Danes generally regard themselves as a nationality
and reserve the word "ethnic" for the description of recent immigrants,
sometimes referred to as "new Danes".
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.
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
, at that time the archbishop of all Scandinavia
. Over the next centuries, the Danish empire expanded throughout the southern Baltic
Under the 14th century king Olaf II
, Denmark acquired control of the Kingdom of Norway
, which included the territories of Norway
and the Faroese Islands
. Olaf's mother, Margrethe I
, united Norway, Sweden and Denmark into the Kalmar Union
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.
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
) 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.
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
. 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.
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
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.
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
Map of the Danish diaspora in the world (includes people with Danish ancestry or citizenship).
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.
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
) 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
has the largest population of people of Danish descent in the United States.
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.
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
In Greenland, there were approximately 6,348 Danish Greenlanders
making up roughly 11% of the territory's population.
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