The European Scandinavian nation of Denmark is the smallest and southernmost of the Nordic countries. The Kingdom of Denmark comprises of mainland Denmark and two self-governing territories, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The country encompasses an area of 42,924 square km and houses 5.7 million people.
Denmark is a historically homogeneous country, but after the World War II, the country received immigrants from a large number of countries from across the world. In addition to the asylum seekers and persons arriving as dependants in Denmark, a number of citizens of Western countries have arrived in Denmark seeking work or study opportunities. Approximately 87.7% of the country’s population are of Danish descent, and the rest are immigrants or descendants of the recent immigrants to the country. This ethnic composition of the population of Denmark has influenced the languages spoken in Denmark.
Official Languages Of Denmark
Danish is the official language of the Kingdom of Denmark and is spoken by a majority of the people of this country. Danish is also the national language of the country. It is a North Germanic language that is spoken by about 6 million people, mainly Danes, and residents of Southern Schleswig in northern Germany, where Danish has the status of a minority language. Danish is also spoken by minor populations in other parts of the world like Canada, US, Spain, Argentina, and Brazil. 15% to 20% of Greenland’s population also speak the language.
Official Regional Languages Of Denmark
Another important minority language of Denmark is the Faroese. The language is spoken by the residents of the Faroe Islands, a self-governing Danish territory. The language is related to Icelandic and the Old Norse of the Scandinavian countries. Immigrants to mainland Denmark from the Faroe Islands also speak this language.
Another self-governing territory of Denmark, Greenland hosts around 54,000 Inuits who speak the Greenlandic language. Nearly 7,000 immigrants of Greenland to mainland Denmark also speak this language.
Minority And Foreign Languages Of Denmark
English (86%), German (47%), and Swedish are the main foreign languages spoken in Denmak.
German: German is the official minority language of a section of residents of the Region of Southern Denmark which was formerly known as the South Jutland County. The region was part of Germany before the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Of the 15,000 to 20,000 ethnic Germans living in the region, about 8,000 speak standard German or Low Saxon’s Schleswigsch variety in their day-to-day lives. This German minority population of Denmark also run their own primary schools where German is the primary language of instruction. As of 2012, Denmark also hosted 28,584 immigrants from Germany who spoke the German language.
English is spoken by a large majority of Danes as a second language. It is mandatory for Danes to learn English in the Folkeskole. The language is taught compulsorily till the fifth grade and is an optional language after that. Swedish is the third most popular foreign language in Denmark with 13% of the population possessing knowledge of the language.