General issues: Kingdom 1851-Present
Country name on general issues: None (Kongeligt Post, KGL. Post), Danmark
- Schleswig-Holstein, Provisional government 1850
- Holstein, Occupation German Confederation 1864
- Schleswig, Occupation Austria-Prussia 1864
- Schleswig Plebiscite 1920
- Schleswig Plebiscite Zone I 1920
- German occupation, Danish Legion 1944
Currency: 1 Rigsbankdaler = 96 Rigsbankskilling 1851-1854, 1 Rigsdaler = 96 Skilling 1854-1875, 1 Krone = 100 Øre
Population: 2 430 000 in 1900, 5 707 000 in 2016
Political history Denmark
Denmark until the 19th century
Denmark is located in northern Europe. The kingdom of Denmark emerged in the 10th century – still in the Viking Age. Between the 8th and 11th centuries, the Vikings – Danes, Norwegians and Swedes – explored, raided and conquered territories all across Europe and across the Atlantic Ocean in North America. The Danes were most active on the British Isles and western France. In 1397, Denmark was, in personal union, joined with the kingdoms of Norway and Sweden through the Treaty of Kalmar – Denmark being the dominant kingdom in the union. Sweden separated from the union in 1523. The personal union between Denmark and Norway ended in 1814 through the Treaty of Kiel. Denmark had sided with Napoleonic France and, after Napoleon was defeated, was forced to cede Norway to Sweden. The Norwegian overseas possessions of the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland, however, were awarded to Denmark.
Denmark was an absolutist monarchy since the 17th century. The 19th century saw the transition to a constitutional monarchy with the adoption of a constitution in 1849. Denmark has been a parliamentary democracy since then.
The Schleswig-Holstein question
After the cession of Norway, the borders of Denmark would eventually be defined by the outcome of the dispute over the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein – a complex dispute. The duchies were, since the 15th century, ruled in personal union by the Danish king and, thus, formally, not part of the kingdom of Denmark. In fact, the situation was even more complex because Schleswig was a fiefFief is a term dating from the feudal Middle Ages. The ruler of a fief is granted certain rights to a territory, but owes allegiance to an overlord. of the kingdom of Denmark, while Holstein had been a fief of the German Holy Roman Empire until 1806 and had become part of the German Confederation in 1815. Furthermore, the population of southern Schleswig and Holstein was predominantly German. Finally, the rules of succession to the throne were different in Denmark than in the duchies.
In the mid 19th century the above dynamics evolved into a dispute between Denmark and the German population in the duchies, who was supported by the German Confederation. Essentially, the dispute centered around the question of whether the duchies should be fully integrated into the kingdom of Denmark, or separated from Denmark to become an independent state within the German Confederation. The dispute first escalated in 1848, leading to the establishment of a provisional government by the German population, supported by Prussia, and to the First Schleswig War. As an outcome of the First Schleswig War, Danish rule over the duchies was restored in 1850. The dispute escalated again, in 1863, leading to the Second Schleswig War. Under the auspices of the German Confederation, Austria and Prussia occupied Holstein. In 1864, Austria and Prussia – now acting without the mandate of the German Confederation – also occupied Schleswig. As an outcome of the Second Schleswig War, Denmark ceded the duchies in late 1864. The dispute escalated further, in 1866, into the Austrian-Prussian War, after which Austria acknowledged Prussian rule over the duchies. Prussia annexed the duchies in 1867.
Although the dispute focused on the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, the dispute also involved the duchy of Lauenburg. Lauenburg had been ruled in personal union by the king of Denmark since 1815. Like Schleswig and Holstein, Lauenburg was ceded by Denmark in 1864. In 1865, the king of Prussia was appointed duke of Lauenburg in personal union.
The Schleswig plebiscite
After WWI, the dispute entered a second stage – the dispute now being focused on Schleswig which had a large Danish population. In the Treaty of Versailles, signed in 1919, it was decided that the future of part of Schleswig was to be determined by way of a plebiscite under supervision of an international commission, established in January 1920. Two zones were defined: Zone I, in which the population was predominantly Danish, and Zone 2, in which the Danes were a substantial minority. The referendums were held in February and March 1920 respectively. Zone I voted for association with Denmark and Zone II for association with Germany. Zone I was transferred to Denmark in June, 1920. Thus the borders of Denmark were defined as we know them today.
As a colonial power, Denmark played a minor part. Settlements were established in the 17th and 18th centuries on the African Gold Coast and in India. These settlements were sold to Great Britain in the mid 19th century. In the Caribbean, Denmark established the colony of the Danish West Indies in the late 17th and early 18th century. When, in the second part of the 19th century, the colony became a financial liability, rather than an asset, the islands were sold to the United States in 1917. The islands currently form the United States territory of the Virgin Islands.
By way of the Treaty of Kiel in 1814 Denmark acquired the former Norwegian possessions of the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland. Iceland was, while an integral part of the kingdom of Denmark, granted increasing self government in 1874 and 1904. In 1918, Iceland became a separate kingdom ruled in personal union by the king of Denmark. In 1944, Iceland declared independence as the republic of Iceland.
The Faroe Islands and Greenland are, until today, part of the kingdom of Denmark. The Faroe Islands became a Danish countyCounties were the administrative division of Denmark just below the national level until 2007. Currently Denmark is divided into regions. in 1816 and were granted self government in 1948 which was extended in 2005. Greenland became a Danish county in 1953 and was granted self government in 1979 which was extended in 2009. Contrary to Denmark proper, neither the Faroe Islands nor Greenland are, currently, part of the European Union.
Denmark in the 20th century
During WWI, Denmark assumed a position of neutrality. In the advent of WWII, Denmark also pursued a policy of neutrality. However, Denmark was occupied by Germany in 1940. The government, initially, stayed in office seeking to minimize the effects of the German occupation. As German demands became more and more conflicting with Danish interests, the government resigned in 1943. A small part of the Danish population sympathized with Germany which led to the formation of Danish units within the German SS elite forces. Danish resistance manifested itself from 1943, most notably by saving a significant number of Jews from persecution. Denmark was liberated in 1945. While Denmark was under German occupation, the Faroe Islands were, between 1940 and 1945, occupied by Great Britain to forestall German occupation and Greenland was a United States protectorate between 1941 and 1945.
Politics, in the 20th century, have been mostly dominated by center left and center right political parties. Denmark has developed into a welfare state in which the government plays an important role in sectors such as education, health care and social security. Denmark is a member of the European Union since 1973. However, when the Euro was introduced as the common currency in the European Union, Denmark decided to retain its own currency.
Economy and demographics
Originally an agricultural country, industrialization started in Denmark in the second part of the 19th century and boomed after WWII. Currently, Denmark is a mixed economy with services as the largest sector at 76%, followed by industry at 23% while agriculture is only a small sector at 1%. Denmark is a wealthy country, ranking fourth in the world on the United Nations Human Development Index. The population is 88% Danish and 12% immigrant. Immigrants arrive mainly as refugees or from other countries in the European Union.
Postal history Denmark
The first stamps were issued by Denmark in 1851. These were of a square design with a crown at the center and inscribed ‘Konliget Post'‘Royal Mail’. Stamps of a similar design were issued in 1854, but now inscribed ‘KGL. Post’. The first stamps with ‘Danmark’ as a designation appeared in 1870. Denmark has several designs that have been in use for many decades. Most notably, the design of the ‘Wavy line numeral’ which was first issued in 1905. The most recent issue of this design – slightly changed in 1933 – appeared in 2004. Denmark has issued stamps mainly with themes of national interest.
The first stamps for Schleswig-Holstein were issued in 1850 by the provisional government established in 1848.Listed as German States/Schleswig-Holstein Michel #1-2, Scott #1-2 Although designated with the initials of both duchies, the stamps were used only in the post offices of Holstein. When Denmark regained control, Danish stamps were introduced in 1851 in Schleswig, and in 1853 in Holstein and Lauenburg.
After the occupation of Holstein in 1863 and Schleswig in 1864 by Austria and Prussia stamps were issued for each of the duchies. For Holstein – and Lauenburg – stamps were issued of a design similar to contemporary Danish issues, only now inscribed ‘HRZGL. Post’ rather than ‘KGL. Post'‘Herzogliche Post’ or ‘Duchy Mail’ rather than ‘Königliche Post’or ‘Royal Mail’. and with the denomination in the center rather than the crown.Listed as German States/Schleswig-Holstein Michel #5-7, Scott #15-18 Schleswig stamps, inscribed ‘Herzogth. Schleswig'‘Duchy of Schleswig’, were issued in the design of a numeral in an oval.Listed as German States/Schleswig-Holstein Michel #3-4, Scott #8-9 After cession of the duchies by Denmark in 1864, further stamps were issued by Austria and Prussia reflecting the political changes between 1864 and 1867 – these are the subject of a separate profile on Schleswig-Holstein. For an overview of the political and postal developments in the form of a diagram, please refer to the country diagram of Schleswig-Holstein.
At the occasion of the plebiscite in Schleswig, stamps were issued for use in the plebiscite Zones in January 1920 under the authority of the international commission installed to supervise the plebiscite. The stamps were inscribed ‘Schlesvig’ – the Danish name for the territory – rather than ‘Schleswig’ – the German name for the territory. The stamps were issued in the German currency. After the plebiscite, and in anticipation of the formal transfer of Zone I to Denmark, stamps were issued for use only in Zone I in May 1920 – stamps of the same design as the first issue, but in the Danish currency and overprinted ‘1. Zone’. These were superseded by the stamps of Denmark in June 1920. For official use by the international commission, the first issue was overprinted C.I.S. – Commission Internationale Schlesvig.
During the German occupation in WWII, charity labels were issued in 1944 for the benefit of the Danish units in the SS, the ‘Danish Legion’. These labels were private issues by the Danish Legion itself and were used on covers in addition to the regular franking. Similar labels were issued by the French, Flemish and Wallonian Legions. The issues for the Danish Legion – although considered labels – are listed in the Michel catalog and have catalog values in the high catalog value range.
Outside Denmark proper, Danish stamps were used in Iceland and the Faroe Islands. In Iceland between 1870 and 1873, when stamps were first issued for Iceland. In the Faroe Islands between 1870 and 1975, when the Faroe Islands also started their own stamp issuing policy. In Greenland regular mail was carried free of charge, until 1938, when stamps were introduced for specific use in Greenland. The issues for these overseas possessions are discussed in more detail in separate profiles.