Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)

Read The Tsar's Dwarf (Hawthorne Books)
"A curious and wonderful work of great human value by a Danish master." Sebastian Barry, Man Booker finalist (Click on the picture to go to the book's Amazon page)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Denmark for Dummies: A Superficial Introduction to the Happiest Country in the World

This is the original version that won's blog prize, but you may want to go to the updated versions. The latest is from 2024.

All Danes are blond and gorgeous. And all of us have a cabin with a view of a lake. No wonder the whole world wants to be Danish, but don't get your hopes up. We're very protective of our gene pool.

You're smart.

You're planning to go to Denmark.

You've always wanted to visit our country because you know that it's the most exciting nation in the world. You tell yourself, "Why would I want to go to Paris, Rome or Barcelona when I can go hiking in Djursland?"

"Yes," you continue, "I'm trendy. I want to go to Denmark because the Danes are green, they ride their bikes like there's no tomorrow, they're innovative with windmills and herring, and most important, they're the happiest people in the world."

Yes, that's right.

What we Danes have known for ages is now official: Denmark has been named the happiest nation on the planet. And I'm living proof of that. Right now this Danish novelist is sitting in the middle of happy Copenhagen staring at the happy rain, enjoying the 53 degrees of happy summer.

Come and visit us, will you?

And please bring all your money because you're going to need it!


Here's a superficial introduction to my Southern Scandinavian Paradise. Everything you read here is the gospel truth and is not open for discussion:

Name: Denmark (Danmark)

Inhabitants: 5,5 million.

Capital: Copenhagen (1.5 million)

Ranking: Most livable city in the world (Monocle, British Magazine, 2008)

Other Top Rankings in the World That We Take Pride in Because We Should:
a) Commitment to foreign aid.
b) Pork consumption per capita.

Language: Danish.

Government: Constitutional monarchy.

Currency: Kroner. (5.5 DKK to a US dollar)

Religion: No, thank you.

Name of King: We don't have any.

Name of Queen: Margrethe II.

Name of Prime Minister: Always a Rasmussen.

Size: The 8th biggest country in the world if you count Greenland. (Always count Greenland).

Unemployment Rate: Always rising

Crime per Capita: Fourth lowest in the world.

Corruption: Second lowest in the world.

Average Consumption of Beer per Capita: Fourth highest in the world.

Great Danes Who Throw Up When They See George Bush on TV: 94, 3%

Great Danes Who Get an Erection When They See Obama: 53%

Big Boys Club: The European Union, NATO.

Famous Dead Danes: Hans Christian Andersen (fairy tale writer), Søren Kierkegaard (philosopher), King Canute (conquered England), Tycho Brahe (astronomer), Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen (writer), Vitus Bering (explorer), Niels Bohr (physicist, Nobel prize winner), Jørn Utzon (architect), Carl Nielsen (composer), Hamlet (Shakespeare's boy toy).

Famous Living Danes: Lars Ulrich (founder of Metallica), Michael Laudrup (soccer), Helena Christensen (model), Peter Schmeichel (soccer), Lars von Trier (film director), Connie Nielsen (actress).

Danes Who Ought to Be Dead: Jante.

Famous Half Danes: Viggo Mortensen, Scarlett Johansson.

Danish Oscar Winners for Best Foreign Film: Gabriel Axel (Babette's Feast, 1987), Bille August (Pelle the Conqueror, 1988).
Biggest Danish Film Star of All Time: Asta Nielsen (from the Silent Age. Known as Die Asta by Germans, and other riff-raff)

Most Famous Danish Building: The Opera House in Sydney.

Famous Danish Companies You Probably Would Want to Boycot If You Were a Muslim: Arla, Lego, Maersk, Ecco, Bang and Olufsen, Danfoss, Carlsberg, Tuborg.

Daily Smokers: 10% of population. (All of them will be sitting in your outdoor café of choice)

Obesity Rate: 22% of population.

McDonalds Restaurants in Denmark: 25

Best Danish Food: Herring, herring (and hey, the herring is pretty good, too)

Denmark's Claim to Fame in Great Britain: Bacon.

Denmark's Claim to Fame in Spain, Greece, and Cyprus: Blond girls with herpes.

Denmark's Claim to Fame in the Far East: Badminton.

Most Important Danish Invention of All Time: The atomic bomb (Niels Bohr).

Denmark's Biggest Contribution to American Sports: Morten Andersen, the all-time leading scorer in the NFL.

Best Tourist Attraction If You're Into Knights in Shining Armour: 1. Frederiksborg castle, Hillerød. 2. Kronborg (Hamlet's castle), Elsinore. 3. Egeskov, Funen.

Best Tourist Attraction If You're Eight Years Old or Behaving Like It: Legoland.

Best Tourist Attraction If You're Eighty Years Old or Behaving Like It: Tivoli.

Most Overrated Tourist Attraction That You Shouldn't Waste Your Time With But God Knows You Will: The Little Mermaid.

Time of Glory I: When the Danish vikings conquered England in the 11th century.

Time Of Glory II: When Denmark won the European Championship in soccer in 1992 and the whole country behaved like we'd won the Third World War.

Biggest International Danish Hit of All Time But Please Don't Listen to It: Barbie Girl by Aqua.

Most Sold Novel Since the Days of Hans Christian Andersen: Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg.

Worst Danish Accent by Great Actress: Meryl Streep as Karen Blixen in Out of Africa.

Most Beautiful Cities in Denmark: Copenhagen, Helsingør (Elsinore), Ærøskøbing, Faaborg, Ribe, Skagen, Svaneke, Århus.

Places to Avoid at All Costs:Strøget after midnight.

Best Months to Visit: June, August.

Best Month to Commit Suicide Because It's Dark, Dreary, and Everybody Wish They Were in Thailand: January.

Best Danish Traits: Tolerance, sense of humor, informality.

Worst Danish Traits: Intolerance, rudeness, pettiness, self-satisfied melancholy.

What You'll Miss the Most If You're an American Visiting Denmark: TV anchors with perfect teeth.

What You'll Miss the Most If You're Italian: Bread and Berlusconi.

What You'll Miss the Most If You're Norwegian: Norway

Most Beautiful Area of Denmark: The Silkeborg lake district in Jutland.

Celebrities Who Adore Copenhagen Because We Force Them to: Danny Kaye, Woody Allen, Bryan Adams, Per-Olov Enquist, Gwyneth Paltrow, John Cleese.

Most Stupid Thing to Say to a Dane: Now, which part of Germany are you from again ...?

Second Most Stupid Thing to Say to a Dane: I've just been to Sweden. It's my favorite Scandinavian country.

Enjoy your stay, but do bring all your credit cards.
Copenhagen is the third most expensive capital in the world, but hey, we mean well.



Anonymous said...

Love it!

india flint said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
india flint said...

found your page by accident and giggled so much that my ears nearly fell into my (NOT Starbucks)coffee

Anonymous said...

Re "Places to Avoid at All Costs"
- Du har da vist alerig været i Allingåbro

chansen said...

Thank you for writing this blog. It has solidified my belief that moving to Denmark with my Danish husband and our children is the best decision I will ever make. After 16 years of living in Florida I am SICK TO DEATH of the incesant sun!!! I want some dark rain clouds, cold weather and snow! The darkness is what makes Denmark cozy.

I read a great book for newcomers to Denmark. It is called Culture Smart Denmark and it tells a foreigner everything he needs to know to survive there. For example, it lists all the laws of the Janteloven, who wears what color uniform and most importantly how and when to "Skoal" correctly.

I can't wait to get there. The coffee from Q-8 isn't so bad and as for the expense, we have sold everything we own. That should get us through the first few weeks and then my husband will start his new job as window washer.

Anonymous said...

So funny! I was smiling to myself the whole time. And yes, Sweden is my favorite Scandinavian country. We should give you Skåne back though... I know that bothers you. :-)

Anonymous said...


"The most thing you'll miss most in Denmark if you're Norwegian: Norway"



tak, dear sir.

Anonymous said...

wow very well

L said...

Congratulations with your victory. It is a very informative and funny post. I thought mine was good, but I can easily see yours is much better. I hope you enjoy the Jazz festival at København. I have been there and it is a fantastic experience.

Danish Accent said...

Thank you, Leonardo. That's very gracious of you.

All the best to you

Mari said...

Fantastic post Peter! Yet again I chuckled throughout it, heh.

Oh, wait, seriously, I'm not going to miss Berlusconi at all when visiting Denmark! No, no. And bread? C'mon you white wine lover, what's gotten into you? lol ;p

Thanks for this post. More than ever I want to visit your beloved Copenhagen, heh; and all the rest you suggest, of course! :)

Little CupCake Princess said...

Jeg elsker Danmark. :)

Anonymous said...

Funny post. And I thought we were the first to do the dummy guide...

paul said...

im half danish half colombian and i dont agree with the fact that danish people are the happiest cuz trust me the danish dont compare to the colombians(happinest speaking)but the Danish still rock! thanks for posting this

Nina Ø said...

Coming to DK this week from San Francisco to visit my family on Zealand. I disagree with the cost. If you have family in DK they will not let you buy a thing. All I need to do is get myself there. When Cousin Alice come for her first USA visit in 2008, we got to play "turn the table". We took her all over Northern CA and would not let her spend a dime till she insisted on buying gifts to take home. Absolutely loved your post. I put it on my FB.

Fashion Memos said...

Great post:D
Thanks, me and my boyfriend(who is Danish) were laughing a lot!:)