Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the east, the Severn Estuary to the south-east, the Bristol Channel to the south-west and the Irish Sea to the west and north. It had an estimated population of 3,170,000 in 2020 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate. The capital and largest city is Cardiff.
Welsh national identity emerged among the Celtic Britons after the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the 5th century, and Wales is regarded as one of the modern Celtic nations. Llywelyn ap Gruffudd’s death in 1282 marked the completion of Edward I of England’s conquest of Wales, though Owain Glyndŵr briefly restored independence to Wales in the early 15th century. The whole of Wales was annexed by England and incorporated within the English legal system under the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. 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 and the Labour Party. Welsh national feeling grew over the century; a nationalist party, Plaid Cymru was formed in 1925, and the Welsh Language Society in 1962. Welsh devolution gained momentum during the 20th century and following the 1997 Welsh devolution referendum, the Senedd (Welsh Parliament) was formed in 1999, and has gained further devolution since.
At the dawn of the industrial revolution in Wales, development of the mining and metallurgical industries transformed the country from an agricultural society into an industrial nation; the South Wales Coalfield’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 has about a sixth of the overall population with Wrexham being the largest northern town. 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. In livestock farming, including dairy farming, Wales is a net exporter, contributing towards national agricultural self-sufficiency.
Wales closely shares aspects of political and social history with the rest of the UK, and a majority of the population in most areas speaks English as a first language, but the country has a distinct Welsh culture and identity. Both Welsh and English are official languages; Welsh is spoken by 20-30% of the population and 560,000 Welsh-speakers live in Wales. In some parts of the north and west, Welsh is spoken by a majority of the population. From the late 19th century onwards, Wales acquired its popular image as the “land of song”, in part due to the eisteddfod tradition. At many international sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup, Rugby World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, Wales has its own national team. At the Olympic Games, Welsh athletes compete as part of Team GB. The Wales national rugby union team and the Wales national football team are both expressions of Welsh identity. National rugby games are more heavily supported whilst football enjoys more participation in Wales. (Wikipedia)
(via The National Library of Wales)