Christian IV first initiated the policy of expanding Denmark's overseas trade, as part of the mercantilist wave that was sweeping Europe. Denmark's first colony was established at Tranquebar, or Trankebar, on India's southcoast in 1620. Admiral Ove Gjedde led the expedition that established the colony.
The only remaining vestige of this empire, and its only substantial territory ever, is that of Greenland, whose colonial status ceased in 1953, and is now an autonomous region of the Danish state. The Faroe Islands have had autonomy within Denmark since 1948.
Denmark maintained a scattering of small colonies and trading posts throughout the Indian sub-continent (but not Ceylon/Sri Lanka) from the 17th to 19th centuries, after which most were sold or ceded to Britain which had become the dominant power there.
The colony at Trankebar was kept for over 200 years, with a few interruptions, until it was sold to the British in 1845. Trankebar was never an enormously profitable venture, but it was still something of a success.
In 1755 Denmark acquired the village of Serampore (Frederiksnagore), and later the towns of Achne and Pirapur. They are located about 25 kilometres north of Calcutta. In 1829 a Danish university was established at Serampore, which still exists today. These towns were also sold to Britain in 1845. Other colonial ventures include colonization attempts of Dansborg and the Nicobar Islands, called Frederik Øerne ("Frederik Islands") by the Danes.
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