This is a good article. Click here for more information.
Page semi-protected

Wales

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Wales
Cymru (Welsh)
Anthem: "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau"
("Land of My Fathers")
Location of Wales (dark green) – in Europe (green & dark grey) – in the United Kingdom (green)
Location of Wales (dark green)

– in Europe (green & dark grey)
– in the United Kingdom (green)

StatusCountry
Capital
and largest city
Cardiff
51°29′N 3°11′W / 51.483°N 3.183°W / 51.483; -3.183
Coordinates: 52°18′N 3°36′W / 52.3°N 3.6°W / 52.3; -3.6
Official languages
Ethnic groups
(2011)
Religion
(2022)
Demonym(s)Welsh
GovernmentDevolved parliamentary legislature within parliamentary constitutional monarchy
• Monarch
Charles III
Mark Drakeford
Parliament of the United Kingdom
• Secretary of StateRobert Buckland
• House of Commons40 MPs (of 650)
LegislatureSenedd
Formation
• Unification by Gruffydd ap Llywelyn
1057[1]
3 March 1284
1543
27 July 1967
31 July 1998
Area
• Total
20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi)
Population
• 2022 estimate
Neutral increase 3,267,501[6]
• 2021 census
Neutral increase 3,107,500[7]
• Density
150/km2 (388.5/sq mi)
GVA2022 estimate
 • Total£98.3 billion
($117B)[8]
 • Per capita£21,010
($25,195)[9]
HDI (2019)Increase 0.901[10]
very high · 11th
CurrencyPound sterling (GBP£)
Time zoneUTC (Greenwich Mean Time)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+1 (British Summer Time)
Date formatdd/mm/yyyy (AD)
Driving sideleft
Calling code+44
ISO 3166 codeGB-WLS
Internet TLD.wales .cymru [a]
Website
wales.com
  1. ^ Both .wales and .cymru are not ccTLDs, but GeoTLDs, open to use by all people in Wales and related to Wales. .uk as part of the United Kingdom is also used. ISO 3166-1 is GB, but .gb is unused.

Wales (Welsh: Cymru [ˈkəm.rɨ] (listen)) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom.[11] It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Celtic Sea 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 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. The conquest of Wales by Edward I of England was completed by 1283, though Owain Glyndŵr led the Welsh Revolt against English rule in the early 15th century and briefly re-established an independent Welsh principality. 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. A governing system of Welsh devolution is employed in Wales, of which the most major step was the formation of the Senedd (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 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 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. Agriculture in Wales 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 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 560,000 Welsh-speakers across the whole country.

Etymology

The English words "Wales" and "Welsh" derive from the same Old English root (singular Wealh, plural Wēalas), a descendant of Proto-Germanic *Walhaz, 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.[12] Anglo-Saxons came to use the term to refer to the Britons in particular; the plural form Wēalas evolved into the name for their territory, Wales.[13][14] Historically in Britain, 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 in West Yorkshire).[15]

The modern Welsh name for themselves is Cymry, and Cymru is the Welsh name for Wales. These words (both of which are pronounced [ˈkəm.rɨ]) are descended from the Brythonic word combrogi, meaning "fellow-countrymen",[16][17] and probably came into use before the 7th century.[18] In literature, they could be spelt Kymry or Cymry, regardless of whether it referred to the people or their homeland.[16] The Latinised forms of these names, Cambrian, Cambric and Cambria, survive as names such as the Cambrian Mountains and the Cambrian geological period.[19]

History

Prehistoric origins

Map of the Roman invasion of Wales.

Wales has been inhabited by modern humans for at least 29,000 years[20] 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 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.[21] By the beginning of the Neolithic (c. 6,000 BP) sea levels in the Bristol Channel were still about 33 feet (10 metres) lower than today.[22] The historian John Davies theorised that the story of Cantre'r Gwaelod'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.[23]

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.[23][24] 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, Bryn Celli Ddu, and Parc Cwm long cairn between about 5,800 BP and 5,500 BP.[25] Over the following centuries they assimilated immigrants and adopted ideas from Bronze Age and Iron Age 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.[26] This "Atlantic-Celtic" view is opposed by others who hold that the Celtic languages derive their origins from the more easterly Hallstatt culture.[27] By the time of the Roman invasion of Britain the area of modern Wales had been divided among the tribes of the Deceangli (north-east), Ordovices (north-west), Demetae (south-west), Silures (south-east) and Cornovii (east), centuries.[23][28]

Leader of the Ordovices, Caractacus or Caradog, was successful in resisting Roman invasions of north Wales for a period.[29] 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.[30]

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.[31] The only town in Wales founded by the Romans, Caerwent, is in south east Wales.[32] Both Caerwent and Carmarthen, also in southern Wales, became Roman civitates.[33] Wales had a rich mineral wealth. The Romans used their engineering technology to extract large amounts of gold, copper and lead, as well as lesser amounts of zinc and silver.[34] No significant industries were located in Wales in this time;[34] 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 to all free men throughout the Empire.[35] Further Roman influence came through the spread of Christianity, which gained many followers when Christians were allowed to worship freely; state persecution ceased in the 4th century, as a result of Constantine I issuing an edict of toleration in 313.[35]

Early historians, including the 6th-century cleric Gildas, have noted 383 as a significant point in Welsh history.[36] 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.[37] The earliest Welsh genealogies cite Maximus as the founder of several royal dynasties,[38] and as the father of the Welsh Nation.[36] 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.[39]

Post-Roman era

Britain in AD 500: The areas shaded pink on the map were inhabited by the Britons, here labelled Welsh. The pale blue areas in the east were controlled by Germanic tribes, whilst the pale green areas to the north were inhabited by the Gaels and Picts

The 400-year period following the collapse of Roman rule is the most difficult to interpret in the history of Wales.[35] 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, 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.[40] By AD 500 the land that would become Wales had divided into a number of kingdoms free from Anglo-Saxon rule.[35] The kingdoms of Gwynedd, Powys, Dyfed and Seisyllwg, Morgannwg and Gwent emerged as independent Welsh successor states.[35] 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.[41] John Davies notes this as consistent with a victory for the Celtic Britons at Badon Hill against the Saxons, which was attributed to Arthur by Nennius.[41]

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. According to Davies, this have 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.[42] 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.[43] King Offa of Mercia seems to have continued this initiative when he created a larger earthwork, now known as Offa's Dyke (Clawdd Offa). 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."[42] However, Fox's interpretations of both the length and purpose of the Dyke have been questioned by more recent research.[44]

In 853, the

The southern and eastern parts of Great Britain lost to English settlement became known in Welsh as Lloegyr (Modern Welsh Lloegr), which may have referred to the kingdom of Mercia originally and which came to refer to England as a whole.[a] The Germanic tribes who now dominated these lands were invariably called Saeson, meaning "Saxons". The Anglo-Saxons called the Romano-British *Walha, meaning 'Romanised foreigner' or 'stranger'.[48] The Welsh continued to call themselves Brythoniaid (Brythons or Britons) well into the Middle Ages, though the first written evidence of the use of Cymru and y Cymry is found in a praise poem to Cadwallon ap Cadfan (Moliant Cadwallon, by Afan Ferddig) c. 633.[13] In Armes Prydain, believed to be written around 930–942, the words Cymry and Cymro are used as often as 15 times.[49] However, from the Anglo-Saxon settlement onwards, the people gradually begin to adopt the name Cymry over Brythoniad.[50]

From 800 onwards, a series of dynastic marriages led to Rhodri Mawr's (r. 844–77) inheritance of Gwynedd and Powys. His sons founded the three dynasties of (Aberffraw for Gwynedd, Dinefwr for Deheubarth and Mathrafal for Powys). Rhodri's grandson Hywel Dda (r. 900–50) founded Deheubarth out of his maternal and paternal inheritances of Dyfed and Seisyllwg in 930, ousted the Aberffraw dynasty from Gwynedd and Powys and then codified Welsh law in the 940s.[51] Maredudd ab Owain (r. 986–99) of Deheubarth, (Hywel's grandson), temporarily ousted the Aberffraw line from control of Gwynedd and Powys. Maredudd's great-grandson (through his daughter Princess Angharad) Gruffydd ap Llywelyn (r. 1039–63) conquered his cousins' realms from his base in Powys, and extended his authority into England.

High to late middle ages

Gruffydd ap Llywelyn 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 Deheubarth.[52] 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[53] His territories were again divided into the traditional kingdoms.[54] John Davies states that Gruffydd 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 Gruffydd ap Llywelyn. For about seven brief years, Wales was one, under one ruler, a feat with neither precedent nor successor."[1] Owain Gwynedd (1100–70) of the Aberffraw line was the first Welsh ruler to use the title princeps Wallensium (prince of the Welsh), a title of substance given his victory on the Berwyn Mountains, according to John Davies.[55] During this time, between 1053 and 1063, Wales lacked any internal strife and was at peace.[56]

Within four years of the Battle of Hastings (1066), England had been completely subjugated by the Normans.[1] 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).[57] 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 Marchia Wallie, the Welsh Marches, in which the Marcher Lords were subject to neither English nor Welsh law.[58] The extent of the March varied as the fortunes of the Marcher Lords and the Welsh princes ebbed and flowed.[59]

Owain Gwynedd's grandson

The statue of a man in a tunic and short cape clasped at his right shoulder, sculpted in white stone. The figure, set indoors with its back to an arched window, holds a down-pointed sword in his right hand and a scroll in his left.
Statue of Owain Glyndŵr (c. 1354 or 1359 – c. 1416) at Cardiff City Hall

After the failed revolt in 1294–95 of Madog ap Llywelyn – who styled himself Prince of Wales in the Penmachno Document – and the rising of Llywelyn Bren (1316), the last uprising was led by Owain Glyndŵr, against Henry IV of England. In 1404, Owain was reputedly crowned Prince of Wales in the presence of emissaries from France, Spain and Scotland.[68] Glyndŵr went on to hold parliamentary assemblies at several Welsh towns, including Machynlleth. The rebellion failed, Owain went into hiding, and nothing was known of him after 1413.[69]