The southernmost of the Scandinavian countries, Denmark proper includes most of the Jutland peninsula; several major islands, notably Sjælland, Fyn, Lolland, Falster, Langeland, Als, Møn, Bornholm, and Amager; and about 450 other islands. The Faeroe Islands and Greenland, in the North Atlantic, are self-governing dependencies within the Danish realm. A part of the European plain, the country is almost entirely low-lying, and more than half of its land area is cultivated. The North Atlantic Drift (a warm ocean current) usually ensures a relatively mild climate, but occasionally ice closes the Baltic Sea, thus cutting off warmer waters and making the winter quite severe.
In addition to Denmark's Scandinavian majority, there are Eskimo, Faeroese, and German, minorities and, more recently, Turkish, Iranian, and Somali immigrants. Almost all the inhabitants of Denmark speak Danish (there are several dialects), and Faeroese, Greenlandic (an Eskimo dialect), and German are also spoken. The great majority of Danes belong to the established Lutheran Church; there are small minorities of other Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Muslims.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.