Welsh Information

Wales /ˈweɪlz/ is a country that is part of the United Kingdom,bordered by England to its east, and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. Wales has a population estimated at three million and is officially bilingual; both Welsh and English have equal status and bilingual signs are the norm throughout the land. For most people in Wales, English is their only language. The once-steady decline in Welsh speaking has reversed over recent years, however, with Welsh speakers currently estimated to be around 20% of the population.

During the Iron Age and early medieval period, Wales was inhabited by the Celtic Britons. A distinct Welsh national identity emerged in the centuries after the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the 5th century, and Wales is regarded as one of the modern Celtic nations today. In the 13th century, the defeat of Llewelyn by Edward I completed the Anglo-Norman conquest of Wales and brought about centuries of English occupation. Wales was subsequently incorporated into England with the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542, creating the legal entity known today as England and Wales. Distinctive Welsh politics developed in the 19th century, and in 1881 the Welsh Sunday Closing Act became the first legislation applied exclusively to Wales. In 1955, Cardiff was proclaimed as the capital city and in 1999 the National Assembly for Wales was created, which holds responsibility for a range of devolved matters.

The capital Cardiff is the largest city in Wales with 317,500 people. For a period it was the biggest coal port in the world and, for a few years before World War I, it handled a greater tonnage of cargo than either London or Liverpool. Two-thirds of the Welsh population live in South Wales, with another concentration in eastern North Wales. Many tourists have been drawn to Wales's "wild... and picturesque" landscapes. From the late 19th century onwards, Wales acquired its popular image as the "land of song", attributable in part to the revival of the eisteddfod tradition. Actors, singers and other artists are celebrated in Wales today, often achieving international success. Cardiff is the largest media centre in the UK outside of London.

Wikipedia, Welsh, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wales (as of Apr 10, 2010)

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