Wales (Welsh: Cymru; pronounced 'Kumree') is situated on a peninsula of Great Britain. It is bordered by England to the east, the Bristol Channel to the south, and the Irish Sea to the west and north. Population: 2,903,085
The land area is just over 8,000 square miles and Wales measures 160 miles long by 60 miles wide. Wales has extensive tracts of high plateaux with mountain ranges deeply dissected by river valleys radiating from the centre of the upland area. The lowland area is confined mainly to the relatively narrow coastal belts and the valley floors. Snowdon is the highest mountain at 3,650 feet. The coastline is almost 750 miles long (1,200 Km.) there are several islands off the north and west coasts, with Anglesey being the largest.
Wales has a temperate climate. May, June, July and August are the sunniest and driest months.
The language of Wales, more properly called Cymraeg, belongs to a branch of Celtic, a language that has been spoken in Europe for over 4,000 years and which was once the dominant language of Europe, from the British Isle in the North to the Middle East in the south. The Welsh themselves are descendants of the Galatians, to whom Paul wrote his famous letter. Their language is a distant cousin to Irish and Scots Gaelic and a close brother to Breton. Welsh is still used by about half a million people within Wales and possibly another few hundred thousand in England and other areas overseas. Although English is the every day language for most Welsh people, nearly 20% of the population still speak Welsh, mainly in the north and the teaching of welsh in schools has steadied the decline of the language to some extent.
The main population and industrial areas are in South Wales, including the capital, Cardiff, and the other two major cities, Swansea and Newport. Wales is a land of small farms. Sheep farming is predominant in the mountains and moor lands, dairy and mixed farming around the coast. The old heavy industries that once made the port of Cardiff (the capital city) the busiest in the world have declined to such an extent that even coal mining has almost ceased in Wales. British governments have attracted English and multi-national companies to Wales with generous incentives but unemployment is still higher than the average for Britain. However, so this may change as recent years have seen a strong growth in the science and technology sectors. Tourism has become a major growth industry in the north, west and south west.
The British Celts were forced westwards under sustained invasions from Romans, Vikings and Anglo-Saxons. The Anglo Saxon English kings never ruled Wales, and at the Norman invasion Wales was a collection of small kingdoms. It took the Normans over 200 years to control the whole of Wales. The last major Welsh uprising was by Owain Glyndwr between 1400 and 1408. The need for labour in the south Wales coalfields brought an influx of English into this area, which brought about an erosion of the Welsh language, though Welsh continued to be spoken extensively in North Wales. Today the mining of Welsh coal has all but disappeared, but the language continues to be spoken reasonably widely as a second language. Wales has been governed from London via the Welsh Office, under a cabinet minister. Following the referendum on limited devolution in 1997, the Welsh were seen to be virtually equally spilt on the subject, with the more rural "Welsh" areas being for devolution, and the more industrial areas being against it. Like the other three nations of the UK, it does not issue its own currency, it now has its own national government, but it is not in control of any armed forces.
Wales (Welsh: Cymru; pronounced 'Kumree' approximate pronunciation) is one of the four major nations comprising the United Kingdom (UK). Wales has had no real independence since 1282 when it was conquered by the English King Edward I. Like the other three nations of the UK, it does not issue its own currency, it now has its own national government, but it is not in control of any armed forces. Wales is divided into 22 unitary authorities. There are 9 counties, 3 cities, and 10 county boroughs, although all have equal status. They came into being on April 1, 1996.
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