Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom.


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. Welsh weather is often cloudy, wet and windy, with warm summers and mild winters.

Snowdon, Snowdonia national park, Wales, UK
Snowdon, Snowdonia national park, Wales, UK
The rural landscape of Wales
The rural landscape of Wales

A highland region to the west of England, Wales has a rich history. Early peoples of Wales assimilated immigrants and exchanged ideas of the Bronze Age and Iron Age Celtic cultures. Roman conquest began in AD 48 and lasted over 300 years.

Wales holds a Celtic heritage in which the Welsh language and stories of coal mining can still be heard. However, the English language has become more dominant and tourism has replaced coal mining as the main economic activity. In medieval times, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn became the only Welsh king to ever rule over the entire territory of Wales.

Optional video: Llywelyn The Great | Welsh History – (History with Dragonheart)

Eventually, Wales was “annexed and united” to the English Crown, still separate from England but under the same monarch.  The last remnants of Celtic-tradition Welsh law were abolished and replaced by English law by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. In the legal jurisdiction of England and Wales, Wales became unified with the kingdom of England; the “Principality of Wales” began to refer to the whole country, though it remained a “principality” only in a ceremonial sense.

Both Welsh and English are official languages; over 560,000 Welsh-speakers live in Wales, and the language is spoken by a majority of the population in parts of the north and west.

BuzzFeedVideo: Americans Pronounce Welsh Town Names

Want to learn Welsh for free? Take a look at these sites:


The decline in the use of coal depressed the economy but did not depress the culture and heritage of the Welsh people. The largest city and capital of Wales is Cardiff.

Cardiff Castle in Wales
Cardiff Castle in Wales

In the early twentieth century, the port of Cardiff handled the largest amount of coal in the world and handled more tons of cargo than Liverpool or London. The decline in coal mining has reduced the shipping activity in the port of Cardiff in the twenty-first century.

Vagabrothers: What is Wales?

Welsh nationalism prompted the declaration of a separate parliament in the capital of Cardiff. The break with London provided local autonomy, but Wales is still reliant on the United Kingdom in national and foreign affairs. Many of the young people in Wales emigrate to find work because of the depressed economy. Emigration has caused a leveling off of population growth, and the number of people who speak Welsh has diminished. Wales and England share a common Protestant Christian religion. Wales is turning to tourism as a means of economic income; the scenic and picturesque landscape of the highland region, with its many castles, provides a pleasant experience for tourists.

Optional video: Rick Steves’ Europe: North Wales: Feisty and Poetic
Note: This video is 25 minutes long, so it’s optional. 😉
Welsh polecat

Wales’ wildlife is typical of Britain with several distinctions. Because of its long coastline, Wales hosts a variety of seabirds. The polecat was nearly driven to extinction in Britain, but hung on in Wales and is now rapidly spreading. New Quay, a seaside town in Wales, has the only summer residence of bottlenose dolphins in the whole of the UK.

New Quay Harbor in Wales

About 78% of the land surface of Wales is given over to agricultural use. However, very little of this is arable land; the vast majority consists of permanent grass pasture or rough grazing for herd animals such as sheep and cows. Although both beef and dairy cattle are raised widely, especially in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, Wales is more well known for its sheep farming and thus lamb is the meat traditionally associated with Welsh cooking.

Welsh cawl
Welsh cawl is a hearty dish made from lamb, bacon, or beef, cabbage, and leeks.
Laverbread (or Bara Lawr) is made from seaweed.
Welsh cakes
Welsh cakes are also known as “bakestones.”
Bara brith is a Welsh fruit bread

Key Takeaways:

✎ Wales became unified with the kingdom of England in the 1500’s.
✎ Both Welsh and English are official languages.
✎ Wales has a Celtic heritage and coal mining used to be the dominant economic activity in that area.
✎ Wales is turning to tourism as a means of economic income.
✎ Wales is more well known for its sheep farming and thus lamb is the meat traditionally associated with Welsh cooking.

Next, let’s take a look at Scotland!

Next: Scotland

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Image and additional information credits:

Cardiff Castle
By The Library of Congress –, No restrictions,
Wales map
By Dr Greg and NordNordWest, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Snowdonia National Park, Wales
By User: (WT-shared) Pieter at wts wikivoyage – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Rural Wales landscape
By Ввласенко – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Wales info
Welsh polecat
By Peter Trimming, CC BY-SA 2.0,
New Quay Harbor
By Des Adams, CC BY-SA 2.0,
By ​Wicipedia user Rhyshuw1, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publishes it under the following license: – ​Wicipedia user Rhyshuw1, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publishes it under the following license:, GFDL,
Welsh cakes
By zingyyellow…wish I could bend space/time – Flickr: Welsh cakes, CC BY 2.0,
By Rosser1954 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Bara brith
By zingyyellow…! from Wales Cymru UK – Bara Brith, CC BY 2.0,

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