What Do You Know about Wales? Why Is Wales Great?
Wales is a principality within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Capital, Cardiff; area about 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales is surrounded by the sea on three sides. The country was settled by Celts in prehistoric times, and came under Roman rule during the 1st century AD. It resisted the Anglo-Saxon invasions, but was conquered by Edward 1 of England in 1284, becoming a principality. There were several rebellions against English rule but Wales was finally united with England in 1536.
Wales is well known for its hills and mountains, with the highest mountains found in the northwest of the country. The highest peaks are in Snowdonia, in the north where Snowdon, the highest mountain in England and Wales is 1085m (3560ft) high. The only large lowland areas are the southern plains, where most of the population and industry are concentrated, the Lleyn peninsula and the island of Anglesey, off the north-west coast. Central Wales, where the soil is poor with many bogs, has few people.
Wales has a population of just over 3 million people. Nearly a quarter of the population can speak Welsh. Most Welsh speakers live in the north and southwest. The Welsh language (Cymraeg) is the oldest language in Britain; it could be up to 4,000 years old. There is a real effort to preserve the Welsh language; the Welsh-language television station, SC4, broadcasts in Wales, and there are around 450 Welsh-medium primary schools (25 per cent of Year 2 children are taught in Welsh as their main language).
The large, rich coalfields of South Wales support a number of large mining and industrial towns, containing about two-thirds of the total population. South Wales was once the largest coal-exporting region in the world, but it has been seriously affected by the economic recession of the 1970s and the 1980s. The steel industry has also diminished. In recent years many new industries have been introduced, but unemployment is still high.
The climate of Wales is mild and damp and the more mountainous regions have a high rainfall. Agriculture plays an important part in the economy though, due to the nature of the soils and climate, dairying and sheep-raising are more important than crop-raising.
Wales is perhaps best known for its fierce patriotism, its breath-taking coastlines, its melodic male voice choirs, and now, its European Championship-storming football team. And for a country that’s just over 8000 square miles in area and where sheep outnumber humans four to one, it’s pretty impressive to note that some of the world’s finest writers and artists, actors and musicians, politicians and historians hail from the small country of Cymru.
Few facts about Wales
**As in Northern Ireland and Scotland, Wales has its own devolved government – the National Assembly for Wales – which governs many aspects of Welsh life including health and education. In other matters (taxation, foreign policy, criminal law) Wales is governed by the UK-wide parliament based in London.
**The longest and fastest zip wire rides in Europe are in Bethesda, North Wales.
**The Mabinogion is a collection of Welsh traditional stories that’s over 1000 years old! It features dragons, giants, enchanted trees and brave heroes and heroines.
**The Welsh national game is rugby.
**After many battles to maintain independence, Wales was annexed by the English in the thirteenth century and politically united with England under the Tudor monarchs.
**The deepest cave in Britain, Ogof Ffynnon Dddu, is in Wales. It’s 1,010ft (304m) deep!