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Copenhagen has a long and colourful history, and the now-famous capital began as a small and little-known fishing village. The area where the city stands was settled as early as 6,000 years ago, but the first city records date from 1043 AD. The name Copenhagen comes from the Danish word for harbour, havn. The rural settlement there eventually developed into the dazzling capital of the Danish Empire, and is now one of the most famous cities in the world. The largest city in all of Scandanavia, Copenhagen is the seat of Danish government and the home of the royal family. It maintains its provincial origins in some respects, however, and some of the most charming aspects of the town are its gabled houses, narrow winding streets, and quaint church spires. The location and surroundings of Copenhagen are strikingly beautiful, with its buildings set against a backdrop of lakes, canals and the sea. Copenhagen is also one of the biggest Baltic ports. The city is very environmentally conscious with many green spaces, and bikes outnumber cars, especially in the centre. Many areas are reserved for pedestrians only, and the city is generally extremely well cared for. The recent construction of the Æresund Bridge has caused the city to expand by connecting it to Malmö, Sweden over the Æresund Strait. The bridge is currently the longest bridge in Europe that is built for both cars and trains.
Copenhagen has a temperate yet maritime climate, and the weather varies greatly from one time of the year to another. The winters tend to be quite cold and cloudy, while the summers are warm with a good deal of sun. Snow falls readily between the months of January and March. The most rainfall occcurs in the fall, between the months of August and October.
The language of Denmark is Danish, known as Dansk. The tongue is closely related to the other Scandanavian languages, particularly Swedish, and uses some unusual vowels and glottal stops. Most Danes speak at least some English, however, and those who are often involved with tourists usually speak perfect English and very good German as well.
The most common religion in Denmark is Lutheranism, and Lutherans make up over 92% of the country’s religious people. The remaining 8% includes other Christian denominations as well as a small number of Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Jews. Denmark is actually of the world’s most secular countries, and has the third highest proportion of athiests and agnostics, estimated to be at least 50% of the overall population.
The currency used in Denmark is the krone, the plural form of which is kroner. There are 100 øre in a krone, and coins come in values of 25 øre, 50 øre, and 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 kroner. Banknotes are issues in values of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 kroner.
Restaurant, hotels and taxis automatically add service charges to their bills, so in a sense further tipping is not required. Small tips are often expected, however, and if you never tip while you are in Denmark chances are you will raise some eyebrows. In an average restaurant, a tip of 20-30 kroner is normal. Certainly you should feel no obligation to tip if the service has been unsatisfactory. If service has been exceptionally good, however, it is common to tip a bit more. If a taxi driver or porter helps you with bags a small tip should also be given, and you can figure around 5 kroner per bag. It is also appropriate to tip restroom atendants a couple of kroner.
If you come from a country outside of the EU or Scandanavia, you may be entitled to a tax refund on leaving the country. The minium amount you must spend in one shop to qualify for a refund is DKK 300 (about € 40). In these cases, the shop will give you a form that you can present at the airport before you leave to claim your refund. The amount refunded will be between 13 - 19% of the total purchase.
The country code of Denamrk is 45. To call Denmark from abroad, dial +45 (or 011 45 from the US), followed by the 8 digit local number. There are telephone boxes all over Copenhagen, about half of which accept only telecards. Others accept coins, both Danish kroner and Euros, and at some phones you can pay with a credit card. You can purchase Danish telecards at train stations, post offices, newsstands and petrol stations. The cards are sold in values of DKK 30, 50 and 100.
There are several internet cafés spread out through Copenhagen, most of which are located in the centre. Many internet cafés include free coffee in their rates, which are quite reasonable compared with other European countries, usually between 10 - 30 kr per hour. Some internet cafés also include video game stations, and all usually have printing and fax services.
Opening times in Copenhagen naturally vary from shop to shop, but in general they are open Mon- Fri from 9.30 or 10 am - 6 or 7 pm, and Sat from 9 am - 3 or 4 pm. Some shops are open on Sundays, such as bakeries, florists and touristy stores. There are rules in place about when shops can open, and they limit the amount of days businesses can open on Sundays. Generally, shops are allowed to be open on 23 Sundays out of the year if they choose. Office hours and banking hours in Copenhagen are typically weekdays from 9 am- 4 or 4.30 pm.
On the following days, most shops will be closed, as well as banks and post offices. Public transportation may also be more limited.
1 January, New Years Day (Nytårsdag)
Maundy Thursday (Skætersdag)
Good Friday (Langfredag)
Easter (Påske søndag)
Easter Monday (Påskedag)
April (date varies) Day of Prayer (Store Bededag)
May (date varies) Ascension Day (Kristi Himmelfartsdag)
May (date varies) Whit Sunday (Pinse søndag)
May (date varies) Whit Monday (2. Pinsedag)
5 June, Constitution Day (Grundlovsdag)
24 - 26 December, Christmas (Jul)
Copenhagen is generally a safe city, and you can expect to have a crime-free visit. However, like anywhere, you should observe some basic safety precautions, especially since foreigners are at higher risk for petty crimes. Make sure to carry your wallet and other valuables in a very secure place where pickpockets cannot reach them, and do not leave your bags out of your reach in restaurants or other public places. Crimes against women are particularly low in Denmark, but it is still advisable not to walk alone late at night, especially in rougher neighbourhoods.
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