Friday, 11 May 2012 18:58 | By Tom Phillips

Ten things you never knew about Denmark



Denmark (© Action Images)

1) Denmark's national flag - the Dannebrog - is the oldest national flag still in use in the world.

2) Denmark is incredibly flat - its highest point, Møllehøj, is only 170m above sea level.

3) Denmark is well known for being the home of Lego - the interlocking building blocks for children invented in the 1940s (and keeping exactly the same design since 1958) that became an international phenomenon, with dedicated Lego stores, video game spin-offs and five theme parks around the world.

4) Other, non-Lego things invented in Denmark include the drum motor and the "LifeStraw" water purification system.

5) One thing that wasn't invented in Denmark - the pretend-Danish ice cream Häagen-Dazs. In case you've ever wondered what the name means, the answer is... nothing. It's just a combination of roughly Danish-sounding nonsense words (which don't actually conform to any Scandinavian spelling norms) made up by its Polish-American creator Reuben Mattus to give the ice cream an exotic "Danish" feel. Apparently, he just sat at home saying nonsense words until he found a combination he liked.

6) Denmark is largely made up of a large number of islands, known as the Danish Archipelago - there are over 400 islands in total (depending on which definition of "island" is used), around 70 of which are inhabited.

7) Australia's famous Sydney Opera House was designed by a Danish architect, Jørn Utzon.

8) The Danish royal family is the oldest in Europe - they can trace their lineage back to the first true King of Denmark, the Viking king Gorm the Old, who ruled from 936 AD.

9) Denmark is regularly ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world. It's among the lowest levels of inequality, among the highest income per head, and among the lowest levels of corruption. Well done Denmark.

10) Denmark holds the distinction of being the only country to win the European Championships despite having failed to even qualify for the tournament. Denmark triumphed in Euro 1992 despite having been beaten to qualification by Yugoslavia - they only ended up at the tournament when Yugoslavia were banned due to the Yugoslav wars.

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