Hylo, croeso I erthygl am Cymru! (Welsh for ‘Hello, welcome to the article about Wales!’) My name is Selina Jones; I was born and brought up in the beautiful country of Wales – the land of myths and legends. Wales is one of four countries in the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Yes it may be a shock but Wales is not England, our old rivals in sport, we are our own Country. We may be small however; we are a strong, united and proud nation. From personal experience, telling someone you are British they make stereotypical assumptions about you. We are branded as tea drinking, scone eating, posh, old-fashioned in our ways and maybe a tad boring? That’s just some of the things I’ve heard. In reality, the whole of Britain and certainly Wales is very different. The diversity in Britain is immense; it is made up of 4 completely different countries with different cultures and also has a lot of foreign influences from people immigrating into Britain from across the commonwealth and the rest of the World. But back to point, my focus is on the amazing country of Wales, I’m going to show you why Wales is loved by its people and people from across the Globe.
Capital City: Cardiff
Population: 3.064 million (2011 census)
Official language: English and Welsh (around a fifth of the population of Wales)
Area: 20,779 km2
Currency: Pounds sterling
National Motto: Cymru am Byth (Wales for Ever)
Anthem: Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land of my Fathers)
Brief History of Wales
Wales is believed to have been inhabited since 250,000BC. Early history of Wales begins with the Celts with their migration here around 1000BC – some still consider us a Celtic nation. Some of the most famous things about Wales including the Welsh language came from the Celts. The Welsh Language has its roots from the Celtic language of Brythonic which is what was spoken as they started migrating from their home country in central Europe. As well as the migration of the Celtic people the Welsh people are descendants of the original Iron Age population. The Romans were said to have arrived in Wales around 48AD. The boundary between the countries of Wales and England was established in 784. It was said to have been built by Offa, King of Mercia, he was the person who shaped the boundary between the two.
The most famous of Welsh Festivals is the Eisteddfod. The first was held in 1176, when Lord Rhys got musicians and poets from across Wales together in Cardigan castle. This has been copied every year and is still going strong today. Another huge part of Welsh culture is its many incredible castles (of which 600 still remain today) which all have stories of their own. 1283 King Edwards the first ordered that castles were to be built. He built or repaired 17 castles.
In 1400 a rebellion began to establish independent wales. This rebellion was against Henry IV and led by Owain Glynd?r who was considered to be a national hero; he later crowned himself Prince of Wales in 1404. Owain Glynd?r later disappeared in 1415 after he was defeated, but he was never captured. His actions after this point weren’t known but his last resting places were said to be hills, caves and churches in Wales. In 1536 the first act of Union was passed between Wales and England. This now meant that they were united politically and now were both governed by English law. The first census record was taken in 1801. It was shown that the population of Wales is 587,000. Today the population is over 3 million. The largest town in Wales at the time was Merthyr Tydfil, it had 7,705 inhabitants at the time, and it now has around 30,000.
The Key events of Modern History
In 1916 the UK had its first ever Welsh Prime Minister – David Lloyd George. True to Welsh tradition his first language was Welsh and English was his second; again a first for a British Prime Minister. Radio broadcasts began to be in Welsh from the BBC studios in Bangor in 1935. The NHS (National Health Service) or as it was known at the time, National Insurance Act of 1946, which was the setup of the whole of Britain’s Welfare state, was set up by two Welshmen Aneurin Bevan and James Griffiths in 1946. This is one of the things that makes the UK unusual and is seen as a great achievement for Wales. In 1977 BBC Radio Cymru which was Wales’s first Welsh language radio station was launched. At the time it was one of only few FM-only radio services in Britain at the time.
The Welsh language television station known as S4C – Sianel Pedwar Cymru (channel four Wales in English) is opened in 1982, it now has an animation catalogue that broadcasts across the globe. Its proven itself as it has had two Oscar nominations for its programs ‘The Canterbury Tales’ and ‘Famous Fred’. In 1997 it was decided that Wales was to become a distinct constitutional entity within the UK, voted by the Welsh public, the National Assembly for Wales was established. It was then opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999. The home of Welsh rugby The Millennium Stadium was opened in the same year. The Millennium Centre was then opened in 2004, opened again by The Queen.
The Senedd was opened in 2006. Its purpose is to house the National Assembly for Wales. The unique building has won an award for its green credentials and for its sustainability. The power of the National Assembly to make laws grew in 2007 when the separation of the executive Welsh Assembly and legislative National Assembly for Wales took effect under the Government of Wales act 2006.
The History of what makes Wales – Wales
The Welsh National anthem was written and composed by a father and son- Evan James and James James in 1856. The anthem called ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ which translates into ‘Land Of My Fathers’. Rugby is considered to be the National sport of Wales. The guardians of the sport are the Welsh Rugby Union which was established in 1881. The Welsh Language, which is one of the oldest languages in Europe, is seen to be something that needs to be protected so that it doesn’t die out. In 1885 the first Welsh language society was founded by Dan Issac Davies in 1885 to promote the use of Welsh language in education in Wales. Today it is compulsory for everyone in schools in wales to take some level of Welsh up to the age of 16. The Capital city of Wales, Cardiff, is elevated to city status in 1905. It is declared the Capital in 1955. It is the youngest Capital city in Europe.
Wales is the home to many industries, and they have changed drastically over the last 100 years. As the 20th century began the main industry was of the slate in the north of the country and coal and steel in the south. The transport industry also boomed as a result as these resources needed to be transported across the country and to the rest of the UK. In the modern day the tourism and public services industries have taken the main place from the slate, steel and coal industries, and are now the main employers in Wales. Although Wales has many industries the unemployment level is higher than that in Scotland and England. In addition, the wages are lower on average than that of the rest of the UK.
The United Kingdom is situated off the northwestern coast of continental Europe. Wales is part of the United Kingdom. Wales is situated on the western side of central southern of Britain. To the north and west is the Irish Sea, to the south the Bristol Channel and It boarders England to it the east. From north to south is around 274 kilometers and is about 97km wide. Its total area is 20,779km2. Except for its boarder to England Wales is surrounded in water and is known for its beautiful coastlines which attract people from around the world. The coastline is around 1,200km. Wales also has a few offshore islands, the largest being Anglesey which was made famous when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge settled there after getting married. Wales is known for its mountainous geography. It has endless amounts of mountains that many countries could only wish of having. Its highest peak is in the Snowdonia mountain range.
Wales has everything a traveller and sight seer could wish for. From modern Cities to tiny villages, to breath-taking beaches and the beautiful mountain and valley walks – we have it all.
Or Dinbych-y-pysgod as its known in Welsh, (little town of the fishes or little fortress of the fish) is a walled seaside town in the heart of Pembrokeshire, on the west side of Carmarthen Bay in South West Wales. Known for its beautiful sandy beaches and picturesque scenes and quirky colorful houses it’s the perfect seaside get away.
The Capital City of Wales. It’s full of attractions to suit everyone’s wants and needs. It’s a city of sport, culture and entertainment for all. Cardiff has everything from the great nightlife to watersports. Cardiff is also a shopper’s dreams with a wealth of shops that sell everything you would need. It’s the home of Welsh rugby with the Millennium Stadium in the City Centre. It was also where some events such as the Women’s soccer were held in the 2012 London Olympics, which I had the pleasure to attend. If sport isn’t your thing, not to worry, Cardiff has its own rich history and scenes of beauty. Cardiff Castle is in the City center and is great for anyone that loves history. Cardiff Bay is the home of the Senedd building which homes the Welsh Assembly Government. Cardiff Bay is also known for its excellent restaurants, bars and clubs.
Brecon Beacons National Park
It has its own history, heritage, own cuisine, traditions, myths and culture. This is where the mountain range the Brecon Beacons is in the South of Wales; the highest peak being Pen y Fan. Not only does the park offer endless amounts of walks and hikes it has now become the world’s 5th International Dark Sky Reserve.
St Fagans National History Museum
An amazing presentation of Welsh way of living through the ages – put yourself into the ancestors of the Welsh peoples shoes. One of the main attractions is the setup of period buildings from across Wales including homes, schools and churches. It is truly a magical experience to see the chronicle of Welsh life, featuring period buildings from all over the country; this includes the setup of a Celtic village.
There are many incredible castles everywhere in Wales, each with the story of its own; this beautiful one is situated in North Wales. Along with the town walls, they are amongst the finest surviving medieval forti?cations to be seen anywhere in Britain, it’s not surprising they are a world heritage site. Captured by the Welsh in the 15th century it’s rich in history for you to discover.
Fishing is huge in Wales, many children are brought up to learn how to fish, following in their parents and grandparents steps. There are many amazing locations to fish in Wales. LLyn y Gors is said to be one of the best. You can also have short beak and stay there.
National Botanic Garden of Wales
It’s situated near Llanarthney in the Towy Valley in Carmarthenshire. The garden is both a visitor attraction and a centre for botanical research and conservation. It has the world’s largest single-span glasshouse.
Wales is commonly known as the ‘land of the song’, where everyone can sing. I could single handedly crush that stereotype if ever anyone heard me sing. But there are many amazing Welsh artists, some which have changed the music industry and touched the lives of people worldwide. With music legends such as Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones being Welsh; we are known as a musical country around the world. Younger singers such as Katherine Jenkins have also flown the flag for wales on an international scale, she is known around the world for her beautiful operatic voice. Choirs are also a big part of Welsh culture. One of the biggest male voice choirs is Only Men allowed, who are known for their powerful voices and for winning Last Choir Standing in 2008. They have inspired a new generation of young men who want to sing and as a result Only Boys allowed were formed by the same conductor Tim Rhys-Evans. Only boys Aloud got the recognition they deserved when they came third in the British Talent show Britain’s got Talent.
Wales not only has musical icons but has its own fair share of sporting icons. Sport is huge in Wales, the nation’s sport is thought to be Rugby. The location where the national game is played is the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. It has the Capacity for 74,500 people. It was the first stadium in the UK to have a retractable roof; it was opened in 1999 after being built to host the Rugby World Cup. The current Welsh national team is said to be one of the best Welsh teams ever. As a team they have enjoyed great success in the 6 nations tournament and the World cup. Winning the 6 nations in 2005, 2008, 2012 and beat England in 2013 to snatch the championship from them. In the 2011 World cup they came in third narrowly losing to Australia in the semifinal. The hero of modern Welsh Rugby is the legend that is Shane Williams; he is the player that has scored the most trys ever for Wales. After a long and successful career he was rewarded with an MBE.
But, the Welsh football scene is rapidly increasing with 2 teams now in the premier league; Swansea and Cardiff, who are harsh rivals.
Welsh Sport is improving rapidly, proven in Beijing in 2008 where a recorded was broken for the number of Welsh people winning Gold Olympic and Paralympic medals. The Welsh Olympians who won medals were as follows:
Geraint Thomas – cycling, Tom James – rowing (coxless fours) & Jade Jones – taekwondo
Freddie Evans – boxing, Chris Bartle – rowing (light men’s four) & Hannah Mills – sailing (470 class)
Sarah Thomas – hockey
The Welsh Paralympians who won medals in London 2012 are as follows:
Mark Colbourne – Cycling: 3km pursuit, Aled Sion Davies – Athletics: discus & Josie Pearson – Athletics: discus
Mark Colbourne – Cycling: kilometer sprint, Mark Colbourne – Cycling: road time trial & Nyree Kindred – Swimming: women’s backstroke
Aled Sion Davies – Athletics: shot put, Claire Williams – Athletics discus, Paul Davies – Table tennis
Olivia Breen & Jenny McLoughlin – Athletics 4x 100m relay, Liz Johnson – Swimming: 100m breaststroke, Beverley Jones – Athletics: discus, Rachel Morris – Handcycling, Sara Head – Table tennis: Women’s team
A prestigious golfing event The Ryder Cup came to Wales for the first time, held in the Celtic Manor in Newport 2011.
There is of course the huge misconception that people around the world have that the United Kingdom is just England. It’s not unusual (Tom Jones song) to hear the phrase “Is Wales in England?” It shocked me when I travelled to the United States that many people didn’t even realize that the UK was not just one country (England).
With this misconception there are endless ones that follow. We are put into the British stereotype of being posh, royalists, tea drinkers, croquet players and having the classic ‘British’ accents. When in reality none of them are true for the vast majority of Welsh people (well except the tea part). The ‘British’ accent is one of the biggest misconceptions, once you tell someone you’re British they expect you to sound like the queen, but Britain is rich with accents with endless amounts of them.
One major misconception about the Welsh people if that we can all sing, if I am anything to go by, it’s definitely not true. But, largely we are a nation that loves to sing – even if we can’t.
Is it possible that every grown male in a country has the same occupation? The welsh men are all seen to be miners. Ok, one of my grandfathers was a miner but my other one wasn’t and neither is my father, so it is a misconception that every welsh man is a miner.
Another misconception that people have of Wales is that we are a country that is practically run by sheep and that we really do love them. Yes, we do have a lot of sheep in our country as a lot of the country is farming land, but when in the past I have been asked “do you travel around on sheep instead of cars?”, it’s simply a misconception. Many countries have a lot of sheep in their country – even more than us. It’s not just sheep we have in our country; we also have other farm animals.
I’m sure nearly all Welsh people have heard the stereotype that we have sexual activities with sheep. Who even come up with that? I have never heard of it. Moving on…
We absolutely hate the English? For some people it may be true but for the vast majority it’s not a hatred we have for the English, it’s a friendly rivalry we have when playing rugby. I would say when we play football too, but international football against Wales is practically ignored from my experience. But, I really don’t see how you can hate a whole nationality on a rivalry in sport.