Getting to Know: Wales

Situated on the Irish Sea, with over a thousand miles of coastline, mountain ranges, an ancient history entangled with the English monarchy, and more castles than anywhere on earth, Wales is a place for adventure, education and awe-inspiring moments. Often overshadowed by England, Wales should be explored in its own right. It has over 600 castles, many of which can be viewed at length (it’s know as the Land of Castles). Wales is a Celtic nation, having a rich history in its own right, its own language and traditions, and with a population of just over three million—the bulk of which live in the southern part—it makes for a great holiday destination.

Wales has a strong national identity, though it was annexed by England in the 1500s (it was conquered by Edward I in 1282, with a brief time of independence before its final incorporation into England). However, it has retained much of its culture and language.

The 19th century saw a resurgence of Welsh politics and a bit of a renaissance took place in the 20th century, with the founding of Plaid Cymru (Welsh political party) in 1925, a language-protecting society in 1962 (Wales is officially bilingual) and in 1998 the formation of a Welsh governing body. Wales has had an important rule in mining, industry and agricultural history, but is now more focused on service industries and tourism. The people are warm and friendly. They say that the Welsh people are the friendliest on earth and I tend to agree with that, with their only real rival for the title being the Irish.

 

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