At the time of unification, the Norwegian Empire also included the North Atlantic Isles of Orkney, Shetlands, Faroes, Iceland and Greenland, while the Kingdom of Sweden included a large part of present-day Finland and the Kingdom of Denmark also included Holstein.
There were several internal conflicts and uprisings in the following century, and in 1523, Gustav Vasa was declared king of Sweden and the union fell apart and ceased to exist.
The peninsula of Jutland and the main islands comprise the regions we use in this guide.
Nearly 40% of the country's population live here although it only accounts for 15% of the land area.
The Danes are first mentioned in writings from the 6th century, and became widely known in the Viking age, when they together with their Norwegian and Swedish kin travelled far for trade, raids and settling (cf the Danelaw in Britain).
The kingdom was enlarged and in the 11th century his grandson Cnut the Great was king not only of modern Denmark proper, but also the Scanian lands of southern Sweden, Norway and larger parts of England (which were lost after his death).
Denmark continued its expansion, of which both the church and the Hanseatic League played important roles.
Denmark is the birthplace of one of the world's most popular toys, Lego, and boasts the Legoland theme park in Billund.