country in north-west Europe; part of the United Kingdom

Wales (/ˈwlz/ (audio speaker iconlisten)Welsh: Cymru [ˈkəm.rɨ] (come-ree)) is one of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom. It is west of England, and east of the Irish Sea and Ireland.

Cymru (Welsh)
Royal Badge of Wales
Royal Badge
Motto: "Cymru am byth" (Welsh)
"Wales Forever"[1]
Anthem: "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau"
"Land of My Fathers"
Location of  Wales  (dark green) – on the European continent  (green & dark grey) – in the United Kingdom  (green)
Location of  Wales  (dark green)

– on the European continent  (green & dark grey)
– in the United Kingdom  (green)

and largest city
51°29′N 3°11′W / 51.483°N 3.183°W / 51.483; -3.183
52°18′N 3°36′W / 52.3°N 3.6°W / 52.3; -3.6
Official languages
GovernmentDevolved parliamentary legislature within parliamentary constitutional monarchy
• Monarch
Charles III
Vaughan Gething
Parliament of the United Kingdom
• Secretary of StateDavid Davies
• House of Commons40 MPs (of 650)
LegislatureSenedd Cymru – Welsh Parliament
• Unification by Gruffydd ap Llywelyn
3 March 1284
31 July 1998
• Total
20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi)
• 2019 estimate
Increase 3,153,000[6]
• 2011 census
• Density
148/km2 (383.3/sq mi)
GVA2018[8] estimate
 • Total£75 billion
 • Per capita£23,900
HDI (2018)Increase 0.883[9]
very high
CurrencyPound sterling (GBP£)
Time zoneUTC (Greenwich Mean Time)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+1 (British Summer Time)
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy (AD)
Driving sideleft
Calling code+44
ISO 3166 codeGB-WLS
Internet .cymru [f]
Mark Drakeford, Welsh Government's First Minister, on television.

Wales is one of the Celtic areas of Britain. The native people of Wales, the Welsh, have their own culture and traditions. They have their own Celtic language, Welsh. Not all Welsh people can speak Welsh, and it is primarily spoken in North Wales. It is mandatory for all children until the age of 16 to learn Welsh in schools. Virtually all Welsh people can speak English. Most speak only English. The Welsh language is an official language alongside English, and has equal official status.

Three million people live in Wales. Most of them live in the southern and southeastern parts of the country. In this area is the capital and largest city of Wales, Cardiff, and the next largest city, Swansea. Wales has an ageing population and falling birth rates. The economy is suffering because there are not enough people of working age. Gross value added per head in Wales — a measure of how much money is generated through goods produced and services delivered — is 74%[10] of the UK average.

History change

People have lived in Wales for at least 29,000 years. The Romans first entered Wales in 43 AD, and took it around 77 AD.

The word 'Wales' change

The English words Wales and Welsh come from the old Germanic word Walh (plural: Walha). Walh itself came from a Celtic tribe, called the Volcae by the Romans. That was eventually used for the name of all Celts and later to all people who lived in the Roman empire. The Anglo-Saxons who lived in England and who spoke Old English called the people living in Wales Wælisc and the land itself Wēalas.[11] Other names that come from these origins WalloniaWallachia, and Vlachs.[12][13][14]

In the past, the words Wales and Welsh were used to mean anything that the Anglo-Saxons associated with the Celtic Britons. That included Cornwall, Walworth, and Walton,[15] as well as things associated with non-Germanic Europeans like walnuts.

The modern Welsh name for themselves is Cymry, and Cymru which is the Welsh name for Wales. These words are descended from the Brythonic word combrogi, meaning "fellow-countrymen"

Conquest by Edward I and brief independence under Owain Glyndŵr change

After Llywelyn ap Gruffudd died in 1282, Edward I of England finished his conquest of Wales, which made it a part of England. Owain Glyndŵr was a Welsh leader who fought against English rule in the early 15th century. However, after he was defeated by the English, the whole of Wales was taken over by England, with the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542.

Laws in Wales Acts and annexation by England change

In the 16th century, the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542 were passed in England while Henry VIII was king there. These added Wales to England. They also said that people who spoke Welsh instead of English could not hold public office.

Industrial Revolution change

Wales is on ancient rocks which were once in the roots of great mountain systems. In the last three centuries the products of those rocks have transformed what was once an agricultural landscape.

Rocks were smelted to release copper and iron, key products needed by the industrial revolution. Coal itself is moved by canals and later by rail to England. Social justice was needed for the workers who came into Wales to do this work.[16]

At the start of the industrial revolution, the mining and metal industries transformed the country from an agricultural society into an industrial country. The new jobs in South Wales caused a quick rise in the number of people living in Wales. This is the reason why two-thirds of the population live in South Wales, mainly in the capital Cardiff (Caerdydd), as well as Swansea (Abertawe), Newport (Casnewydd), and in the nearby valleys. Now that the coal industry has become a lot smaller, Wales' economy depends mostly on the public sector, light and service industries and tourism. In 2010, the Gross Value Added of Wales was £45.5 billion - £15,145 per head, 74.0% of the average for the UK, and the lowest GVA per head in Britain.

Return of Welsh identity and devolution of Government change

It took until the 19th Century for Welsh-centric politics to return to Wales. Liberalism in Wales, which was introduced in the early 20th century by Lloyd George, was overtaken by the growth of socialism and the Labour Party. However, Welsh pride got stronger, and in 1925 Plaid Cymru was made, which was the first political party to campaign for Welsh independence. In 1962, the Welsh Language Society was made to encourage the Welsh language, which had nearly disappeared during the take over by England. A big change was made in 1998, when the first Government of Wales for the country since its addition to the United Kingdom under the Government of Wales Act (1998). This created an Assembly for Wales, known in Welsh as the senedd. The Senedd has responsibility for a range of laws which have been devolved from the main UK government in Westminster. This means the members of the Assembly can change certain laws in Wales to be different from the rest of the UK.

Geography change

Wales has a coastline which is 1,680 miles (2,700 kilometres) long. The country itself is 20,779 square kilometres (8,023 square miles) large.

The highest mountains in Wales are in Gwynedd, in the north-west. They include Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), which is the highest peak in Wales at 1,085 metres (3,560 feet).

There are three national parks in Wales. They are Snowdonia (Welsh: Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri), Brecon Beacons (Welsh: Parc Cenedlaethol Bannau Brycheiniog), and Pembrokeshire Coast (Welsh: Parc Cenedlaethol Arfordir Penfro).

Politics change

Local government change

Wales is divided into 22 council areas. These areas are responsible for local government services, such as education, social work, environment and roads services.[17]

Map of principal areas
  • Blaenau Gwent †
  • Bridgend (Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr) †
  • Caerphilly (Caerffili) †
  • Cardiff (Caerdydd) *
  • Carmarthenshire (Sir Gaerfyrddin)
  • Ceredigion
  • Conwy †
  • Denbighshire (Sir Ddinbych)
  • Flintshire (Sir y Fflint)
  • Gwynedd
  • Isle of Anglesey (Ynys Môn)
  • Merthyr Tydfil (Merthyr Tudful) †
  • Monmouthshire (Sir Fynwy)
  • Neath Port Talbot (Castell-nedd Port Talbot) †
  • Newport (Casnewydd) *
  • Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro)
  • Powys
  • Rhondda Cynon Taf †
  • Swansea (Abertawe) *
  • Torfaen (Tor-faen) †
  • Vale of Glamorgan (Bro Morgannwg) †
  • Wrexham (Wrecsam) †

The list to the right of the map shows counties, unless they are marked *, meaning they are cities, or † for County Boroughs. Welsh-language forms are given in parentheses.

Welsh identity change

Welsh people are very proud of their country. The first people in Wales to call themselves 'Welsh' were the Celts. The Celts lived in Wales after the Romans left in the 5th century. The national emblems of Wales are leeks and daffodils

Although Wales is very close to the rest of Great Britain, and despite most people speaking English, the country has always had a distinct culture. It is officially bilingual in English and Welsh. Over 560,000 people in Wales speak the Welsh language. In some parts of the north and west of the country, particularly in small, rural communities, the majority of people speak Welsh.

From the late 19th century, Wales became famous as the "land of song", and for its Eisteddfod culture festival. At many international sport events, for example the FIFA World Cup, the Rugby World Cup, and the Commonwealth Games, Wales competes on its own, as a separate country. However, at most international events, such at the Olympics, Wales competes with the rest of the Great Britain, and sometimes as the United Kingdom with Northern Ireland included. Rugby Union is strongly associated with Wales as a national sport.

Wales in pop culture change

Famous Welsh people change

Transport change

The Second Severn Crossing bridge. The M4 motorway goes along it.

Roads change

The main road on the coast of South Wales is the M4 motorway. It links Wales to southern England, and London. It also connects the Welsh cities of Newport, Cardiff and Swansea. The A55 road is the main road along the north Wales coast, and connects Holyhead and Bangor with Wrexham and Flintshire. It also links to north-west England, including Chester. The main road between North and South Wales is the A470 road, which goes from the capital Cardiff to Llandudno.

Airports change

Cardiff International Airport is the only large airport in Wales. It has flights to Europe, Africa and North America. It is about 12 miles (19 km) southwest of Cardiff, in the Vale of Glamorgan. Flights between places in Wales run between Anglesey (Valley) and Cardiff, and are operated by the Isle of Man airline called Manx2[18] Other internal flights operate to northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

A Arriva Trains Wales train

Railway change

Cardiff Central is Wales' busiest railway station.[19] The area around Cardiff also has its own rail network. Trains from north to south Wales go through the English towns of Chester and Shrewsbury on the Welsh Marches Line. Most trains in Wales are powered by diesel. However, the South Wales Main Line which is used by trains going from London Paddington to Cardiff and Swansea, is electric.[20][21]

Sea change

Wales has four ferry ports. Regular ferries to Ireland go from Holyhead, Pembroke and Fishguard. The Swansea to Cork ferry which was stopped in 2006, but then opened again in March 2010, and closed again in 2012.[22][23]

Related pages change

References change

  1. "Cymru am byth! The meaning behind the Welsh motto". WalesOnline. 6 February 2015. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  2. Davies (1994) p. 100
  3. "Statute of Rhuddlan". Oxford Reference. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
  4. "Laws in Wales Act 1535 (repealed 21.12.1993)". Retrieved 26 July 2014.
  5. "Government of Wales Act 1998". Retrieved 26 July 2014.
  6. "Mid year estimates of the population". Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  7. "Population estimates for the UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – Office for National Statistics".
  8. "Regional economic activity by gross value: UK 1998 to 2018". Office for National Statistics. 12 December 2018. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  9. "Sub-national HDI – Area Database – Global Data Lab". Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  10. "How to help Wales's economy after Mark Drakeford's exit". Retrieved 2023-12-14.
  11. Davies (1994) p. 71
  12. (French) Albert Henry, Histoire des mots Wallons et Wallonie, Institut Jules Destrée, Coll. «Notre histoire», Mont-sur-Marchienne, 1990, 3rd ed. (1st ed. 1965), footnote 13 p. 86. Henry wrote the same about Wallachia
  13. Tolkien, J.R.R. (1963). Angles and Britons: O'Donnell Lectures. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. pp. English and Welsh, an O'Donnell Lecture delivered at Oxford on 21 October 1955.
  14. Gilleland, Michael (12 December 2007). "Laudator Temporis Acti: More on the Etymology of Walden". Laudator Temporis Acti website. Michael Gilleland. Retrieved 29 October 2008.
  15. Rollason, David (2003). "Origins of a People". Northumbria, 500–1100. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-521-04102-7.
  16. Edwards, Hugh 2012. The story of Wales: 4. Furnace of change. BBC. [1]
  17. "Local Authorities". Welsh Assembly Government. Archived from the original on 30 May 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  18. "Flights set to resume between North and South". WalesOnline website. Media Wales Ltd. 30 April 2010. Retrieved 6 June 2010.
  19. "Estimates of station usage" (Excel). 2011-12 report and data. Office of Rail Regulation. May 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.[permanent dead link]
  20. "Business leaders back electric railway demand". 25 January 2011. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  21. "Britain's Transport Infrastructure, Rail Electrification" (PDF). Department for Transport. 2009. Retrieved 7 June 2012.[permanent dead link]
  22. "Revived Swansea-Cork ferry service sets sail". BBC News website. BBC. 10 March 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  23. "Swansea-Cork ferry: Fastnet Line to close service with loss of 78 jobs". BBC News website. BBC. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.

Notes change