Denmark’s population (as of 1 January 2008) was 5,475,791, giving Denmark a population density of 129.16 inhabitants per km² (334.53 inh/sq mi). As in most countries, the population is not distributed evenly. Although the land area east of the Great Belt only makes up 9,622 km² (3,715 sq mi), 22.7% of Denmark's land area, as of 1 January 2008 it has 45% (2,465,348) of the population. The average population density of this area is 256.2 inhabitants per km² (663.6 per sq mi). The average density in the west of the country (32,772 km²/12,653 sq mi) is 91.86/km² (237.91 per sq mi) (3,010,443 people) (2008).
The five largest cities in Denmark are:
- Copenhagen - 1,167,569
- Arhus - 239,865
- Odense - 158,678
- Aalborg - 122,461
- Esbjerg - 71,025
Denmark has a highly developed welfare safety net, which ensures that all Danes receive tax-funded health care and generous unemployment insurance. Denmark ranked the first in the European pensions barometer survey for the past two years. The lowest-income group before retirement from the age of 65 receive 120% of their pre-retirement income in pension and miscellaneous subsidies.
The large public sector (30% of the entire workforce on a full-time basis) is financed by the world's highest taxes. A value added tax of 25% is levied on the sale of most goods and services (including groceries). The income tax in Denmark ranges from 42.9% to 63% progressively, levied on 4 out of 10 full-time employees. Such high rates mean that 1,010,000 Danes before the end of 2008 (44% of all full-time employees) will be paying a marginal income tax of 63% and a combined marginal tax of 70.9% resulting warnings from organisations such as the OECD. TV2 (Denmark) reported in April 2008 that abolishing the middle- and top-level income tax brackets would amount to two (2) and one (1) percent of public sector revenue, respectively, which equals one and a half percent of GDP.
The public sector as a whole had a budget surplus of 4.4% of GDP in 2007, but the tax cuts would increase private consumption and the labor shortage and thus result in a deficit on the trade balance and pressure to increase wages even further. Proceeds from selling one's home (if there is any home equity (da: friværdi)) is not taxed, as the marginal tax rate on capital income from housing savings is around 0 percent. A survey by Standard & Poor's found that the total debt secured by mortgages in Danish homes amounts to 89.8% of GDP, which is above the debt level in other EU countries (and the U.S.A. at 74.6% of GDP).
The Danish education system provides access to primary school, secondary school, and most kinds of higher education. Attendance at "Folkeskole" or equivalent education is compulsory for a minimum of 9 years. Equivalent education could be in private schools or classes attended at home. About 99% of students attend elementary school, 86% attend secondary school, and 41% pursue further education. All college education in Denmark is free; there are no tuition fees to enroll in courses.
Following graduation from Folkeskolen, there are several other educational opportunities, including Gymnasium (academically oriented upper secondary education), Higher Preparatory Examination (HF) (similar to Gymnasium, but one year shorter), Higher Technical Examination Programme (HTX) (with focus on Mathematics and engineering), and Higher Commercial Examination Programme (HHX) (with a focus on trade and business), as well as vocational education, training young people for work in specific trades by a combination of teaching and apprenticeship.
Denmark has several universities; the largest and oldest are the University of Copenhagen (founded 1479) and University of Aarhus (founded 1928).
According to official statistics from January 2009, 81.5% of the population of Denmark are members of the Lutheran state church, the Danish National Church (Den Danske Folkekirke), which is established by the Constitution. If immigrants and descendants of immigrants are excluded from the statistics, the member rate is even higher, approximately 90.3%. According to article 6 of the Constitution, the Royal Family must belong to this Church, though the rest of the population is free to adhere to other faiths.
Denmark's Muslims make up 2% of the population and is the country's second largest religious community. The oldest state-recognised religious societies and churches are the following:
- Roman Catholicism, recognised by the state since 1682
- The Reformed Church, recognised by the state since 1682.
- Judaism, recognised by the state since 1682.
Forn Siðr (English: The Old Way), based on the much older, native religion, is one of the most recently recognised by the state, gaining official recognition in November 2003.
Religious societies and churches do not need to be state-recognised in Denmark and can be granted the right to perform weddings and other ceremonies without this recognition.