folketing or Parliament. Elections are scheduled every four years, but often occur earlier when called by the Prime Minister in an attempt to improve his party's parliamentary position.
Denmark has a history of minority governments; however, the moderate Social Democratic Party, which was the primary originator of the Danish welfare state in the 1920s and 1930s, has long dominated. Changes in government have not affected the consensus in favor of the basic social welfare system although, as elsewhere in Scandinavia, its costs are becoming difficult to bear. Both unemployment and taxes needed to fund the costly welfare programs are high, and hamper the government's attempts to reduce the deficit. Despite these problems, the economy is strong, industry is highly diversified, and the government encourages investment - both at home and abroad.
Denmark's economy remains relatively strong with low inflation and unemployment. The economy is largely service oriented with over three quarters of its workforce employed in service industries. Construction, manufacturing and agriculture are the other major income generators.
Denmark contributes generously to developing countries in the world and was the first Scandinavian country to join the European Union in 1973. However, the Danes have for some time been ambivalent about their EU connection, expressing widespread reservations as to the loss of some control over their own affairs. These reservations resulted in the rejection of the adoption of the EURO in a September 2000 referendum. The challenge for Denmark, as in several other countries including Great Britain, is to maintain their own identity and protect their unique interests while integrating with the rest of Europe.