Population: 3,063,500 (est.)
Language(s): English, Welsh
National Dish: Haggis, neeps and tatties.
- The GBP£ is the official currency of Wales.
- The largest religion in Wales is Christianity, with 57.6% of the population describing themselves as Christian in the 2011 census.
- Wales has the largest percentage of non religious people in the UK with around 32.1%.
- Wales’ economy depends on the public sector, light and service industries, and tourism.
- Wales lies within the north temperate zone. It has a changeable, maritime climate and is one of the wettest countries in Europe.
- Welsh weather is often cloudy, wet and windy, with warm summers and mild winters.
- Mount Everest was named after Welshman Sir George Everest from Gwernvale, Breconshire.
- Only 21% of the entire Welsh population of Wales can speak the native language.
- The population sheep in Wales is four times greater than the Welsh population of humans.
- Wales is the only part of the UK not to be represented on the Union Flag (Union Jack).
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It had a population in 2011 of 3,064,000, and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,200 km (750 mi) of coastline, and is largely mountainous, with its highest 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.
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 Gruffydd’s death in 1282 marked the completion of Edward I of England‘s conquest of Wales, though Owain Glynd?r briefly restored independence to what was to become modern 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 1535–1542. Distinctive Welsh politics developed in the 19th century. Welsh Liberalism, exemplified in the early 20th century by Lloyd George, was displaced by the growth of socialism and the Labour Party. Welsh national feeling grew over the century; Plaid Cymru was formed in 1925 and the Welsh Language Society in 1962. Established under the Government of Wales Act 1998, the National Assembly for Wales holds responsibility for a range of devolved policy matters.
At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, development of the mining and metallurgical industries transformed the country from an agricultural society into an industrial nation; the south Wales coalfield’s exploitation causing a rapid expansion of Wales’ population. Two-thirds of the population now live in south Wales, mainly in and around Cardiff (the capital), Swansea and Newport, and in the nearby valleys. Today, with the country’s traditional extractive and heavy industries either gone or in decline, Wales’ economy depends on the public sector, light and service industries, and tourism. Wales’ 2010 Gross Value Added (GVA) was £45.5 billion (£15,145 per head); 74.0 per cent of the average for the UK total, the lowest GVA per head in Britain.
Although Wales shares a close political and social history with the rest of Great Britain, and almost everyone speaks English, the country has retained a distinct cultural identity and is officially bilingual. Over 580,000 Welsh language speakers live in Wales, where it is spoken by a majority of the population in parts of the north and west. From the late 19th century onwards, Wales acquired its popular image as the “land of song”, attributable in part to the eisteddfod tradition. At international sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup, Rugby World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, Wales is represented by national teams, though at the Olympic Games, Welsh athletes compete as part of a Great Britain team. Rugby union is seen as a symbol of Welsh identity and an expression of national consciousness.