Demographic History of Denmark

Note : this page is conceived telegram-style and selective (lists of wars deemed destructive, lists of epidemic diseases, years of famine etc.)
The data given below refer to Denmark in her post-1920 borders, without Greenland, Iceland and the Faroes.

Aging Society
Deportation & Genocide
Ethnic Minorities : Germans, Roma (Gypsies)
Religious Minorities : Catholics, Jews
Epidemic, Pandemic Diseases
Labour Migration : Immigration, Emigration
Political Refugees : Emigrants, Immigrants
Population Statistics
Rural Population
Volunteers in Foreign Wars
Wartime Destruction : Battleground Denmark

Aging Society
Due to a decrease in the birth rate and increasing life expectancy, since the 1960es the average age of the Danish citizen has gradually increased.

Deportation & Genocide
1589 Gypsies
1943 Jews (in order to save them from the Holocaust)

Ethnic Minorities : Germans
The Duchy of Schleswig (Slesvig) traditionally had been part of Denmark; in the 14th century it joined Holstein in dynastic union; in 1460 Schleswig and Holstein acquired the privilege to be 'forever undivided'. During that time, the Schleswig nobility assumed a German identity. The cities of Schleswig had a strong German population element; the introduction of Lutheranism resulted in assimilation of part of the rural population into the German culture.
In the 18th century, Schleswig was combined with Denmark in dynastic union. When attempts were made to ntegrate Schleswig into a unified Danish nation state (helstat) in 1848 and 1863-1864, the German-feeling population of Schleswig and Holstein rose in revolt; in 1864 Denmark, defeated by invading Austrian and Prussian armies, had to cede both Schleswig and Holstein to Prussia and Austria. The treaty foresaw a plebiscite to be held in Schleswig, which the Prussians / Germans did not hold until 1920. In the meantime, German public schools continued the process of assimilating Danes and Frisians into Germans.
In 1920 the plebiscite was held and Northern Schleswig annexed into Denmark. The border drawn in 1920 left a Danish minority in Germany, a German minority in Denmark, c. 15,000 strong.

Ethnic Minorities : Sinti and Roma (Gypsies)
The first anti-Gypsy laws were passed in 1536. In 1589 Gypsies, on death penalty, were ordered to leave the country. Only in 1953 did Denmark readmit Gypsies into the country.

Religious Minorities : Catholics
In 1671 Toleration Edict for Catholics permitted immigration of Catholics. Presently c.28,000 Catholics in Denmark.

Religious Minorities : Jews
In 1536, Reformation introduced in Denmark; Jews prohibited entry. In 1684 Toleration Edict permitted immigration of Jews; a Jewish community had been established in Fredericia in 1682. In late 19th / early 20th century influx of Russian Jews fleeing pogroms at home. During German occupation 1940-1943 the Jewish community of about 7,700 was exposed to discrimination. Just before the Danish Jews were to be deported to Thesresienstadt, the Danish resistance transported 7,220 of them to neutral Sweden; 464 were rounded up and deported. In 1968 the Jewish community of Denmark, concentrated in Copenhagen, was given as between 6,000 and 7,000.

Epidemic, Pandemic Diseases
1349 Great Plague
1361 Plague struck Denmark
1619 Plague struck Denmark
1711 Plague struck Copenhagen
1850 Denmark struck by Cholera
1853 Cholera struck Copenhagen

1080 Famine
1087 Famine
1311-1319 Famine
1627 Famine in Jutland
1689-1697 Famine in Scandinavia
1940-1945 Food Rationing

Labour Migration : Immigration
1616 Dutch merchants (establishment of Danish East India Company)
1620 silk weavers from the Netherlands
1660-1790 Absolutism; kings tended to prefer foreign (German) nobles, nobility of the robe, over Danish nobility of the sword
1671 Toleration patent for Catholics intended to attract immigrants with know-how (Mercantilism)
1684 Toleration patent for Jews intended to attract immigrants with know-how (Mercantilism)
1685 Toleration patent for Calvinists intended to attract immigrants with know-how (Mercantilism)
Late 19th Century Swedes, to Bornholm

Labour Migration : Emigration
c. 1720- to Greenland
c. 1800- to United States of America
1846- to Argentina
c. 1850- to Australia

Political Refugees : Emigrants
1943 Denmark's Jews, to Sweden

Political Refugees : Immigrants (in part temporary)
1938 German Jews
1945 Germans
1956 Hungarians
1968 Czechoslovaks
1979-1983 Vietnamese
1983 Chileans
1983 Sri Lankan Tamils
1991- Iraqis

Population Statistics
Censi were conducted in 1769, 1787, 1801, 1901, 1906, 1925, 1930, 1935, 1940, 1971.

Rural Population
In the 18th century, in the spirit of Mercantilism and Enlightenment, measures were implemented to improve the conditions of the peasants; serfdom was gradually abolished in 1784-1815. In the early 20th century Danish medical doctor Mikkel Hindhede, by having Danish farmers feeding cattle and pigs with beets instead of oilcake, made it possible for Denmark to evade the war-caused food crisis of 1914-1918.

During the middle ages, Scandinavia had few settlements qualifying as urban. Viborg, Ribe, Odense, Roskilde were chosen as sees of bishops in the 10th century. In the 13th and 14th century, many Germans immigrated, contributing greatly to the shaping of urban culture in places such as Copenhagen, which emerged as Denmark's capital in the 14th century. Helsingør gained its importance as a fortress on the Öresund - the Sound Levy being Denmark's leading source of revenue from the 14th century to 1863.
In the 17th century the Danish monarchs founded new cities, the population of which partially consisted of immigrants : Friedrichstadt (Holstein), Fredericia.
Due to the lack of mineral resources and a geography discouraging the construction of railroads, the impact ndustrial Revolution on Denmark was somewhat delayed; in the late 19th century, cities sich as Århus, Odense and foremost Copenhagen experienced strong growth. Today Copenhagen has a population of 656,000 (out of a total Danish population of 5.4 million).

Volunteers in Foreign Wars
1936-1939 Spanish Civil War
1941-1945 German-Soviet War (World War II)

Wartime Destruction : Battlefield Denmark
1313 Peasants Revolt in Central Jutland
1328 Peasants Revolt in Sjælland
1441 Peasants Revolt in North Jutland
1527 Peasants Revolt in Jutland
1531 Peasants Revolt in Jutland
1534-1536 Count's Feud
1624-1629 Danish Phase of Thirty Years War
1643-1645 Dano-Swedish War
1709-1721 Dano-Swedish War
1848-1850 Schleswig Rebellion
1863-1864 Schleswig Rebellion
1864 German-Danish War

History of Copenhagen, from Copenhagen Portal
Feldversuch Dänemark - die Kunst zu vergessen Hungerkatastrophen abzuwenden, from Philognosie
Asiatic Cholera Pandemic of 1846-1863, from Asiatic Cholera Pandemics in the Life of John Snow
Nils Hybel, Klima, Misvaekst og Hungersnød i Danmark 1311-1319, from Historisk Tidskrift
Articles Bondeoprør i Danmark, from Leksikon
Article Danmarks Demografi, from Wikipedia Danish edition
Article : History of the Jews in Denmark, from Wikipedia
Danish Immigration to America, from Library of Congress, Local History & Genealogy Reading Room
History of Immigration from Denmark, from Museum Victoria
Holger Terp, Danish Peace History, from The Danish Peace Academy
Manfred Ertel, A Legacy of Dead German Children, Spiegel May 16 2005
Review of G. Thorvaldsen, Danish Population History 1600-1939, from H-Net
Danish Refugee Council
The German Minority in Denmark, from Bund Deutscher Nordschleswiger
Minorities in Denmark, from Midas Press
Patrin. Timeline of Romani History
Virtual Jewish History Tour : Denmark
REFERENCE B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics 1750-1988 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted om May 25th 2008

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