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They conquered and settled parts of England (known as the Danelaw) under King Sweyn Forkbeard in 1013, and France where Danes and Norwegians founded Normandy with Rollo as head of state.
More Anglo-Saxon pence of this period have been found in Denmark than in England.
The union with Norway made it possible for Denmark to inherit the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland.
Beginning in the 17th century, there were several cessions of territory to Sweden.
In the 19th century there was a surge of nationalist movements, which were defeated in the 1864 Second Schleswig War. In April 1940, a German invasion saw brief military skirmishes while the Danish resistance movement was active from 1943 until the German surrender in May 1945.
An industrialised exporter of agricultural produce in the second half of the 19th century, Denmark introduced social and labour-market reforms in the early 20th century that created the basis for the present welfare state model with a highly developed mixed economy.
The islands are characterised by flat, arable land and sandy coasts, low elevation and a temperate climate.
Historians believe that before their arrival, most of Jutland and the nearest islands were settled by tribal Jutes.
The Jutes migrated to Great Britain eventually, some as mercenaries by Brythonic King Vortigern, and were granted the south-eastern territories of Kent, the Isle of Wight and other areas, where they settled.
Evidence of strong Celtic cultural influence dates from this period in Denmark and much of North-West Europe and is among other things reflected in the finding of the Gundestrup cauldron.
The tribal Danes came from the east Danish islands (Zealand) and Scania and spoke an early form of North Germanic.