Denmark consists of the peninsula of Jutland (Jylland) and some 400 named islands. Of these, 82 are inhabited, the largest being Funen (Fyn) and Zealand (Sjælland).
Denmark has a large fishing industry, and possesses a merchant fleet of considerable size. The manufacturing sector's main areas of activity include food products, chemicals, machinery, metal products, electronic and transport equipment, beer and paper and wood products. Tourism is also an important economic activity.
Between the 8th and 11th centuries, the Danes were known as the Vikings. Together with the Norwegians and Swedes, they colonised, raided and traded in all parts of Europe. Modern-day Danes pride themselves on their country's welfare state with its widespread social protection for everyone. Denmark is a constitutional monarchy, ruled today under the 1953 constitution. The single-chamber parliament or Folketing has 179 elected members. Among the best-known Danes are the writer Hans Christian Andersen, famous for his fairy tales, the author Karen Blixen and the designer Arne Jacobsen. Danish cinema has gained international recognition thanks largely to the experimental film director Lars von Trier.
Specialities of Danish cooking include smørrebrød (open sandwiches), boiled or sugar browned potatoes, boiled red cabbage, roast pork and roast duck. The first postage stamps were introduced on 1 April 1851, by a law passed on 11 March. The first value was a four (Fire) rigsbankskilling stamp printed in brown, a square design with a crown, sword, and sceptre in the centre. This was followed on 1 May by a 2rbs value in blue using the denomination as the design. Both stamps were typographed, watermarked (with a crown), and imperforate, and distinctive for having a yellow-brown burelage printed on top of the design. The 2rbs prepaid the local postage rate in København, while the 4rbs was the national rate. Four rbs stamps were introduced on 1 May 1851 for use in the Duchy of Slesvig.
The design and first printings were made by M. W. Ferslew, but he died and the subsequent printing was by H. H. Thiele, whose firm printed Denmark's stamps for the next 80 years.
In 1904, King Christian IX became the first king of Denmark to be depicted on a stamp.
The modern stamp program of Denmark tends to use relatively small stamps produced using engraving. While the quality is high, engraving limits the range of colours available, and so the use of lithography has creeping into issues, often in addition to engraving. The number of issued stamps has gradually climbed, from 5-10 per year in the 1960s, to around 20 annually in the 1990s, with several thematic sets (usually of four stamps each) per year.