Denmark as a colonial power


Spices, sugar, slaves and a special relationship

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Denmark has had colonies in places as exotic at Tranquebar in the east, and St Croix in the west. Even though Denmark was only a minor colonial power, it was at times profitable. Two of the original northern colonies, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, remain a part of the Kingdom of Denmark.

The great European naval powers underwent an expansion in the 16th and 17th centuries that saw them establish colonies and trading posts around the world. Denmark took part, but as a bit player. Denmark's colonies fell into three categories, each defined by their geographical location – North Atlantic, South Atlantic and the Far East - and the way they were exploited – trading monopoly to market-oriented production.

Asian connections

In 1620, an expedition sent by King Christian IV was granted control of part of southern India in exchange for an annual payment to the local raja. The fishing village of Tranquebar was to become a fortified trading station with the aim of buying and storing Indian spices and textiles. The colony and its trade were administered for more than a century by companies that had a monopoly on certain items. The first, the Danish East India Company, was set up and went bankrupt in the early 1600s. It took more than …

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