History of Wales, Geography, Polities, Travel, Education, Trivi
Human settlement in Wales is said to be as early as over 230,000 years ago. However, permanent habitation only occurred during the years after the end of the last Ice Age, which was about 9000 BC.
During the Iron Age years, Wales was ruled and governed by the Celtic Britons, and then the Romans in 48 AD.
When the Romans arrived, the language used in the region was the Celtic language of Brythonic, which eventually formed the basis of the Welsh language.
The Romans departed the region in the 5th century, opening Wales’ doors to the Anglo-Saxon invasion. Post-Roman times were filled with the establishment of several numbers of kingdoms and in 1282, upon the killing of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, led to the conquest of the region by the king of England, King Edward I.
The beginning of the building of castles in Wales began in 1283, through the orders of King Edward I. By 1295, the King was able to build and/or repair a total of 17 castles.
In 1400, national hero Owain Glyndwr started a rebellion against England, to establish an independent Wales. And by 1404, crowned himself as Prince of Wales. Glyndwr was eventually defeated in 1415, but was never captured.
In 1536, the first Act of Union was created between Wales and England, uniting the two countries politically.
Wales is located on the western side of central southern Great Britain. Its borders include England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. There are over 1,680 miles of coastline, with the landscape made up of mainly mountainous regions. There are 3 mountainous regions in Wales, which are the Snowdonia in the northwest, the Cambrian Mountains in Mid-Wales, and the Brecon Beacons in the south. The country is filled with natural attractions such as its 3 national parks, its own Seven Wonders of Wales, waterfalls, lakes, and rivers, and their popular 5 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Wales is part of the United Kingdom, where they are represented in the House of Commons, UK’s lower house, with 40 members of the parliament. The Secretary of State for Wales sits in the UK cabinet, and is responsible for all matters pertaining to the country. The local government is divided into 22 divisions, all of which are principal areas responsible for the provision of all local government services, which are education, social work, environment, and road services.
Wales is an emerging tourist destination with deep valleys, ancient cities, and beautiful coastlines. The most popular destinations are the cities and towns that are full of character and historical monuments.
The capital, Cardiff, is the largest city of Wales, and is one of the most visited places in the country. Among the most popular sites are the Millenium Stadium, which is the 3rd largest in the UK, and the Cardiff Castle with over 2000 years of history.
Swansea is another popular city to visit in Wales, being the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the UK. The city boasts of award-winning beaches, unspoilt countryside, and the best locations for a number of outdoor activities such as cycling and a vast number of watersports.
The towns of Tenby, Aberystwyth, Cardigan, and the city of Brecon are some of the most popular holiday destinations in the country. Tenby is famous for being a walled seaside town with its medieval town walls and 2.5km of sandy beaches, while Aberystwyth is a major tourist center with a bustling art scene and unspoilt nature reserves. Cardigan is the most popular place for a sense of timelessness with its past meets present vibe, and Brecon is a tourist favorite for its narrow streets and passageways of Georgian and Jacobean shop fronts and being a popular holiday destination.
Education in Wales is different from the rest of the United Kingdom due to the use and study of the local Welsh language. Welsh medium education is available to all age groups in the country, from nurseries to schools, colleges, and universities.
Formal education begins after the 5th birthday, and is compulsory until the age of 16. Further Education is full or part time learning for those who are beyond the age of compulsory education; while Adult Community Learning is offered for academic or vocation learning; and higher education available for ages 18 and up, with all undergraduate education largely state-financed.
- Wales is regarded as the land of castles with the country having the most number of castles per square mile versus anywhere else in the world.
- Lawn tennis was first invented in Wales during the 1800’s.
- Wales is the land of the mythical King Arthur and his kingdom of Camelot.
- The invention of the first mail order business was created by Welsh entrepreneur Pryce Pryce-Jones in 1861.