Denmark country brief


The Kingdom of Denmark comprises Denmark as well as the Faroe Islands and Greenland, which were granted self-government in 1948 and 1979, respectively. Denmark itself is the southern part of Scandinavia and covers an area of 43,000 sq km and has a population of approximately 5.6 million.

Denmark joined the EU in 1973, and is a member of numerous other international organisations including: United Nations (UN), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Arctic Council and World Trade Organisation (WTO). On trade policy, Denmark is among the most liberal in the EU and is supportive of comprehensive agricultural reform. Denmark also supports stringent environmental regulation at the EU level. Denmark is a key actor on international climate policy.

Political overview

The Kingdom of Denmark is a constitutional monarchy. The reigning monarch, Queen Margrethe II, ascended the throne in 1972. The heir to the throne, Crown Prince Frederik, is married to Australian-born Crown Princess Mary.

Legislative powers are vested in a unicameral parliament (the Folketing). Its 179 members, including two each from the Faroe Islands and Greenland, are elected for four-year terms on the basis of proportional representation. There are currently 12 parties in the Parliament.

Danish general elections were held on 18 June 2015. The centre-right group led by ex-PM Lars Lokke Rasmussen beat Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt's centre-left coalition.  Lars Lokke Rasmussen’s Liberal Party, won 90 seats in the parliament.

Economic overview

Denmark’s GDP is projected to remain steady through 2016 at just under two per cent, supported by continued investment and a pick-up in world trade. The Danish economy benefits from low inflation and energy prices and a stronger labour market. The EU remains Denmark's most important trading zone, accounting for around two-thirds of exports and slightly less than three-quarters of imports. Trade with other countries has increased in recent years, with China becoming a more important source of imports.

Denmark has pioneered wind power and is a global player in production of wind turbines. The Danish government is focused on a transition renewable energy supply by 2050.

Bilateral relationship

Australia and Denmark share a bilateral relationship based on cooperation on a range of issues in international fora, a strong commitment to global security, and people-to-people links established over two centuries of migration. The Australian Embassy in Copenhagen re-opened in 2000 after closing in 1997. The Danish Embassy in Canberra which closed in 2002, re-opened in September 2007. Denmark retains consulates in most state capital cities of Australia.

According to the 2011 census, over 54,000 Australians claim Danish ancestry. Australia's profile in Denmark, and vice-versa, was boosted by the marriage in May 2004 of Australian-born Mary Donaldson to Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik.

The 40th Anniversary of the opening of the Sydney Opera House, designed by Danish Architect Jørn Utzon, was celebrated in October 2013. It is a UNESCO World Heritage listed building and is Australia’s most prominent example of Australian and Danish collaboration.

Educational services are one of Australia's most significant exports to Scandinavia. There are extensive bilateral education links between Australian and Danish tertiary institutions. Around 700 Danish students study in Australian annually. A bilateral Working Holiday Maker Arrangement and a Social Security Agreement were signed in 2001. Denmark and Australia signed an Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation in 1981.

High Level Visits

President of the Senate, Senator the Hon John Hogg, led a parliamentary delegation to Denmark in April 2011. Prime Minister, the Hon Kevin Rudd MP, and Minister for Climate Change, Senator the Hon Penny Wong, visited Denmark in December 2009 to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary visited Sydney as patrons of the Opera House’s 40th Anniversary program in October 2013, accompanied by the Danish Minister for Culture, Marianne Jevled. Previously, they made official visits to Australia in March 2005 and November 2011, the latter accompanied by the Minister for Trade and Investment, Ms Pia Olsen Dyhr and a Danish business delegation. They have also visited Australia privately on a number of occasions.

Bilateral economic and trade relationship

Total two-way merchandise trade between Australia and Denmark in 2014-15 was A$1.2 billion, weighted heavily in Denmark's favour. Australia's merchandise exports to Denmark were valued at A$116 million in 2014-15 and consisted mainly of alcoholic beverages, manufactured articles and beef. Merchandise imports from Denmark were valued at almost A$1.09 billion in 2014-15, and consisted mainly of power generating machinery and parts, meat (excluding beef) and prams, toys and games.

Over 100 Danish companies have a presence in Australia including Vestas Wind Systems, one of the world's leading manufacturers of wind turbines. The Denmark-based global cleaning company ISS is one of the biggest European employers in Australia. For advice on doing business in Denmark, please see Austrade's Website.

Last updated:  April 2016.

Last Updated: 19 April 2016