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 more recent times, Denmark has developed a highly-competitive service-based economy with high employment levels and a generous social security system.
Denmark's euroscepticism had put it at odds with many of its European Union partners. Voters rejected the Maastricht Treaty, which proposed monetary union and a common European defence force, and had to be granted opt-outs from these provisions before the treaty was approved in 1993.
It later rejected the euro as the national currency in another referendum in September 2000.
At a glance
- Politics: Social Democrat Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Denmark's first female PM, took office after 2011 elections ended a decade of centre-right rule
- Economy: Denmark, an EU member, has rejected the euro but pegs the krone to the single currency. The economy is services-based
- International: Denmark has backed key international peacekeeping efforts, and deployed troops in Afghanistan
Country profiles compiled by BBC Monitoring
The Social Democrats led coalition governments for most of the post-war period, consolidating the country's liberal reputation, although concerns at high taxation levels and tension over immigration helped the conservative People's Party into office from 1982-1993 and 2001-2011.
Danish television and cinema have won international recognition, not least for their willingness to experiment. Through the late 1990s and early 2000s Dogme movement directors 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.