Denmark – Culture and Customs of a Small but Mighty Country

Although a small country of roughly 5.7 million people, Denmark is one of the leadingMap of Denmark economic markets in Europe. In fact, Forbes routinely taps the Scandinavian country to top its list of best countries to do business. So if you’re looking to expand your international marketing efforts, don’t overlook the Danes as a rich opportunity for new business ventures. Its temperate climate and central location just north of Germany, between the North and Baltic Seas, also makes it a popular destination for tourists and recreation enthusiasts.
As part of our recurring series of blogs highlighting cultures and countries around the world, we’ve collected some key facts and figures highlighting Denmark’s popular appeal.

  • Danish is the national language of Denmark, but a large majority of Danes speak English as a second language. German is the second-most spoken foreign language.
  • Historically homogeneous in terms of ethnic makeup, Denmark is becoming increasingly diverse. About 87% of the population is of Danish descent, with the majority of the other ethnic groups coming from Poland, Turkey, Germany, Iraq, Romania, Syria, Somalia, Iran, Afghanistan, and Yugoslavia.
  • Denmark has a universal health care system run by the regional authorities, which means that most health care provision is free at the point of delivery for all residents.
  • A major feature of Danish culture is Jul (Danish Christmas). The holiday is celebrated throughout December, starting either at the beginning of Advent or on December 1 with a variety of traditions, culminating with the Christmas Eve meal.
  • Denmark food, like that of the other Nordic countries and of Northern Germany, consists mainly of meat, fish and potatoes. Danish dishes are highly seasonal, stemming from the country’s agricultural past, its geography, and its climate of long, cold winters. It’s also known for two popular beers: Carlsberg and Tuborg.
  • Denmark shares strong cultural and historic ties with its Scandinavian neighbors Sweden and Norway. It has historically been one of the most socially progressive cultures in the world.
    image of jelling stone
    One of the Jelling Stones, massive carved runestones from the 10th Century.
  • Popular historical sites for travelers include Christiansfeld, a Moravian Church Settlement; the Jelling Mounds (Runic Stones and Church), Kronborg Castle and Roskilde Cathedral.
  • Danes as a people are generally modest and reserved and expect similar behavior from others. As an egalitarian society, they employ gender-neutral words as much as possible. This is important to remember for any written or verbal communications you deliver.
  • Danes enjoy a high standard of living and the Danish economy is characterized by extensive government welfare measures and an equitable distribution of income.
  • Most families are small. The nuclear family is the center of the social structure, and children are raised to be independent from an early age.
  • Denmark’s strong economic market is based around a high-tech agricultural sector, state-of-the-art industry with world-leading firms in pharmaceuticals, maritime shipping and renewable energy, and a high dependence on foreign trade.
  • As a member of the European Union (EU), Denmark is a strong supporter of trade liberalization.
  • For business meetings, be sure to schedule appointments in advance, confirm them in writing, and arrive on time. Danes are punctual in both business and social situations. Avoid scheduling meetings during the height of the vacation season from mid-June through mid-August.
  • In business interactions, firmly shake hands with everyone when you arrive and depart. Maintain eye contact while being introduced. Always shake hands with women first, and be sure to exchange business cards.
  • Business negotiations are typically very focused and short on small talk. Communication is direct. Decisions are made after consulting with everyone involved. Presentations, which should be accurately translated into Danish, should be well-organized and factual. Use facts, figures and charts to back up statements and conclusions.
  • The country ranks as having the world’s highest social mobility, maintains a high level of income equality, enjoys one of the world’s highest per capita incomes, and has one of the world’s highest personal income tax rates.

If you’d like to learn more about Denmark and the opportunities for expanding your marketing efforts with the Danish people, give us a call. We’d be happy to assist!
For more than 30 years, ASIST Translation Services, Inc. has worked with business, government, educational and non-profit clients around the world. We improve foreign language communications through a full menu of translation and interpreting services, including content localization, studio voice recording & audio-visual production, transcreation, proofreading, website content, page layout & design, cultural training, and other specialized language support. To learn more about how we can assist you, visit our LinkedInTwitter or Facebook pages or our Website!

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