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Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is part of the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotlan ...
. It is bordered by
England England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. It is separated from continental Europe b ...
to the
east East or Orient is one of the four cardinal directions or points of the compass. It is the opposite direction from west and is the direction from which the Sun rises on the Earth. Etymology As in other languages, the word is formed from the fac ...
, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the
Celtic Sea The Celtic Sea ; cy, Y Môr Celtaidd ; kw, An Mor Keltek ; br, Ar Mor Keltiek ; french: La mer Celtique is the area of the Atlantic Ocean off the southern coast of Ireland bounded to the east by Saint George's Channel; other limits includ ...
to the south west and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2021 of 3,107,500 and has a total area of . Wales has over of coastline and is largely mountainous with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon (), its highest summit. The country lies within the
north temperate zone In geography, the temperate climates of Earth occur in the middle latitudes (23.5° to 66.5° N/S of Equator), which span between the tropics and the polar regions of Earth. These zones generally have wider temperature ranges throughout t ...
and has a changeable,
maritime climate An oceanic climate, also known as a marine climate, is the humid temperate climate sub-type in Köppen classification ''Cfb'', typical of west coasts in higher middle latitudes of continents, generally featuring cool summers and mild winters ...
. The capital and largest city is Cardiff.
Welsh national identity Welsh national identity is a term referring to the sense of national identity, as embodied in the shared and characteristic culture, languages and traditions, of the Welsh people. History Celtic era The Celtic Britons or Ancient Britons wer ...
emerged among the Celtic Britons after the
Roman withdrawal from Britain The end of Roman rule in Britain was the transition from Roman Britain to post-Roman Britain. Roman rule ended in different parts of Britain at different times, and under different circumstances. In 383, the usurper Magnus Maximus withdrew t ...
in the 5th century, and Wales was formed as a
kingdom Kingdom commonly refers to: * A monarchy ruled by a king or queen * Kingdom (biology), a category in biological taxonomy Kingdom may also refer to: Arts and media Television * ''Kingdom'' (British TV series), a 2007 British television drama s ...
under
Gruffydd ap Llywelyn Gruffydd ap Llywelyn (  5 August 1063) was King of Wales from 1055 to 1063. He had previously been King of Gwynedd and Powys in 1039. He was the son of King Llywelyn ap Seisyll and Angharad daughter of Maredudd ab Owain, and the great-gre ...
in 1055. Wales is regarded as one of the
Celtic nations The Celtic nations are a cultural area and collection of geographical regions in Northwestern Europe where the Celtic languages and cultural traits have survived. The term ''nation'' is used in its original sense to mean a people who shar ...
. The conquest of Wales by Edward I of England was completed by 1283, though Owain Glyndŵr led the
Welsh Revolt The Welsh Revolt (also called the Glyndŵr Rising or Last War of Independence) ( cy, Rhyfel Glyndŵr) or ( cy, Gwrthryfel Glyndŵr) was a Welsh rebellion in Wales led by Owain Glyndŵr against the Kingdom of England during the Late Middle Ag ...
against English rule in the early 15th century, and briefly re-established an independent Welsh state with its own national parliament (). The whole of Wales was annexed by England and incorporated within the
English legal system English law is the common law legal system of England and Wales, comprising mainly criminal law and civil law, each branch having its own courts and procedures. Principal elements of English law Although the common law has, historically, bee ...
under the
Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542 The Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542 ( cy, Y Deddfau Cyfreithiau yng Nghymru 1535 a 1542) were Acts of the Parliament of England, and were the parliamentary measures by which Wales was annexed to the Kingdom of England. Moreover, the legal sy ...
. Distinctive Welsh politics developed in the 19th century. Welsh Liberalism, exemplified in the early 20th century by David Lloyd George, was displaced by the growth of
socialism Socialism is a left-wing Economic ideology, economic philosophy and Political movement, movement encompassing a range of economic systems characterized by the dominance of social ownership of the means of production as opposed to Private prop ...
and the Labour Party. Welsh national feeling grew over the century; a nationalist party, was formed in 1925, and the
Welsh Language Society The Welsh Language Society ( cy, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, often abbreviated to Cymdeithas yr Iaith or just Cymdeithas) is a direct action pressure group in Wales campaigning for the right of Welsh people to use the Welsh language in every as ...
in 1962. A governing system of
Welsh devolution Welsh devolution (Welsh: ''Datganoli i Gymru'') is the transfer of legislative power for self-governance to Wales by the Government of the United Kingdom. Wales was conquered by England during the 13th century; the 1284 Statute of Rhuddlan caused ...
is employed in Wales, of which the most major step was the formation of the (Welsh Parliament, formerly the National Assembly for Wales) in 1998, responsible for a range of devolved policy matters. At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, development of the mining and
metallurgical Metallurgy is a domain of materials science and engineering that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their inter-metallic compounds, and their mixtures, which are known as alloys. Metallurgy encompasses both the sc ...
industries transformed the country from an agricultural society into an industrial one; the
South Wales Coalfield The South Wales Coalfield ( cy, Maes glo De Cymru) extends across Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen. It is rich in coal deposits, espe ...
's exploitation caused a rapid expansion of Wales' population. Two-thirds of the population live in South Wales, including Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and the nearby valleys. The eastern region of
North Wales North Wales ( cy, Gogledd Cymru) is a region of Wales, encompassing its northernmost areas. It borders Mid Wales to the south, England to the east, and the Irish Sea to the north and west. The area is highly mountainous and rural, with Snowdonia N ...
has about a sixth of the overall population, with Wrexham being the largest northern city. The remaining parts of Wales are sparsely populated. Now that the country's traditional extractive and heavy industries have gone or are in decline, the economy is based on the public sector, light and service industries, and
tourism Tourism is travel for pleasure or business; also the theory and practice of touring, the business of attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists, and the business of operating tours. The World Tourism Organization defines tourism mor ...
.
Agriculture in Wales Agriculture in Wales has in the past been a major part of the economy of Wales, a largely rural country that forms part of the United Kingdom. Wales is mountainous and has a mild, wet climate. This results in only a small proportion of the land ...
is largely livestock based, making Wales a net exporter of animal produce, contributing towards national agricultural self-sufficiency. The country has a distinct national and cultural identity and from the late 19th century onwards Wales acquired its popular image as the "land of song", in part due to the ''
eisteddfod In Welsh culture, an ''eisteddfod'' is an institution and festival with several ranked competitions, including in poetry and music. The term ''eisteddfod'', which is formed from the Welsh morphemes: , meaning 'sit', and , meaning 'be', means, ac ...
'' tradition. Both Welsh and English are official languages. A majority of the population in most areas speaks English whilst a majority of the population in parts of the north and west speak Welsh, with a total of 538,300 Welsh speakers across the whole country.


Etymology

The English words "Wales" and "Welsh" derive from the same
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers in the mid-5th c ...
root (singular , plural ), a descendant of Proto-Germanic , which was itself derived from the name of the Gauls known to the Romans as Volcae. This term was later used to refer indiscriminately to inhabitants of the Western Roman Empire.
Anglo-Saxons The Anglo-Saxons were a Cultural identity, cultural group who inhabited England in the Early Middle Ages. They traced their origins to settlers who came to Britain from mainland Europe in the 5th century. However, the ethnogenesis of the Anglo- ...
came to use the term to refer to the
Britons British people or Britons, also known colloquially as Brits, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British Overseas Territories, and the Crown dependencies.: British nationality law governs mod ...
in particular; the plural form evolved into the name for their territory, Wales.Davies (1994) p. 71 Historically in
Britain Britain most often refers to: * The United Kingdom, a sovereign state in Europe comprising the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands * Great Britain, the largest island in the United King ...
, the words were not restricted to modern Wales or to the Welsh but were used to refer to anything that Anglo-Saxons associated with Britons, including other non-Germanic territories in Britain (e.g. Cornwall) and places in Anglo-Saxon territory associated with Britons (e.g. Walworth in County Durham and
Walton Walton may refer to: People * Walton (given name) * Walton (surname) * Susana, Lady Walton (1926–2010), Argentine writer Places Canada * Walton, Nova Scotia, a community ** Walton River (Nova Scotia) *Walton, Ontario, a hamlet United Kingdo ...
in West Yorkshire). The modern Welsh name for themselves is , and is the Welsh name for Wales. These words (both of which are pronounced ) are descended from the Brythonic word ''combrogi'', meaning "fellow-countrymen",Davies (1994) p. 69 and probably came into use before the 7th century. In literature, they could be spelt or , regardless of whether it referred to the people or their homeland. The Latinised forms of these names, ''Cambrian'', ''Cambric'' and '' Cambria'', survive as names such as the Cambrian Mountains and the Cambrian
geological period The geologic time scale, or geological time scale, (GTS) is a representation of time based on the rock record of Earth. It is a system of chronological dating that uses chronostratigraphy (the process of relating strata to time) and geoc ...
.


History


Prehistoric origins

Wales has been inhabited by modern humans for at least 29,000 years: ''see''
Red Lady of Paviland The Red Lady of Paviland is an Upper Paleolithic partial skeleton of a male dyed in red ochre and buried in Wales 33,000 BP. The bones were discovered in 1823 by William Buckland in an archaeological dig at Goat's Hole Cave (Paviland cave) – ...
Continuous human habitation dates from the end of the last ice age, between 12,000 and 10,000  years before present (BP), when Mesolithic
hunter-gatherers A traditional hunter-gatherer or forager is a human living an ancestrally derived lifestyle in which most or all food is obtained by foraging, that is, by gathering food from local sources, especially edible wild plants but also insects, fungi, ...
from Central Europe began to migrate to Great Britain. At that time, sea levels were much lower than today. Wales was free of glaciers by about 10,250 BP, the warmer climate allowing the area to become heavily wooded. The post-glacial rise in sea level separated Wales and Ireland, forming the Irish Sea. By 8,000 BP the British Peninsula had become an island.; Davies (2008) pp. 647–648 By the beginning of the Neolithic () sea levels in the Bristol Channel were still about lower than today. ; Davies (1994) p. 17; The historian John Davies theorised that the story of
Cantre'r Gwaelod , also known as or ( en, The Lowland Hundred), is a legendary ancient sunken kingdom said to have occupied a tract of fertile land lying between Ramsey Island and Bardsey Island in what is now Cardigan Bay to the west of Wales. It has been ...
's drowning and tales in the '' Mabinogion'', of the waters between Wales and Ireland being narrower and shallower, may be distant folk memories of this time.Davies (1994) pp. 4–6 Neolithic colonists integrated with the indigenous people, gradually changing their lifestyles from a nomadic life of hunting and gathering, to become settled farmers about 6,000 BP – the Neolithic Revolution. They cleared the forests to establish pasture and to cultivate the land, developed new technologies such as ceramics and textile production, and built cromlechs such as
Pentre Ifan Pentre Ifan (literally "Evan's Village") is the name of an ancient manor in the community and parish of Nevern, Pembrokeshire, Wales. It is from Cardigan, Ceredigion, and east of Newport, Pembrokeshire. Pentre Ifan contains and gives i ...
, Bryn Celli Ddu, and Parc Cwm long cairn between about 5,800 BP and 5,500 BP.; Over the following centuries they assimilated immigrants and adopted ideas from
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 BC, characterized by the use of bronze, the presence of writing in some areas, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second prin ...
and
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of humanity. It was preceded by the Stone Age ( Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic) and the Bronze Age ( Chalcolithic). The concept has been mostl ...
Celtic cultures. Some historians, such as John T. Koch, consider Wales in the Late Bronze Age as part of a maritime trading-networked culture that included other
Celtic nations The Celtic nations are a cultural area and collection of geographical regions in Northwestern Europe where the Celtic languages and cultural traits have survived. The term ''nation'' is used in its original sense to mean a people who shar ...
.; ; This "Atlantic-Celtic" view is opposed by others who hold that the Celtic languages derive their origins from the more easterly Hallstatt culture. By the time of the
Roman invasion of Britain The Roman conquest of Britain refers to the conquest of the island of Britain by occupying Roman forces. It began in earnest in AD 43 under Emperor Claudius, and was largely completed in the southern half of Britain by 87 when the Stan ...
the area of modern Wales had been divided among the tribes of the
Deceangli The Deceangli or Deceangi (Welsh: Tegeingl) were one of the Celtic tribes living in Britain, prior to the Roman invasion of the island. The tribe lived in the region near the modern city of Chester but it is uncertain whether their territory co ...
(north-east), Ordovices (north-west),
Demetae The Demetae were a Celtic people of Iron Age and Roman period, who inhabited modern Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire in south-west Wales, and gave their name to the county of Dyfed. Classical references They are mentioned in Ptolemy's ''Geograp ...
(south-west), Silures (south-east) and Cornovii (east), centuries. Leader of the Ordovices, Caractacus or ''Caradog'', was successful in resisting Roman invasions of north Wales for a period. He was eventually defeated and taken to Rome where, following a famous speech to the Roman senate, his life was spared and he was allowed to live peacefully in Rome.


Roman era

The Roman conquest of Wales began in AD 48 and took 30 years to complete; the occupation lasted over 300 years. The campaigns of conquest were opposed by two native tribes: the Silures and the Ordovices. Roman rule in Wales was a military occupation, save for the southern coastal region of south Wales, where there is a legacy of Romanisation. The only town in Wales founded by the Romans,
Caerwent Caerwent ( cy, Caer-went) is a village and community in Monmouthshire, Wales. It is located about five miles west of Chepstow and 11 miles east of Newport. It was founded by the Romans as the market town of ''Venta Silurum'', an important sett ...
, is in south east Wales. Both Caerwent and
Carmarthen Carmarthen (, RP: ; cy, Caerfyrddin , "Merlin's fort" or "Sea-town fort") is the county town of Carmarthenshire and a community in Wales, lying on the River Towy. north of its estuary in Carmarthen Bay. The population was 14,185 in 2011, ...
, also in southern Wales, became Roman '' civitates''. Wales had a rich mineral wealth. The Romans used their engineering technology to extract large amounts of gold,
copper Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu (from la, cuprum) and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable, and ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. A freshly exposed surface of pure copper has a pinkis ...
and
lead Lead is a chemical element with the symbol Pb (from the Latin ) and atomic number 82. It is a heavy metal that is denser than most common materials. Lead is soft and malleable, and also has a relatively low melting point. When freshly cu ...
, as well as lesser amounts of
zinc Zinc is a chemical element with the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. Zinc is a slightly brittle metal at room temperature and has a shiny-greyish appearance when oxidation is removed. It is the first element in group 12 (IIB) of the periodi ...
and silver. No significant industries were located in Wales in this time; this was largely a matter of circumstance as Wales had none of the necessary materials in suitable combination, and the forested, mountainous countryside was not amenable to industrialisation. Latin became the official language of Wales, though the people continued to speak in Brythonic. While Romanisation was far from complete, the upper classes came to consider themselves Roman, particularly after the ruling of 212 that granted
Roman citizenship Citizenship in ancient Rome (Latin: ''civitas'') was a privileged political and legal status afforded to free individuals with respect to laws, property, and governance. Citizenship in Ancient Rome was complex and based upon many different laws, t ...
to all free men throughout the Empire.Davies (2008) p. 915 Further Roman influence came through the spread of
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. It is the world's largest and most widespread religion with roughly 2.38 billion followers representing one-third of the global pop ...
, which gained many followers when Christians were allowed to worship freely; state persecution ceased in the 4th century, as a result of
Constantine I Constantine I ( , ; la, Flavius Valerius Constantinus, ; ; 27 February 22 May 337), also known as Constantine the Great, was Roman emperor from AD 306 to 337, the first one to Constantine the Great and Christianity, convert to Christiani ...
issuing an
edict of toleration An edict of toleration is a declaration, made by a government or ruler, and states that members of a given religion will not be persecuted for engaging in their religious practices and traditions. The edict implies tacit acceptance of the religion ...
in 313. Early historians, including the 6th-century cleric
Gildas Gildas ( Breton: ''Gweltaz''; c. 450/500 – c. 570) — also known as Gildas the Wise or ''Gildas Sapiens'' — was a 6th-century British monk best known for his scathing religious polemic ''De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae'', which recount ...
, have noted 383 as a significant point in Welsh history.Davies (2008) p. 531 In that year, the Roman general Magnus Maximus, or Macsen Wledig, stripped Britain of troops to launch a successful bid for imperial power, continuing to rule Britain from Gaul as emperor, and transferring power to local leaders. The earliest Welsh genealogies cite Maximus as the founder of several royal dynasties, and as the father of the Welsh Nation. He is given as the ancestor of a Welsh king on the Pillar of Eliseg, erected nearly 500 years after he left Britain, and he figures in lists of the
Fifteen Tribes of Wales "The five royal tribes of Wales" and "The fifteen tribes of Gwynedd" refer to a class of genealogical lists which were compiled by Welsh bards in the mid-15th century. These non-identical lists were constructed on the premise that many of the leadi ...
.Rachel Bromwich, editor and translator. Trioedd Ynys Prydein: The Welsh Triads. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 3rd Edition, (2006) p. 441–444


Post-Roman era

The 400-year period following the collapse of Roman rule is the most difficult to interpret in the history of Wales. After the Roman departure in AD 410, much of the lowlands of Britain to the east and south-east was overrun by various
Germanic peoples The Germanic peoples were historical groups of people that once occupied Central Europe and Scandinavia during antiquity and into the early Middle Ages. Since the 19th century, they have traditionally been defined by the use of ancient and e ...
, commonly known as Anglo-Saxons. Some have theorized that the cultural dominance of the Anglo-Saxons was due to apartheid-like social conditions in which the Britons were at a disadvantage. By AD 500 the land that would become Wales had divided into a number of kingdoms free from Anglo-Saxon rule. The kingdoms of Gwynedd,
Powys Powys (; ) is a county and preserved county in Wales. It is named after the Kingdom of Powys which was a Welsh successor state, petty kingdom and principality that emerged during the Middle Ages following the end of Roman rule in Britain. Geog ...
,
Dyfed Dyfed () is a preserved county in southwestern Wales. It is a mostly rural area with a coastline on the Irish Sea and the Bristol Channel. Between 1974 and 1996, Dyfed was also the name of the area's county council and the name remains in use f ...
, Caredigion , Morgannwg, the
Ystrad Tywi Ystrad Tywi (, ''Valley of the Tywi'') is a region of southwest Wales situated on the banks of the River Tywi and possibly the River Loughor. Although Ystrad Tywi was never a kingdom itself, it was historically a valuable territory and was foug ...
, and Gwent emerged as independent Welsh
successor states Succession of states is a concept in international relations regarding a successor state that has become a sovereign state over a territory (and populace) that was previously under the sovereignty of another state. The theory has its roots in 19th- ...
. Archaeological evidence, in the Low Countries and what was to become England, shows early Anglo-Saxon migration to Great Britain reversed between 500 and 550, which concurs with Frankish chronicles.Davies (1994) pp. 56 John Davies notes this as consistent with a victory for the Celtic Britons at Badon Hill against the Saxons, which was attributed to
Arthur Arthur is a common male given name of Brythonic origin. Its popularity derives from it being the name of the legendary hero King Arthur. The etymology is disputed. It may derive from the Celtic ''Artos'' meaning “Bear”. Another theory, more wi ...
by Nennius. Having lost much of what is now the West Midlands to Mercia in the 6th and early 7th centuries, a resurgent late-7th-century Powys checked Mercian advances. Aethelbald of Mercia, looking to defend recently acquired lands, had built
Wat's Dyke Wat's Dyke ( cy, Clawdd Wat) is a linear earthwork running through the northern Welsh Marches from Basingwerk Abbey on the River Dee estuary, passing east of Oswestry and on to Maesbury in Shropshire, England. It runs generally parallel to ...
. According to Davies, this had been with the agreement of king Elisedd ap Gwylog of Powys, as this boundary, extending north from the valley of the River Severn to the Dee estuary, gave him Oswestry.Davies (1994) pp. 65–66 Another theory, after carbon dating placed the dyke's existence 300 years earlier, is that it was built by the post-Roman rulers of
Wroxeter Wroxeter is a village in Shropshire, England, which forms part of the civil parish of Wroxeter and Uppington, beside the River Severn, south-east of Shrewsbury. '' Viroconium Cornoviorum'', the fourth largest city in Roman Britain, was site ...
. King Offa of Mercia seems to have continued this initiative when he created a larger earthwork, now known as
Offa's Dyke Offa's Dyke ( cy, Clawdd Offa) is a large linear earthwork that roughly follows the border between England and Wales. The structure is named after Offa, the Anglo-Saxon king of Mercia from AD 757 until 796, who is traditionally believed to ha ...
(). Davies wrote of Cyril Fox's study of Offa's Dyke: "In the planning of it, there was a degree of consultation with the kings of Powys and Gwent. On the Long Mountain near Trelystan, the dyke veers to the east, leaving the fertile slopes in the hands of the Welsh; near Rhiwabon, it was designed to ensure that Cadell ap Brochwel retained possession of the Fortress of Penygadden." And, for Gwent, Offa had the dyke built "on the eastern crest of the gorge, clearly with the intention of recognizing that the River Wye and its traffic belonged to the kingdom of Gwent." However, Fox's interpretations of both the length and purpose of the Dyke have been questioned by more recent research. In 853, the Vikings raided Anglesey, but in 856,
Rhodri Mawr Rhodri ap Merfyn ( 820 – 873/877/878), popularly known as Rhodri the Great ( cy, Rhodri Mawr), succeeded his father, Merfyn Frych, as King of Gwynedd in 844. Rhodri annexed Powys c. 856 and Seisyllwg c. 871. He is called "King of the Britons" ...
defeated and killed their leader, Gorm. The Celtic Britons of Wales made peace with the Vikings and Anarawd ap Rhodri allied with the Norsemen occupying Northumbria to conquer the north. This alliance later broke down and Anarawd came to an agreement with Alfred, king of
Wessex la, Regnum Occidentalium Saxonum , conventional_long_name = Kingdom of the West Saxons , common_name = Wessex , image_map = Southern British Isles 9th century.svg , map_caption = S ...
, with whom he fought against the west Welsh. According to , in 894, "Anarawd came with the Angles and laid waste
Ceredigion Ceredigion ( , , ) is a county in the west of Wales, corresponding to the historic county of Cardiganshire. During the second half of the first millennium Ceredigion was a minor kingdom. It has been administered as a county since 1282. Cer ...
and
Ystrad Tywi Ystrad Tywi (, ''Valley of the Tywi'') is a region of southwest Wales situated on the banks of the River Tywi and possibly the River Loughor. Although Ystrad Tywi was never a kingdom itself, it was historically a valuable territory and was foug ...
." The southern and eastern parts of Great Britain lost to English settlement became known in Welsh as (Modern Welsh ), which may have referred to the kingdom of Mercia originally and which came to refer to England as a whole. The Germanic tribes who now dominated these lands were invariably called , meaning " Saxons". The Anglo-Saxons called the Romano-British , meaning 'Romanised foreigner' or 'stranger'.Davies (1994) p. 2 The Welsh continued to call themselves (Brythons or Britons) well into the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire ...
, though the first written evidence of the use of and is found in a praise poem to (, by ) . In , believed to be written around 930–942, the words and are used as often as 15 times. However, from the Anglo-Saxon settlement onwards, the people gradually begin to adopt the name over .Davies (2008) p. 186 From 800 onwards, a series of dynastic marriages led to 's ( 844–77) inheritance of and . His sons founded the three dynasties of ( for , for and for ). 's grandson (r. 900–50) founded out of his maternal and paternal inheritances of and in 930, ousted the dynasty from and and then codified Welsh law in the 940s. (r. 986–99) of , ('s grandson), temporarily ousted the line from control of and . 's great-grandson (through his daughter Princess ) (r. 1039–63) conquered his cousins' realms from his base in , and extended his authority into England.


High to late middle ages

Gruffydd ap Llywelyn Gruffydd ap Llywelyn (  5 August 1063) was King of Wales from 1055 to 1063. He had previously been King of Gwynedd and Powys in 1039. He was the son of King Llywelyn ap Seisyll and Angharad daughter of Maredudd ab Owain, and the great-gre ...
was the only ruler to unite all of Wales under his rule, becoming king of Wales. In 1055 Gruffydd ap Llywelyn killed his rival Gruffydd ap Rhydderch in battle and recaptured . Originally king of Gwynedd, by 1057 he was ruler of Wales and had annexed parts of England around the border. He ruled Wales with no internal battles. His territories were again divided into the traditional kingdoms. John Davies states that was "the only Welsh king ever to rule over the entire territory of Wales... Thus, from about 1057 until his death in 1063, the whole of Wales recognised the kingship of . For about seven brief years, Wales was one, under one ruler, a feat with neither precedent nor successor."Davies (1994) p. 100
Owain Gwynedd Owain ap Gruffudd (  23 or 28 November 1170) was King of Gwynedd, North Wales, from 1137 until his death in 1170, succeeding his father Gruffudd ap Cynan. He was called Owain the Great ( cy, Owain Fawr) and the first to be ...
(1100–70) of the Aberffraw line was the first Welsh ruler to use the title (prince of the Welsh), a title of substance given his victory on the Berwyn Mountains, according to Davies.Davies (1994) p. 128 During this time, between 1053 and 1063, Wales lacked any internal strife and was at peace. Within four years of the Battle of Hastings (1066), England had been completely subjugated by the
Normans The Normans ( Norman: ''Normaunds''; french: Normands; la, Nortmanni/Normanni) were a population arising in the medieval Duchy of Normandy from the intermingling between Norse Viking settlers and indigenous West Franks and Gallo-Romans. ...
. William I of England established a series of lordships, allocated to his most powerful warriors, along the Welsh border, their boundaries fixed only to the east (where they met other feudal properties inside England). Starting in the 1070s, these lords began conquering land in southern and eastern Wales, west of the River Wye. The frontier region, and any English-held lordships in Wales, became known as , the Welsh Marches, in which the Marcher lords were subject to neither English nor Welsh law. The extent of the March varied as the fortunes of the Marcher lords and the Welsh princes ebbed and flowed. 's grandson (the Great, 1173–1240), received the fealty of other Welsh lords in 1216 at the council at , becoming in effect the first prince of Wales. His grandson secured the recognition of the title ''Prince of Wales'' from Henry III with the
Treaty of Montgomery The Treaty of Montgomery was an Anglo-Welsh treaty signed on 29 September 1267 in Montgomeryshire by which Llywelyn ap Gruffudd was acknowledged as Prince of Wales by King Henry III of England (r. 1216–1272). It was the only time an English ...
in 1267. Subsequent disputes, including the imprisonment of 's wife Eleanor, culminated in the first invasion by King Edward I of England.Davies (1994) pp. 151–152 As a result of military defeat, the
Treaty of Aberconwy The Treaty of Aberconwy was signed on the 10th of November 1277, the treaty was by King Edward I of England and Llewelyn the Last, Prince of Wales, following Edward’s invasion of Llewelyn’s territories earlier that year. The treaty granted p ...
exacted 's fealty to England in 1277. Peace was short-lived, and, with the 1282
Edwardian conquest The conquest of Wales by Edward I took place between 1277 and 1283. It is sometimes referred to as the Edwardian Conquest of Wales,Examples of historians using the term include Professor J. E. Lloyd, regarded as the founder of the modern academi ...
, the rule of the Welsh princes permanently ended. With 's death and his brother prince 's execution, the few remaining Welsh lords did homage to Edward I. The
Statute of Rhuddlan The Statute of Rhuddlan (12 Edw 1 cc.1–14; cy, Statud Rhuddlan ), also known as the Statutes of Wales ( la, Statuta Valliae) or as the Statute of Wales ( la, Statutum Valliae, links=no), provided the constitutional basis for the government of ...
in 1284 provided the constitutional basis for a post-conquest government of the Principality of North Wales from 1284 until 1535/36. It defined Wales as "annexed and united" to the English Crown, separate from England but under the same monarch. The king ruled directly in two areas: the Statute divided the north and delegated administrative duties to the
Justice of Chester The Justice of Chester was the chief judicial authority for the county palatine of Chester, from the establishment of the county until the abolition of the Great Sessions in Wales and the palatine judicature in 1830. Within the County Palatine ( ...
and Justiciar of North Wales, and further south in western Wales the King's authority was delegated to the
Justiciar of South Wales The Justiciar of South Wales, sometimes referred to as the Justiciar of West Wales was a royal official of the Principality of Wales during the medieval period. He controlled the southern half of the principality. Background Justiciar was a title ...
. The existing royal lordships of Montgomery and remained unchanged. To maintain his dominance, Edward constructed a series of castles:
Beaumaris Beaumaris ( ; cy, Biwmares ) is a town and community on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales, of which it is the former county town of Anglesey. It is located at the eastern entrance to the Menai Strait, the tidal waterway separating Anglesey from th ...
, ,
Harlech Harlech () is a seaside resort and community in Gwynedd, north Wales and formerly in the historic county of Merionethshire. It lies on Tremadog Bay in the Snowdonia National Park. Before 1966, it belonged to the Meirionydd District of the 19 ...
and . His son, the future Edward II, was born at in 1284. He became the first English prince of Wales in 1301, which at the time provided an income from northwest Wales known as the
Principality of Wales The Principality of Wales ( cy, Tywysogaeth Cymru) was originally the territory of the native Welsh princes of the House of Aberffraw from 1216 to 1283, encompassing two-thirds of modern Wales during its height of 1267–1277. Following the co ...
. After the failed revolt in 1294–95 of – who styled himself Prince of Wales in the Penmachno Document – and the rising of (1316), the last uprising was led by , against Henry IV of England. In 1404, was crowned prince of Wales in the presence of emissaries from France, Spain (Castille) and Scotland.Davies (1994) p. 194 went on to hold parliamentary assemblies at several Welsh towns, including a Welsh parliament () at . The rebellion was eventually defeated by 1412. Having failed went into hiding and nothing was known of him after 1413. Henry Tudor (born in Wales in 1457) seized the throne of England from Richard III in 1485, uniting England and Wales under one royal house. The last remnants of Celtic-tradition Welsh law were abolished and replaced by English law by the
Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542 The Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542 ( cy, Y Deddfau Cyfreithiau yng Nghymru 1535 a 1542) were Acts of the Parliament of England, and were the parliamentary measures by which Wales was annexed to the Kingdom of England. Moreover, the legal sy ...
during the reign of Henry VII's son, Henry VIII. In the legal jurisdiction of
England and Wales England and Wales () is one of the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. It covers the constituent countries England and Wales and was formed by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. The substantive law of the jurisdiction is Eng ...
, Wales became unified with the kingdom of England; the "
Principality of Wales The Principality of Wales ( cy, Tywysogaeth Cymru) was originally the territory of the native Welsh princes of the House of Aberffraw from 1216 to 1283, encompassing two-thirds of modern Wales during its height of 1267–1277. Following the co ...
" began to refer to the whole country, though it remained a "principality" only in a ceremonial sense. The Marcher lordships were abolished, and Wales began electing members of the Westminster parliament.


Early modern period

In 1536 Wales had around 278,000 inhabitants, which increased to around 360,000 by 1620. This was primarily due to rural settlement, where animal farming was central to the Welsh economy. Increase in trade and increased economic stability occurred due to the increased diversity of the Welsh economy. Population growth however outpaced economic growth and the standard of living dropped. Prior to the Industrial Revolution in Wales, there were small-scale industries scattered throughout Wales.Davies (2008) p. 392 These ranged from those connected to agriculture, such as milling and the manufacture of woollen textiles, through to mining and quarrying. Agriculture remained the dominant source of wealth. The emerging industrial period saw the development of copper smelting in the Swansea area. With access to local coal deposits and a harbour that connected it with Cornwall's copper mines in the south and the large copper deposits at Parys Mountain on Anglesey, Swansea developed into the world's major centre for non-ferrous metal smelting in the 19th century. The second metal industry to expand in Wales was iron smelting, and iron manufacturing became prevalent in both the north and the south of the country.Davies (2008) p. 393 In the north, John Wilkinson's Ironworks at
Bersham Bersham ( cy, Y Bers) is a village in Wrexham County Borough, Wales, that lies next to the River Clywedog, and is in the community of Esclusham. Bersham was historically a major industrial centre of the area, but despite this the village sti ...
was a major centre, while in the south, at Merthyr Tydfil, the ironworks of Dowlais,
Cyfarthfa Cyfarthfa is a community and electoral ward in the west of the town of Merthyr Tydfil in Merthyr Tydfil County Borough, Wales. Community Cyfarthfa mainly consists of the settlements of Gellideg and Heolgerrig and Rhyd-y-car area just west of Mer ...
, Plymouth and
Penydarren : ''For Trevithick's Pen-y-darren locomotive, see Richard Trevithick.'' Penydarren is a community and electoral ward in Merthyr Tydfil County Borough in Wales. Description The area is most notable for being the site of a 1st-century Roman fort, ...
became the most significant hub of iron manufacture in Wales. By the 1820s, south Wales produced 40 per cent of all Britain's pig iron. By the 18th century, lawyers, doctors, estate agents and government officials formed a bourgeoisie with sizeable houses. In the late 18th century, slate quarrying began to expand rapidly, most notably in North Wales. The
Penrhyn Quarry The Penrhyn quarry is a slate quarry located near Bethesda, North Wales. At the end of the nineteenth century it was the world's largest slate quarry; the main pit is nearly long and deep, and it was worked by nearly 3,000 quarrymen. It has ...
, opened in 1770 by Richard Pennant, was employing 15,000 men by the late 19th century,Davies (2008) p. 818 and along with Dinorwic Quarry, it dominated the Welsh slate trade. Although slate quarrying has been described as "the most Welsh of Welsh industries",Attributed to historian A. H. Dodd: Davies (2008) p. 819 it is coal mining which became the industry synonymous with Wales and its people. Initially, coal seams were exploited to provide energy for local metal industries but, with the opening of canal systems and later the railways, Welsh coal mining saw an explosion in demand. As the
South Wales coalfield The South Wales Coalfield ( cy, Maes glo De Cymru) extends across Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen. It is rich in coal deposits, espe ...
was exploited, Cardiff, Swansea, Penarth and Barry grew as world exporters of coal. By its height in 1913, Wales was producing almost 61 million tons of coal.


Modern period

Historian Kenneth Morgan described Wales on the eve of the
First World War World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe, the Russian Empire, the United States, and the Ottoman Empire, with fightin ...
as a "relatively placid, self-confident and successful nation". The output from the coalfields continued to increase, with the Rhondda Valley recording a peak of 9.6 million tons of coal extracted in 1913. The First World War (1914–1918) saw a total of 272,924 Welshmen under arms, representing 21.5 per cent of the male population. Of these, roughly 35,000 were killed,Davies (2008) p. 284 with particularly heavy losses of Welsh forces at Mametz Wood on the Somme and the Battle of Passchendaele. The first quarter of the 20th century also saw a shift in the political landscape of Wales. Since 1865, the
Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties around the world. The meaning of ''liberal'' varies around the world, ranging from liberal conservatism on the right to social liberalism on the left. __TOC__ Active liberal parties This is a li ...
had held a parliamentary majority in Wales and, following the general election of 1906, only one non-Liberal Member of Parliament,
Keir Hardie James Keir Hardie (15 August 185626 September 1915) was a Scottish trade unionist and politician. He was a founder of the Labour Party, and served as its first parliamentary leader from 1906 to 1908. Hardie was born in Newhouse, Lanarkshire. ...
of Merthyr Tydfil, represented a Welsh constituency at Westminster. Yet by 1906, industrial dissension and political militancy had begun to undermine Liberal consensus in the southern coalfields.Davies (2008) p. 461 In 1916, David Lloyd George became the first Welshman to become Prime Minister of Britain. In December 1918, Lloyd George was re-elected at the head of a Conservative-dominated coalition government, and his poor handling of the 1919 coal miners' strike was a key factor in destroying support for the Liberal party in south Wales.Davies (2008) p. 515 The industrial workers of Wales began shifting towards the Labour Party. When in 1908 the
Miners' Federation of Great Britain The Miners' Federation of Great Britain (MFGB) was established after a meeting of local mining trade unions in Newport, Wales in 1888. The federation was formed to represent and co-ordinate the affairs of local and regional miners' unions in Engla ...
became affiliated to the Labour Party, the four Labour candidates sponsored by miners were all elected as MPs. By 1922, half the Welsh seats at Westminster were held by Labour politicians—the start of a Labour dominance of Welsh politics that continued into the 21st century.Davies (2008) p. 439 After economic growth in the first two decades of the 20th century, Wales' staple industries endured a prolonged slump from the early 1920s to the late 1930s, leading to widespread unemployment and poverty. For the first time in centuries, the population of Wales went into decline; unemployment reduced only with the production demands of the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great powers—forming two opposi ...
. The war saw Welsh servicemen and women fight in all major theatres, with some 15,000 of them killed. Bombing raids brought high loss of life as the German Air Force targeted the docks at Swansea, Cardiff and Pembroke. After 1943, 10 per cent of Welsh conscripts aged 18 were sent to work in the coal mines, where there were labour shortages; they became known as Bevin Boys. Pacifist numbers during both World Wars were fairly low, especially in the Second World War, which was seen as a fight against fascism.Davies (2008) p. 807
Plaid Cymru Plaid Cymru ( ; ; officially Plaid Cymru – the Party of Wales, often referred to simply as Plaid) is a centre-left to left-wing, Welsh nationalist political party in Wales, committed to Welsh independence from the United Kingdom. Plaid wa ...
was formed in 1925, seeking greater autonomy or independence from the rest of the UK. The term "
England and Wales England and Wales () is one of the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. It covers the constituent countries England and Wales and was formed by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. The substantive law of the jurisdiction is Eng ...
" became common for describing the area to which English law applied, and in 1955 Cardiff was proclaimed as Wales' capital. ''
Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg The Welsh Language Society ( cy, Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, often abbreviated to Cymdeithas yr Iaith or just Cymdeithas) is a direct action pressure group in Wales campaigning for the right of Welsh people to use the Welsh language in every as ...
'' (The Welsh Language Society) was formed in 1962, in response to fears that the language might soon die out. Nationalist sentiment grew following the flooding of the Tryweryn valley in 1965 to create a reservoir to supply water to the English city of Liverpool. Although 35 of the 36 Welsh MPs voted against the bill (one abstained), Parliament passed the bill and the village of
Capel Celyn Capel Celyn was a rural community to the northwest of Bala in Gwynedd, Wales, in the Afon Tryweryn valley. The village and other parts of the valley were flooded in 1965 to create a reservoir, Llyn Celyn, in order to supply Liverpool and Wirra ...
was submerged, highlighting Wales' powerlessness in her own affairs in the face of the numerical superiority of English MPs in Parliament. Separatist groupings, such as the
Free Wales Army The Free Wales Army (FWA; cy, Byddin Rhyddid Cymru) was a paramilitary Welsh nationalist organisation, formed at Lampeter in Ceredigion by Julian Cayo-Evans in 1963. Its objective was to establish an independent Welsh republic. History Ove ...
and ''
Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru (, ''Movement for the Defence of Wales''), abbreviated as MAC, was a paramilitary Welsh nationalist organisation, which was responsible for a number of bombing incidents between 1963 and 1969. The group's activities prima ...
'' were formed, conducting campaigns from 1963. Prior to the investiture of Charles in 1969, these groups were responsible for a number of bomb attacks on infrastructure. At a by-election in 1966, Gwynfor Evans won the parliamentary seat of
Carmarthen Carmarthen (, RP: ; cy, Caerfyrddin , "Merlin's fort" or "Sea-town fort") is the county town of Carmarthenshire and a community in Wales, lying on the River Towy. north of its estuary in Carmarthen Bay. The population was 14,185 in 2011, ...
, Plaid Cymru's first Parliamentary seat. By the end of the 1960s, the policy of bringing businesses into disadvantaged areas of Wales through financial incentives had proven very successful in diversifying the industrial economy.Davies (2008) p. 236 This policy, begun in 1934, was enhanced by the construction of industrial estates and improvements in transport communications, most notably the M4 motorway linking south Wales directly to London. It was believed that the foundations for stable economic growth had been firmly established in Wales during this period, but this was shown to be optimistic after the recession of the early 1980s saw the collapse of much of the manufacturing base that had been built over the preceding forty years.Davies (2008) p. 237


Devolution

The
Welsh Language Act 1967 The Welsh Language Act 1967, is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which gave some rights to use the Welsh language in legal proceedings in Wales (including Monmouthshire) and gave the relevant Minister the right to authorise the pro ...
repealed a section of the Wales and Berwick Act and thus "Wales" was no longer part of the legal definition of England. This essentially defined Wales as a separate entity legally (but within the UK), for the first time since before the
Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542 The Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542 ( cy, Y Deddfau Cyfreithiau yng Nghymru 1535 a 1542) were Acts of the Parliament of England, and were the parliamentary measures by which Wales was annexed to the Kingdom of England. Moreover, the legal sy ...
which defined Wales as a part of the Kingdom of England. The
Welsh Language Act 1967 The Welsh Language Act 1967, is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which gave some rights to use the Welsh language in legal proceedings in Wales (including Monmouthshire) and gave the relevant Minister the right to authorise the pro ...
also expanded areas where use of Welsh was permitted, including in some legal situations. In a referendum in 1979, Wales voted against the creation of a Welsh assembly with an 80 per cent majority. In 1997, a second referendum on the same issue secured a very narrow majority (50.3 per cent). The National Assembly for Wales (''Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru'') was set up in 1999 (under the
Government of Wales Act 1998 The Government of Wales Act 1998 (c. 38) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It was passed in 1998 by the Labour government to create a Welsh Assembly, therefore granting Wales a degree of self-government. This legislative ...
) with the power to determine how Wales' central government budget is spent and administered, although the UK Parliament reserved the right to set limits on its powers. The governments of the United Kingdom and of Wales almost invariably define Wales as a country.; The Welsh Government says: "Wales is not a Principality. Although we are joined with England by land, and we are part of Great Britain, Wales is a country in its own right." The Government of Wales Act 2006 (c 32) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed the National Assembly for Wales and allows further powers to be granted to it more easily. The Act creates a system of government with a separate executive drawn from and accountable to the legislature. Following a successful referendum in 2011 on extending the law making powers of the National Assembly it is now able to make laws, known as Acts of the Assembly, on all matters in devolved subject areas, without needing the UK Parliament's agreement. In the 2016 referendum, Wales voted in support of leaving the European Union, although demographic differences became evident. According to Danny Dorling, professor of geography at the Oxford University, “If you look at the more genuinely Welsh areas, especially the Welsh-speaking ones, they did not want to leave the EU,” After the
Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act 2020 The Senedd and Elections (Wales) Act 2020 (anaw 1) ( cy, Deddf Senedd ac Etholiadau (Cymru) 2020) is an Act of the National Assembly for Wales that was given royal assent on 15 January 2020. It was first detailed in February 2019 by way of an Ex ...
, the National Assembly was renamed "Senedd Cymru" (in Welsh) and the "Welsh Parliament" (in English) (also collectively referred to as the " Senedd"), which was seen as a better reflection of the body's expanded legislative powers. In 2016, YesCymru was launched. A non party-political campaign for an independent Wales which held its first rally in Cardiff in 2019. An opinion poll in March 2021 showed a record 39 per cent support for
Welsh independence Welsh independence ( cy, Annibyniaeth i Gymru) is the political movement advocating for Wales to become a sovereign state, independent from the United Kingdom. Wales was conquered during the 13th century by Edward I of England following the ki ...
when excluding don't knows.


Welsh language

The Welsh language ( cy, Cymraeg) is an Indo-European language of the Celtic family; the most closely related languages are Cornish and Breton. Most linguists believe that the Celtic languages arrived in Britain around 600 BCE. The
Brythonic languages The Brittonic languages (also Brythonic or British Celtic; cy, ieithoedd Brythonaidd/Prydeinig; kw, yethow brythonek/predennek; br, yezhoù predenek) form one of the two branches of the Insular Celtic language family; the other is Goidelic. ...
ceased to be spoken in England and were replaced by the
English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inhabitants of early medieval England. It is named after the Angles, one of the ancient Germanic peoples that migrated to the ...
, which arrived in Wales around the end of the eighth century due to the defeat of the
Kingdom of Powys The Kingdom of Powys ( cy, Teyrnas Powys; la, Regnum Poysiae) was a Welsh successor state, petty kingdom and principality that emerged during the Middle Ages following the end of Roman rule in Britain. It very roughly covered the northern t ...
. The Bible translations into Welsh and the
Protestant Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity in 16th-century Europe that posed a religious and political challenge to the Catholic Church and ...
, which encouraged use of the
vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language is in contrast with a "standard language". It refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The vernacular is typically the native language, n ...
in religious services, helped the language survive after Welsh elites abandoned it in favour of English in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Successive Welsh Language Acts, in 1942,
1967 Events January * January 1 – Canada begins a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of Confederation, featuring the Expo 67 World's Fair. * January 5 ** Spain and Romania sign an agreement in Paris, establishing full consular and ...
and
1993 File:1993 Events Collage.png, From left, clockwise: The Oslo I Accord is signed in an attempt to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict; The Russian White House is shelled during the 1993 Russian constitutional crisis; Czechoslovakia is peacefu ...
, improved the legal status of Welsh. The Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 modernised the 1993 Welsh Language Act and gave Welsh an official status in Wales for the first time, a major landmark for the language. The Measure also created the post of Welsh Language Commissioner, replacing the Welsh Language Board. Following the referendum in 2011, the Official Languages Act became the first Welsh law to be created in 600 years, according to the First Minister at the time,
Carwyn Jones Carwyn Howell Jones (born 21 March 1967) is a Welsh politician who served as First Minister of Wales and Leader of Welsh Labour from 2009 to 2018. He served as Counsel General for Wales from 2007 to 2009. Jones served as the Member of the S ...
. This law was passed by Welsh Assembly members (AMs) only and made Welsh an official language of the National Assembly. Starting in the 1960s, many
road signs Traffic signs or road signs are signs erected at the side of or above roads to give instructions or provide information to road users. The earliest signs were simple wooden or stone milestones. Later, signs with directional arms were introduce ...
have been replaced by bilingual versions. Various public and private sector bodies have adopted bilingualism to a varying degree and (since 2011) Welsh is the only official (''de jure'') language in any part of the United Kingdom.


Government and politics

Wales is a country that is part of the sovereign state of the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotlan ...
. Constitutionally, the UK is a '' de jure'' unitary state, with a parliament and government in Westminster. Wales has a
devolved Devolution is the statutory delegation of powers from the central government of a sovereign state to govern at a subnational level, such as a regional or local level. It is a form of administrative decentralization. Devolved territories ...
, unicameral
legislature A legislature is an assembly with the authority to make law Law is a set of rules that are created and are enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. with its p ...
known as the Senedd (Senedd Cymru - Welsh Parliament) which holds devolved powers from the UK Parliament via a reserved powers model. For the purposes of
local government Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration within a particular sovereign state. This particular usage of the word government refers specifically to a level of administration that is both geographically-l ...
, Wales has been divided into 22 council areas since 1996. These "principal areas" are responsible for the provision of all local government services. In the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada. In both of these countries, the Commons holds much more legislative power than the nominally upper house of parliament. T ...
– the 650-member lower house of the UK Parliament – there are 40 members of Parliament (MPs) who represent Welsh constituencies. At the 2019 general election, 22 Labour and Labour Co-op MPs were elected, along with 14
Conservative Conservatism is a cultural, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in relation to the culture and civilization in ...
MPs and 4
Plaid Cymru Plaid Cymru ( ; ; officially Plaid Cymru – the Party of Wales, often referred to simply as Plaid) is a centre-left to left-wing, Welsh nationalist political party in Wales, committed to Welsh independence from the United Kingdom. Plaid wa ...
MPs from Wales. The
Wales Office , agency_type = Ministerial department , type = Department , logo = Wales Office logo.png , seal = , seal_width = , seal_caption = , picture = Gwydyr House, Whitehall (geograph 5590 ...
is a department of the UK government responsible for Wales, whose minister the
Secretary of State for Wales The secretary of state for Wales ( cy, ysgrifennydd gwladol Cymru), also referred to as the Welsh secretary, is a secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, with responsibility for the Wales Office. The incumbent is a member ...
sits in the UK cabinet.


Senedd

Following devolution in 1997, the
Government of Wales Act 1998 The Government of Wales Act 1998 (c. 38) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It was passed in 1998 by the Labour government to create a Welsh Assembly, therefore granting Wales a degree of self-government. This legislative ...
created a Welsh devolved assembly now known as the Senedd (formally "" or "the Welsh Parliament", and formerly the "National Assembly for Wales" until 2020). Powers of the Secretary of State for Wales were transferred to the devolved government on 1 July 1999, granting the assembly the power to decide how the Westminster government's budget for devolved areas is spent and administered. The 1998 Act was amended by the
Government of Wales Act 2006 The Government of Wales Act 2006 (c 32) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed the then-National Assembly for Wales (now the Senedd) and allows further powers to be granted to it more easily. The Act creates a system o ...
, which enhanced the institution's powers, giving it legislative powers akin to those of the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly. The 60
members of the Senedd A Member of the Senedd (MS; plural: ''MSs''; cy, Aelodau o'r Senedd; , plural:) (AS)., group=la is a representative elected to the Senedd (Welsh Parliament; ). There are sixty members, with forty members chosen to represent individual Senedd ...
(MSs) are elected to five-year terms (four-year terms before 2011) under an additional member system. There are 40 single-member
constituencies An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, or (election) precinct is a subdivision of a larger state (a country, administrative region, or other polity ...
, with MSs directly elected using the first-past-the-post system. The remaining 20 MSs represent five electoral regions, each including between seven and nine constituencies, using proportional representation. The Senedd must elect a first minister (), who in turn selects ministers to form the Welsh Government. The twenty areas of responsibility devolved to the Welsh Government, known as "subjects", include agriculture, economic development, education, health, housing, local government, social services, tourism, transport and the Welsh language. On its creation in 1999, the National Assembly for Wales had no primary legislative powers. In 2007, following passage of the
Government of Wales Act 2006 The Government of Wales Act 2006 (c 32) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed the then-National Assembly for Wales (now the Senedd) and allows further powers to be granted to it more easily. The Act creates a system o ...
(GoWA 2006), the assembly developed powers to pass primary legislation known at the time as Assembly Measures on some specific matters within the areas of devolved responsibility. Further matters have been added subsequently, either directly by the UK Parliament or by the UK Parliament approving a Legislative Competence Order (LCO, a request from the assembly for additional powers). The GoWA 2006 allows for the Senedd to gain primary lawmaking powers on a more extensive range of matters within the same devolved areas if approved in a referendum. A referendum on extending the law-making powers of the then National Assembly was held on 3 March 2011 and secured a majority for extension. Consequently, the assembly became empowered to make laws, now known as Acts of Senedd Cymru, on all matters in the subject areas, without needing the UK Parliament's agreement. The Senedd also promotes Welsh interests abroad. It has its own envoy to America, primarily to promote Wales-specific business interests. The primary Welsh Government Office is based in the Washington British Embassy, with satellites in
New York City New York, often called New York City or NYC, is the most populous city in the United States. With a 2020 population of 8,804,190 distributed over , New York City is also the most densely populated major city in the Un ...
,
Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive Map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name ...
,
San Francisco San Francisco (; Spanish for " Saint Francis"), officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the commercial, financial, and cultural center of Northern California. The city proper is the fourth most populous in California and 17th ...
, and
Atlanta Atlanta ( ) is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Georgia. It is the seat of Fulton County, the most populous county in Georgia, but its territory falls in both Fulton and DeKalb counties. With a population of 498,715 ...
. The United States has also established a caucus to build direct relations with Wales. In the United States Congress, legislators with Welsh heritage and interests in Wales have established the Friends of Wales Caucus.


Law

By tradition, Welsh Law was compiled during an assembly held at
Whitland Whitland (Welsh: , lit. "Old White House", or ''Hendy-gwyn ar Daf'', "Old White House on the River Tâf", from the medieval ''Ty Gwyn ar Daf'') is both a town and a community in Carmarthenshire, Wales. Description The Whitland community is ...
around 930 by
Hywel Dda Hywel Dda, sometimes anglicised as Howel the Good, or Hywel ap Cadell (died 949/950) was a king of Deheubarth who eventually came to rule most of Wales. He became the sole king of Seisyllwg in 920 and shortly thereafter established Deheubart ...
, king of most of Wales between 942 and his death in 950. The ' law of Hywel Dda' ( cy, Cyfraith Hywel), as it became known, codified the previously existing folk laws and legal customs that had evolved in Wales over centuries. Welsh Law emphasised the payment of compensation for a crime to the victim, or the victim's kin, rather than punishment by the ruler. Other than in the
Marches In medieval Europe, a march or mark was, in broad terms, any kind of borderland, as opposed to a national "heartland". More specifically, a march was a border between realms or a neutral buffer zone under joint control of two states in which diff ...
, where March law was imposed by the Marcher Lords, Welsh Law remained in force in Wales until the
Statute of Rhuddlan The Statute of Rhuddlan (12 Edw 1 cc.1–14; cy, Statud Rhuddlan ), also known as the Statutes of Wales ( la, Statuta Valliae) or as the Statute of Wales ( la, Statutum Valliae, links=no), provided the constitutional basis for the government of ...
in 1284.
Edward I of England Edward I (17/18 June 1239 – 7 July 1307), also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England and Lord of Ireland from 1272 to 1307. Concurrently, he ruled the duchies of Aquitaine and Gascony as a vas ...
annexed the
Principality of Wales The Principality of Wales ( cy, Tywysogaeth Cymru) was originally the territory of the native Welsh princes of the House of Aberffraw from 1216 to 1283, encompassing two-thirds of modern Wales during its height of 1267–1277. Following the co ...
following the death of
Llywelyn ap Gruffudd Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (c. 1223 – 11 December 1282), sometimes written as Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, also known as Llywelyn the Last ( cy, Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf, lit=Llywelyn, Our Last Leader), was the native Prince of Wales ( la, Princeps Wall ...
, and Welsh Law was replaced for criminal cases under the Statute. Marcher Law and Welsh Law (for civil cases) remained in force until
Henry VIII of England Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for his six marriages, and for his efforts to have his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon) annulled. His disa ...
annexed the whole of Wales under the
Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542 The Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542 ( cy, Y Deddfau Cyfreithiau yng Nghymru 1535 a 1542) were Acts of the Parliament of England, and were the parliamentary measures by which Wales was annexed to the Kingdom of England. Moreover, the legal sy ...
(often referred to as the Acts of Union of 1536 and 1543), after which English law applied to the whole of Wales. The
Wales and Berwick Act 1746 The Wales and Berwick Act 1746 (20 Geo. II, c. 42) was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain that created a statutory definition of England as including England, Wales and Berwick-upon-Tweed. This definition applied to all Acts passed before ...
provided that all laws that applied to England would automatically apply to Wales (and the Anglo-Scottish border town of Berwick) unless the law explicitly stated otherwise; this Act was repealed with regard to Wales in 1967. English law has been the legal system of
England and Wales England and Wales () is one of the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. It covers the constituent countries England and Wales and was formed by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. The substantive law of the jurisdiction is Eng ...
since 1536.Davies (1994) p. 263 English law is regarded as a
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions."The common law is not a brooding omnipres ...
system, with no major codification of the law and legal precedents are binding as opposed to persuasive. The court system is headed by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom which is the highest court of appeal in the land for criminal and civil cases. The
Senior Courts of England and Wales The courts of England and Wales, supported administratively by His Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service, are the civil and criminal courts responsible for the administration of justice in England and Wales. The United Kingdom does not have a ...
is the highest
court of first instance A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accorda ...
as well as an appellate court. The three divisions are the Court of Appeal; the High Court of Justice and the Crown Court. Minor cases are heard by magistrates' courts or the County Court. In 2007 the Wales and Cheshire Region (known as the Wales and Cheshire Circuit before 2005) came to an end when Cheshire was attached to the North-Western England Region. From that point, Wales became a legal unit in its own right, although it remains part of the single
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin 'law' + 'declaration') is the legal term for the legal authority granted to a legal entity to enact justice. In federations like the United States, areas of jurisdiction apply to local, state, and federal levels. J ...
of
England and Wales England and Wales () is one of the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. It covers the constituent countries England and Wales and was formed by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. The substantive law of the jurisdiction is Eng ...
. The Senedd has the authority to draft and approve laws outside of the UK Parliamentary system to meet the specific needs of Wales. Under powers approved by a referendum held in March 2011, it is empowered to pass primary legislation, at the time referred to as an Act of the National Assembly for Wales but now known as an Act of Senedd Cymru in relation to twenty subjects listed in the
Government of Wales Act 2006 The Government of Wales Act 2006 (c 32) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that reformed the then-National Assembly for Wales (now the Senedd) and allows further powers to be granted to it more easily. The Act creates a system o ...
such as health and education. Through this primary legislation, the Welsh Government can then also enact more specific
subordinate legislation Primary legislation and secondary legislation (the latter also called delegated legislation or subordinate legislation) are two forms of law, created respectively by the legislative and executive branches of governments in representative democr ...
. Wales is served by four regional police forces, Dyfed-Powys Police,
Gwent Police Gwent Police ( cy, Heddlu Gwent) is a territorial police force in Wales, responsible for policing the local authority areas of Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen. The force was formed in 1967 by the amalgamation o ...
, North Wales Police and
South Wales Police South Wales Police ( cy, Heddlu De Cymru) is one of the four territorial police forces in Wales. It is headquartered in Bridgend. The force was formed as South Wales Constabulary on 1 June 1969, by the amalgamation of the former Glamorgan Cons ...
. There are five prisons in Wales; four in the southern half of the country and one in Wrexham. Wales has no women's prisons; female inmates are imprisoned in England.


Geography and natural history

Wales is a generally mountainous country on the western side of central southern
Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island and the ninth-largest island in the world. It i ...
. It is about north to south. The oft-quoted '
size of Wales Size of Wales is a climate change charity with the aim of conserving an area of tropical rainforest twice the size of Wales. The project currently supports 7 forest protection projects and 1 tree planting project across Africa and South Ameri ...
' is about . Wales is bordered by England to the east and by sea in all other directions: the Irish Sea to the north and west, St George's Channel and the
Celtic Sea The Celtic Sea ; cy, Y Môr Celtaidd ; kw, An Mor Keltek ; br, Ar Mor Keltiek ; french: La mer Celtique is the area of the Atlantic Ocean off the southern coast of Ireland bounded to the east by Saint George's Channel; other limits includ ...
to the southwest and the Bristol Channel to the south. Wales has about of coastline (along the mean high water mark), including the mainland, Anglesey and Holyhead. Over 50 islands lie off the Welsh mainland; the largest being Anglesey, in the north-west. Much of Wales' diverse landscape is mountainous, particularly in the north and central regions. The mountains were shaped during the last ice age, the Devensian glaciation. The highest mountains in Wales are in Snowdonia (), of which five are over . The highest of these is Snowdon (), at . The 14 Welsh mountains, or 15 if including Carnedd Gwenllianoften discounted because of its low topographic prominenceover high are known collectively as the Welsh 3000s and are located in a small area in the north-west. The highest outside the 3000s is Aran Fawddwy, at , in the south of Snowdonia. The Brecon Beacons () are in the south (highest point Pen y Fan, at ), and are joined by the Cambrian Mountains in Mid Wales (highest point Pumlumon, at ). Wales has three national parks: Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons and
Pembrokeshire Coast Pembrokeshire Coast National Park ( cy, Parc Cenedlaethol Arfordir Penfro) is a national park along the Pembrokeshire coast in west Wales. It was established as a National Park in 1952. It is one of three national parks in Wales, the others bei ...
. It has five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty; Anglesey, the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley, the
Gower Peninsula Gower ( cy, Gŵyr) or the Gower Peninsula () in southwest Wales, projects towards the Bristol Channel. It is the most westerly part of the historic county of Glamorgan. In 1956, the majority of Gower became the first area in the United Kingdom ...
, the
Llŷn Peninsula The Llŷn Peninsula ( cy, Penrhyn Llŷn or , ) extends into the Irish Sea from North West Wales, south west of the Isle of Anglesey. It is part of the historic county of Caernarfonshire, and historic region and local authority area of Gwynedd. Mu ...
, and the
Wye Valley The Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB; cy, Dyffryn Gwy) is an internationally important protected landscape straddling the border between England and Wales. The River Wye ( cy, Afon Gwy) is the fourth-longest river in th ...
. The Gower Peninsula was the first area in the United Kingdom to be designated as an
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB; , AHNE) is an area of countryside in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, that has been designated for conservation due to its significant landscape value. Areas are designated in recognition of ...
, in 1956. As of 2019, the coastline of Wales had 40 Blue Flag beaches, three Blue Flag marinas and one Blue Flag boat operator. Despite its heritage and award-winning beaches; the south and west coasts of Wales, along with the Irish and Cornish coasts, are frequently blasted by Atlantic westerlies/south westerlies that, over the years, have sunk and wrecked many vessels. In 1859 over 110 ships were destroyed off the coast of Wales in a hurricane that saw more than 800 lives lost across Britain. The greatest single loss occurred with the sinking of the ''
Royal Charter A royal charter is a formal grant issued by a monarch under royal prerogative as letters patent. Historically, they have been used to promulgate public laws, the most famous example being the English Magna Carta (great charter) of 1215, but s ...
'' off Anglesey in which 459 people died. The 19th century saw over 100 vessels lost with an average loss of 78 sailors per year.Davies (2008) p.814 Wartime action caused losses near Holyhead, Milford Haven and Swansea. Because of offshore rocks and unlit islands, Anglesey and Pembrokeshire are still notorious for shipwrecks, most notably the ''Sea Empress'' oil spill in 1996. The first border between Wales and England was zonal, apart from around the River Wye, which was the first accepted boundary.Davies (2008) p. 75 Offa's Dyke was supposed to form an early distinct line but this was thwarted by Gruffudd ap Llewellyn, who reclaimed swathes of land beyond the dyke. The Act of Union of 1536 formed a linear border stretching from the mouth of the Dee to the mouth of the Wye. Even after the Act of Union, many of the borders remained vague and moveable until the Welsh Sunday Closing act of 1881, which forced local businesses to decide which country they fell within to accept either the Welsh or English law.


Geology

The earliest
geological Geology () is a branch of natural science concerned with Earth and other astronomical objects, the features or rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change over time. Modern geology significantly overlaps all other E ...
period of the Palaeozoic era, the Cambrian, takes its name from the Cambrian Mountains, where geologists first identified Cambrian remnants. In the mid-19th century, Roderick Murchison and Adam Sedgwick used their studies of Welsh geology to establish certain principles of stratigraphy and palaeontology. The next two periods of the Palaeozoic era, the
Ordovician The Ordovician ( ) is a geologic period and system, the second of six periods of the Paleozoic Era. The Ordovician spans 41.6 million years from the end of the Cambrian Period million years ago (Mya) to the start of the Silurian Period Mya. T ...
and Silurian, were named after ancient Celtic tribes from this area.


Climate

Wales lies within the
north temperate zone In geography, the temperate climates of Earth occur in the middle latitudes (23.5° to 66.5° N/S of Equator), which span between the tropics and the polar regions of Earth. These zones generally have wider temperature ranges throughout t ...
. It has a changeable,
maritime climate An oceanic climate, also known as a marine climate, is the humid temperate climate sub-type in Köppen classification ''Cfb'', typical of west coasts in higher middle latitudes of continents, generally featuring cool summers and mild winters ...
and is one of the wettest countries in Europe.Davies (2008) pp. 148–150 Welsh weather is often cloudy, wet and windy, with warm summers and mild winters. * Highest maximum temperature: at Hawarden,
Flintshire , settlement_type = County , image_skyline = , image_alt = , image_caption = , image_flag = , image_shield = Arms of Flint ...
on 18 July 2022. * Lowest minimum temperature: at Rhayader, Radnorshire (now
Powys Powys (; ) is a county and preserved county in Wales. It is named after the Kingdom of Powys which was a Welsh successor state, petty kingdom and principality that emerged during the Middle Ages following the end of Roman rule in Britain. Geog ...
) on 21 January 1940. * Maximum number of hours of sunshine in a month: 354.3 hours at
Dale Fort Dale Fort is a mid-19th-century coastal artillery fort at Dale Head, a rocky promontory near Dale, Pembrokeshire, west of Milford Haven in Wales. It is one of the centres run by Field Studies Council and offers residential and non-residential fi ...
, Pembrokeshire in July 1955. * Minimum number of hours of sunshine in a month: 2.7 hours at Llwynon, Brecknockshire in January 1962. * Maximum rainfall in a day (0900 UTC − 0900 UTC): at
Rhondda Rhondda , or the Rhondda Valley ( cy, Cwm Rhondda ), is a former coal mining, coalmining area in South Wales, historically in the county of Glamorgan. It takes its name from the River Rhondda, and embraces two valleys – the larger Rhondda Fa ...
, Glamorgan, on 11 November 1929. * Wettest spot – an average of rain a year at Crib Goch in Snowdonia, Gwynedd (making it also the wettest spot in the United Kingdom).


Flora and fauna

Wales' wildlife is typical of Britain with several distinctions. Because of its long coastline, Wales hosts a variety of seabirds. The coasts and surrounding islands are home to colonies of
gannet Gannets are seabirds comprising the genus ''Morus'' in the family Sulidae, closely related to boobies. Gannets are large white birds with yellowish heads; black-tipped wings; and long bills. Northern gannets are the largest seabirds in the ...
s, Manx shearwater, puffins, kittiwakes, shags and razorbills. In comparison, with 60 per cent of Wales above the 150m contour, the country also supports a variety of upland habitat birds, including raven and
ring ouzel The ring ouzel (''Turdus torquatus'') is a mainly European member of the thrush family Turdidae. It is a medium-sized thrush, in length and weighing . The male is predominantly black with a conspicuous white crescent across its breast. Females ...
.
Birds of prey Birds of prey or predatory birds, also known as raptors, are hypercarnivorous bird species that actively hunt and feed on other vertebrates (mainly mammals, reptiles and other smaller birds). In addition to speed and strength, these predat ...
include the merlin, hen harrier and the
red kite The red kite (''Milvus milvus'') is a medium-large bird of prey in the family Accipitridae, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as eagles, buzzards, and harriers. The species currently breeds in the Western Palearctic region o ...
, a national symbol of Welsh wildlife. In total, more than 200 different species of bird have been seen at the RSPB reserve at
Conwy Conwy (, ), previously known in English as Conway, is a walled market town, community and the administrative centre of Conwy County Borough in North Wales. The walled town and castle stand on the west bank of the River Conwy, facing Deganwy on ...
, including seasonal visitors. Larger mammals, including brown bears, wolves and wildcats, died out during the Norman period. Today, mammals include shrews, voles, badgers, otters, stoats, weasels, hedgehogs and fifteen species of bat. Two species of small rodent, the
yellow-necked mouse The yellow-necked mouse (''Apodemus flavicollis''), also called yellow-necked field mouse, yellow-necked wood mouse, and South China field mouse, is closely related to the wood mouse, with which it was long confused. It was only recognised as a ...
and the
dormouse A dormouse is a rodent of the family Gliridae (this family is also variously called Myoxidae or Muscardinidae by different taxonomists). Dormice are nocturnal animals found in Africa, Asia, and Europe. They are named for their long, dormant hibe ...
, are of special Welsh note being found at the historically undisturbed border area.Davies (2008) p. 533 The
pine marten The European pine marten (''Martes martes''), also known as the pine marten, is a mustelid native to and widespread in most of Europe, Asia Minor, the Caucasus and parts of Iran, Iraq and Syria. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. ...
, which has been sighted occasionally, has been reintroduced in parts of Wales since 2015, having previously not been officially recorded since the 1950s. The
polecat Polecat is a common name for several mustelid species in the order Carnivora and subfamilies Ictonychinae and Mustelinae. Polecats do not form a single taxonomic rank (i.e. clade). The name is applied to several species with broad similarities ...
was nearly driven to extinction in Britain, but hung on in Wales and is now rapidly spreading.
Feral goat The feral goat is the domestic goat (''Capra aegagrus hircus'') when it has become established in the wild. Feral goats occur in many parts of the world. Species Feral goats consist of many breeds of goats, all of which stem from the wild goat ...
s can be found in Snowdonia. In March 2021,
Natural Resources Wales Natural Resources Wales ( cy, Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru) is a Welsh Government sponsored body, which became operational from 1 April 2013, when it took over the management of the natural resources of Wales. It was formed from a merger of the Coun ...
(NRW) granted a licence to release up to six beavers in the
Dyfi Valley Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) is a youth organisation in India. It was founded in its inaugural conference held from 1–3 November 1980 at Shaheed Kartar Singh Saraba village in Ludhiana, Punjab. DYFI identifies itself to be an i ...
, the first official beaver release in Wales. The waters of south-west Wales of Gower, Pembrokeshire and Cardigan Bay attract marine animals, including basking sharks, Atlantic grey seals, leatherback turtles,
dolphins A dolphin is an aquatic mammal within the infraorder Cetacea. Dolphin species belong to the families Delphinidae (the oceanic dolphins), Platanistidae (the Indian river dolphins), Iniidae (the New World river dolphins), Pontoporiidae (t ...
, porpoises, jellyfish, crabs and lobsters. Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion, in particular, are recognised as an area of international importance for bottlenose dolphins, and New Quay has the only summer residence of bottlenose dolphins in the whole of the UK. River fish of note include char,
eel Eels are ray-finned fish belonging to the order Anguilliformes (), which consists of eight suborders, 19 families, 111 genera, and about 800 species. Eels undergo considerable development from the early larval stage to the eventual adult stage ...
, salmon, shad,
sparling Sparling is a surname. Notable people with the surname include: * Chris Sparling (born 1977), American screenwriter, film director and actor * Gordon Sparling (1900–1994), Canadian film director *Jack Sparling John Edmond Sparling (June 21, 19 ...
and Arctic char, whilst the gwyniad is unique to Wales, found only in
Bala Lake Bala Lake ( cy, Llyn Tegid ) is a large freshwater glacial lake in Gwynedd, Wales. The River Dee, which has its source on the slopes of Dduallt in the mountains of Snowdonia, feeds the long by wide lake. It was the largest natural body of ...
. Wales is known for its shellfish, including cockles, limpet, mussels and periwinkles. Herring, mackerel and
hake The term hake refers to fish in the: * Family Merlucciidae of northern and southern oceans * Family Phycidae (sometimes considered the subfamily Phycinae in the family Gadidae) of the northern oceans Hake Hake is in the same taxonomic order ( ...
are the more common of the country's marine fish.Davies (1994) pp. 286–288 The north facing high grounds of Snowdonia support a
relict A relict is a surviving remnant of a natural phenomenon. Biology A relict (or relic) is an organism that at an earlier time was abundant in a large area but now occurs at only one or a few small areas. Geology and geomorphology In geology, a r ...
pre-glacial flora including the iconic Snowdon lily – '' Gagea serotina'' – and other alpine species such as '' Saxifraga cespitosa'', ''
Saxifraga oppositifolia ''Saxifraga oppositifolia'', the purple saxifrage or purple mountain saxifrage, is a species of plant that is very common in the high Arctic and also some high mountainous areas further south, including northern Britain, the Alps and the Rocky ...
'' and '' Silene acaulis''. Wales has a number of plant species not found elsewhere in the UK, including the spotted rock-rose '' Tuberaria guttata'' on Anglesey and ''
Draba aizoides ''Draba aizoides'' is a species of flowering plant in the family Brassicaceae, known as yellow whitlow-grass. It is native to Europe where it is found on limestone rocks and walls. In the British Isles it is found only on the Gower Peninsula in ...
'' on the Gower.


Economy

Over the last 250 years, Wales has been transformed from a predominantly agricultural country to an industrial, and then to a post-industrial economy. In the 1950s Wales' GDP was twice as big as
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, in Northwestern Europe, north-western Europe. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Grea ...
’s; by the 2020s Ireland's economy was four times that of Wales. Since the Second World War, the service sector has come to account for the majority of jobs, a feature typifying most advanced economies. in 2018, according to OECD and Eurostat data,
gross domestic product Gross domestic product (GDP) is a monetary measure of the market value of all the final goods and services produced and sold (not resold) in a specific time period by countries. Due to its complex and subjective nature this measure is oft ...
(GDP) in Wales was £75 billion, an increase of 3.3 per cent from 2017. GDP per head in Wales in 2018 was £23,866, an increase of 2.9 per cent on 2017. This compares to Italy’s GDP/capita of £25,000, Spain £22,000, Slovenia £20,000 and New Zealand £30,000. In the three months to December 2017, 72.7 per cent of working-age adults were employed, compared to 75.2 per cent across the UK as a whole. For the 2018–19 fiscal year, the
Welsh fiscal deficit The Welsh fiscal balance is the difference between general government revenues and expenditures in Wales. From 1999 to 2022, Wales has carried a fiscal deficit as public spending in Wales exceeded tax revenue. For the 2018–19 fiscal year, the fi ...
accounts for 19.4 percent of Wales' estimated GDP. In 2019 Wales was the world’s 5th largest exporter of electricity (22.7 TWh). In 2021, the Welsh government said that more than half the country's energy needs were being met by renewable sources, 2 percent of which was from 363 hydropower projects. By UK law, Wales contributes to items that do not directly benefit Wales e.g. over £5 billion for HS2 "which will damage the Welsh economy by £200m pa", according to the UK and Welsh Government's transport adviser Mark Barry. Wales also pays more in military costs than most similar-sized countries e.g. Wales pays twice the amount Ireland spends on the military. The UK government spends £1.75bn per year on the military in Wales, which is almost as much as Wales spends on education every year (£1.8 billion in 2018/19) and five times as much as the total amount spent on the police in Wales (£365 million). From the middle of the 19th century until the post-war era, the mining and export of coal was the dominant industry. At its peak of production in 1913, nearly 233,000 men and women were employed in the
South Wales coalfield The South Wales Coalfield ( cy, Maes glo De Cymru) extends across Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen. It is rich in coal deposits, espe ...
, mining 56 million tons of coal. Cardiff was once the largest coal-exporting port in the world and, for a few years before the First World War, handled a greater tonnage of cargo than either London or Liverpool. In the 1920s, over 40 per cent of the male Welsh population worked in
heavy industry Heavy industry is an industry that involves one or more characteristics such as large and heavy products; large and heavy equipment and facilities (such as heavy equipment, large machine tools, huge buildings and large-scale infrastructure); o ...
. According to Phil Williams, the Great Depression "devastated Wales", north and south, because of its "overwhelming dependence on coal and steel". From the mid-1970s, the Welsh economy faced massive restructuring with large numbers of jobs in heavy industry disappearing and being replaced eventually by new ones in light industry and in services. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Wales was successful in attracting an above average share of foreign direct investment in the UK. Much of the new industry was essentially of a "branch (or "screwdriver") factory" type where a manufacturing plant or call centre is in Wales but the most highly-paid jobs in the company are elsewhere. Poor-quality soil in much of Wales is unsuitable for crop-growing, so livestock farming has been the focus of farming. About 78 per cent of the land surface is used for agriculture. The Welsh landscape, with its three national parks and Blue Flag beaches, attracts large numbers of tourists, who bolster the economy of rural areas. Wales, like Northern Ireland, has relatively few high
value-added In business, total value added is calculated by tabulating the unit value added (measured by summing unit profit sale price and production cost">Price.html" ;"title="he difference between Price">sale price and production cost], unit depreciation ...
employment in sectors such as finance and research and development, attributable in part to a comparative lack of "economic mass" (i.e. population) – Wales lacks a large metropolitan centre. The lack of high value-added employment is reflected in lower economic output per head relative to other regions of the UK: in 2002 it stood at 90 per cent of the EU25 average and around 80 per cent of the UK average. In June 2008, Wales made history by becoming the first nation to be awarded Fairtrade certification, Fairtrade status. The pound sterling is the currency used in Wales. Numerous Welsh banks issued their own banknotes in the 19th century. The last bank to do so closed in 1908; since then the Bank of England has a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in Wales. The Commercial Bank of Wales, established in Cardiff by Sir Julian Hodge in 1971, was taken over by the
Bank of Scotland The Bank of Scotland plc (Scottish Gaelic: ''Banca na h-Alba'') is a commercial and clearing bank based in Scotland and is part of the Lloyds Banking Group, following the Bank of Scotland's implosion in 2008. The bank was established by th ...
in 1988 and absorbed into its parent company in 2002. The Royal Mint, which issues the
coinage Coinage may refer to: * Coins, standardized as currency * Neologism, coinage of a new word * '' COINage'', numismatics magazine * Tin coinage, a tax on refined tin * Protologism ''Protologism'' is a term coined in 2003 by the American literary ...
circulating through the whole of the UK, has been based at a single site in Llantrisant since 1980. Since decimalisation, in 1971, at least one of the coins in circulation emphasises Wales such as the 1995 and 2000 one pound coin (above). As at 2012, the last designs devoted to Wales saw production in 2008. During 2020, and well into 2021, the restrictions and lockdowns necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic affected all sectors of the economy and "tourism and hospitality suffered notable losses from the pandemic" across the UK. As of 6 April 2021, visitors from "red list" countries were still not allowed to enter unless they were UK residents. Restrictions will "likely be in place until the summer", one report predicted, with June being the most likely time for tourism from other countries to begin a rebound. On 12 April 2021, many tourist facilities were still closed in Wales but non-essential travel between Wales and England was finally permitted. Wales also allowed non-essential retail stores to open. 


Transport

The M4 motorway running from West London to South Wales links Newport, Cardiff and Swansea. Responsibility for the section of the motorway within Wales, from the
Second Severn Crossing or cy, Pont Tywysog Cymru, label=none, italic=unset , carries = M4 motorway (6 lanes) , crosses = River Severn , locale = South West England / South East Wales , maint = National Highways , architect ...
to Pont Abraham services, sits with the Welsh Government. The A55 expressway has a similar role along the North Wales coast, connecting Holyhead and Bangor with Wrexham and Flintshire. It also links to northwest England, principally Chester. The main north-south Wales link is the
A470 The A470 (also named the Cardiff to Glan Conwy Trunk Road) is a trunk road in Wales. It is the country's longest road at and links the capital Cardiff on the south coast to Llandudno on the north coast. While previously one had to navigat ...
, which runs from Cardiff to Llandudno. The Welsh Government manages those parts of the British railway network within Wales, through the
Transport for Wales Rail Transport for Wales Rail Limited, branded as Transport for Wales and TfW Rail ( and ), is a Welsh publicly owned train operating company, a subsidiary of Transport for Wales (TfW), a Welsh Government-owned company. It commenced operations of t ...
train operating company. The Cardiff region has its own urban rail network.
Beeching cuts The Beeching cuts (also Beeching Axe) was a plan to increase the efficiency of the nationalised railway system in Great Britain. The plan was outlined in two reports: ''The Reshaping of British Railways'' (1963) and ''The Development of the M ...
in the 1960s mean that most of the remaining network is geared toward east-west travel connecting with the Irish Sea ports for ferries to Ireland. Services between north and south Wales operate through the English cities of Chester and Hereford and towns of Shrewsbury, Gobowen for Oswestry and along the Welsh Marches Line, with trains on the
Heart of Wales Line The Heart of Wales line ( cy, Llinell Calon Cymru) is a railway line running from Craven Arms in Shropshire to Llanelli in southwest Wales. It serves a number of rural centres, including the nineteenth-century spa towns Llandrindod Wells, Lla ...
from Swansea to
Llandovery Llandovery (; cy, Llanymddyfri ) is a market town and community in Carmarthenshire, Wales. It lies on the River Tywi and at the junction of the A40 and A483 roads, about north-east of Carmarthen, north of Swansea and west of Brecon. Hi ...
, Llandrindod and Knighton connecting the Welsh March Line in
Craven Arms Craven Arms is a market town and civil parish in Shropshire, England, on the A49 road and the Welsh Marches railway line, which link it north and south to the larger towns of Shrewsbury and Ludlow respectively. The Heart of Wales railway l ...
. Trains in Wales are mainly diesel-powered but the
South Wales Main Line The South Wales Main Line ( cy, Prif Linell De Cymru), originally known as the London, Bristol and South Wales Direct Railway or simply as the Bristol and South Wales Direct Railway, is a branch of the Great Western Main Line in Great Britain. ...
branch of the Great Western Main Line used by services from London Paddington to Cardiff is undergoing electrification, although the programme has experienced significant delays and costs-overruns. Cardiff Airport is the international airport of Wales. Providing links to European, African and North American destinations, it is about southwest of Cardiff city centre, in the Vale of Glamorgan. Intra-Wales flights used to run between Anglesey (Valley) and Cardiff, and were operated since 2017 by
Eastern Airways Eastern Airways, legally incorporated as ''Air Kilroe Limited'', is a British regional airline whose head office is at Humberside Airport near the village of Kirmington, North Lincolnshire, England. It operates domestic, international and p ...
., those flights are no longer, as of 2022, available. Other internal flights operate to northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Wales has four commercial ferry ports. Regular ferry services to Ireland operate from Holyhead, Pembroke Dock and
Fishguard Fishguard ( cy, Abergwaun, meaning "Mouth of the River Gwaun") is a coastal town in Pembrokeshire, Wales, with a population of 3,419 in 2011; the community of Fishguard and Goodwick had a population of 5,407. Modern Fishguard consists of two p ...
. The Swansea to Cork service was cancelled in 2006, reinstated in March 2010, and withdrawn again in 2012.


Education

A distinct education system has developed in Wales.Davies (2008) p. 238 Formal education before the 18th century was the preserve of the elite. The first grammar schools were established in Welsh towns such as Ruthin, Brecon and Cowbridge. One of the first successful schooling systems was started by Griffith Jones, who introduced the circulating schools in the 1730s; these are believed to have taught half the country's population to read.Davies (2008) p. 239 In the 19th century, with increasing state involvement in education, Wales was forced to adopt an education system that was English in ethos even though the country was predominantly Non-conformist, Welsh-speaking and demographically uneven because of the economic expansion in the south. In some schools, to ensure Welsh children spoke English at school, the Welsh Not was employed as corrective punishment; this was much resented, although the extent of its use is difficult to determine. State and local governmental edicts resulted in schooling in the English language which, following the 1847 Inquiry into the State of Education in Wales – an event subsequently referred to as the
Treachery of the Blue Books The Reports of the Commissioners of Inquiry into the State of Education in Wales, commonly referred to in Wales as the "Treason of the Blue Books" or "Treachery of the Blue Books" ( cy, Brad y Llyfrau Gleision) or just the "Blue Books''"'' are a ...
() – was seen as more academic and worthwhile for children. The University College of Wales opened in Aberystwyth in 1872. Cardiff and Bangor followed, and the three colleges came together in 1893 to form the
University of Wales , latin_name = , image = , caption = Coat of Arms , motto = cy, Goreu Awen Gwirionedd , mottoeng = The Best Inspiration is Truth , established = , , type = Confederal, non-member ...
. The Welsh Intermediate Education Act of 1889 created 95 secondary schools. The Welsh Department for the Board of Education followed in 1907, which gave Wales its first significant educational devolution. A resurgence in Welsh-language schools in the latter half of the 20th century at nursery and primary level saw attitudes shift towards teaching in the medium of Welsh.Davies (2008) p. 240 Welsh is a compulsory subject in all of Wales' state schools for pupils aged 5–16 years old. While there has never been an exclusively Welsh-language college, Welsh-medium higher education is delivered through the individual universities and has since 2011 been supported by the
Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol Before deleting any text please note that some of the text contained within this article has been authorised for use on a CC-BY-SA licence. An email has been received by Robin Owain (Wikimedia UK) from Ioan Matthews to that effect. The (meaning: ...
(Welsh National College) as a delocalised federal institution. In 2021–2022, there were 1,470 maintained schools in Wales. In 2021–22, the country had 471,131 pupils taught by 25,210 full-time equivalent teachers.


Healthcare

Public healthcare in Wales is provided by
NHS Wales NHS Wales ( cy, GIG (Gwasanaeth Iechyd Gwladol) Cymru) is the publicly-funded healthcare system in Wales, and one of the four systems which make up the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. NHS Wales was formed as part of the public ...
(), through seven local health boards and three all-Wales trusts. It was originally formed as part of the NHS structure for England and Wales by the National Health Service Act 1946, but with powers over the NHS in Wales coming under the Secretary of State for Wales in 1969. Responsibility for NHS Wales passed to the Welsh Assembly under devolution in 1999, and is now the responsibility of the Minister for Health and Social Services. Historically, Wales was served by smaller 'cottage' hospitals, built as voluntary institutions.Davies (2008), p.361 As newer, more expensive, diagnostic techniques and treatments became available, clinical work has been concentrated in newer, larger district hospitals. In 2006, there were seventeen district hospitals in Wales. NHS Wales directly employs over 90,000 staff, making it Wales' biggest employer. A 2009 Welsh health survey reported that 51 per cent of adults reported their health good or excellent, while 21 per cent described their health as fair or poor. The survey recorded that 27 per cent of Welsh adults had a long-term chronic illness, such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes or heart disease. The 2018 National Survey of Wales, which enquired into health-related lifestyle choices, reported that 19 per cent of the adult population were smokers, 18 per cent admitted drinking alcohol above weekly recommended guidelines, while 53 per cent undertook the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity each week.


Demography


Population history

The population of Wales doubled from 587,000 in 1801 to 1,163,000 in 1851 and had reached 2,421,000 by 1911. Most of the increase came in the coal mining districts, especially
Glamorganshire , HQ = Cardiff , Government = Glamorgan County Council (1889–1974) , Origin= , Code = GLA , CodeName = Chapman code , Replace = * West Glamorgan * Mid Glamorgan * South Glamorgan , Motto ...
, which grew from 71,000 in 1801 to 232,000 in 1851 and 1,122,000 in 1911. Part of this increase can be attributed to the demographic transition seen in most industrialising countries during the Industrial Revolution, as death rates dropped and birth rates remained steady. However, there was also large-scale migration into Wales during the Industrial Revolution. The English were the most numerous group, but there were also considerable numbers of Irish and smaller numbers of other ethnic groups, including Italians, who migrated to South Wales. Wales also received immigration from various parts of the British Commonwealth of Nations in the 20th century, and African-Caribbean and Asian communities add to the ethnocultural mix, particularly in urban Wales. Many of these self-identify as Welsh. The population in 1972 stood at 2.74 million and remained broadly static for the rest of the decade. However, in the early 1980s, the population fell due to net
migration Migration, migratory, or migrate may refer to: Human migration * Human migration, physical movement by humans from one region to another ** International migration, when peoples cross state boundaries and stay in the host state for some minimum le ...
out of Wales. Since the 1980s, net migration has generally been inward, and has contributed more to population growth than natural change. The resident population of Wales in 2021 according to the
census A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring, recording and calculating information about the members of a given population. This term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common censuses in ...
was 3,107,500 (1,586,600 female and 1,521,000 male), an increase of 1.4 per cent over 2011. A decreased change from the 5 per cent increase between 2001 and 2011. Wales accounted for 5.2 per cent of the population of England and Wales in 2021. Wales has seven cities, those being Cardiff, Newport, Swansea, and Wrexham, with the communities of Bangor,
St Asaph St Asaph (; cy, Llanelwy "church on the Elwy") is a city and community on the River Elwy in Denbighshire, Wales. In the 2011 Census it had a population of 3,355, making it the second-smallest city in Britain in terms of population and urban ...
and St Davids also having
city status in the United Kingdom City status in the United Kingdom is granted by the monarch of the United Kingdom to a select group of communities. , there are 76 cities in the United Kingdom—55 in England, seven in Wales, eight in Scotland, and six in Northern Ireland. ...
. Wrexham, north Wales' largest settlement, became Wales' newest and seventh city in September
2022 File:2022 collage V1.png, Clockwise, from top left: Road junction at Yamato-Saidaiji Station several hours after the assassination of Shinzo Abe; Anti-government protest in Sri Lanka in front of the Presidential Secretariat; The global monkeypo ...
.


Language

Welsh is an official language in Wales as legislated by the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011. Both Welsh and English are also official languages of the Senedd. The proportion of the Welsh population able to speak the Welsh language fell from just under 50 per cent in 1901 to 43.5 per cent in 1911, and continued to fall to a low of 18.9 per cent in 1981.Results of the 2001 Census: Country of birth (www.statistics.gov.uk)
/ref> The results of the 2001 Census showed an increase in the number of Welsh speakers to 21 per cent of the population aged 3 and older, compared with 18.7 per cent in 1991 and 19 per cent in 1981. This compares with a pattern of steady decline indicated by census results during the 20th century. In the 2011 census it was recorded that the proportion of people able to speak Welsh had dropped from 20.8 per cent to 19 per cent (still higher than 1991). Despite an increase in the overall size of the Welsh population this still meant that the number of Welsh speakers in Wales dropped from 582,000 in 2001 to 562,000 in 2011. However this figure was still much higher than 508,000 or 18.7 per cent of people who said they could speak Welsh in the 1991 census. According to the 2021 census, the Welsh-speaking population of Wales aged three or older was 17.8 per cent (538,300 people) and nearly three quarters of the population in Wales said they had no Welsh language skills. Other estimates suggest that 29.7 per cent (899,500) of people aged three or older in Wales could speak Welsh in June 2022. English is spoken by almost all people in Wales and is the main language in most of the country.
Code-switching In linguistics, code-switching or language alternation occurs when a speaker alternates between two or more languages, or language varieties, in the context of a single conversation or situation. Code-switching is different from plurilingualis ...
is common in all parts of Wales and is known by various terms, though none is recognised by professional linguists.Davies (2008) p. 262 " Wenglish" is the Welsh English language dialect. It has been influenced significantly by Welsh grammar and includes words derived from Welsh. Northern and western Wales retain many areas where Welsh is spoken as a first language by the majority of the population, and English learnt as a second language. Although monoglotism in young children continues, life-long monoglotism in Welsh no longer occurs. Since Poland joined the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a supranational political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe. The union has a total area of and an estimated total population of about 447million. The EU has often been de ...
, Wales has seen a significant increase in Polish immigrants. This has made Polish the third most spoken language in Wales, used as a main language by 0.6 percent of the population.


Religion

The 2021 census recorded 46.5 per cent had “No religion”, more than any single religious affiliation and up from 32.1 per cent in 2011. The largest religion in Wales is
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. It is the world's largest and most widespread religion with roughly 2.38 billion followers representing one-third of the global pop ...
, with 43.6 per cent of the population describing themselves as Christian in the 2021 census. The
Church in Wales The Church in Wales ( cy, Yr Eglwys yng Nghymru) is an Anglican church in Wales, composed of six dioceses. The Archbishop of Wales does not have a fixed archiepiscopal see, but serves concurrently as one of the six diocesan bishops. The p ...
with 56,000 adherents has the largest attendance of the denominations. It is a province of the Anglican Communion, and was part of the Church of England until disestablishment in 1920 under the Welsh Church Act 1914. The first Independent Church in Wales was founded at Llanvaches in 1638 by William Wroth. The
Presbyterian Church of Wales The Presbyterian Church of Wales ( cy, Eglwys Bresbyteraidd Cymru), also known as Calvinistic Methodist Church (), is a denomination of Protestant Christianity in Wales. History The church was born out of the Welsh Methodist revival and the ...
was born out of the
Welsh Methodist revival The Welsh Methodist revival was an evangelical revival that revitalised Christianity in Wales during the 18th century. Methodist preachers such as Daniel Rowland, William Williams and Howell Harris were heavily influential in the movement. Th ...
in the 18th century and seceded from the Church of England in 1811. The second largest attending faith in Wales is
Roman Catholic Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy * Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD * Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *'' Epistle to the Romans'', shortened to ''Romans'', a let ...
, with an estimated 43,000 adherents. The patron saint of Wales is Saint David (), with
Saint David's Day Saint David's Day ( cy, Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant or ; ), or the Feast of Saint David, is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and falls on 1 March, the date of Saint David's death in 589 AD. The feast has been regularly celebrat ...
() celebrated annually on 1 March. In 1904, there was a religious revival (known by some as the 1904–1905 Welsh Revival, or simply The 1904 Revival) which started through the evangelism of Evan Roberts and saw large numbers of people converting to non-Anglican Christianity, sometimes whole communities. Roberts' style of preaching became the blueprint for new religious bodies such as Pentecostalism and the Apostolic Church. Non-Christian religions are small in Wales, making up approximately 2.7 per cent of the population. Islam is the largest, with 24,000 (0.8 per cent) reported Muslims in the 2011 census. There are also communities of Hindus and Sikhs, mainly in the south Wales cities of Newport, Cardiff and Swansea, while the largest concentration of Buddhists is in the western rural county of
Ceredigion Ceredigion ( , , ) is a county in the west of Wales, corresponding to the historic county of Cardiganshire. During the second half of the first millennium Ceredigion was a minor kingdom. It has been administered as a county since 1282. Cer ...
.
Judaism Judaism ( he, ''Yahăḏūṯ'') is an Abrahamic, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion in t ...
was the first non-Christian faith to be established in Wales since Roman times, though by 2001 the community had declined to approximately 2,000 and as of 2019 only numbers in the hundreds.


Ethnicity

The 2021 census showed that 93.8 per cent of the population of Wales identified as "White", compared to 95.6 per cent in 2011. 90.6 per cent of the population identified as “White: Welsh, English, Scottish, Northern Irish or British” in 2021. The second most populous ethnicity in 2021 was “Asian, Asian Welsh or Asian British” at 2.9 per cent of the population, compared to 2.3 per cent in 2011. 1.6 per cent of the population identified as “Mixed or multiple ethnic groups” compared to 1.0 per cent in 2011. 0.9 per cent of the population identified as “Black, Black Welsh, Black British, Caribbean or African” compared to 0.6 per cent in 2011 and 0.9 per cent identified as "Other ethnic group" compared to 0.5 per cent in 2011. The local authorities with the highest proportions of "high-level" ethnic groups other than “White” were mainly urban areas including Cardiff, Newport and Swansea. 5.3 per cent of households in Wales were multiple ethnic group households, up from 4.2 per cent in 2011.


National identity

The 2021 census showed that 55.2 per cent identified as "Welsh only", 8.1 per cent identified as "Welsh and British" and a combined proportion of people identifying as Welsh at 63.3 per cent. The Welsh Annual Population Survey showed that the proportion of people who identified as Welsh versus another identity was 62.3 per cent in 2022 compared to 69.2 per cent in 2001. A 2022 YouGov poll found that 21 per cent consider themselves Welsh not British, 15 per cent more Welsh than British, 24 per cent equally Welsh and British, 7 per cent more British than Welsh and 20 per cent British and not Welsh and 8 per cent other. A total of 67 per cent considered themselves Welsh to some degree.


Culture

Wales has a distinctive culture including its own language, customs, holidays and music. There are four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Wales: The Castles and Town Walls of King Edward I in Gwynedd;
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (; cy, Traphont Ddŵr Pontcysyllte) is a navigable aqueduct that carries the Llangollen Canal across the River Dee in the Vale of Llangollen in northeast Wales. The 18-arched stone and cast iron structure is for use ...
and Canal; the
Blaenavon Industrial Landscape Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, in and around Blaenavon, Torfaen, Wales, was inscribed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000. The Blaenavon Ironworks, now a museum, was a major centre of iron production using locally mined or quarried iron ...
and
The Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales The existence of a slate industry in Wales is attested since the Roman period, when slate was used to roof the fort at Segontium, now Caernarfon. The slate industry grew slowly until the early 18th century, then expanded rapidly until the lat ...
.


Mythology

Remnants of native Celtic mythology of the pre-Christian
Britons British people or Britons, also known colloquially as Brits, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British Overseas Territories, and the Crown dependencies.: British nationality law governs mod ...
was passed down orally by the ''cynfeirdd'' (the early poets). Some of their work survives in later medieval Welsh manuscripts: the Black Book of Carmarthen and the
Book of Aneirin The Book of Aneirin ( cy, Llyfr Aneirin) is a late 13th century Welsh manuscript containing Old and Middle Welsh poetry attributed to the late 6th century Northern Brythonic poet, Aneirin, who is believed to have lived in present-day Scotland. Th ...
(both 13th-century); the Book of Taliesin and the White Book of Rhydderch (both 14th-century); and the Red Book of Hergest (c. 1400). The prose stories from the White and Red Books are known as the '' Mabinogion''. Poems such as ''
Cad Goddeu ''Cad Goddeu'' ( wlm, Kat Godeu, en, The Battle of the Trees) is a medieval Welsh poem preserved in the 14th-century manuscript known as the Book of Taliesin. The poem refers to a traditional story in which the legendary enchanter Gwydion animate ...
'' (The Battle of the Trees) and mnemonic list-texts like the ''
Welsh Triads The Welsh Triads ( cy, Trioedd Ynys Prydein, "Triads of the Island of Britain") are a group of related texts in medieval manuscripts which preserve fragments of Welsh folklore, mythology and traditional history in groups of three. The triad is a ...
'' and the ''
Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain The Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain (Welsh: ''Tri Thlws ar Ddeg Ynys Prydain'') are a series of items in late-medieval Welsh tradition. Lists of the items appear in texts dating to the 15th and 16th centuries.Jones, Mary"Tri Thlws a ...
'', also contain mythological material. These texts include the earliest forms of the
Arthurian legend The Matter of Britain is the body of medieval literature and legendary material associated with Great Britain and Brittany and the legendary kings and heroes associated with it, particularly King Arthur. It was one of the three great Wester ...
and the traditional history of post-
Roman Britain Roman Britain was the period in classical antiquity when large parts of the island of Great Britain were under occupation by the Roman Empire. The occupation lasted from AD 43 to AD 410. During that time, the territory conquered wa ...
. Other sources of Welsh folklore include the 9th-century Latin historical compilation ''
Historia Britonum ''The History of the Britons'' ( la, Historia Brittonum) is a purported history of the indigenous British ( Brittonic) people that was written around 828 and survives in numerous recensions that date from after the 11th century. The ''Historia Br ...
'' (the History of the Britons) and
Geoffrey of Monmouth Geoffrey of Monmouth ( la, Galfridus Monemutensis, Galfridus Arturus, cy, Gruffudd ap Arthur, Sieffre o Fynwy; 1095 – 1155) was a British cleric from Monmouth, Wales and one of the major figures in the development of British historiography ...
's 12th-century Latin chronicle '' Historia Regum Britanniae'' (the History of the Kings of Britain), and later folklore, such as ''The Welsh Fairy Book'' by W. Jenkyn Thomas.


Literature

Wales has one of the oldest unbroken literary traditions in EuropeDavies (2008) p. 464 going back to the sixth century and including
Geoffrey of Monmouth Geoffrey of Monmouth ( la, Galfridus Monemutensis, Galfridus Arturus, cy, Gruffudd ap Arthur, Sieffre o Fynwy; 1095 – 1155) was a British cleric from Monmouth, Wales and one of the major figures in the development of British historiography ...
and
Gerald of Wales Gerald of Wales ( la, Giraldus Cambrensis; cy, Gerallt Gymro; french: Gerald de Barri; ) was a Cambro-Norman priest and historian. As a royal clerk to the king and two archbishops, he travelled widely and wrote extensively. He studied and taugh ...
, regarded as among the finest Latin authors of the Middle Ages. The earliest body of Welsh verse, by poets Taliesin and
Aneirin Aneirin , Aneurin or Neirin was an early Medieval Brythonic war poet. He is believed to have been a bard or court poet in one of the Cumbric kingdoms of the Hen Ogledd, probably that of Gododdin at Edinburgh, in modern Scotland. From the 17th c ...
, survive not in their original form, but in much-changed, medieval versions. Welsh poetry and native lore and learning survived the Dark Ages, through the era of the Poets of the Princes (c. 1100 – 1280) and then the Poets of the Gentry (c. 1350 – 1650). The former were professional poets who composed eulogies and elegies to their patrons while the latter favoured the
cywydd The cywydd (; plural ) is one of the most important metrical forms in traditional Welsh poetry (cerdd dafod). There are a variety of forms of the cywydd, but the word on its own is generally used to refer to the ("long-lined couplet") as it is b ...
metre.Davies (2008) pp. 688–689 The period produced one of Wales' greatest poets,
Dafydd ap Gwilym Dafydd ap Gwilym ( 1315/1320 – 1350/1370) is regarded as one of the leading Welsh poets and amongst the great poets of Europe in the Middle Ages. Life R. Geraint Gruffydd suggests 1315- 1350 as the poet's dates; others place him a little ...
. After the Anglicisation of the gentry the tradition declined. Despite the extinction of the professional poet, the integration of the native elite into a wider cultural world did bring other literary benefits.Davies (2008) p. 465 Renaissance scholars such as
William Salesbury William Salesbury also Salusbury (c. 1520 – c. 1584) was the leading Welsh scholar of the Renaissance and the principal translator of the 1567 Welsh New Testament. Early life Salesbury was born some time before 1520 (possibly as early as 1 ...
and John Davies brought
humanist Humanism is a philosophical stance that emphasizes the individual and social potential and agency of human beings. It considers human beings the starting point for serious moral and philosophical inquiry. The meaning of the term "human ...
ideals from English universities. In 1588 William Morgan became the first person to translate the Bible into Welsh. From the 16th century the proliferation of the 'free-metre' verse became the most important development in Welsh poetry, but from the middle of the 17th century a host of imported accentual metres from England became very popular. By the 19th century the creation of a Welsh epic, fuelled by the eisteddfod, became an obsession with Welsh-language writers.Davies (2008) p. 466 The output of this period was prolific in quantity but unequal in quality. Initially excluded, religious denominations came to dominate the competitions, with bardic themes becoming scriptural and didactic. Developments in 19th-century Welsh literature include Lady Charlotte Guest's translation into English of the Mabinogion, one of the most important medieval Welsh prose works of Celtic mythology. 1885 saw the publication of '' Rhys Lewis'' by
Daniel Owen Daniel Owen (20 October 1836 – 22 October 1895) was a Welsh novelist. He is generally regarded as the foremost Welsh-language novelist of the 19th century, and as the first significant novelist to write in Welsh. Early life Daniel Owen was bor ...
, credited as the first novel written in the Welsh language. The 20th century saw a move from the verbose Victorian Welsh style, with works such as
Thomas Gwynn Jones Professor Thomas Gwynn Jones C.B.E. (10 October 1871 – 7 March 1949), more widely known as T. Gwynn Jones, was a leading Wales, Welsh poet, scholar, literary critic, novelist, translator, and journalist who did important work in Welsh language ...
's '' Ymadawiad Arthur''. The First World War had a profound effect on Welsh literature with a more pessimistic style championed by
T. H. Parry-Williams Sir Thomas Herbert Parry-Williams (21 September 1887 – 3 March 1975) was a Welsh poet, author and academic. Parry-Williams was born at Tŷ'r Ysgol (''the Schoolhouse'') in Rhyd Ddu, Caernarfonshire, Wales. He was educated at the University ...
and R. Williams Parry. The industrialisation of south Wales saw a further shift with the likes of Rhydwen Williams who used the poetry and metre of a bygone rural Wales but in the context of an industrial landscape. The inter-war period is dominated by Saunders Lewis, for his political and reactionary views as much as his plays, poetry and criticism. The careers of some 1930s writers continued after World War Two, including those of Gwyn Thomas, Vernon Watkins, and Dylan Thomas, whose most famous work '' Under Milk Wood'' was first broadcast in 1954. Thomas was one of the most notable and popular Welsh writers of the 20th century and one of the most innovative poets of his time. The attitude of the post-war generation of Welsh writers in English towards Wales differs from the previous generation, with greater sympathy for Welsh nationalism and the Welsh language. The change is linked to the nationalism of Saunders Lewis and the burning of the Bombing School on the
Llŷn Peninsula The Llŷn Peninsula ( cy, Penrhyn Llŷn or , ) extends into the Irish Sea from North West Wales, south west of the Isle of Anglesey. It is part of the historic county of Caernarfonshire, and historic region and local authority area of Gwynedd. Mu ...
in 1936. In poetry R. S. Thomas (1913–2000) was the most important figure throughout the second half of the twentieth century. He "did not learn the Welsh language until he was 30 and wrote all his poems in English". Major writers in the second half of the twentieth century include Emyr Humphreys (born 1919), who during his long writing career published over twenty novels, and Raymond Williams (1921–1988).


Museums and libraries

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales was founded by
royal charter A royal charter is a formal grant issued by a monarch under royal prerogative as letters patent. Historically, they have been used to promulgate public laws, the most famous example being the English Magna Carta (great charter) of 1215, but s ...
in 1907 and is now a
Welsh Government sponsored body A Welsh Government sponsored body (WGSB) ( cy, Corff (plural: Cyrff) a Noddir gan Lywodraeth Cymru, CNLC) is a non-departmental public body directly funded by the Welsh Government. Under the Government of Wales Act 1998 the bodies were sponsored ...
. The National Museum is made up of seven sites across the country, including the
National Museum Cardiff National Museum Cardiff ( cy, Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd) is a museum and art gallery in Cardiff, Wales. The museum is part of the wider network of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. Entry is kept free by a grant from the Welsh Gov ...
, St Fagans National History Museum and Big Pit National Coal Museum. In April 2001, the attractions attached to the National Museum were granted free entry by the Assembly, and this action saw the visitor numbers to the sites increase during 2001–2002 by 87.8 per cent to 1,430,428. Aberystwyth is home to the National Library of Wales, which houses some of the most important collections in Wales, including the Sir John Williams Collection and the
Shirburn Castle Shirburn Castle is a Grade I listed, moated castle located at the village of Shirburn, near Watlington, Oxfordshire. Originally constructed in the fourteenth century, it was renovated and remodelled in the Georgian era by Thomas Parker, the fi ...
collection.Davies (2008) p. 594 As well as its printed collection the Library holds important Welsh art collections including portraits and photographs, ephemera such as postcards, posters and Ordnance Survey maps.


Visual arts

Works of
Celtic art Celtic art is associated with the peoples known as Celts; those who spoke the Celtic languages in Europe from pre-history through to the modern period, as well as the art of ancient peoples whose language is uncertain, but have cultural and styli ...
have been found in Wales. In the
Early Medieval The Early Middle Ages (or early medieval period), sometimes controversially referred to as the Dark Ages, is typically regarded by historians as lasting from the late 5th or early 6th century to the 10th century. They marked the start of the Mi ...
period, the Celtic Christianity of Wales was part of the Insular art of the British Isles. A number of illuminated manuscripts from Wales survive, including the 8th-century Hereford Gospels and Lichfield Gospels. The 11th-century Ricemarch Psalter (now in
Dublin Dublin (; , or ) is the capital and largest city of Ireland. On a bay at the mouth of the River Liffey, it is in the province of Leinster, bordered on the south by the Dublin Mountains, a part of the Wicklow Mountains range. At the 2016 c ...
) is certainly Welsh, made in
St David's St Davids or St David's ( cy, Tyddewi, ,  "David's house”) is a city and a community (named St Davids and the Cathedral Close) with a cathedral in Pembrokeshire, Wales, lying on the River Alun. It is the resting place of Saint David, W ...
, and shows a late Insular style with unusual Viking influence. Some Welsh artists of the 16th–18th centuries tended to leave the country to work, moving to London or Italy. Richard Wilson (1714–1782) is arguably the first major British landscapist. Although more notable for his Italian scenes, he painted several Welsh scenes on visits from London. By the late 18th century, the popularity of landscape art grew and clients were found in the larger Welsh towns, allowing more Welsh artists to stay in their homeland. Artists from outside Wales were also drawn to paint Welsh scenery, at first because of the Celtic Revival. An Act of Parliament in 1857 provided for the establishment of a number of art schools throughout the United Kingdom and the Cardiff School of Art opened in 1865. Graduates still very often had to leave Wales to work, but Betws-y-Coed became a popular centre for artists and its artists' colony helped form the Royal Cambrian Academy of Art in 1881. The sculptor Sir William
Goscombe John Sir William Goscombe John (21 February 1860 – 15 December 1952) was a prolific Welsh sculptor known for his many public memorials. As a sculptor, John developed a distinctive style of his own while respecting classical traditions and forms of ...
made works for Welsh commissions, although he had settled in London. Christopher Williams, whose subjects were mostly resolutely Welsh, was also based in London. Thomas E. Stephens and
Andrew Vicari Andrew Vicari (born Andrea Antonio Giovanni Vaccari; 20 April 1932 – 3 October 2016) was a Welsh painter working in France, who established a career painting portraits of prominent people. Despite being largely unknown in his own country, ...
had very successful careers as portraitists based respectively in the United States and France. Welsh painters gravitated towards the art capitals of Europe.
Augustus John Augustus Edwin John (4 January 1878 – 31 October 1961) was a Welsh painter, draughtsman, and etcher. For a time he was considered the most important artist at work in Britain: Virginia Woolf remarked that by 1908 the era of John Singer Sarge ...
and his sister Gwen John lived mostly in London and Paris. However, the landscapists Sir
Kyffin Williams Sir John Kyffin Williams, (9 May 1918 – 1 September 2006) was a Welsh landscape painter who lived at Pwllfanogl, Llanfairpwll, on the Island of Anglesey. Williams is widely regarded as the defining artist of Wales during the 20th century. Pe ...
and Peter Prendergast lived in Wales for most of their lives, while remaining in touch with the wider art world.
Ceri Richards Ceri Giraldus Richards (6 June 1903 – 9 November 1971) was a Welsh painter, print-maker and maker of reliefs. Biography Richards was born in 1903 in the village of Dunvant, near Swansea, the son of Thomas Coslett Richards and Sarah Ric ...
was very engaged in the Welsh art scene as a teacher in Cardiff and even after moving to London. He was a figurative painter in international styles including Surrealism. Various artists have moved to Wales, including Eric Gill, the London-Welshman David Jones and the sculptor
Jonah Jones Jonah Jones (born Robert Elliott Jones; December 31, 1909 – April 29, 2000) was a jazz trumpeter who created concise versions of jazz and swing and jazz standards that appealed to a mass audience. In the jazz community, he is known for his wo ...
. The Kardomah Gang was an intellectual circle centred on the poet Dylan Thomas and poet and artist Vernon Watkins in Swansea, which also included the painter Alfred Janes. South Wales had several notable potteries, one of the first important sites being the
Ewenny Pottery Ewenny Pottery, founded in 1610 in the village of Ewenny, is the oldest working pottery in Wales. Background The village of Ewenny is sited above all of the natural resources to make the local red earthenware pottery: clay deposited from the ice ...
in Bridgend, which began producing earthenware in the 17th century.Davies (2008) pp. 701–702 In the 18th and 19th centuries, with more scientific methods becoming available more refined ceramics were produced led by the
Cambrian Pottery The Cambrian Pottery was founded in 1764 by William Coles in Swansea, Glamorganshire, Wales. In 1790, John Coles, son of the founder, went into partnership with George Haynes, who introduced new business strategies based on the ideas of Josia ...
(1764–1870, also known as "Swansea pottery") and later Nantgarw Pottery near Cardiff, which was in operation from 1813 to 1822 making fine porcelain and then utilitarian pottery until 1920.
Portmeirion Pottery Portmeirion is a British pottery company based in Stoke-on-Trent, England. History Portmeirion Pottery began in 1960 when pottery designer Susan Williams-Ellis (daughter of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, who created the Italian-style Portmeirion Vi ...
, founded in 1960 by Susan Williams-Ellis, daughter of
Clough Williams-Ellis Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis, CBE, MC (28 May 1883 – 9 April 1978) was a Welsh architect known chiefly as the creator of the Italianate village of Portmeirion in North Wales. He became a major figure in the development of Welsh architec ...
, creator of the Italianate village of
Portmeirion Portmeirion is a tourist village in Gwynedd, North Wales. It was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village, and is now owned by a charitable trust. The village is located in the co ...
, Gwynedd, is based in Stoke-on-Trent, England.


National symbols and identity

Today, Wales is widely regarded as a modern Celtic nation which contributes to Wales' national identity. Welsh artists are also regularly invited to Celtic festivals. The red dragon is an important symbol of national identity and pride in Wales and is said to personify the fearlessness of the Welsh nation. The dragon is first referenced in literature as a symbol of the people in the
Historia Brittonum ''The History of the Britons'' ( la, Historia Brittonum) is a purported history of the indigenous British ( Brittonic) people that was written around 828 and survives in numerous recensions that date from after the 11th century. The ''Historia B ...
. Vortigern () King of the Celtic Britons is interrupted whilst attempting to build a fort at Dinas Emrys. He is told by Ambrosius. Embreis Guletic is probably Emrys Gwledig. to dig up two dragons beneath the castle. He discovers a red dragon representing the Celtic Britons and a white dragon representing Anglo-Saxons. Ambrosius prophecies that the Celtic Britons will reclaim the island and push the Anglo-Saxons back to the sea.''
Historia Brittonum ''The History of the Britons'' ( la, Historia Brittonum) is a purported history of the indigenous British ( Brittonic) people that was written around 828 and survives in numerous recensions that date from after the 11th century. The ''Historia B ...
'' by Nennius (translated by J.A.Giles)
As an emblem, the red dragon of Wales has been used since the reign of
Cadwaladr Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon (also spelled Cadwalader or Cadwallader in English) was king of Gwynedd in Wales from around 655 to 682 AD. Two devastating plagues happened during his reign, one in 664 and the other in 682; he himself was a victim of t ...
, King of Gwynedd from around 655AD and is present on the national
flag of Wales The flag of Wales ( cy, Baner Cymru or , meaning 'the red dragon') consists of a red dragon passant on a green and white field. As with many heraldic charges, the exact representation of the dragon is not standardised and many renderings e ...
, which became an official flag in 1959. On 1 March, Welsh people celebrate St David's day, who is an icon of Welsh identity. There has been multiple calls and majority support in Wales to make St David's day a bank holiday in Wales, despite UK government refusal. The day is celebrated by schools and cultural societies across Wales and customs include wearing of a leek or a daffodil which are two national emblems of Wales. Children also wear the national costume. The origins of the leek can be traced to the 16th century, while the daffodil became popular in the 19th century, encouraged by David Lloyd George.Davies (2008) p. 189 This is attributed to confusion (or association) between the Welsh for leek, ''cenhinen'', and that for daffodil, ''cenhinen Bedr'' or St. Peter's leek. A report in 1916 gave preference to the leek, which has appeared on British pound coins. The banner of Owain Glyndŵr is associated with Welsh nationhood. It was carried into battle by Welsh forces during Glyndŵr's battles against the English, includes four lions on red and gold. The standard is similar to the arms of
Llywelyn ap Gruffudd Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (c. 1223 – 11 December 1282), sometimes written as Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, also known as Llywelyn the Last ( cy, Llywelyn Ein Llyw Olaf, lit=Llywelyn, Our Last Leader), was the native Prince of Wales ( la, Princeps Wall ...
(Llywelyn the Last), the last Prince of Wales before the conquest of Wales by
Edward I of England Edward I (17/18 June 1239 – 7 July 1307), also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England and Lord of Ireland from 1272 to 1307. Concurrently, he ruled the duchies of Aquitaine and Gascony as a vas ...
. The design may also be influenced by the arms of Glyndwr's parents, both of whom had lions in their arms. Owain Glyndŵr Day is celebrated on 16 September in Wales and there have been calls to make it a national bank holiday. ''"
Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau "" () is the official national anthem of Wales. The title, taken from the first words of the song, means "Old Land of My Fathers" in Welsh, usually rendered in English as simply "Land of My Fathers". The words were written by Evan James and ...
" ( eng, Land of My Fathers)'' is the National Anthem of Wales, and is played at events such as football or rugby matches involving the Wales national team as well as the opening of the Senedd and other official occasions. "" ("Wales forever") is a popular Welsh motto. Another Welsh motto "Y Ddraig Goch Ddyry Cychwyn" ("the red dragon inspires action") has been used on the
Royal Badge of Wales A Royal Badge for Wales was approved in May 2008. It is based on the arms borne by the thirteenth-century Welsh prince Llywelyn the Great (''blazoned quarterly Or and gules, four lions passant guardant counterchanged''), with the addition of St ...
when it was created in 1953.


British symbols

On its creation the Union Jack incorporated the flags of the kingdoms of Scotland, of Ireland and the Cross of St. George which then represented the Kingdom of England and Wales. Wales by 1543 had been annexed and incorporated by the crown of England. Present day media have explained why Wales is not represented on the flag. The heraldic badge of the Duke of Cornwall, or Heir Apparent of the British monarchy (commonly known as the
Prince of Wales's feathers The Prince of Wales's feathers is the heraldic badge of the Prince of Wales, during the use of the title by the English and later British monarchy. It consists of three white ostrich feathers emerging from a gold coronet. A ribbon below the corone ...
) is also used in Wales. It consists of three white feathers emerging from a gold coronet and the German motto ''Ich dien'' (I serve). Several Welsh representative teams, including the Welsh rugby union, and Welsh regiments in the
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces along with the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. , the British Army comprises 79,380 regular full-time personnel, 4,090 Gurk ...
(the
Royal Welsh The Royal Welsh (R WELSH) ( cy, Y Cymry Brenhinol) is an armoured infantry regiment of the British Army. It was established in 2006 from the Royal Welch Fusiliers (23rd Foot) and the Royal Regiment of Wales (24th/41st Foot). History The ...
, for example) use the badge or a stylised version of it. There have been attempts made to curtail the use of the emblem for commercial purposes and restrict its use to those authorised by the Prince of Wales.


Sport

More than 50 national governing bodies regulate and organise their sports in Wales. Most of those involved in competitive sports select, organise and manage individuals or teams to represent their country at international events or fixtures against other countries. Wales is represented at major world sporting events such as the
FIFA World Cup The FIFA World Cup, often simply called the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of the ' ( FIFA), the sport's global governing body. The tournament ha ...
, Rugby World Cup, Rugby League World Cup and the Commonwealth Games. At the Olympic Games, Welsh athletes compete alongside those of Scotland, England and Northern Ireland as part of a
Great Britain Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of , it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island and the ninth-largest island in the world. It i ...
team. Wales has hosted several international sporting events. These include the 1958 Commonwealth Games, the 1999 Rugby World Cup, the 2010 Ryder Cup and the
2017 UEFA Champions League Final The 2017 UEFA Champions League Final was the final match of the 2016–17 UEFA Champions League, the 62nd season of Europe's premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 25th season since it was renamed from the European Cup to th ...
. Although football has traditionally been the more popular sport in
North Wales North Wales ( cy, Gogledd Cymru) is a region of Wales, encompassing its northernmost areas. It borders Mid Wales to the south, England to the east, and the Irish Sea to the north and west. The area is highly mountainous and rural, with Snowdonia N ...
, rugby union is seen as a symbol of Welsh identity and an expression of national consciousness. The
Wales national rugby union team The Wales national rugby union team ( cy, Tîm rygbi'r undeb cenedlaethol Cymru) represents Wales in men's international rugby union. Its governing body, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), was established in 1881, the same year that Wales played the ...
takes part in the annual Six Nations Championship and has also competed in every Rugby World Cup, hosting the tournament in 1999. The five professional sides that replaced the traditional club sides in major competitions in 2003 were replaced in 2004 by the four regions: Cardiff Blues,
Dragons A dragon is a reptilian legendary creature that appears in the folklore of many cultures worldwide. Beliefs about dragons vary considerably through regions, but dragons in western cultures since the High Middle Ages have often been depicted as ...
, Ospreys and
Scarlets The Scarlets () are one of the four professional Welsh rugby union teams and are based in Llanelli, Wales. Their home ground is the Parc y Scarlets stadium. They play in the United Rugby Championship and the European Rugby Champions Cup (which ...
. The Welsh regional teams play in the United Rugby Championship, the Heineken Champions Cup if they qualify and the European Rugby Challenge Cup, again dependent on qualification.
Rugby league in Wales Rugby league is a sport played in Wales. The governing body of the game in Wales is the Wales Rugby League. There is a long but sporadic history of rugby league in Wales ( cy, rygbi'r gynghrair). Over the decades hundreds of Welsh players have p ...
dates back to 1907. A professional Welsh League existed from 1908 to 1910. Wales has had its own football league, the
Welsh Premier League The Cymru Premier, known as the JD Cymru Premier for sponsorship reasons, is the national football league of Wales. It has both professional and semi-professional status clubs and is at the top of the Welsh football league system. Prior to 20 ...
, since 1992. For historical reasons, five Welsh clubs play in the English football league system; Cardiff City, Swansea City, Newport County, Wrexham, and Merthyr Town. Famous Welsh players over the years include John Charles,
John Toshack John Benjamin Toshack (born 22 March 1949) is a Welsh former professional football player and manager. He began his playing career as a teenager with his hometown club Cardiff City, becoming the youngest player to make an appearance for the ...
,
Gary Speed Gary Andrew Speed (8 September 1969 – 27 November 2011) was a Welsh professional footballer and manager. As manager of Wales, Speed is often credited as being the catalyst for the change in fortunes of the national team and as setting t ...
, Ian Rush, Ryan Giggs, Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, and Daniel James (footballer), Daniel James. At UEFA Euro 2016, the Wales national football team, Wales national team achieved their best ever finish, reaching the semi-finals where they were beaten by eventual champions Portugal. In international cricket, Wales and England field a single representative team, administered by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), called the England cricket team, or simply 'England'. Occasionally, a separate Wales cricket team, Wales team play limited-overs competitions. Glamorgan County Cricket Club is the only Welsh participant in the England and Wales County Championship. Wales has produced several notable participants of individual and team sports including snooker players Ray Reardon, Terry Griffiths, Mark Williams (snooker player), Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens. Track athletes who have made a mark on the world stage include hurdler Colin Jackson and Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson. Champion cyclists include Nicole Cooke and Geraint Thomas. Wales has a tradition of producing world-class boxers. Joe Calzaghe was WBO world super-middleweight champion and then won the WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine super middleweight and Ring Magazine light-heavyweight titles. Other former boxing world champions include Enzo Maccarinelli, Freddie Welsh, Howard Winstone, Percy Jones (boxer), Percy Jones, Jimmy Wilde, Steve Robinson (boxer), Steve Robinson and Robbie Regan. Tommy Farr, the "Tonypandy Terror", came close to defeating world heavyweight champion Joe Louis at the height of his fame in 1937.


Media

Wales became the UK's first digital television nation. BBC Cymru Wales is the national broadcaster, producing both television and radio programmes in Welsh and English from its base in Central Square, Cardiff, Central Square, Cardiff. The broadcaster also produces programmes such as ''Life on Mars (British TV series), Life on Mars'', ''Doctor Who'' and ''Torchwood'' for BBC's network audience across the United Kingdom. ITV (TV network), ITV, the UK's main commercial broadcaster, has a Welsh-oriented service branded as ITV Cymru Wales, whose studios are in Cardiff Bay. S4C, based in
Carmarthen Carmarthen (, RP: ; cy, Caerfyrddin , "Merlin's fort" or "Sea-town fort") is the county town of Carmarthenshire and a community in Wales, lying on the River Towy. north of its estuary in Carmarthen Bay. The population was 14,185 in 2011, ...
, first broadcast on 1 November 1982. Its output was mostly in Welsh at peak hours but shared English-language content with Channel 4 at other times. Since the digital television transition, digital switchover in April 2010, the channel has broadcast exclusively in Welsh. BBC Radio Cymru is the BBC's Welsh-language radio service, which broadcasts throughout Wales. A number of independent radio stations broadcast in the Welsh regions, predominantly in English. In 2006, several regional radio stations broadcast in Welsh: output ranged from two two-minute news bulletins each weekday (Radio Maldwyn) to over 14 hours of Welsh-language programmes weekly (Swansea Sound) to essentially bilingual stations such as Heart Cymru and Radio Ceredigion. Most of the newspapers sold and read in Wales are national newspapers available throughout Britain. The ''Western Mail (Wales), Western Mail'' is Wales's only print national daily newspaper, but a new online and occasional print national newspaper, ''The National'', launched on
Saint David's Day Saint David's Day ( cy, Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant or ; ), or the Feast of Saint David, is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and falls on 1 March, the date of Saint David's death in 589 AD. The feast has been regularly celebrat ...
in 2021. Wales-based regional daily newspapers include the ''Daily Post (North Wales), Daily Post'' (which covers North Wales), the ''South Wales Evening Post'' (Swansea), the ''South Wales Echo'' (Cardiff), and the ''South Wales Argus'' (Newport). ''Y Cymro'' is a Welsh-language newspaper, published weekly. ''Wales on Sunday'' is the only Welsh Sunday newspaper that covers the whole of Wales. The Books Council of Wales (BCW, previously known as the Welsh Books Council) is the Welsh-Government-funded body tasked with promoting Welsh literature in Welsh and English. The BCW provides publishing grants for qualifying English- and Welsh-language publications. Around 600–650 books are published each year, by some of the dozens of Welsh publishers. Wales' main publishing houses include Gomer Press, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Honno (press), Honno, the University of Wales Press and Y Lolfa. ''Cambria'', a Welsh affairs magazine published bi-monthly in English, has subscribers internationally. Titles published quarterly in English include ''Planet'' and ''Poetry Wales''. Welsh-language magazines include the current affairs titles ''Golwg'' ("View"), published weekly, and ''Barn (Welsh magazine), Barn'' ("Opinion"), published monthly. Among the specialist magazines, ''Y Wawr'' ("The Dawn") is published quarterly by ''Merched y Wawr'', the national organisation for women. ''Y Traethodydd'' ("The Essayist"), a quarterly publication by the
Presbyterian Church of Wales The Presbyterian Church of Wales ( cy, Eglwys Bresbyteraidd Cymru), also known as Calvinistic Methodist Church (), is a denomination of Protestant Christianity in Wales. History The church was born out of the Welsh Methodist revival and the ...
, first appeared in 1845 and is the oldest Welsh publication still in print.


Cuisine

Traditional Welsh dishes include laverbread (made from ''Porphyra umbilicalis'', an edible seaweed); bara brith (fruit bread); cawl (a lamb stew); cawl cennin (leek soup); and Welsh cakes. Cockle (bivalve), Cockles are sometimes served as a traditional breakfast with bacon and laverbread. Although Wales has its own traditional food and has absorbed much of the cuisine of England, Welsh diets now owe more to the countries of Indian cuisine, India, Chinese cuisine, China and the Cuisine of the United States, United States. Chicken tikka masala is the country's favourite dish while hamburgers and Chinese food outsell fish and chips as takeaways.Davies (2008) p.293


Performing arts


Music and festivals

Wales is often referred to as "the land of song", notable for its harpists, male choirs, and solo artists. The main festival of music and poetry is the annual ''National Eisteddfod''. The ''Llangollen International Eisteddfod'' provides an opportunity for the singers and musicians of the world to perform. The Welsh Folk Song Society has published a number of collections of songs and tunes. Traditional instruments of Wales include ''telyn deires'' (triple harp), fiddle, ''crwth'' (bowed lyre), ''pibgorn'' (hornpipe) and other instruments. Male voice choirs emerged in the 19th century, formed as the tenor and bass sections of chapel choirs, and embraced the popular secular hymns of the day.Davies (2008), p. 532. Many of the historic choirs survive in modern Wales, singing a mixture of traditional and popular songs. The BBC National Orchestra of Wales performs in Wales and internationally. The Welsh National Opera is based at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay, while the National Youth Orchestra of Wales was the first of its type in the world. Wales has a tradition of producing notable singers, including Geraint Evans, Gwyneth Jones (soprano), Gwyneth Jones, Anne Evans (soprano), Anne Evans, Margaret Price, Tom Jones (singer), Tom Jones, Bonnie Tyler, Bryn Terfel, Mary Hopkin, Charlotte Church, Donna Lewis, Katherine Jenkins, and Shirley Bassey. Popular bands that emerged from Wales include Badfinger, the Manic Street Preachers, the Stereophonics and Feeder (band), Feeder, the Super Furry Animals and Catatonia (band), Catatonia. The Welsh traditional and folk music scene is in resurgence with performers such as Sian James (musician), Siân James


Drama and dance

The earliest surviving Welsh plays are two medieval miracle plays, ''Y Tri Brenin o Gwlen'' ("The three Kings from Cologne") and ''Y Dioddefaint a'r Atgyfodiad'' ("The Passion and the Resurrection"). A recognised Welsh tradition of theatre emerged during the 18th century, in the form of an Play (theatre), interlude, a metrical play performed at fairs and markets. Drama in the early 20th century thrived, but the country established neither a Welsh National Theatre nor a national ballet company. After the Second World War the substantial number of amateur companies that had existed before the outbreak of hostilities reduced by two-thirds.Davies (2008) p. 224 Competition from television in the mid-20th century led to greater professionalism in the theatre. Plays by Emlyn Williams and Alun Owen and others were staged, while Welsh actors, including Richard Burton and Stanley Baker, were establishing themselves as artistic talents. Anthony Hopkins is an alumnus of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, and other notable Welsh actors include Michael Sheen and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Wales has also produced well known comedians including Rob Brydon, Tommy Cooper, Terry Jones, and Harry Secombe. Traditional dances include Welsh Welsh dance, folk dancing and Welsh stepdance, clog dancing. The first mention of dancing in Wales is in a 12th-century account by Gerald of Wales, Giraldus Cambrensis, but by the 19th century traditional dance had all but died out due to religious opposition.Davies (2008) p. 192 In the 20th century a revival was led by Lois Blake (1890–1974). Clog dancing was preserved and developed by Hywel Wood (1882–1967) and others who perpetuated the art on local and national stages.Davies (2008) p. 193 The Welsh Folk Dance Society was founded in 1949; it supports a network of national amateur dance teams and publishes support material. Contemporary dance grew out of Cardiff in the 1970s; one of the earliest companies, ''Moving Being'', came from London to Cardiff in 1973. ''Diversions'' was formed in 1983, eventually becoming the National Dance Company Wales, now the resident company at the Wales Millennium Centre.


Holidays

Wales has some unique celebratory days. An early festivity was Gŵyl Mabsant, Mabsant when local parishes would celebrate the patron saint of their local church. Wales's national day is Saint David's Day, marked on 1 March, believed to be the date of David's death in the year 589. Dydd Santes Dwynwen (St Dwynwen's Day) commemorates the local patron saint of friendship and love. It is celebrated on 25 January in a similar way to St Valentine's Day. Calan Gaeaf (in Celtic tradition, the first day of winter), associated with the supernatural and the dead, is observed on 1 November (All Saints Day). It has largely been replaced by Hallowe'en. Other festivities include Calan Mai (May Day), celebrating the beginning of summer; Calan Awst (Lammas Day); and Gŵyl Fair y Canhwyllau (Candlemas Day).


See also

* List of movements in Wales * Outline of Wales * Y Wladfa: Welsh settlement in Argentina


Notes


Citations


General sources

* Census 2001
''200 Years of the Census in ... Wales'' (2001)
* *


External links


Senedd Cymru – Welsh Parliament

BBC Wales
*
VisitWales.com
The official international guide to places to stay and things to do in Wales.
Wales – Official Gateway to Wales

Gathering the Jewels – Welsh Heritage and Culture

Photographs of Wales
on Geograph Britain and Ireland
Further historical information and sources at GENUKI
{{Authority control Wales, Celtic nations Articles containing video clips Great Britain English-speaking countries and territories Island countries NUTS 1 statistical regions of the United Kingdom United Kingdom by country Countries of Europe with multiple official languages