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Population: 3,099 million(2015)
Area: 20 735 km²
Capital City: Cardiff


About Wales
Wale is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). 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.


Wales is a country in southwest Great Britain known for its rugged coastline, mountainous national parks, distinctive Welsh language and Celtic culture. Cardiff, the capital, is a refined coastal city with a nightlife scene and a medieval castle with ornate Gothic Revival interiors. In the northwest, Snowdonia National Park has lakes, glacial landforms, hiking trails and a railway up to the peak of Snowdon.


Currency

The pound sterling/British pound is the currency used in Wales.
One British pound (£) is made up of 100 pence (p). Coin denominations are as follows: 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2. Notes are available in £5, £10, £20 and £50 denominations, each one with their own distinct color. All British currency features an image of the Queen’s head on one side.


Climate


Wales lies within the north temperate zone. It has a changeable, maritime climate and is one of the wettest countries in Europe. Welsh weather is often cloudy, wet and windy, with warm summers and mild winters. The long summer days and short winter days result from Wales’ northerly latitudes (between 53° 43′ N and 51° 38′ N). Aberystwyth, at the midpoint of the country’s west coast, has nearly 17 hours of daylight at the summer solstice. Daylight at midwinter there falls to just over seven and a half hours. The country’s wide geographic variations cause localised differences in sunshine, rainfall and temperature. Average annual coastal temperatures reach 10.5 °C (51 °F) and in low lying inland areas, 1 °C (1.8 °F) lower. It becomes cooler at higher altitudes; annual temperatures decrease on average approximately 0.5 °C (0.9 °F) each 100 metres (330 feet) of altitude. Consequently, the higher parts of Snowdonia experience average annual temperatures of 5 °C (41 °F). Temperatures in Wales remain higher than would otherwise be expected at its latitude because of the North Atlantic Drift, a branch of the Gulf Stream. The ocean current, bringing warmer water to northerly latitudes, has a similar effect on most of north-west Europe. As well as its influence on Wales’ coastal areas, air warmed by the Gulf Stream blows further inland with the prevailing winds.

Languages


The two official languages of Wales are Welsh and English. Both languages are constituted as working languages of the National Assembly, however Welsh is further recognised in law as having “official status”, making it the sole de jure official language in any part of the United Kingdom. The majority of the population of Wales is able to speak English, while Welsh is spoken by almost one-third of the population.


Economy


Over the last 250 years, Wales has been transformed first from a predominantly agricultural country to an industrial, and now a post-industrial economy. Since the Second World War, the service sector has come to account for the majority of jobs, a feature typifying most advanced economies. Total headline Gross Value Added (GVA) in Wales in 2016 was £59.6 billion, or £19,140 per head of population; 72.7 per cent of the average for the UK total, the lowest GVA per head in the UK. In the three months to December 2017, the employment rate for working-age adults in Wales was 72.7 per cent, compared to 75.2 per cent across the UK as a whole.
From the middle of the 19th century until the post-war era, the mining and export of coal was a dominant industry. At its peak of production in 1913, nearly 233,000 men and women were employed in the south Wales coalfield, mining 56 million tons of coal. Cardiff was once the largest coal-exporting port in the world and, for a few years before the First World War, handled a greater tonnage of cargo than either London or Liverpool. In the 1920s, over 40{d8be1eae04e11e5155809816aa1092784e1d5e1850cc2629775afae44f90e831} of the male Welsh population worked in heavy industry. According to Professor Phil Williams, the Great Depression “devastated Wales”, north and south, because of its “overwhelming dependence on coal and steel”. From the mid-1970s, the Welsh economy faced massive restructuring with large numbers of jobs in traditional heavy industry disappearing and being replaced eventually by new ones in light industry and in services. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Wales was successful in attracting an above average share of foreign direct investment in the UK. However, much of the new industry was essentially of a “branch factory” (“screwdriver factory”) type where a manufacturing plant or call centre is located in Wales but the most highly paid jobs in the company are retained elsewhere.


Because of poor-quality soil, much of Wales is unsuitable for crop-growing and livestock farming has traditionally been the focus of agriculture. The Welsh landscape (protected by three national parks) and 45 Blue Flag beaches, as well as the unique culture of Wales, attract large numbers of tourists, who play an especially vital role in the economy of rural areas. Wales has struggled to develop or attract high value-added employment in sectors such as finance and research and development, attributable in part to a comparative lack of ‘economic mass’ (i.e. population) – Wales lacks a large metropolitan centre. The lack of high value-added employment is reflected in lower economic output per head relative to other regions of the UK – in 2002 it stood at 90{d8be1eae04e11e5155809816aa1092784e1d5e1850cc2629775afae44f90e831} of the EU25 average and around 80{d8be1eae04e11e5155809816aa1092784e1d5e1850cc2629775afae44f90e831} of the UK average. In June 2008, Wales made history by becoming the first nation in the world to be awarded Fairtrade Status.


Education


A distinct education system has developed in Wales. Formal education before the 18th century was the preserve of the elite. The first grammar schools were established in Welsh towns such as Ruthin, Brecon and Cowbridge. One of the first successful schooling systems was started by Griffith Jones, who introduced the circulating schools in the 1730s; believed to have taught half the country’s population to read. In the 19th century, with increasing state involvement in education, Wales was forced to adopt an education system that was English in ethos even though the country was predominantly Non-conformist, Welsh-speaking and demographically uneven because of the economic expansion in the south. In some schools, to ensure Welsh children spoke English at school, the Welsh Not was used; a policy seen as a hated symbol of English oppression. The “not”, a piece of wood hung round the neck by string, was given to any child overheard speaking Welsh, who would pass it to a different child if overheard speaking Welsh. At the end of the day, the wearer of the “not” would be beaten. The extent of its practice, however, is difficult to determine. State and local governmental edicts resulted in schooling in the English language which, following Brad y Llyfrau Gleision (the Treachery of the Blue Books), was seen as more academic and worthwhile for children.


The University College of Wales opened in Aberystwyth in 1872. Cardiff and Bangor followed, and the three colleges came together in 1893 to form the University of Wales. The Welsh Intermediate Education Act of 1889 created 95 secondary schools. The Welsh Department for the Board of Education followed in 1907, which gave Wales its first significant educational devolution. A resurgence in Welsh-language schools in the latter half of the 20th century at nursery and primary level saw attitudes shift towards teaching in the medium of Welsh. Welsh is a compulsory subject in all of Wales’ state schools for pupils aged 5–16 years old. While there has never been an exclusively Welsh-language college, Welsh-medium higher education is delivered through the individual universities and has since 2011 been supported by the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol (Welsh National College) as a delocalised federal institution. In 2016–2017, there were 1,547 maintained schools in Wales. In 2016–2017, the country had 466,508 pupils taught by 23,910 full-time equivalent teachers.


Healthcare


Public healthcare in Wales is provided by NHS Wales (GIG Cymru), which was originally formed as part of the NHS structure for England and Wales created by the National Health Service Act 1946, but with powers over the NHS in Wales coming under the Secretary of State for Wales in 1969. In turn, responsibility for NHS Wales was passed to the Welsh Assembly and Executive under devolution in 1999. Historically, Wales was served by smaller ‘cottage’ hospitals, built as voluntary institutions. As newer more expensive diagnostic techniques and treatments became available through medical advancement, much of the clinical work of the country has been concentrated in newer, larger district hospitals. In 2006, there were seventeen district hospitals in Wales, although none situated in Powys. NHS Wales provides public healthcare in Wales and employs some 90,000 staff, making it Wales’ biggest employer. The Minister for Health and Social Services is the person within the Welsh Government who holds cabinet responsibilities for both health and social care in Wales.


A 2009 Welsh health survey, conducted by the Welsh Assembly, reported that 51{d8be1eae04e11e5155809816aa1092784e1d5e1850cc2629775afae44f90e831} of adults reported their health good or excellent, while 21{d8be1eae04e11e5155809816aa1092784e1d5e1850cc2629775afae44f90e831} described their health as fair or poor. The survey also recorded that 27{d8be1eae04e11e5155809816aa1092784e1d5e1850cc2629775afae44f90e831} of Welsh adults had a long-term chronic illness, such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Enquiries into health-related lifestyle choices report 27{d8be1eae04e11e5155809816aa1092784e1d5e1850cc2629775afae44f90e831} of the adult population are smokers, 45{d8be1eae04e11e5155809816aa1092784e1d5e1850cc2629775afae44f90e831} admit drinking alcohol above recommended guidelines at least once a week, while 29{d8be1eae04e11e5155809816aa1092784e1d5e1850cc2629775afae44f90e831} undertake the recommended weekly physical activity.


Religion


The largest religion in Wales is Christianity, with 57.6{d8be1eae04e11e5155809816aa1092784e1d5e1850cc2629775afae44f90e831} of the population describing themselves as Christian in the 2011 census. The Church in Wales with 56,000 adherents has the largest attendance of the denominations. It is a province of the Anglican Communion, and was part of the Church of England until disestablishment in 1920 under the Welsh Church Act 1914. The first Independent Church in Wales was founded at Llanvaches in 1638 by William Wroth. The Presbyterian Church of Wales was born out of the Welsh Methodist revival in the 18th century and seceded from the Church of England in 1811. The second largest attending faith in Wales is Roman Catholic, with an estimated 43,000 adherents. Non-Christian religions are small in Wales, making up approximately 2.7{d8be1eae04e11e5155809816aa1092784e1d5e1850cc2629775afae44f90e831} of the population. The 2011 census recorded 32.1{d8be1eae04e11e5155809816aa1092784e1d5e1850cc2629775afae44f90e831} of people declaring no religion, while 7.6{d8be1eae04e11e5155809816aa1092784e1d5e1850cc2629775afae44f90e831} did not reply to the question.
The patron saint of Wales is Saint David (Dewi Sant), with Saint David’s Day (Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant) celebrated annually on 1 March. In 1904, there was a religious revival (known by some as the 1904–1905 Welsh Revival, or simply The 1904 Revival) which started through the evangelism of Evan Roberts and saw large numbers of people converting to non-Anglican Christianity, sometimes whole communities. Roberts’ style of preaching became the blueprint for new religious bodies such as Pentecostalism and the Apostolic Church. The Apostolic Church holds its annual Apostolic Conference in Swansea each year, usually in August.
Islam is the largest non-Christian religion in Wales, with 24,000 (0.8{d8be1eae04e11e5155809816aa1092784e1d5e1850cc2629775afae44f90e831}) reported Muslims in the 2011 census. 2 Glynrhondda Street in Cathays, Cardiff, is accepted as the first mosque in the United Kingdom founded by Yemeni and Somali sailors on their trips between Aden and Cardiff Docks.
There are also communities of Hindus and Sikhs, mainly in the south Wales cities of Newport, Cardiff and Swansea, while the largest concentration of Buddhists is in the western rural county of Ceredigion. Judaism was the first non-Christian faith to be established in Wales since Roman times, though by 2001 the community has declined to approximately 2,000.


Culture


Wales has a distinctive culture including its own language, customs, holidays and music.
Wales has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: The Castles and Town walls of King Edward I in Gwynedd; Pontcysyllte Aqueduct; and the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape.


Government and politics


Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Constitutionally, the UK is a de jure unitary state, its parliament and government in Westminster. In the House of Commons – the lower house of the UK parliament – Wales is represented by 40 MPs (out of 650) from Welsh constituencies. At the 2017 general election, 28 Labour and Labour Co-op MPs were elected, eight Conservative MPs and four Plaid Cymru MPs. The Wales Office is a department of the United Kingdom government responsible for Wales, whose minister the Secretary of State for Wales sits in the UK cabinet. Alun Cairns has been Secretary of State for Wales since March 2016.
Wales held a referendum in 1997 and chose to establish a form of self-government. The consequent process of devolution began with the Government of Wales Act 1998, which created the National Assembly for Wales (Welsh: Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru). Powers of the Secretary of State for Wales were transferred to the devolved government on 1 July 1999, granting the Assembly the power to decide how the Westminster government’s budget for devolved areas is spent and administered. The 1998 Act was amended by the Government of Wales Act 2006 which enhanced the Assembly’s powers, giving it legislative powers akin to those of the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly. The Assembly has 60 members, known as Assembly Members (Aelodau y Cynulliad). Members (AMs (ACau)) are elected for four-year terms under an additional member system. Forty of the AMs represent geographical constituencies, elected under the First Past the Post system. The remaining 20 AMs represent five electoral regions, each including between seven and nine constituencies, using the d’Hondt method of proportional representation. The Assembly must elect a First Minister, who selects ministers to form the Welsh Government.


Cuisine


About 78{d8be1eae04e11e5155809816aa1092784e1d5e1850cc2629775afae44f90e831} 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.
Traditional dishes include laverbread (made from laver (Porphyra umbilicalis), an edible seaweed); bara brith (fruit bread); cawl (a lamb stew); cawl cennin (leek soup); Welsh cakes; and Welsh lamb. Cockles are sometimes served as a traditional breakfast with bacon and laverbread.
Although Wales has its own traditional food and has absorbed much of the cuisine of England, Welsh diets now owe more to the countries of India, China and the United States. Chicken tikka masala is the country’s favourite dish while hamburgers and Chinese food outsell fish and chips as a takeaway.


Transport


The main road artery along the south Wales coast is the M4 motorway. It also provides a link to southern England, terminating in London. The section of the motorway managed by the Welsh Government runs from the Prince of Wales Bridge to Pont Abraham, Carmarthenshire, connecting the cities of Newport, Cardiff and Swansea. The A55 expressway has a similar role along the north Wales coast, connecting Holyhead and Bangor with Wrexham and Flintshire. It also links to north-west England, principally Chester. The main north-south Wales link is the A470, which runs from Cardiff to Llandudno.
Cardiff Airport is the only large and international airport in Wales. Providing links to European, African and North American destinations, it is about 12 miles (19 km) southwest of Cardiff city centre, in the Vale of Glamorgan. Intra-Wales flights run between Anglesey (Valley) and Cardiff, operated since 2017 by Eastern Airways. Other internal flights operate to northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The Welsh Government manages those parts of the British railway network within Wales, through the Transport for Wales Rail train operating company. Cardiff Central is Wales’ busiest railway station, with over four times as much passenger traffic as any other station in Wales. The Cardiff region has its own urban rail network. Beeching cuts in the 1960s mean that most of the remaining network is geared toward east-west travel connecting with the Irish Sea ports for ferries to Ireland. Services between north and south Wales operate through the English towns of Chester and Shrewsbury along the Welsh Marches Line. All trains in Wales are diesel-powered since no lines have been electrified. However, the South Wales Main Line branch of the Great Western Main Line used by services from London Paddington to Cardiff is undergoing electrification.
Wales has four commercial ferry ports. Regular ferry services to Ireland operate from Holyhead, Pembroke and Fishguard. The Swansea to Cork service, cancelled in 2006, was reinstated in March 2010, but has been withdrawn again in 2012.

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