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Wales (English)
Cymru (Welsh)
Flag of wales
Wales coat of arms
flag coat of arms
Motto :
Cymru am byth
( "Wales Forever")
Y Ddraig Goch ddyry cychwyn
( "The red dragon advances")
Official language English , Welsh
Capital Cardiff (Caerdydd)
Head of state Queen Elizabeth II ,

Minister for Wales
Simon Hart

Head of government First Minister
Mark Drakeford
surface 20,735 km²
population 3,138,631 (2018)
Population density 151 inhabitants per km²
currency Pound sterling (£, GBP)
National anthem Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau ( Old Land of My Fathers )
Time zone UTC ± 0 GMT
UTC + 1 Wesz
Internet TLD .uk; .wales 1 ; .cymru 1
Phone code +44
1 The top-level domains .wales and .cymru have been available since March 2015.
Frankreich Guernsey Jersey Isle of Man Irland Wales Nordirland England SchottlandLocation of Wales
About this picture
Location of Wales
Template: Infobox State / Maintenance / NAME-GERMAN

Wales ( listen to Welsh Cymru ? / I , old Kymrisch Cymry , from Kom-brogi "compatriots", German outdated Welsh or Wallis , Latin Cambria ) is a part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland . It is located in the west of the island of Great Britain and borders England and the Celtic and Irish Seas . The capital of Wales is Cardiff ( Caerdydd in Welsh ). The country is counted among the six Celtic nations . Audio file / audio sample


The name of the country by the Welsh people as Cymru or Cymry is derived from the Celtic * Kom-broges ("who live on common land"). The English country name Wales, on the other hand, is a foreign name and comes from the Germanic word welsch . This in turn is from the Germanic word walhisc derived which marked only a particular Celtic tribe in southern Germania, the Volken .

Many Germanic tribes therefore called all Celts Walhisc ("Welsche"). However, there was an early tendency to designate all Romansh-speaking ethnic groups as Welsche. The reason for this was probably that almost all Celtic-speaking areas (except Ireland ) were temporarily under Roman control and have been Romanized since the turn of the ages (see also Gaul ), so that the Latin language soon became widely accepted there. For the same reason, in the German-speaking Switzerland , the French-speaking Switzerland , so the French-speaking part of Switzerland, also called "Romandie" or "Welsch Switzerland" called. In South Tyrol , the Italian language is also known as "Walsch" and the Italian-speaking Trentino as Welschtirol . Likewise, in Belgium the name of the French-speaking part of the country, Wallonia , is derived from it.


Wales has a distinct prehistory in which many megalithic structures were built and menhirs were erected. At Llyn Cerrig Bach on Anglesey (Ynys Môn) the most important was the Iron Age sacrificial Depot Britain found.

The Romans built a number of forts in the southern part of the country , the westernmost of which was at Carmarthen ( Latin: Maridunum ). A legionary camp was built near Caerleon (Caerllion) . The adjoining amphitheater is one of the best preserved in Britain. The Romans were also active in the north of Wales.

Wales was never conquered by the Anglo-Saxons due to fierce popular opposition and because of the mountainous terrain , so it remained a Celtic region.

Mark Drakeford , First Minister , at one of the Welsh Government's daily COVID-19 press conferences .

When the Anglo-Saxons spread in the south-east of Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries, many Romanized Celts withdrew to the west, i.e. to today's Cornwall and Wales, which got their names in this way. There they tried for a long time to hold on to Christianity and the Latin language, as the finds from Tintagel Castle prove. Ultimately, however, the Roman and Late Antique culture in Wales was lost, and older Celtic traditions prevailed again, with contacts to Ireland also playing a role.

Wales is said to have been re-Christianized before England and Scotland . According to later tradition, the national saint Saint David (Dewi Sant) made a pilgrimage to Rome in the late 6th century and served as bishop on his return. At that time, the renewed Christianization in the Anglo-Saxon area had only just begun. The Druidic customs, which are said to have survived to this day and are supposedly practiced in parts of Wales, are an invention of 19th century historians . Nothing is known about the actual customs of the Druids, which were exterminated by the Romans.

Shortly after the Norman conquest of England (1066), the Normans began to conquer parts of Wales . Although the Welsh principalities were often at odds with one another, the conquerors were only able to bring parts of the country under their rule. The conquered territories formed the Welsh Marches (Y Mers) , whose barons had greater autonomy over the English kings. In the 13th century the princes of Gwynedd achieved supremacy over the other Welsh princes, and in 1267 the English king had to recognize Llywelyn ap Glyndŵr as prince of Wales . In two campaigns, however, King Edward I was able to defeat the Welsh and conquer Wales by 1283 . The English, later British, heir to the throne bears the title Prince of Wales ("Prince of Wales", Tywysog Cymru ) since that time . There were several rebellions against the strict English rule, the most important of which was the rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr , who declared himself Prince of Wales in 1400 and conquered large parts of Wales. However, from 1405 the English troops succeeded in pushing back the rebels, and by 1409 Owain Glyndŵr was defeated.

The Act of Union, the incorporation of Wales 1535-1542 , finally ended the special status of the Welsh Marches and divided Wales into thirteen counties . English law now also applied in Wales. This meant that English was introduced as the official language , which kept most of the locals away from public office.

Wales has been heavily industrialized in modern times on the basis of extensive coal reserves . The Penrhyn Mine was the largest human hole in the ground at the end of the 19th century. The time between 1830 and 1850 was marked by unrest and uprisings. In 1831 an uprising in Merthyr Tydfil (Merthyr Tudful) was bloodily suppressed. In 1839 the Chartists rebelled in the Newport (Casnewydd) region . In the same year and from 1842 to 1843, representatives of the rural population in South West Wales with a center in Carmarthenshire (Sir Gaerfyrddin) carried out the so-called Rebecca Riots (Helyntion Beca) , which resulted in the abolition of the toll on the new Turnpike Roads . Additional tension was created in 1847 by the publication of a parliamentary report ( Blue Book ) , mainly drawn up by Anglican clergy , which described the population of Wales as lazy and morally weak and blamed their membership of non-conformist churches and their lack of command of the English language. Wales became a stronghold of trade unions , syndicalism and socialism in the decades that followed . The Penrhyn mine was on strike from 1901 to 1903, and occasional clashes did not fail to appear. During this period, the military was also repeatedly used to crush strikes . During a railroad strike in 1911, two workers were shot dead by the military. The first Member of the Labor Party (Plaid Lafur) in Parliament, Keir Hardie , was elected to the Welsh constituency of Merthyr Tydfil (Merthyr Tudful) in 1900 . During this period, religious nonconformism shaped Welsh society.

Welsh nationalism grew in importance in the 20th century. The Plaid Cymru (Party of Wales) , which won its first parliamentary seat in 1966, campaigned for more autonomy and the revitalization of the Welsh language . For the most part, this made devolution a major concern of the Labor Party, and in 1998, following a referendum, the National Assembly for Wales ( Welsh Parliament since May 6, 2020 ) was established, which was given authority over public spending within Wales. On March 2, 2006, a new parliament building opened in Cardiff.

See also: History of Britain , History of the United Kingdom , List of Welsh rulers


Wales satellite image

With 20,735 km² Wales is the smallest part of Great Britain . Wales is west of England . Wales borders the Irish Sea (Môr Iwerddon) in the north, the St. George's Channel (Sianel San Siôr) in the west and the Bristol Channel (Môr Hafren) in the south . The coast is characterized by cliffs and extensive beaches and is over 1200 kilometers long. The interior is characterized by the Cambrian Mountains (Elenydd) , which run through almost all of Wales.


Wales is characterized by extensive meadows, rolling landscapes, moors and mountains. Large areas of Wales are protected landscape areas. The highest mountains in Wales are the Snowdon ( Yr Wyddfa , 1085  m ), the Aran Fawddwy ( 905  m ) and the Cadair Idris ( 893  m ), all located in Gwynedd . There are also three national parks in Wales:

Significant rivers in Wales are the River Dee (Afon Dyfrdwy) , River Clwyd (Afon Clwyd) and River Conwy (Afon Conwy) , which flow into Liverpool Bay (Bae Lerpwl) in north Wales, the rivers that flow westward into the Irish Sea Afon Glaslyn , Mawddach , Ystwyth and River Teifi as well as Afon Tywi , Tawe , River Neath , River Taff and River Wye , which flow into the Bristol Channel .


Wales is located in the northern temperate zone . It has a changeable maritime climate and is one of the wettest countries in Europe . Wales weather is often cloudy, wet and windy, with warm summers and mild winters. The long summer days and short winter days can be explained by the northern latitudes. On the south coast, the climate is considerably milder than in the rest of the country due to the warm ocean currents.

Flora and fauna

Because of its long coastline, Wales is home to a wide variety of sea ​​birds . The coasts and surrounding islands are home to gannets , puffins , kittiwakes , cormorants and razorbills . The country also supports birds that live in the highlands such as the raven or ring owl . Birds of prey, a national symbol of Welsh wildlife, are also found in Wales, including the merlin , hen harrier and red kite .

The largest Welsh mammals became extinct during the Norman era . Today's mammals mainly include mice , badgers , otters , hedgehogs and around fifteen species of bats .

The numerous waters of Wales attract marine animals including basking sharks , gray seals , leatherback turtles , dolphins , porpoises and comparatively small animals such as crabs and crabs .

Natural resources

Wales is rich in coal, iron, copper, lime, shale, lead, tin, zinc and silver. The coastal deposits of coal, iron and lime made the region into one of the most important arenas of the industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries .

Biggest cities

Largest cities in Wales
(according to Office for National Statistics 2011 Census / Swyddfa Ystadegau Gwladol, Cyfrifiad 2011 )
rank Surname Administrative district Residents rank Surname Administrative district Residents
Cardiff Castle and Millennium Stadium.jpg
Cardiff Swansea

Meridian Tower Swansea Skyline.jpg
1 Cardiff
City and County of Cardiff
Dinas a Sir Caerdydd
335.145 11 Caerphilly
Caerphilly County Borough
Bwrdeistref Sirol Caerffili
41,402 Newportciviccentre.jpg
Newport Wrexham

Wrexham - - 163421.jpg
2 Swansea
City & County of Swansea
Dinas a Sir Abertawe
239,000 12 Port Talbot Neath Port Talbot
Castell-nedd Port Talbot
3 Newport
Newport City
Dinas Casnewydd
128.060 13th Pontypridd Rhondda Cynon plate 30,457
4th Wrexham
Wrexham County Borough
Bwrdeistref Sirol Wrecsam
61,603 14th Aberdare
Rhondda Cynon plate 29,748
5 Barry
Y Barri
Vale of Glamorgan
Bro Morgannwg
54,673 15th Colwyn Bay
Bae Colwyn
Conwy County Borough
Bwrdeistref Sirol Conwy
6th Neath
Neath Port Talbot
Castell-nedd Port Talbot
50,658 16 Pontypool
Torfaen 28,334
7th Cwmbran
Torfaen 46,915 17th Penarth Vale of Glamorgan
Bro Morgannwg
8th Bridgend
Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr
Bridgend County Borough
Bwrdeistref Sirol Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr
46,757 18th Rhyl
Y Rhyl
Sir Ddinbych
9 Llanelli Carmarthenshire
Sir Gaerfyrddin
43,878 19th Blackwood
Coed Duon
Caerphilly County Borough
Bwrdeistref Sirol Caerffili
10 Merthyr Tydfil
Merthyr Tudful
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough
Bwrdeistref Sirol Merthyr Tudful
43,820 20th Maesteg Bridgend County Borough
Bwrdeistref Sirol Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr

Administrative structure

The current administrative structure of Wales was introduced on April 1, 1996 and divides Wales into 22 unitary authorities . The Unitary Authorities are districts that are responsible for all local administrative tasks. There is no middle level of administration above them, so in Wales it is called "one tier administration". The 22 Unitary Authorities (awdurdod unedol) , also known as Principal Area (Prif Ardaloedd) , all have the same administrative status , but have different names due to their history and size, nine have the title County (Sir) , ten den Title County Borough (Bwrdeistref Sirol) , one the title City (Dinas) and two the title City and County (Dinas a sir) .

Where the English name differs from the Welsh name, the Welsh name is also given in the following list:

England Anglesey Flintshire Wrexham Denbighshire Conwy County Borough Gwynedd Ceredigion Pembrokeshire Carmarthenshire Swansea Neath Port Talbot Bridgend County Borough Rhondda Cynon Taf Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Blaenau Gwent County Borough Caerphilly County Borough Vale of Glamorgan City and County of Cardiff Newport Torfaen Monmouthshire PowysAdministrative divisions of Wales
About this picture
Principal Area Welsh name administrative
Anglesey Ynys Môn county 711
Blaenau Gwent County Borough 109
Bridgend Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr County Borough 251
Caerphilly Caerffili County Borough 277
Cardiff Caerdydd City and County 140
Carmarthenshire Sir Gaerfyrddin county 2,371
Ceredigion county 1,785
Conwy County Borough 1,126
Denbighshire Sir Ddinbych county 837
Flintshire Sir y Fflint county 438
Gwynedd county 2,535
Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Merthyr Tudful County Borough 111
Monmouthshire Sir Fynwy county 849
Neath Port Talbot Castell-nedd Port Talbot County Borough 441
Newport Casnewydd City 190
Pembrokeshire Sir Benfro county 1,619
Powys county 5,181
Rhondda Cynon plate County Borough 424
Swansea Abertawe City and County 378
Torfaen County Borough 126
Vale of Glamorgan Bro Morgannwg County Borough 331
Wrexham Wrecsam County Borough 504

For ceremonial purposes, Wales is also divided into eight Preserved Counties (Siroedd cadwedig) , which largely correspond to the eight counties that existed in Wales between 1974 and 1996. Each of the 22 Unitary Authorities is assigned to a Preserved County.

See also: Traditional Counties of Wales , Political System of Great Britain and Northern Ireland , List of Cities in Wales


Wales had a total of 2,903,085 inhabitants at the 2001 census , of whom 1,499,303 (52 percent) were female and 1,403,782 (48 percent) were male. A good three quarters of them were born Welsh, a good 20 percent were born in England and less than one percent of the population came from Scotland , Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland . The vast majority of more than 95 percent classified themselves ethnically as “British, white”; 15 percent wrote Welsh on the form, although this answer option was not available. All the answers that suggest an Asian origin (Chinese, Pakistani, Indian, often British / Indian) made up 1.3 percent of the residents, all other ethnic groups came to less than 1 percent.


Religions in Wales 2011
religion percent
no religion
Other religions
no information
Distribution of religions (2011 census)

71.9 percent of Welsh people identified themselves as Christians in the 2001 census. In 2011 this value had fallen to 58%. Wales has small proportions of Jews , Muslims , Buddhists , Hindus , Sikhs and Jehovah's Witnesses , which each make up a maximum of 1.5% of the population, mostly significantly less. The dissenters , i.e. supporters of free churches such as Baptists , Congregationalists , Presbyterians and Methodists, are traditionally very strongly represented among Christians . The Anglican Church in Wales (Eglwys yng Nghymru) has therefore not been a state church since 1920 .


Knowledge of the Welsh language in Wales
Skills percent
Welsh spoken and written
Speaking and reading skills
Speaking ability only
Listening only
Other Welsh skills
No knowledge
Proficiency in Welsh after the 2011 census

The Welsh language ( yr iaith Gymraeg or Cymraeg ) is an important source of national identity for many Welsh people. It is still widely spoken, especially in the north, west and interior of the country; in Caernarfon , Gwynedd , 86 percent of the population said they were fluent in Welsh, compared to just 8 percent of the population of Chepstow (Cas-gwent) in the southeast of the country. Historically, Welsh has become a minority language in the wake of the Industrial Revolution.

In the 1911 census, for the first time, less than half of Welsh people said Welsh was their mother tongue. In 1949 there were 800,000 Welsh speakers in Wales, 80,000 of whom were monolingual; in 1981, 21,000 people identified themselves as monolingual Welsh speakers. In the 2011 census, a total of 19% of the population said they could speak Welsh. 14.6% also had a written command of Welsh. 73.3% of Welsh people had no knowledge of Welsh.

Since 1993, the English and Welsh languages ​​have been formally equal. The policy of bilingualism (Dwyieithrwydd) is expressed in practice mainly in bilingual place-name signs and information signs. The Welsh language can also be used in education, up to and including university, and in the judiciary. There are always wrong translations. For example, a signpost has been installed with the Welsh inscription “I'm not currently at work. Send me translation assignments. ”Means.

Example of bilingualism: Recycling-Box in Cardiff

See also: List of Proportion of Welsh speakers by region


Formal education prior to the 18th century served to preserve the elite. However, in the 1730s, Griffith Jones started a successful school system; he assumed that half the population would have learned to read as a result. Eventually, by the 19th century, Wales was forced to develop an education system that included the entire population. In 2004 the country had more than 500,000 students and around 27,000 teachers.


Parts of Wales have been industrialized since the 18th century. Coal , copper , iron , silver , lead and gold were mined there as well as slate . In the second half of the 19th century, mining and metallurgy dominated the Welsh economy.

From the mid-19th century to the mid-1980s, coal mining and export were a significant part of the Welsh economy. Cardiff was once the world's largest coal export port.

Beginning in the early 1970s, the Welsh economy faced massive restructuring, with large numbers of jobs disappearing in traditional heavy industry and being replaced by new ones in light industry and service sectors. During this time, Wales was able to attract an above-average proportion of FDI to Britain. However, this new industry essentially consisted of branch plants, in which often mass production with low skilled workers took place.

When compared with the gross domestic product of the European Union (Yr Undeb Ewropeaidd) in terms of purchasing power standards , Wales achieved an index of 76 in 2015 (EU-28 = 100).



The motorway along the south coast, the M4 motorway (Traffordd M4) , is an important lifeline for Wales. There is also a connection to southern England that ends in London. The section of the motorway administered by the Welsh Government runs from the Second Severn Bridge to Pont Abraham, Carmarthenshire (Sir Gaerfyrddin) and connects the towns of Newport, Cardiff and Swansea (Abertawe) . The main A55 (Priffordd A55) road has a similar role on the north coast of Wales, connecting Bangor to Wrexham (Wrecsam) and Flintshire (Sir y Fflint) and it also goes to north west England, mainly to Chester (Caer) . The main route from north to south Wales is the A470 which runs from Cardiff to Llandudno .

air traffic

Cardiff International Airport (Maes Awyr Rhyngwladol Caerdydd) is the only major international airport in Wales, with connections to European, African and North American destinations. The airport is located approximately 19 kilometers southwest of Cardiff city center, in the Vale of Glamorgan (Bro Morgannwg) . Flights within Wales between Anglesey Airport (Maes Awyr Môn) and Cardiff were operated by the Isle of Man airline (Ynys Mannaw) , Citywing , which also operated flights to Northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Citywing ceased operations on March 11, 2017; the liquidation of the company was initiated. On March 13, 2017, Eastern Airways took over the flight route between Anglesey (Môn) and Cardiff and several other routes from Citywing.


The Welsh Government manages parts of the UK rail network in Wales by franchising the local passenger service. The current franchisee has been Transport for Wales / Trafnidiaeth Cymru since October 14, 2018 . In the south, the Great Western Railway operates some regional and long-distance trains to the West Country and London. A few connections in the country are also offered by CrossCountry and Virgin Trains .

All trains run on diesel engines as none of the lines are electrified. After the closure of many routes under the Beeching Ax, there are now mainly three east-west connections in the south ( South Wales Main Line , Prif Linell De Cymru , will be electrified), the center ( Cambrian Coast Line , Rheilffordd y Cambrian ) and in the north ( North Wales Main Line , Prif Linell Gogledd Cymru ) of land. Trains between these routes run via Shrewsbury (Amwythig) and Chester in England. There is also the diagonal so-called Heart of Wales Line (Rheilffordd Calon Cymru) from Llanelli to Shrewsbury through the sparsely populated center of the country, the branch line from Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog and the S-Bahn -like Valley Lines - Vorortbahnen (Rheilffyrdd y Cymoedd) in the south of the country around Cardiff. The latter are to be modernized, electrified and expanded over the next few years under the name South Wales Metro (Metro De Cymru) .

Cardiff Central (Caerdydd Canolog) is the busiest and most important train station in the country.


Wales has four commercial ferry ports. Regular ferry services are operated from Holyhead (Caergybi) , Pembroke (Penfro) and Fishguard (Abergwaun) to Ireland. The line from Swansea to Cork , which was discontinued in 2006, was resumed in March 2010, but discontinued in 2012.


Of all parts of Great Britain, Wales is most closely linked to England. However, the country has its own language (see above) and culture with which it distinguishes itself from England.


The country developed its own Welsh literature , which gave birth to poets such as Dylan Thomas and Mihangel Morgan .

See also: Welsh Triads


Wales has been one of the creative centers of British pop music since the 1980s. Bands like The Alarm , Manic Street Preachers , Catatonia , the Super Furry Animals or the Stereophonics achieved international success. The internationally successful singers Tom Jones , Shirley Bassey , Martin Ace ( Man ) and Bonnie Tyler are also native Welsh.


The Welsh sport is represented in only a few sports internationally with independent associations. Wales is independent of Great Britain and England, especially when it comes to cricket , football , hockey and dancing . By far the most popular team sport and at the same time national sport in itself is in Wales but rugby is (see rugby in Wales ). The national stadium is the Millennium Stadium (Stadiwm y Mileniwm) in Cardiff, which was newly built for the Rugby World Cup in 1999 and has 74,500 seats, which is almost always sold out when the Red Dragons (Y Dreigiau Coch) , as the Welsh national rugby team is called, is sold out. Wales participates annually in the six-nation tournament against the best European teams and has qualified for every rugby world cup so far . The highest league is the Pro14 , in which Irish, Scottish, Italian and South African teams play alongside the best Welsh teams. It was founded to counterbalance the English and French professional leagues.


See also

Web links

Commons : Wales  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Wales  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations
Wikivoyage: Wales  Travel Guide

Individual evidence

  1. Mid 2018 Estimates of the population for the UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
  2. About Us. In: Retrieved May 23, 2019 .
  3. Bernhard Maier : The legend book of the Welsh Celts . The four branches of the Mabinogi . Dtv, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-423-12628-0 , p. 134, notes 44,19.
  4. Wolfgang Meid : The Celts (= Reclams Universal Library . 17053). Reclam, Stuttgart 2007, ISBN 978-3-15-017053-3 , p. 77.
  5. ^ John Davies: A History of Wales. Penguin, London 1994, pp. 366-367 and pp. 377-382.
  6. John Davies: A History of Wales. Penguin, London 1994, pp. 391-393.
  7. Population, area and population density of the administrative districts of Wales on June 30, 2012 ( ZIP ; 832 kB)
  8. a b Figure 1: Usual residents who stated their religion as Christian: Wales, England regions, 2001 and 2011, All usual residents. Office for National Statistics, accessed January 25, 2014 .
  9. a b Statistical bulletin: 2011 Census: Key Statistics for Wales, March 2011: Table 4: Welsh language skills: Wales, 2001 and 2011, usual residents aged three and over. Office for National Statistics, accessed January 25, 2014 .
  10. ^ The Industrial Revolution. BBC waleshistory, accessed January 25, 2014 .
  11. ^ Article in the Spiegel from 1949
  12. statement Llywodraeth Cymru | Welsh Government, see talk page
  13. E-mail error ends up on road sign. BBC News, October 31, 2008, accessed August 17, 2017 .
  14. Eurostat. (PDF) Retrieved April 15, 2018 .
  15. ^ Destination Anglesey. Eastern Airways, accessed March 14, 2017 .
  16. ^ New operator for Anglesey to Cardiff air service is found to replace Citywing. Daily Post Wales, accessed March 14, 2017 .
  17. ^ Marc Keech: England and Wales. In: James Riordan , Arnd Krüger (Ed.): European Cultures in Sport: Examining the Nations and Regions. Intellect, Bristol 2003, ISBN 1-84150-014-3 , pp. 5-22.

Coordinates: 52 °  N , 4 °  W