Although you probably instantly recognise its shape on a map, you may be forgiven for never having heard of Jutland. This northern European peninsula is not an independent entitiy: it’s divided between Denmark, which occupies the northern two thirds of what Danes call Jylland, and Germany in the south of Jütland.
Apart from the relative obscurity of its name, Jutland also suffers from geographic vagueness. How big is Jutland? This simple question does not have a simple answer, as the limits of what is ‘Jutland’ vary greatly…
The area coloured red denotes ‘minimalist’ Jutland, consisting of that area of Denmark which is truly continental. This definition is correct, but not widespread.
Red and pink areas together define the most common definition of Jutland: all Danish territory north of the German border – including the Norrejyske Oe (in pink), which was separated from the mainland after a storm in 1825. This area covers almost 30.000 km² (about as big as Belgium) and is home to 2,5 million Danes.
The red area includes Northern Schleswig, which was returned to Denmark after a plebiscite in 1920. The area is also known as Sonderjylland (‘southern Jutland’). In the same plebiscite,
Southern Schleswig chose to remain German. Some definitions of Sonderjylland however do include the whole of historical Schleswig, which is bordered in the south by the Eider River.
The ‘maximalist’ definition of Jutland includes all areas which at one time were Danish possessions: not only Schleswig, but also Holstein (in yellow), which is bounded in the south by the Elbe river. Both former duchies now form the German Bundesland of Schleswig-Holstein, which borders Hamburg. This city is referred to on Danish road signs as Hamborg – which may of may not be an expression of some deep-seated irredentist yearning for Greater Jutland…