Wales – the most detailed information about the country with photos. Attractions, cities of Wales, climate, geography, population and culture.
Wales or Cymru
Wales is a country in southwestern Britain, which is an administrative part of the United Kingdom. It borders with England in the east and is surrounded on three sides by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean (Bristol Bay in the south, the St. George’s Channel in the southwest and the Irish Sea in the northwest). Wales is the smallest of the administrative and political units of the island of Great Britain, which has its own character, culture and way of life.
Wales is a region with a rich history and amazing natural beauty. The country has an authentic Celtic culture, which is different from the culture of England and Scotland. Wales attracts many tourists with its wonderful castles and stunning scenery of mountains and sea coast.
Flag of Wales
Useful information about Wales
- Population is more than 3 million people.
- Area: 20,779 km².
- Currency: pound sterling.
- Language: English and Welsh.
- Time – UTC 0, +1 in summer.
- The United Kingdom is not a member of the Schengen Agreement. Visas can be obtained by visiting in person at accredited visa centers, which are located in Moscow, Novosibirsk, St. Petersburg, Rostov-on-Don and Yekaterinburg.
- Wales is one of the safest areas of the United Kingdom. The greatest danger is Welsh people drinking too much alcohol (especially after a sporting event). But tourists are very rarely the target.
Geography and Nature
Wales is a mainly mountainous country, occupying the south-western part of the island of Britain. It has land borders with England and more than 1,000 km of sea coast with dozens of islands on its shores. The most populated south of Wales, where the largest cities are located. In the north-west lies the mountain range of Snowdonia, where the highest point of Wales is Mount Snowdon (1085 m). To the south lies the Brecon Beacons mountain range, and in the central part are the Cambrian Mountains.
The Mountains of Wales
The wildlife of Wales is typical of Britain. Although there are some differences. Because of the long coastline there are many bird colonies in Wales. Large mammals are almost non-existent in Britain. Wild goats, weasel, ermine, otter, and marten are preserved in Wales. Welsh rivers and seas are rich in fish.
Wales has a temperate maritime climate. The weather is usually mild, windy and wet. Throughout the year, westerly winds prevail. The rainiest period is from October to January. In the mountains the climate is a little harsher.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Wales is between May and September. It’s quite warm during this time, and the long daylight hours will allow you to cover everything as much as possible. The highest season is July and August.
The first written accounts of Wales date from the Roman era. At that time the west of Britain was inhabited by Celtic tribes (the most numerous were the Ordovician and Silurian). The Romans built several forts and fortresses here. In the 5th century, the Roman Empire fell into decline. The Romans left the territory of Britain. In the early 5th century the territory of modern Wales was inhabited by the Britons, who united into several small kingdoms. In the early Middle Ages the Welsh were overrun by the Anglo-Saxons, whose kingdom in the 8th century built an earthwork on the border with Wales. It was during this period that the beginnings of Welsh culture and national consciousness began.
The name of the country comes from the English word “Wales,” which most likely came from the name of the Celtic tribes (the Volk). The Welsh name of the country is Cymru, which translates from the Brit language as “countrymen.
The Coast of Wales
In the 11th century (after the Norman conquest of Britain), Wales began to gradually come under the rule of the English crown. In the late 13th century, the English finally conquered the whole of its territory. They then built several mighty castles there. Wales was finally integrated into the English kingdom in the 16th century and since then its history has been inextricably linked to that of England.
Before the Industrial Revolution, Wales was a sparsely populated country, with most of its population engaged in agriculture. But coal deposits and industrial construction in its south caused the economy and population to grow rapidly. In the 18th and 19th centuries Wales became an important industrial region. And its largest cities (Cardiff and Swansea) were among the centers of Western Britain.
The territory of Wales is divided into 22 counties, among which 9 counties, 3 cities with city status and 10 county towns.
Regionally, Wales can be divided into three regions:
- North Wales – mountainous terrain with provincial rural areas.
- Middle Wales is a sparsely populated region of mountains, heathland, forests, broad river valleys and sea coast.
- South Wales is the most urbanized region with stunning seascapes.
The Coast of Wales
The main airport is located in Cardiff. It has regular connections to other cities in Britain and some major cities in Europe. To get to South Wales you can go to Bristol Airport, to Central Wales to Birmingham, to North Wales to Liverpool or Manchester. The capital of Wales is connected by rail to London and other major cities in England.
Cities in Wales
– The capital and largest city of Wales, as well as a major tourist, cultural and industrial center of Western Britain.
- Swansea is the second largest city in Wales and a major port.
- Aberystwyth is a university town in the county of Ceredigion.
- Carnarvon is a historic town with a well-preserved medieval castle.
- Conwy is another Welsh town with an impressive medieval castle.
- Llandudno is the largest resort in North Wales.
- Wrexham is the largest city in North Wales.
Attractions in Wales
St David’s Cathedral
St. David’s Cathedral is a magnificent medieval Gothic church founded in the 12th century and dedicated to the patron saint of Wales.
Conwy is an impressive medieval castle in beautiful Snowdonia. This mighty fortress was founded in 1283 at the mouth of the river of the same name.
Carnarvon is a massive castle with 13 towers and two gates, which is considered one of the most impressive and well-preserved medieval fortresses in Europe. The castle was founded in the 13th century and is one of the largest of its kind in Britain.
Llangollen Aqueduct and Canal
The Llangollen Aqueduct and Canal is a magnificent example of civil engineering and construction and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an 18-arch bridge, built of stone and cast iron, that crosses the valley of the River Dee.
Snowdonia is a beautiful ridge of low mountains and hills that is considered one of Britain’s most picturesque places.
Brecon Beacons is a national park and one of the most beautiful parts of Wales, famous for its wild ponies and red sandstone mountains.
Pembrokeshire is on the coast of the Pembrokeshire Peninsula, which is washed by the Irish Sea. The place is famous for its picturesque cliffs, pretty fishing harbors and villages.
Wales is quite popular with tourists because of its beautiful nature. Finding accommodation (if you do it beforehand) shouldn’t be a problem. In the countryside, small hotels are combined with pubs.
Welsh cuisine is characterized by simplicity and does not cause associations with any particular dish. It is a popular traditional food:
- Roast lamb, served with mint sauce and vegetables.
- Cawl – broth of lamb.
- Bara brith – sweet bread with dried fruit.
- Welsh Rarebit – a dish of melted cheese, seasoned with onions, ale, and herbs, served in toasted bread.
- Laverbread – seaweed scones.
Wales is known for quality whiskey, excellent beer and apple cider.
Excursions of interest
£130 for a guided tour
History of London coffee and tea
Learn where and how the culture of tea and coffee drinking was born and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of those glorious times
Lera 5 26
£150 for a guided tour
Robert Lewis Stevenson’s pictorial notes
Discover Edinburgh as the Scotsman lived it.
A History of Wales
Archaeological evidence tells us that Man has been settled in Wales since prehistoric times some 200,000 years ago. The Celts came over from Europe around 600 BC and brought the distinctive Welsh characteristics of hospitality, language and imagination with them. When the ancient Romans later began to rule the territory, that time was considered an auspicious rule.
In Wales, the oldest human remains found is the jaw of a Neanderthal, which was discovered during the excavations of the Paleolithic site in the Elwy River valley in Pontnewidda (North Wales). The owner of this bone lived in the Early Palaeolithic period, ie about 230 thousand years ago. Ten thousand years ago, Wales was already similar to what it looks today; in Mesolithic times it was inhabited by hunter-gatherers. The earliest farming communities appeared about 6,000 years ago and the Neolithic period began. It is characterized by the abundance of burials in the form of cromlechs or dolmens. The Early Bronze Age (2500-1400 B.C.) was a little warmer than today and so many remains from that period can be found in the now colder uplands. Until recently the prehistoric period of Wales was represented as a chain of successive migrations, but now there is more talk about the sedentarization of the local population. It is now believed that it was 4,000 years ago that the bulk of the indigenous population formed in Wales. Genetic studies of the natives indicate that the gene pool remained continuous throughout the Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic. The formation of the Briton languages throughout Britain is attributed more to the accumulation of “Celticness” than to migrations.
The Roman army reached the present borders of Wales in 48, requiring a series of conquests. The entire southwestern region of Britain began to be ruled by a Roman viceroy. But until the final conquest of these lands occurred in 78, successive viceroys had to resume military action in Wales from time to time. These repeated military campaigns are the most important feature of that period of Welsh history. The fact is that two tribes, the Ordovician and the Silurian, fought a determined but unsuccessful war to defend their lands against the Romans. By that time it was mostly inhabited by Brittish-speaking and Celtic-speaking peoples, whose symbiosis eventually melted into the Welsh language. In the first century the ethnic diversity of the country was represented by five tribes. By 78, the Roman conquest of Wales was complete. Except for the coastal southern regions of Wales east of Gower, Roman rule was reduced to military occupation. It was in southern Wales that the Romans founded their two cities of Caerwent and Carmarthen. At the time of the Roman occupation, the region and its people were little-known backwaters of Roman Britain, and only later would it become Wales. The Demetes tribe in southwest Wales quickly negotiated with the invaders, so there is no trace of battles with the legions there. Also, the homeland of the Demetes did not have a dense network of roads and defensive forts. But they became the only Welsh tribe that, after Roman rule, managed to retain their territory and tribal name. In 383 an important event occurred in the history of Wales, marked in historical records as the moment when a number of royal dynasties were founded. The Roman general Magnus Maximus, supported by his troops, declared himself emperor in that year. After that, he went to Gaul and took with him most of the garrison guarding the west and north of Britain (he needed the troops to overthrow the emperor Gratian). He placed Brittish nobles in key posts in what was left of Britain, and put his children in charge of the Welsh principalities.
After the withdrawal of the Roman armies, various lands in Britain gained their freedom. By this time there were many Irish settlers in the south-west of the island, as evidenced by the many inscriptions in Ogham script. Then came the Age of the Saints, from about 500 to 700, when Wales began to convert to Christianity. Monastic settlements began to appear all over the country, led by religious leaders who were later made saints, such as Hiltud, David and Teilo. One of the actual reasons for the Roman withdrawal was the increasing pressure on the empire by barbarian tribes pressing in from the east. These tribes included the Angles and Saxons, from whom the English were later formed. But these tribes gradually conquered the south and east of Britain, however, they failed to invade the territory of Wales. After the Romans left in the fifth century, Wales was divided into a number of regions, but in the ninth and eleventh centuries these were reunited through the activity of the kings of the time. One of these was Gowell the Good (died in 950) who was nicknamed “the Lawgiver. He drew up a collection of laws which were in force throughout Wales. The oldest texts dealing with Welsh law date from the thirteenth century, but there are also traces of Gowell’s laws, from which a picture of society in those immemorial times may be seen. For example, in that society it was customary to divide the inheritance among male heirs, which greatly interfered with the establishment of unanimity in the country. In addition, the customs of each clan were paramount in the lives of its members.
After the Norman Conquest
After 1066 a new chapter of Welsh history begins, and it is associated with the conquest of vast English territories by the Norman warriors, led by William the Conqueror. At that time, too, there were unsuccessful attempts to unite the disparate Welsh kingdoms into a single state. Finally, in 1282, the forces of King Edward I conquered Wales, after which the English quickly erected a series of strong fortified castles to control the local population. Gradually England fully assimilated the principality of Wales, and under Henry VIII Welsh law became English. Attempts to return Wales to independence were made in the 13th century by Llewelyn the Last, who in 1267 succeeded in getting Henry III to recognize him as the first Prince of Wales. But the Welsh joy was short-lived, for Edward I – Henry III’s bellicose successor – forced the newly minted monarch to swear allegiance to himself as vassal. In the infamous 1302, the title of Prince of Wales was given to the eldest son of the English king. Edward I later asserted his authority over Wales by building several mighty castles and allowing his own people to found counties and towns in the English style. The last armed challenge to English rule came in 1400, when Owain Glyndwr declared himself head of Wales on the claim that he was a descendant of the North Powys princes. But Henry IV crushed the rebellion with an iron hand, leaving a bitter mark on the Welsh for centuries. In 1485, with Henry VII’s accession, England was ruled by the Tudors, who had some Welsh blood in them. The result was the historic Acts of Union passed by Henry VIII in 1536 and 1542, which brought together the political, legal and administrative institutions of Wales and England.
The Industrial Revolution
In 1707 Wales, governed by England, became part of the kingdom of Great Britain . When the Methodist revival of the church took place in the eighteenth century, religious life in Wales became detached from English life. Around the same time the Industrial Revolution also began. While life in Wales had been quiet as a province until 1730, from then on the Industrial Revolution burst into Wales and combined with the Methodists to give the region a new lease of life. Coal, shale, copper and tin began to be mined here. All this caused an unprecedented increase in population, and the constituent parts of the country rapidly transformed from patriarchal rural communities to urban industrial and mining centers. Nationalism, nonconformism and liberalism grew by leaps and bounds in the smoke-filled cities, while trade unions and the Labor Party base grew.
The rapid growth of coal and iron and steel in the nineteenth century triggered a general growth in the economy and this led to a much larger population in the south of Wales. But by the twentieth century these industries were in decline. At the same time the Welsh national consciousness and patriotic feelings grew. Changes in the status of Wales were brewing and gradually some things were changing:
- In 1925 the Welsh National Party, the Plaid Cymru, was formed;
- In 1942 the Welsh language was officially recognized;
- in 1955 Cardiff was officially recognized as the capital of Wales;
- In 1964 the post of Minister of State for Wales appeared in the British government;
- several seats in the House of Commons are currently held by the Plaid Cymru.
The distinctive culture and language of the Welsh are also recognized. Since 1982 a Welsh-language television channel began to broadcast. It will take years for the development of Welsh society to take a new turn. After all, England continues to control almost everything: defense, international affairs, taxation and most other important public affairs.