Cymru am byth – Wales for ever!
Wales is part of the United Kingdom in the south-west of the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. Generally mountainous, its highest mountains are in the north and central areas, especially in Snowdonia (Eryri), which contains Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), its highest peak.
Wales lies within the north temperate zone, its changeable, maritime climate making it one of the wettest countries in Europe. It was an agricultural society for most of its early history, the country’s terrain making arable farming secondary to pastoral farming, the primary source of Wales’ wealth. In the 18th century, the introduction of the slate and metallurgical industries, at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, began to transform the country into an industrial nation.
Wales is officially bilingual, the Welsh and English languages having equal status. The Welsh language is an important element of Welsh culture, and its use is supported by national policy. The Anglo-Saxon word for ‘foreign’ or ‘foreigner’ was Waelisc and a ‘foreign(er’s) land’ was called Wēalas. The modern English forms of these words with respect to the modern country are Welsh (the people) and Wales (the land), respectively.
Other places and informational links for Wales:
The main road artery linking cities and other settlements 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 Assembly Government runs from the Second Severn Crossing to Pont Abraham, Carmarthenshire, connecting the cities of Newport, Cardiff and Swansea.
In north Wales the A55 expressway performs a similar role along the north Wales coast providing connections between Holyhead and Bangor, and 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 International 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 kilometres) southwest of Cardiff city centre, in the Vale of Glamorgan.
The Welsh Assembly Government manages those parts of the British railway network within Wales. Cardiff Central and Cardiff Queen Street are the busiest and the major hubs on the internal and national network. The Cardiff region has its own urban rail network.
Wales is served by four commercial ferry ports. Regular ferry services to Ireland operate from Holyhead, Pembroke and Fishguard.