What’s the Difference Between Sweden and Denmark?

Sweden and Denmark are friendly neighbors, both in the Nordic region. Although their languages sound similar and the people follow many of the same customs in both countries, there are differences between them.

The difference between Sweden and Denmark is the location of both countries.

Although they’re close geographically, each country has its own space, with Denmark being to the southwest of Sweden.

Other differences include the populations, sizes, and languages of both countries.

This article will discuss how Denmark is different from Sweden. It will also discuss whether or not there are any similarities between the two nations.

Also, see What Do Danish People Look Like? to learn more.

How Is Denmark Different From Sweden?

Below are some of the main ways Denmark is different from Sweden.


Denmark and Sweden are located in different places, which is undoubtedly a big difference. While Denmark connects directly to the northern part of Germany, Sweden isn’t directly connected to mainland Europe.

Instead, Sweden connects to Norway on the west, Denmark to the south, and Finland to the east.

Therefore, it’s easier to reach the rest of Europe by car when traveling from Denmark because the distance is significantly reduced.

Although Sweden and Denmark are technically separate (physically), the Øresund bridge was built in the early 2000s to connect them. It’s 16 km (approximately 10 miles) long. [1]

Generally, it takes around 10 minutes to cross the bridge by car. [2] One may also get the train across, but that takes a little longer.

Population and Size

The population of both countries is different, with Sweden having a population of over 10 million and Denmark having a population of almost 6 million. [3][4] Therefore, Sweden’s population is nearly double that of Denmark.

However, one must remember that Sweden is much larger than Denmark, with a lower population density.

As a result, it can feel like there are more people in Denmark, especially in Copenhagen. People are much more spread out throughout Sweden, so much of the country can feel empty or almost empty.

The area of Denmark measures 42,916 km² (16,569 mi²). [5] On the other hand, Sweden covers a land area of 447,430 km² (172,754 mi²).[6] So Sweden is many times the size of Denmark.


Another difference between Sweden and Denmark is the language spoken in each country. Swedish is the official language of Sweden, and Danish is the official language of Denmark.

Although they have different languages, they may be able to understand each other (with a lot of effort and slow speaking). 

However, this would generally be challenging, so having a common language is the easiest way for Swedes and Danes to communicate.

While the official languages are different, most Swedes and Danes speak English as a second language, which can be considered a similarity.

There is rarely a language barrier between Swedish and Danish people because most are fluent in English from a young age.

Sweden Has a Bigger Economy

While Sweden and Denmark both have large economies, Sweden’s is more extensive. 

Sweden’s booming economy is in large part thanks to its export of different goods and services, including: [7]

  • Cars
  • Refined petroleum
  • Medicaments
  • Parts and accessories for motor vehicles

Sweden’s GDP in 2021 was over 600 billion USD, compared to Denmark’s GDP of almost 400 billion USD.

Denmark is also a prominent exporter of different goods and services, including: [8]

  • Medicaments
  • Pig meat
  • Vaccines and other cultures
  • Cheese

So not only does Denmark have a smaller economy than Sweden but also primarily exports different things (like pig meat) than Sweden.

Also, see Swedish Massage vs. Deep Tissue Massage: Comparison to learn more.

Are There Similarities Between Sweden and Denmark?

There are similarities between Sweden and Denmark. For example, the weather in both countries is often similar (although this may depend on the precise location).

Swedish and Danish people also have similar cultures and are interested in the same sports. 

Below are some of the main similarities between the two nations.


Denmark and Sweden have similar societal norms. For example, it’s common in both countries to be respectful of others by keeping quiet in public and not bothering strangers.

As a result, they are often considered introverts or shy. Danes and Swedes also don’t like small talk or asking strangers for help unless necessary.

In addition to sharing similar social norms, Danes and Swedes also share the same political views (for the most part). While they are both considered liberal countries, they have a history of center-right governments in power.

On top of their similar political views, the Danes and Swedes also have a shared history.

For example, the Vikings originated in both countries (as well as Norway, the third Scandinavian country). As a result, much of their ancestry likely comes from the same place.

Popular Sports

The sports that are popular in Denmark are also popular in Sweden, which is another similarity between the two countries. In both instances, football (soccer) is the most popular sport.

Denmark and Sweden have national teams, with the Danish team reaching the quarter-finals of the 1998 World Cup.

Famous Swedish footballers include Zlatan Ibrahimović and Henrik Larsson. Both nations have national football stadiums. Denmark’s is the Telia Parken, and Sweden’s is the Friends Arena.

Other than football, other popular sports in both countries include:

  • Ice hockey (more prevalent in Sweden but still relatively widespread in Denmark)
  • Handball
  • Cycling
  • Swimming

Both Countries Are a Part of the EU and Don’t Use the Euro

Denmark and Sweden are a part of the European Union (EU), with Denmark joining first in 1973 and Sweden joining second in 1995.

Despite both countries joining the EU, neither adopted the Euro. To this day, the official currency of Sweden is the Swedish Krona. Denmark’s official currency is the Danish Krone.

Since the two countries are in the EU and have decided against adopting the Euro as a legal currency, it’s further proof that they have similar interests and political views.

Both Countries Ruled Other Nations

Another similarity between Denmark and Sweden is that both ruled/colonized other nations. Denmark occupied multiple countries, including:

  • The Faroe Islands
  • Iceland
  • Greenland, still a part of the Kingdom of Denmark

Sweden notably colonized Finland until, eventually, the Russians took over.

While none of the Danish or Swedish colonies were particularly prominent, it is still a significant similarity between the two nations.

Also, see How Many People Speak Swedish? to learn more.

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Christian Christensen

Christian started Scandinavia Facts to explore his family heritage, raise awareness of one of his academic interests as a professor, and civilly promote the region. Please see the About page for details.

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