WALES Dryslwyn Castle built by Edward I in 1287. This year we decided to introduce you a bit of Wales. Here are some important and interesting data and stories about Wales and the Welsh. Please study the texts to be able to participate in our competition. Wales (Welsh: Cymru;) The name of the country comes from the German word ‘walha’, which means ‘stranger from abroad’. The Welsh call their country ‘Cymru’ pronounced [ˈkəmrɨ]. (Its Latinized version is Cambria.) Location Wales is located on a peninsula in central-west Great Britain. Its area, the size of Wales is about 20,779 km². It is about 274 km (170 miles) north-south and 97 km (60 miles) east-west. Wales is bordered by England to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. Altogether, Wales has over 1,200 km (750 miles) of coastline. The capital Cardiff (Welsh: Caerdydd) is Wales' largest city with 317,500 people. For a period it was the biggest coal port in the world. Cardiff is also the largest media centre in the UK outside of London. Population The population of Wales is about 2,958,876. The main population and industrial areas are in South Wales, consisting of the cities of Cardiff (Caerdydd), Swansea (Abertawe) and Newport (Casnewydd) and Wrexham (Wrecsam) in the north-east. Geography Much of Wales' landscape is mountainous, particularly in the north and central regions. The highest mountains in Wales are in Snowdonia (Eryri), and include Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), which, at 1085 m (3,560 ft) is the highest peak in Wales. The 14 (or possibly 15) Welsh mountains over 3,000 feet (914m) high are known collectively as the Welsh 3000s, and are located in a small area in the north- west. Wales has three National Parks: Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire Coast. It also has four Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. These areas include Anglesey, the Clwydian Range, the Gower peninsula and the Wye Valley. Much of the coastline of South and West Wales is particularly wild and impressive. Gower, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Cardigan Bay all have clean blue water, white sand beaches and impressive marine life. Despite this beauty the coast of Wales has a dark side; a lot of ships and vessels sank here. The Seven Wonders of Wales is a list of seven geographic and cultural landmarks in Wales probably composed in the late 18th century under the influence of tourism from England. All the "wonders" are in north Wales: Snowdon - the highest mountain, 1085 m the Gresford bells - the peal of bells in the medieval church of All Saints at Gresford the Llangollen bridge - built in 1347 over the River Dee, Afon Dyfrdwy St Winefride's Well - a pilgrimage site at Holywell, Treffynnon in Flintshire the Wrexham (Wrecsam) steeple - a 6th century tower of St. Giles Church in Wrexham the Overton Yew trees - ancient yew trees in the churchyard of St. Mary's at Overton-on-Dee and Pistyll Rhaeadr - Wales' tallest waterfall, at 240ft (73m) Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), Gwynedd, from the peak. St Winefride's Well Overton's yew trees The steeple of St Giles' Church in Wrexham Llangollen Bridge Gresford Bells Pistyll Rhaeadr, the tallest waterfall Language The Welsh Language Act 1993 and the Government of Wales Act 1998 provide that the Welsh and English languages are equal. English is spoken by almost all people in Wales. However, in northern and western Wales in many areas Welsh is spoken as a first language by the majority of the population. Road signs in Wales are generally in both English and Welsh; where place names differ in the two languages, both versions are used (e.g. "Cardiff" and "Caerdydd"), the decision as to which is placed first being that of the local authority. National symbols The Flag of Wales incorporates the red dragon (Y Ddraig Goch) of Prince Cadwalader along with the Tudor colours of green and white. The red dragon was included in the Tudor royal arms to show their Welsh origin. It was officially recognised as the Welsh national flag in 1959. The flag is sometimes claimed to be the oldest national flag still in use. The British Union Flag incorporates the flags of Scotland, Ireland and England but does not have any Welsh representation. Many legends are associated with the Welsh dragon. The most famous is the prophecy of Myrddin (or Merlin) of a long fight between a red dragon and a white dragon. According to the prophecy, the white dragon would at first dominate but at the end the red dragon would win. It might have meant the fight between the Welsh and the invading Saxons. The Daffodil, Wales's Floral emblem. "Hen Wlad fy Nhadau" ("Land of My Fathers") is the National Anthem of Wales, and is played at events such as football or rugby matches involving the Wales national team. St David's Day, 1 March, is the national day, they celebrate their main saint. At this time, Welsh people wear daffodil on their clothes. Saint David St. David has been the patron saint of Wales since the 12th century. He was born around 500 and according to the legend his mother gave birth to him on a cliff top during a violent storm. He became a teacher and preacher, founding monastic settlements and churches. St David's Cathedral now stands on the site of the monastery he founded in the valley of 'Glyn Rhosyn' in Pembrokeshire. It is claimed that David lived for over 100 years, and he died on a Tuesday 1 March (now St David's Day). It is generally accepted that this was around 590. His last words 'Do the little things in life' ('Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd') is today a very well- known phrase in Welsh. KING ARTHUR Surely you have heard about the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Here is a short revision of their story: The legend of King Arthur began to appear in the 12th century. It is based on a Celtic leader who defended his country against Saxon invasion in the sixth century. He fought twelve battles against the Saxons. His name in Welsh means „bear-man”. Statue of King Arthur King Arthur presides at the Round Table The Excalibur King Arthur was the son of Pendragon, and was born in Tintagel in Cornwall. He grew up with Merlin, an old magician, and became a king when he was fifteen. He could be a king because he managed to pull out a sword from a rock. He defeated his enemies with Merlin and he got the magic sword Excalibur (Caliburnus, Caledfwlch) from the Lady of the Lake. He married Guinevere (Gwenhwyfar) and lived in a castle at Camelot. His knights sat at a round table so that they were all equal-nobody was sitting at the head of the table. The most famous knights were Lancelot, Perceval, Gawain, and Galahad. They were also looking for the Holy Grail. Arthur went to Rome to fight the emperor, when he heard that his nephew, Modred, had taken control of his kingdom and captured Guinevere. In the battle, he killed his nephew, but he was also seriously wounded. He died in the Isle of Avalon at about 537-539. History of Wales The country of Wales, or Cymru in Welsh, has been inhabited by modern humans for at least 29,000 years.The first documented history of the area that would become Wales was in AD 48. Roman forts were established across what is now the South Wales region, as far west as Carmarthen (Caerfyrddin; Latin: Maridunum), and gold was mined . The Romans also built the Roman legionary fortress at Caerleon (Latin: Isca Silurum), its magnificent amphitheatre is the best preserved in Britain. After the Romans left Britain in 410, much of the lowlands were overrun by various Germanic tribes. During the early medieval period Wales was divided into a number of kingdoms, but the ruler of Gwynedd was usually called King of the Britons. Gruffydd ap Llywelyn in the mid 11th century controlled all of Wales and some areas in England for a period. In these centuries Wales fought against English kingdoms such as Mercia, then against the united English kingdom and finally against the Normans, who arrived on the borders of Wales around 1067. Mercia’s king, Offa built a huge earthwork- force system on the borders of Mercia and Wales, part of it can be seen today. Warfare continued for over two centuries. The most important ruler was Llywelin Fawr (llywelin the Great) who united the different parts and founded Principality of Wales. The rise lasted until the death of Llywelyn the Last in 1282, it led to the conquest of the Principality of Wales by the Kingdom of England in 1301. Wales became part of England although they spoke a different language and had a different culture. To help maintain his dominance, Edward constructed a series of great stone castles, Beaumaris, Caernarfon, and Conwy were built then. The Llywelyn Monument at Cilmeri Under Henry VIII of England, the Laws in Wales Acts 1535-1542 integrated Wales with England in legal terms, destroying the Welsh legal system, and banning the Welsh language from any official role or status, but it did for the first time define the England-Wales border and allowed Wales to send members to the English Parliament. In the twentieth century Plaid Cymru, The Party of Wales was formed in 1925 seeking greater autonomy or independence from the rest of England. Wales was officially de-annexed from England within the United Kingdom in 1955, with the term "England" being replaced with "England and Wales", and Cardiff became the capital city of Wales.]In 1961 Plaid Cymru got into the Parliament. The Welsh Language Act 1993 gave the Welsh language equal status with English in Wales with regard to the public sector. The head of state in Wales, a constituent part of the United Kingdom, is the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II (since 1952). Today The Prince of Wales is Prince Charles, the Queen’s eldest son. In 2006 the Government of Wales Act gained Royal Assent meaning that from May 2007 the Queen would have the new legal identity of 'Her Majesty in Right of Wales' and would for the first time appoint Welsh Ministers and sign Welsh Orders in Council. Harlech Castle was one of a series built by Edward I . FAMOUS WELSH Wales is famous for its singers and men choirs. Some well-known Welsh are: Tom Jones, Bonie Tyler, Robbie Williams, and the actress Keira Knightley. Welsh folk music is getting more and more popular. Every year Wales have a national Eisteddfodau which is a competition of singers and poets. It was first held in 1176 in Cardingan. Choirs from all over the country join there to show their knowledge. Today three Eisteddfodaus are held every year for the different groups.
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