Dutch vs. Danish

Danish vs Dutch, what’s the difference? People, geography, language, etc.

Danish vs Dutch: Is there much of a difference? If you’re not from (or don’t live in) either country, you might well think that Denmark and the Netherlands are pretty much identical.

Both Denmark and the Netherlands are full of tall blondes, with cycling paths dotted throughout their capitals. The Danes and Dutch also have similar outlooks on life, and their political leanings also aren’t too different from one another.

Another key similarity between Denmark and the Netherlands is both countries’ love for beer. Carlsberg and Heineken are both famous worldwide; almost every bar in Copenhagen will serve the former, with the same being true for drinking spots in Amsterdam.

But despite all their similarities, the two countries also have plenty of differences. This article will look at Danish vs the Dutch language, along with highlighting how the two countries differ in geography, food, and more.

We’ll also talk a bit about the similarities between them both.

Are Dutch and Danish people the same?

No — Dutch and Danish people are not the same. To put things simply, Dutch people originate from the Netherlands. Meanwhile, Danes come from Denmark. (All of this is a little more nuanced, as we’ll discuss in more detail later).

Admittedly, Dutch and Danish people have a lot of similarities. Moving from one country to the other would not be a huge culture shock; the approach to cycling and weather are almost identical.

Similarly, the stereotypical Dutchman doesn’t look too different from a Dane — and without hearing their accents, you might easily get the pair of them confused.

At the same time, Dutch and Danish people speak two different languages. Dutch is the official language in the Netherlands, while Danish is the primary language in Denmark. However, the majority of people from both countries also speak excellent English.

Dutch vs. Danish

Who are the Dutch, and where are Dutch people from?

If you are Dutch, where are you from? Well, the Dutch are a group of people who originate from the Netherlands. While the Dutch have an ethnic group, the country is one of the most multicultural in Europe — and you will find Dutch citizens of different backgrounds (we’ll talk more about this shortly).

The Netherlands is a relatively small country, especially compared to many of its neighbouring nations. However, it has had a significant global impact; in the past, the Dutch Empire spanned across various corners of the world. Former colonies include Suriname and Indonesia.

While Dutch people speak Dutch, each region has differing dialects. On top of that, Dutch is also one of the official languages in Belgium; Flemish is a variant that is typically spoken in Flanders.

Today, Dutch people have spread out across multiple countries. Several countries have significant Dutch populations, including the US (c.3.5 million).

South Africa is another nation with a large number of Dutch people living there; around three million people of Dutch descent live there. Afrikaans, one of the official languages, is derived from Dutch.

In Canada, you will find over one million people of Dutch descent.

Other nations with significant Dutch populations include:

  • Australia
  • Germany
  • Belgium
  • New Zealand

Interestingly, many people of Dutch descent live in Denmark; the number is believed to be around 30,000. In fact, the town of Store Magleby — which is just outside Copenhagen — has strong ties to the Netherlands. Locally, it’s still known as Hollænderbyen.

In the Netherlands, you will find Dutch citizens from multiple countries. You will see a lot of people of Surinamese and Indonesian descent in the country, while the country also has a large community of people originating from Morocco and Turkey.

Other sizable groups include Germans and Poles.

Dutch vs. Danish

Who are the Danish, and if you’re Danish, where are you from?

If Dutch people are from the Netherlands, you’re probably wondering: Where are Danish people from? The answer to this question is simple: Danish people largely originate from Denmark.

The diaspora of Danish people across the globe is much smaller than that of people from the Netherlands. Most people of Danish origin live in Scandinavia, and the majority of them reside in Denmark.

However, you will also find people of Danish descent in Greenland and the Faroe Islands — both of which still form part of the Kingdom of Denmark today.

Iceland also has just under 3,000 people of Danish descent; the country was a Danish colony until gaining independence in 1944.

South of the Danish border, you will find a significant population of around 50,000 people of Danish descent living in Germany. Much of Schleswig-Holstein used to belong to Denmark, and today, many Danes and Germans commute across the border between both countries.

Is Holland in Denmark, or is Denmark in the Netherlands? The answer to both is no. However, Norway and Denmark were both part of the same country until Norway gained independence. Today, you will find just under 53,000 people of Danish descent living in Norway.

Sweden also has a large population of Danes, with over 40,000 individuals living in Scandinavia’s largest country. For example, Robin Olsen — who plays as a goalkeeper for the Swedish national football team — actually has Danish parents but was born in Malmö.

Elsewhere, a significant number of people of Danish origin live in the US; the number is believed to be around 1.4 million. Further north, over 200,000 people of Danish descent reside in Canada. Brazil, Argentina, and Australia are also countries with sizable Danish populations.

While Denmark is still a relatively homogenous country, immigration has increased in recent years. People of multiple backgrounds hold a Danish passport, including Germany and Turkey.

Can the Dutch understand Danish?

While the Dutch and Danish languages have a lot of similarities, they are by no means the same. Knowing Dutch does not mean that you will automatically understand Danish, though English speakers will have an easier time learning both than most other people.

The Dutch language is from the West Germanic language group — the same language group as English and German. Dutch has several differences from Danish, with pronunciation being one of the main ones.

Dutch has some similarities with Danish. For example, both languages use the word “kat” for cat. One difference that can confuse learners is the use of “en”; in Danish, this means “one” or “a/an”. But in Dutch, it means “and”.

Other similarities between Dutch and Danish include:

  • Ja = Yes (pronunciation is different in both languages, though)
  • Her (Danish)/Hier (Dutch) = Here
  • Der (Danish)/Daar (Dutch) = There

While Dutch people can’t understand Danish on the basis of their mother tongue alone, they are able to communicate with Afrikaans speakers. Similarly, Dutch people can visit Belgium and can talk to Flemish speakers without too many difficulties.

Dutch isn’t mutually intelligible with German, but both languages are very similar. Many people in the Netherlands can speak German in addition to English.

Dutch vs. Danish

Can the Danes understand Dutch?

Danish vs Dutch language differences

In the same way that native Dutch speakers cannot understand Danish right off the bat, the same is true the other way around. While Dutch is a West Germanic language, Danish is in the North Germanic language group.

In the North Germanic language group, you will find the other two Scandinavian languages: Swedish and Norwegian. Icelandic and Faroese are also North Germanic languages, but neither is mutually intelligible with Danish — though people in both the Faroes and Iceland do learn Danish.

Danish speakers can typically communicate with Swedes and Norwegians in their mother tongue. However, because the pronunciation is very different, it can be difficult for Swedes and Norwegians to understand spoken Danish.

The dialect in Skåne, Sweden’s southernmost county, has several similarities with Danish — so people from that part of the country will have an easier time.

Written Danish is almost identical to written Norwegian, and people from Sweden also won’t have too many issues understanding it. However, people from the Netherlands will have to learn one of the languages if they wish to speak — unless they simply choose to talk in English instead.

Like Dutch, Danish has many similarities to German.

Dutch vs Danish language: Are there any similarities?

When it comes to Dutch versus Danes, we’ve already discussed a couple of common grounds in their languages. However, there are a couple more we haven’t yet talked about.

Is Danish the same as Dutch, then? No, but both Danish and Dutch have largely similar alphabets.

The main differences are:

  • Ø, å, and æ (Danish);
  • Ö (pronounced the same as ø in Danish), ë, ü (Dutch)

Compared to Danish, however, the words with umlauts are nowhere near as frequent as those with the Scandinavian alphabet in Danish. If you want to stress words, you can use é in Dutch and Danish — but it’s not particularly frequent in Danish especially.

In addition to the words we mentioned earlier in this article, Dutch and Danish have a selection of other similar ones.

Examples include:

  • Morgen = Morning
  • Europa = Europe
  • Frankrig (Danish)/Frankrijk (Dutch) = France
  • Mer (Danish)/Meer (Dutch) = More
  • Kanal (Danish)/Kanaal (Dutch) = Canal

What is different between the Danes and Dutch?

Now that we’ve discussed some of the main Danish versus Dutch differences, we’ll discuss a couple of the main differences between Denmark and the Netherlands. To make things easier, you can find everything you need in the subsections below.

Dutch vs. Danish

Food

When you think of Danish and Dutch cuisine, what typically comes to mind? We can imagine that you thought of seafood, pastries, and simple dishes.

That’s kind of correct, but both countries have various dishes and delicacies — though they are both fond of herring.

In Denmark, the Danish is not actually called that — nor is it considered Danish. Instead, it’s called wienerbrød (Vienna bread); the name originates from the Austrian bakers who introduced the treat to Denmark in the 19th century.

Funnily enough, though, the pastry in Austria is referred to as Kopenhagen Plunder.

Danish cuisine has several other sweet treats, such as kanelsnegle — known in English as cinnamon buns. On special occasions, you will also find fastelavnsboller; these are typically served in January and early February, and they involve *a lot* of cream.

Rye bread, of course, is another Danish delicacy. But what about proper meals?

Flæskesteg, which is effectively fried steak served with potatoes, is popular at Danish restaurants. However, you would not usually have it as an everyday meal.

Frikadeller, which are typically made from either pork or fish, are also popular in Denmark. Smørrebrød, which is effectively an open-top sandwich, is also worth trying alongside a visit if you choose to visit Copenhagen, Aarhus, or one of the country’s other cities.

Another Danish speciality is the pølse hot dog. Throughout Copenhagen, you will find several hot dog stands to purchase one from.

In the Netherlands, you will similarly find sweet treats. Perhaps the most famous one is the stroopwafel, which is effectively a syrup waffle. You will also find treats like bitterballen in Amsterdam, and these are well worth trying.

While fries are more commonly associated with Belgium, they are still popular in the Netherlands. Cheese, such as Gouda and Edam, are also popular with locals and tourists alike.

Dutch vs. Danish

Location

The Netherlands and Denmark aren’t too far from one another; you can reach Copenhagen from Amsterdam in around an hour and a half by plane. However, they’re in two slightly different parts of Europe.

Depending on the definition you look at, the Netherlands is sometimes grouped as part of Northern Europe. For the most part, however, we can consider it Western Europe. Belgium borders the country to the south, while Germany lies to its east.

The UK is just across the North Sea from the Netherlands, and it’s possible to travel by train from London to Rotterdam or Amsterdam via the Channel Tunnel.

Meanwhile, Denmark is located slightly further north than the Netherlands. The country only has one land border, which is with Germany in the south of Jutland. Denmark is made up of several islands alongside Jutland, with the largest being Sjælland — the island that Copenhagen is situated on.

You can also reach Sweden by road or rail, though Denmark does not share a land border with its neighbour. Instead, you’ll travel across the Øresund Bridge; Malmö is on the other side when you get there.

One part of Denmark that is easy to miss is Bornholm, which lies between mainland Sweden and Poland.

Population

The Netherlands has a significantly larger population than Denmark, with roughly 17.4 million people calling the country home.

Many of these individuals live in the Netherlands’ largest cities. Roughly 1.1 million people live in the Amsterdam metropolitan area, while Rotterdam’s metropolitan area has a population of just over one million.

Other major cities in the Netherlands include The Hague and Utrecht, while you will also find various medium-sized ones.

Denmark, on the other hand, has a population of 5.8 million. With around 1.37 million inhabitants, Copenhagen is Denmark’s largest city by a considerable distance.

In fact, only four cities in the country have a population of over 100,000 (we include Frederiksberg as part of Copenhagen, even though it’s technically a city of its own).

Aarhus is Denmark’s second-largest city, with around 355,000 people living there. The third-biggest city in Denmark is Odense, which has around 205,000 people residing in the municipality.

Aalborg, which is in the north of Denmark, is the country’s fourth-largest city. Combined with Nørresundby on the other side of the Limfjord, just under 144,000 people live there.

Other urban areas in Denmark include Vejle, Esbjerg, Herning, and Silkeborg.

Currency

Perhaps the biggest Dutch vs Danish difference is the two countries’ currencies.

Denmark and the Netherlands are both member states of the European Union (EU). Denmark joined the bloc in 1973, and the Netherlands has been part of the EU since 1958. But while the Netherlands has adopted the Euro, Denmark has not.

Instead of using the Euro, Denmark uses the Danish Krone; you’ll see this symbolised as DKK in foreign exchange charts. A small selection of places in the country accept Euros as a payment currency, but you will struggle in most places.

Denmark is also the only EU member state with an opt-out option on joining the Eurozone. As a result, it is not obliged at any time to adopt the Euro as its main currency.

This is unlike neighbouring Sweden, which must make the Euro its main currency at some point in the future — though it hasn’t yet set a date to do so.

While the Danish Krone is the main currency in Denmark, it’s pegged to the Euro. The Danish Krone cannot rise above or below a 2.25% radius from its pegged rate of 7.46.

Healthcare

Both the Dutch and Danes enjoy high standards of living, and poverty rates in both countries are relatively low. However, the Netherlands and Denmark differ when it comes to how they approach healthcare.

In Denmark, healthcare is free and accessible for everyone. Much of the healthcare sector is funded through taxes, which partially explains why the tax rate in Denmark is so high.

While the Netherlands also has universal healthcare, it’s not free for everyone. Generally speaking, you’ll need to pay around €100 per month for insurance when residing in the country.

Holidays

The Netherlands and Denmark both have different traditions, and as such, some of their holidays are different from one another. On top of that, the way that the Dutch and Danes celebrate their national days differs massively.

In the Netherlands, King’s Day — known in Dutch as Koningsdag — is celebrated every April. On that day, streets in the Netherlands become draped in orange, and it’s a particularly boozy occasion in most instances. King’s Day is also a public holiday in the country.

By contrast, Denmark’s national day — which takes place on June 5th every year — is a more lowkey affair. You will see Danish flags flying from buses and buildings, but you won’t see anywhere near the level of partying as you would for King’s Day in the Netherlands.

You will also notice a slight difference when it comes to Christmas. In Denmark, the main day to celebrate is on December 24th. But in the Netherlands, Christmas is celebrated on December 25th instead.

Dutch vs. Danish

Danish vs Dutch: What are the similarities?

When talking about the Dutch vs Danish culture, you will see several differences. However, both countries do have a lot in common. Below are some of the main similarities between the two.

Cycling

You will have to go pretty far before finding two better-suited countries for cycling than Denmark and the Netherlands. Copenhagen and Amsterdam are renowned as two of the world’s most bike-friendly cities, with many residents using two wheels as their primary form of transport.

Even outside of the capital cities, people in Denmark and the Netherlands will typically cycle to work, for their groceries, and various other things. Moreover, biking is a popular weekend hobby for many people.

Beer

Danes and Dutch people both like beer; Carlsberg and Heineken are two of the most famous brands. However, you will also find a range of craft beers in both countries; Mikkeller from Copenhagen is perhaps the most famous example.

Climate

Let’s not beat around the bush — the weather sucks in Denmark and the Netherlands for most of the year. Both countries endure a lot of wind and rain, but snow is rare. Winter days are short and relatively cold, while you’ll get a lot of daylight and pretty decent temperatures in the summer.

Dutch vs Danish: Kind of the same, but also very different

As you’ve seen from the article, the answer to “is Dutch the same as Danish?” is no.

When it comes to discussing the main Danish vs Dutch differences, you will find less in common than you might have expected. The Netherlands and Denmark use different currencies, for example, despite both countries being part of the EU.

The two nations also differ in their approaches to healthcare, and they celebrate holidays a little differently as well. Moreover, the Dutch and Danish cuisines are both unique in their own ways.

Having said all of that, the Netherlands and Denmark certainly have a lot in common. Both are excellent places to live, with a good work-life balance and low crime rates — plus strong social cohesion and friendly inhabitants.

Speaking of moving, you might have decided that you want to make Denmark your home after reading this article. But since moving here can be complicated, we recommend that you read our piece on how to move to Denmark first.

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