In 1849 Denmark became a constitutional monarchy with the adoption of a new constitution. The monarch is formally head of state, a role which is mainly ceremonial, since executive power is exercised by the cabinet ministers, with the prime minister acting as the first among equals (primus inter pares). Legislative power is vested in the both the government and the Danish parliament, known as the Folketing, which consists of (no more than) 179 members. The courts of Denmark are functionally and administratively independent of the executive and the legislature.
Elections for parliament are usually held every four years; but the prime minister can call for an earlier election, if he so decides. Should parliament succed in a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister the entire government resigns.
Copenhagen County comprise the municipalities in metropolitan Copenhagen, except
Copenhagen Municipality and Frederiksberg Municipality. Bornholm Regional Municipality comprise the five former municipalities on the island Bornholm and the island's former county.
Greenland and the Faroe Islands also belong to the Kingdom of Denmark, but have autonomous status and are largely self-governing, and are each represented by 2 seats in the parliament.
The country is mostly flat with little elevation (highest points are Ejer Baunehøj and Yding Skovhøj, both at about 173 meters). The climate is temperate, with mild winters and cool summers. Main cities are the capital Copenhagen (on Zealand), Aarhus (on Jutland) and Odense (on Fyn).
This thoroughly modern market economy features high-tech agriculture, up-to-date small-scale and corporate industry, extensive government welfare measures, comfortable living standards, a stable currency, and high dependence on foreign trade. Denmark is a net exporter of food and energy and has a comfortable balance of payments surplus. The government has been successful in meeting, and even exceeding, the economic convergence criteria for participating in the third phase (a common European currency) of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), but Denmark, in a September 2000 referendum, reconfirmed its decision not to join the 11 other EU members in the euro. Even so, the Danish currency remains pegged to the euro.
The majority of the population is of Scandinavian descent, with small groups of Inuit (from Greenland), Faroese, and immigrants. According to official statistics in 2003 immigrants made up 6.2% of the total population.
Danish is spoken in the entire country, although a small group near the German border also speaks German.
According to official statistics from January 2002 84.3% of Danes are members of the state church, the Danish People's Church (Den Danske Folkekirke), also known as the Church of Denmark, a form of Lutheranism; the rest are primarily of other Christian denominations and also about 3% are Muslims.