Denmark is a beautiful country. You really should check it out. And now, thanks to the Danish government, you can just that without leaving the comfort of you own home. Just open up Minecraft, and go exploring. It's all there.

No seriously, all of Denmark is now in Minecraft, and it's there to send the public a message about big data and transparency. The Danish Geodata Agency used a vast quantity of geographical data and information about the built environment (houses, roads, parks, etc.) to construct a near perfect replica of the entire country. The color of the buildings are randomly generated, and due to Minecraft's square meter block standard, everything looks a little pixelated. That doesn't make the project any less impressive.

And that's exactly what the Danish government had in mind. The project is part of Denmark's new basic data program which gives the public free access to vast quantities of geological information, including historical maps and elevation models. The Minecraft world will specifically appeal to young people, they hope, and get them excited about topics like geographical and urban planning. The tech savvy bureaucrats also want to send a message to everyone that the Danish government isn't trying to hide anything. At least, not as far as geography data is concerned.

While the Denmark project is potentially the most ambitious of its kind, it is not the first time a real place has been built in Minecraft. Actually, bored gamers do it all the time, albeit usually on a smaller scale. Check out this Minecraft version of the Taj Mahal, for instance. Neat, but not nearly as impressive as this blocky replica of London. There's one of New York City in the works, too. All that actually looks like child's play compared to this full scale recreation of the United Kingdom, minus the buildings and roads and pretty much everything else that makes this kind of project unique from an urban planning point of view.

So start exploring. You can either log on directly to the Danish government servers, though they're limited to just 70 players at a time. Alternatively, you can download the Minecraft maps of Denmark yourself, though you'll probably have to dust off those Danish language skills to read the instructions. And beware of many large ZIP files. After all, you are downloading an entire country! [Ars Technica, Kotaku]