From its ancient Viking roots to its decidedly modern way of life today, Denmark has a rich history. Positioned strategically at the entrance to the Baltic Sea, Denmark has moved from being neutral in World Wars I and II to being a vibrant trade partner, sharing many of the United States’ global goals. Denmark has recently supported US military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq and joined with the US and other countries to maintain its liberal trade policies with the EU, OECD and WTO. Although it recently suffered destroyed diplomatic ties and death threats when a Danish newspaper printed cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammed, Denmark remains committed to free speech and human rights
Lay of the Land: Denmark, in northern Europe, is composed of the northern part of the peninsula of Jutland (which it shares with West Germany), and two groups of islands. To the east lies the main archipelago of some 400 islands, only about 100 of which are inhabited. On the largest of these, in the extreme east, is the capital of Copenhagen. To the west of the peninsula are the Faroe Islands and, much further, Greenland, whose status changed in 1953 from colony to a province and then, in 1979, to a sel-ruling part of Denmark. On November 25, 2008, Greenlanders voted overwhelmingly for greater autonomy. In Denmark proper, no one lives more than 33 miles from the sea. The land is highly cultivated and extremely flat. The highest mountain is 568 feet above sea level (less than half the height of the Empire State Building). Denmark is a land lacking in spectacular natural beauty, but it offers instead soft landscapes of beech trees, meadows carpeted with flowers, thatched farmhouses, and little red-roofed towns.
Danes were some of the earliest settlers and explorers in the United States. Eric the Red led a Viking crew to Newfoundland in the 11th Century, making him the first European on American shores. Other early explorers included Vitus Bering, who was the first European to discover Alaska in 1728, and in whose honor the Bering Strait was named. Other Danes sought a more temperate atmosphere and settled what is today called the Virgin Islands in the 17th Century.Tthey sold the islands to the US in 1917 for $25 million.
According to the State Department, relations between the US and Denmark are currently excellent. Denmark has supported US military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq and has joined with the US in the Enhanced Partnership in Northern Europe (EPINE), which is designed to strengthen policy between Nordic and Baltic states.
US imports from Denmark during the years 2006 through 2007 increased as follows: food oils and oilseeds moved up from $5.7 million to $8.3 million; soft beverages, processed coffee and other drinks went up from $27.6 million to 31.6 million; finished textile industrial supplies increased from $7.9 million to $14.5 million and artwork, antiques, stamps, and other collectibles moved up from $21.7 million to $26.3 million.
Cartoons Depicting Mohammed Stirs Outrage & Controversy Among Muslims
According to the State Department, the Danish government generally respects the human rights of its citizens, and the law and judiciary provide effective means of dealing with individual instances of abuse. Reports of religious and ethnic discrimination against minority groups have remained relatively constant over the past several years, while domestic violence against women and trafficking in women and children continued to be reported.
Peter Taksoe-Jensen took over as Denmark’s ambassador to the United States in September 2010.
A major fundraiser for President Barack Obama, Laurie S. Fulton has spent most of her career in Washington, DC, first in the U.S. Senate, where she met her first husband, Tom Daschle, and later as a partner in the powerful legal firm of Williams & Connolly.