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Motto: Cymru am byth
(English: "Wales forever")
Anthem: "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau"
(English: "Land of my fathers")
in the United Kingdom (camel) in the European continent (white)
Capital (and largest city) Cardiff, Caerdydd
National languages Welsh, English
Demonym Welsh, Cymry
Government Devolved Government in a Constitutional monarchy
- Monarch Elizabeth II
- First Minister of Wales (Head of Welsh Assembly Government) Carwyn Jones AM
- Deputy First Minister for Wales Ieuan Wyn Jones AM
- Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron MP
- Secretary of State (in the UK government) Cheryl Gillan MP
Legislature UK Parliament
National Assembly for Wales
- by Gruffydd ap Llywelyn
Calling code 44
Patron saint Saint David, Dewi
1 Office for National Statistics – Population estimates for UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - current datasets
2 Also .eu, as part of the European Union. ISO 3166-1 is GB, but .gb is unused.
Wales ( ˈweɪlz (help·info) Welsh: Cymru;2 pronounced ˈkəmrɨ (help·info)) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom,3 bordered by England to its east, and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. Wales has a population estimated at three million and is officially bilingual; Welsh and English have equal status, and bilingual signs are the norm throughout the land. The once-steady decline in Welsh speaking has reversed over recent years, however, with Welsh speakers currently estimated to be around 20% of the population.45
During the Iron Age and early medieval period, Wales was inhabited by the Celtic Britons. A distinct Welsh national identity emerged in the centuries after the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the 5th century, and Wales is regarded as one of the modern Celtic nations today.678 In the 13th century, the defeat of Llewelyn by Edward I completed the Anglo-Norman conquest of Wales and brought about centuries of English occupation. Wales was subsequently incorporated into England with the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542, creating the legal entity known today as England and Wales. Distinctive Welsh politics developed in the 19th century, and in 1881 the Welsh Sunday Closing Act became the first legislation applied exclusively to Wales. In 1955, Cardiff was proclaimed as the capital city and in 1999 the National Assembly for Wales was created, which holds responsibility for a range of devolved matters.
The capital Cardiff (Welsh: Caerdydd) is the largest city in Wales with 317,500 people. For a period it was the biggest coal port in the world9 and, for a few years before World War I, it handled a greater tonnage of cargo than either London or Liverpool.10 Two-thirds of the Welsh population live in South Wales, with another concentration in eastern North Wales. Many tourists visiting Wales have been drawn to its "wild ... and picturesque" landscapes.1112 From the late 19th century onwards, Wales acquired its popular image as the "land of song", attributable in part to the revival of the eisteddfod tradition.13 Actors, singers and other artists are celebrated in Wales today, often achieving international success.14 Cardiff is the largest media centre in the UK outside of London.15
Llywelyn the Great founded the Principality of Wales in 1216. Just over a hundred years after the Edwardian Conquest, in the early 15th century Owain Glyndŵr briefly restored independence to what was to become modern Wales.1617 Traditionally the British Royal Family have bestowed the courtesy title of "Prince of Wales" upon the male heir apparent of the reigning monarch. Wales is sometimes referred to as the "Principality of Wales", or just the "principality",1819 although this has no modern geographical or constitutional basis.20
2.1 Prehistoric origins
2.3 Medieval Wales
2.4 Industrial Wales
2.5 Modern Wales
3 Government and politics
3.1 Local government
11 National symbols
12 Welsh people
13 See also
16 External links
See also: List of meanings of countries names and History of the term Vlach
The English name Wales originates from the Germanic words Walh (singular) and Walha (plural), meaning "foreigner" or "stranger" who had been "Romanised".21 The Ænglisc-speaking Anglo-Saxons used the term Waelisc when referring to the Celtic Britons, and Wēalas when referring to their lands.
The same etymology applies to walnut (meaning "foreign (Roman) nut") as well as the wall of Cornwall and Wallonia.22 Old Church Slavonic also borrowed the term from the Germanic, and it is the origin of the names Wallachia and its people, the Vlachs.232425
The modern Welsh name for themselves is Cymry, and Cymru is Welsh for "Land of the Cymry". The etymological origin of Cymry is from the Brythonic word combrogi, meaning "fellow-countrymen".26 The use of the word Cymry as a self-designation derives from the post-Roman Era relationship of the Welsh with the Brythonic-speaking peoples of northern England and southern Scotland, the peoples of Yr Hen Ogledd (English: The Old North). In its original use, it amounted to a self-perception that the Welsh and the "Men of the North" were one people, exclusive of all others.27 In particular, the term was not applied to the Cornish or the Breton peoples, who are of similar heritage, culture, and language to both the Welsh and the Men of the North. The word came into use as a self-description probably before the 7th century.28 It is attested in a praise poem to Cadwallon ap Cadfan written c. 633.29
In Welsh literature the word Cymry was used throughout the Middle Ages to describe the Welsh, though the older, more generic term Brythoniaid continued to be used to describe any of the Britonnic peoples (including the Welsh) and was the more common literary term until c. 1100. Thereafter Cymry prevailed as a reference to the Welsh. Until circa 1560 Cymry was used indiscriminately to mean either the people (Cymry) or their homeland (Cymru).26
The Latinised form of the name is Cambria. Outside of Wales this form survives as the name of Cumbria in North West England, which was once a part of Yr Hen Ogledd. It is used to represent a geological period (the Cambrian) and in evolutionary studies to represent the period when most major groups of complex animals appeared (the Cambrian explosion). This form also appears at times in literary references, perhaps most notably in the pseudohistorical Historia Regum Britanniae of Geoffrey of Monmouth, where the character of Camber is described as the eponymous King of Cymru.
It has occasionally been suggested, both in outdated historical sources and by some modern writers, that the Cymry were somehow linked to the 2nd century BC Cimbri or to the 7th century BC Cimmerians because of the phonetic similarity. Such suggestions have long been dismissed by scholars on etymological and other grounds.3031
Main article: History of Wales
See also: Prehistoric Wales
Bryn Celli Ddu, a late Neolithic chambered tomb on Anglesey Wales has been inhabited by modern humans for at least 29,000 years.32 Continuous human habitation dates from the end of the last ice age, between 12,000 and 10,000 years before present (BP), when Mesolithic hunter-gatherers from central Europe began to migrate to Great Britain. Wales was free of glaciers by about 10,250 BP, the warmer climate allowing the area to become heavily wooded. People would have been able to walk between continental Europe and Great Britain until about 7,000-6,000 BP, before the post-glacial rise in sea level made Great Britain an island.3334 John Davies has theorised that the story of Cantrer Gwaelods drowning and tales in the Mabinogion, of the waters between Wales and Ireland being narrower and shallower, may be distant folk memories of this time.33
Neolithic colonists integrated with the indigenous people, gradually changing their lifestyles from a nomadic life of hunting and gathering, to become settled farmers – the Neolithic Revolution.3335 They cleared the forests to establish pasture and to cultivate the land, developed new technologies such as ceramics and textile production, and built cromlechs such as Pentre Ifan, Bryn Celli Ddu and Parc Cwm long cairn between about 5,500 BP and 6,000 BP, about 1,000 to 1,500 years before either Stonehenge or the Great Pyramid of Giza was completed.3637383940
In common with people living all over Great Britain, over the following centuries the people living in what was to become known as Wales assimilated immigrants and exchanged ideas of the Bronze Age and Iron Age Celtic cultures. According to John T. Koch and others, Wales in the Late Bronze Age was part of a maritime trading-networked culture that also included the other Celtic nations, England, France, Spain and Portugal where Celtic languages developed.414243444546 By the time of the Roman invasion of Britain the area of modern Wales had been divided among the tribes of the Deceangli, Ordovices, Cornovii, Demetae and Silures for centuries.47
See also: Roman Britain, Roman Wales, and Sub-Roman Britain
The first documented history of the area that would become Wales was in AD 48. Following attacks by the Silures of southeast Wales, in AD 47 and 48, the Roman historian Tacitus recorded that the governor of the new Roman province of Britannia "received the submission of the Deceangli" in north-east Wales.48
A string of Roman forts was established across what is now the South Wales region, as far west as Carmarthen (Caerfyrddin; Latin: Maridunum), and gold was mined at Dolaucothi in Carmarthenshire. There is evidence that the Romans progressed even farther west. They also built the Roman legionary fortress at Caerleon (Latin: Isca Silurum), of which the magnificent amphitheatre is the best preserved in Britain.
The Romans were also busy in northern Wales, and the mediaeval Welsh tale Breuddwyd Macsen Wledig (dream of Macsen Wledig) claims that Magnus Maximus (Macsen Wledig), one of the last western Roman Emperors, married Elen or Helen, the daughter of a Welsh chieftain from Segontium, present-day Caernarfon.49 It was in the 4th century during the Roman occupation that Christianity was introduced to Wales.
After the Roman withdrawal from Britain in 410, much of the lowlands were overrun by various Germanic tribes.50 However, Gwynedd, Powys, Dyfed and Seisyllg, Morgannwg, and Gwent emerged as independent Welsh successor states. They endured, in part because of favourable geographical features such as uplands, mountains, and rivers and a resilient society that did not collapse with the end of the Roman civitas.
This tenacious survival by the Romano-Britons and their descendants in the western kingdoms was to become the foundation of what we now know as Wales. With the loss of the lowlands, Englands kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria, and later Wessex, wrestled with Powys, Gwent, and Gwynedd to define the frontier between the two peoples.
Having lost much of what is now the West Midlands to Mercia in the 6th and early 7th centuries, a resurgent late-seventh-century Powys checked Mercian advancement. Aethelbald of Mercia, looking to defend recently acquired lands, had built Wats Dyke. According to John Davies, this endeavour may have been with Powys king Elisedd ap Gwylogs own agreement, however, for this boundary, extending north from the valley of the River Severn to the Dee estuary, gave Oswestry (Welsh: Croesoswallt) to Powys.51 King Offa of Mercia seems to have continued this consultative initiative when he created a larger earthwork, now known as Offas Dyke (Welsh: Clawdd Offa). Davies wrote of Cyril Foxs study of Offas Dyke:
In the planning of it, there was a degree of consultation with the kings of Powys and Gwent. On the Long Mountain near Trelystan, the dyke veers to the east, leaving the fertile slopes in the hands of the Welsh; near Rhiwabon, it was designed to ensure that Cadell ap Brochwel retained possession of the Fortress of Penygadden." And for Gwent Offa had the dyke built "on the eastern crest of the gorge, clearly with the intention of recognizing that the River Wye and its traffic belonged to the kingdom of Gwent.51
However, Foxs interpretations of both the length and purpose of the Dyke have been questioned by more recent research.52 Offas Dyke largely remained the frontier between the Welsh and English, though the Welsh would recover by the 12th century the area between the Dee and the Conwy known then as the Perfeddwlad. By the eighth century, the eastern borders with the Anglo-Saxons had broadly been set.
Following the successful examples of Cornwall in 722 and Brittany in 865, the Britons of Wales made their peace with the Vikings and asked the Norsemen to help the Britons fight the Anglo-Saxons of Mercia to prevent an Anglo-Saxon conquest of Wales. In AD 878 the Britons of Wales unified with the Vikings of Denmark to destroy an Anglo-Saxon army of Mercians. Like Cornwall in 722, this decisive defeating of the Saxons gave Wales some decades of peace from Anglo-Saxon attack. In 1063, the Welsh prince Gruffydd ap Llywelyn made an alliance with Norwegian Vikings against Mercia which, as in AD 878 was successful, and the Saxons of Mercia defeated. As with Cornwall and Brittany, Viking aggression towards the SaxonsFranks ended any chance of the Anglo-SaxonsFranks conquering their Celtic neighbours.
Principalities in north Wales 1267–76See also: Norman invasion of Wales and Wales in the Late Middle Ages
The southern and eastern lands lost to English settlement became known in Welsh as Lloegyr (Modern Welsh Lloegr), which may have referred to the kingdom of Mercia originally, and which came to refer to England as a whole.53 The Germanic tribes who now dominated these lands were invariably called Saeson, meaning "Saxons". The Anglo-Saxons called the Romano-British Walha, meaning Romanised foreigner or stranger.23
The Welsh continued to call themselves Brythoniaid (Brythons or Britons) well into the Middle Ages, though the first use of Cymru and y Cymry is found as early as 633 in the Gododdin of Aneirin. In Armes Prydain, written in about 930, the words Cymry and Cymro are used as often as 15 times. However, it was not until about the 12th century, that Cymry began to overtake Brythoniaid in their writings.
Dolwyddelan Castle, built by Llywelyn ab Iorwerth in the early 13th century to watch over one of the valley routes into GwyneddFrom 800 onwards, a series of dynastic marriages led to Rhodri Mawrs (r. 844–77) inheritance of Gwynedd and Powys. His sons in turn would found three principal dynasties (Aberffraw for Gwynedd, Dinefwr for Deheubarth, and Mathrafal for Powys), each competing for hegemony over the others.
Rhodris grandson Hywel Dda (r. 900–50) founded Deheubarth out of his maternal and paternal inheritances of Dyfed and Seisyllwg, ousted the Aberffraw dynasty from Gwynedd and Powys, and codified Welsh law in 930, finally going on a pilgrimage to Rome (and allegedly having the Law Codes blessed by the Pope). Maredudd ab Owain (r. 986–99) of Deheubarth (Hywels grandson) would, (again) temporarily oust the Aberffraw line from control of Gwynedd and Powys.
Maredudds great-grandson (through his daughter Princess Angharad) Gruffydd ap Llywelyn (r. 1039–63) would conquer his cousins realms from his base in Powys, and even extend his authority into England. Historian John Davies states that Gruffydd was "the only Welsh king ever to rule over the entire territory of Wales... Thus, from about 1057 until his death in 1063, the whole of Wales recognised the kingship of Gruffudd ap Llywelyn. For about seven brief years, Wales was one, under one ruler, a feat with neither precedent nor successor."54 Owain Gwynedd (1100–70) of the Aberffraw line was the first Welsh ruler to use the title princeps Wallensium (prince of the Welsh), a title of substance given his victory on the Berwyn Mountains, according to John Davies.55
A sculpture of Owain Glyndŵr (c. 1354 or 1359 – c. 1416), the last native Welsh person to hold the title Prince of Wales.The Aberffraw dynasty would surge to pre-eminence with Owain Gwynedds grandson Llywelyn Fawr (the Great) (b.1173–1240), wrestling concessions out of the Magna Carta in 1215 and receiving the fealty of other Welsh lords in 1216 at the council at Aberdyfi, becoming the first Prince of Wales. His grandson Llywelyn II also secured the recognition of the title Prince of Wales from Henry III with the Treaty of Montgomery in 1267. Later however, a succession of disputes, including the imprisonment of Llywelyns wife Eleanor, daughter of Simon de Montfort, culminated in the first invasion by Edward I.
Caernarfon CastleAs a result of military defeat, the Treaty of Aberconwy exacted Llywelyns fealty to England in 1277. Peace was short lived and with the 1282 Edwardian conquest the rule of the Welsh princes permanently ended. With Llywelyns death and his brother prince Dafydds execution, the few remaining Welsh lords did homage for their lands to Edward I. Llywelyns head was then carried through London on a spear; his baby daughter Gwenllian was locked in the priory at Sempringham, where she remained until her death 54 years later.56
To help maintain his dominance, Edward constructed a series of great stone castles. Beaumaris, Caernarfon, and Conwy were built mainly to overshadow the Welsh royal home and headquarters Garth Celyn, Aber Garth Celyn, on the north coast of Gwynedd.
After the failed revolt in 1294–95 of Madog ap Llywelyn – who styled himself Prince of Wales in the so-called Penmachno Document – there was no major uprising until that led by Owain Glyndŵr a century later, against Henry IV of England. In 1404 Owain was reputedly crowned Prince of Wales in the presence of emissaries from France, Spain and Scotland; he went on to hold parliamentary assemblies at several Welsh towns, including Machynlleth. The rebellion was ultimately to founder, however, and Owain went into hiding in 1412, with peace being essentially restored in Wales by 1415.
Although the English conquest of Wales took place under the 1284 Statute of Rhuddlan, a formal Union did not occur until 1536,18 shortly after which Welsh law, which continued to be used in Wales after the conquest, was fully replaced by English law under the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542.
See also: Glamorgan, and Lower Swansea valley
Prior to the British Industrial Revolution, which saw a rapid expansion between 1750 and 1850, there were signs of small-scale industries scattered throughout Wales.57 These ranged from industries connected to agriculture, such as milling and the manufacture of woollen textiles, through to mining and quarrying.57 Until the Industrial Revolution, Wales had always been reliant on its agricultural output for its wealth and employment and the earliest industrial businesses were small scale and localised in manner.57
Dowlais Ironworks by George Childs (1840)The emerging industrial period commenced around the development of copper smelting in the Swansea area. With access to local coal deposits and a harbour that could take advantage of Cornwalls copper mines and the copper deposits being extracted from the then largest copper mine in the world at Parys Mountain on Anglesey, Swansea developed into the worlds major centre for non-ferrous metal smelting in the 19th century.57 The second metal industry to expand in Wales was iron smelting, and iron manufacturing became prevalent in both the north and the south of the country.58 In the north of Wales, John Wilkinsons Ironworks at Bersham was a significant industry, while in the south, a second world centre of metallurgy was founded in Merthyr Tydfil, where the four ironworks of Dowlais, Cyfarthfa, Plymouth and Penydarren became the most significant hub of iron manufacture in Wales.58 In the 1820s, south Wales alone accounted for 40% of all pig iron manufactured in Britain.58
In the late 18th century, slate quarrying began to expand rapidly, most notably in north Wales. The most notable site, opened in 1770 by Richard Pennant, is Penrhyn Quarry, which by the late 19th century was employing 15,000 men;59 and along with Dinorwic Quarry, dominated the Welsh slate trade. Although slate quarrying has been described as the most Welsh of Welsh industries,60 it is coal mining which has become the single industry synonymous with Wales and its people. Initially coal seams were exploited to provide energy for local metal industries, but with the opening of canal systems and later the railways, Welsh coal mining saw a boom in its demand. As the south Wales coalfield was exploited, mainly in the upland valleys around Aberdare and later the Rhondda, the ports of Swansea, Cardiff and later Penarth, grew into world exporters of coal, and with them came a population boom. By its height in 1913, Wales was producing almost 61 million tons of coal,61 but when the heavy industries collapsed after World War II, the towns centred around these industries also went into a deep depression, with massive unemployment and emigration.
As Wales was reliant on the production of capital goods rather than of consumer goods, there were little skilled craftspeople and artisans that existed in the workshops of Birmingham and Sheffield in England. Therefore there were few factories producing finished goods in Wales, a key feature when considering regions associated with the Industrial Revolution.58 Though there is increasing support that the revolution was reliant on harnessing the energy and materials provided by Wales, and in that development, Wales was of central importance.58
Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg logo (English: The Welsh Language Society)In the 20th century, Wales saw a revival in its national status. Plaid Cymru was formed in 1925, seeking greater autonomy or independence from the rest of the UK. In 1955, the term England and Wales became common for describing the area to which English law applied, and Cardiff was proclaimed as capital city of Wales. Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (English: The Welsh Language Society) was formed in 1962, in response to fears that the language may soon die out.
Nationalism grew, particularly following the flooding of the Tryweryn valley in 1965 to create a reservoir supplying water to the English city of Liverpool. Despite 35 of the 36 Welsh Members of Parliament (MPs) voting against the bill, with the other abstaining, Parliament still passed the bill and the village of Capel Celyn was drowned, highlighting Waless powerlessness in her own affairs in the face of the numerical superiority of English MPs in the Westminster Parliament.62 In 1966 the Carmarthen Parliamentary seat was won by Gwynfor Evans at a by-election, Plaid Cymrus first Parliamentary seat.63
Both the Free Wales Army and Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru (MAC) (English: Welsh Defence Movement) were formed as a direct result of the Tryweryn destruction,64 conducting campaigns from 1963. In the years leading up to the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales in 1969, these groups were responsible for a number of bomb blasts—destroying water pipes, tax and other offices, and part of a dam being built for a new English-backed project in Clywedog, Montgomeryshire.64 In 1967, the Wales and Berwick Act 1746 was repealed for Wales, and a legal definition of Wales, and of the boundary with England was stated.
Unofficial graffiti memorial to Capel Celyn, Tryweryn (English: Remember Tryweryn) at Llanrhystud, near Aberystwyth65A referendum on the creation of an assembly for Wales in 1979 (see Wales referendum, 1979) led to a large majority for the "no" vote. However, in 1997 a referendum on the same issue secured a "yes", although by a very narrow majority. The National Assembly for Wales (Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru) was set up in 1999 (as a consequence of the Government of Wales Act 1998) and possesses the power to determine how the central government budget for Wales is spent and administered (although the UK parliament reserves the right to set limits on the powers of the Welsh Assembly).
The 1998 Act was amended by the Government of Wales Act 2006 which enhanced the Assemblys powers, giving it legislative powers akin to the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly. Following the 2007 Assembly election, the One Wales Government was formed under a coalition agreement between Plaid Cymru and the Welsh Labour Party, under that agreement, a convention is due to be established to discuss further enhancing Waless legislative and financial autonomy. A referendum on giving the Welsh assembly full law-making powers is promised "as soon as practicable, at or before the end of the assembly term (in 2011)" and both parties have agreed "in good faith to campaign for a successful outcome to such a referendum".66
Government and politics
Main article: Politics of Wales
See also: Politics of the United Kingdom and National Assembly for Wales election, 2007
Royal Badge of Wales Constitutionally, the United Kingdom is de jure a unitary state with one sovereign parliament and government in Westminster. Referenda held in Wales and Scotland in 1997 chose to establish a limited form of self-government in both countries. In Wales, the consequent process of devolution began with the Government of Wales Act 1998, which created the National Assembly for Wales (Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru).67 Powers of the Secretary of State for Wales were transferred to the devolved government on 1 July 1999, granting the Assembly responsibility to decide how the Westminster governments budget for devolved areas is spent and administered.68
Devolved responsibilities include agriculture, economic development, education, health, housing, industry, local government, social services, tourism, transport, and the Welsh language. The National Assembly is not a sovereign authority and has no primary legislative powers, which the Westminster Government retains, but since the Government of Wales Act 2006 came into effect in 2007, the National Assembly can request powers to pass primary legislation as Assembly Measures on specific issues.68 The UK Parliament could, in theory, overrule or even abolish the National Assembly for Wales at any time.
The Senedd building The Assembly consists of 60 members, known as "Assembly Members (AM)". Forty of the AMs are elected under the First Past the Post system, with the other 20 elected via the Additional Member System via regional lists in 5 different regions. The largest party elects the First Minister of Wales, who acts as the head of government. The Welsh Assembly Government is the executive arm, and the Assembly has delegated most of its powers to the Assembly Government. The new Assembly Building designed by Lord Rogers was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on St Davids Day (1 March) 2006.
The First Minister of Wales is Carwyn Jones (since 2009), of the Labour Party, with 26 of 60 seats.69 After the National Assembly for Wales election, 2007 Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru; The Party of Wales, which favours Welsh independence from the rest of the United Kingdom entered into a coalition partnership to form a stable government with the "historic" One Wales agreement.
As the second-largest party in the Assembly with 14 out of 60 seats, Plaid Cymru is led by Ieuan Wyn Jones, Deputy First Minister of Wales. The Presiding Officer of the Assembly is Plaid Cymru member Lord Elis-Thomas. Other parties include the Conservative Party, currently the loyal opposition with 13 seats, and the Liberal Democrats with six seats. The "LibDems" had previously formed part of a coalition government with Labour in the first Assembly. There is one independent member.
In the House of Commons – the lower house of the UK government – Wales is represented by 40 MPs (of 646) from Welsh constituencies. Labour represents 29 of the 40 seats, the Liberal Democrats hold four seats, Plaid Cymru three and the Conservatives three.70 A Secretary of State for Wales sits in the UK cabinet and is responsible for representing matters that pertain to Wales. The Wales Office is a department of the United Kingdom government, responsible for Wales. Cheryl Gillan has been Secretary of State for Wales since 12 May 2010, replacing Peter Hain of the previous Labour administration. Gillan was appointed to the new Conservative-Liberal coalition Westminster government following the United Kingdom general election of 2010.71
Wales is also a distinct UK electoral region of the European Union represented by 4 Members of the European Parliament.
Clock tower of Cardiff City Hall Main article: Local government in Wales
See also: History of local government in Wales
For the purposes of local government, Wales was divided into 22 council areas in 1996. These "unitary authorities" are responsible for the provision of all local government services.
Map of unitary authority areas
Merthyr Tydfil (Merthyr Tudful) †
Caerphilly (Caerffili) †
Blaenau Gwent †
Torfaen (Tor-faen) †
Monmouthshire (Sir Fynwy)
Newport (Casnewydd) *
Cardiff (Caerdydd) *
Vale of Glamorgan (Bro Morgannwg) †
Bridgend (Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr) †
Rhondda Cynon Taf †
Neath Port Talbot (Castell-nedd Port Talbot) †
Swansea (Abertawe) *
Carmarthenshire (Sir Gaerfyrddin)
Wrexham (Wrecsam) †
Flintshire (Sir y Fflint)
Denbighshire (Sir Ddinbych)
Isle of Anglesey (Ynys Môn)
Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro)
Areas are Counties, unless marked * (for Cities) or † (for County Boroughs). Welsh language forms are given in parentheses, where they differ from the English..
Note that there are five cities in total in Wales: in addition to Cardiff, Newport and Swansea, the communities of Bangor and St Davids also have UK city status.
showv • d • eLocal government in Wales
established in 1996 Blaenau Gwent · Bridgend · Caerphilly · Cardiff · Carmarthenshire · Ceredigion · Conwy · Denbighshire · Flintshire · Gwynedd · Isle of Anglesey · Merthyr Tydfil · Monmouthshire · Neath Port Talbot · Newport · Pembrokeshire · Powys · Rhondda Cynon Taf · Swansea · Torfaen · Vale of Glamorgan · Wrexham
Counties and districts
1974–1996 Clwyd Alyn and Deeside · Colwyn · Delyn · Glyndŵr · Rhuddlan · Wrexham Maelor
Dyfed Carmarthen · Ceredigion · Dinefwr · Llanelli · Preseli Pembrokeshire · South Pembrokeshire
Gwent Blaenau Gwent · Islwyn · Monmouth · Newport · Torfaen
Gwynedd Aberconwy · Anglesey · Arfon · Dwyfor · Meirionnydd
Mid Glamorgan Cynon Valley · Merthyr Tydfil · Ogwr · Rhondda · Rhymney Valley · Taff-Ely
Powys Brecknock · Montgomeryshire · Radnorshire
South Glamorgan Cardiff · Vale of Glamorgan
West Glamorgan Lliw Valley · Neath · Port Talbot · Swansea
established before 1889 Anglesey · Brecknockshire · Caernarfonshire · Cardiganshire · Carmarthenshire · Denbighshire · Flintshire · Glamorganshire · Merionethshire · Monmouthshire · Montgomeryshire · Pembrokeshire · Radnorshire
Main article: English law
See also: Contemporary Welsh Law
England fully annexed Wales under the Laws in Wales Act 1535, in the reign of King Henry VIII. Prior to that Welsh Law had survived de facto after the conquest up to the 15th century in areas remote from direct English control. The Wales and Berwick Act 1746 provided that all laws that applied to England would automatically apply to Wales (and Berwick-upon-Tweed, a town located on the Anglo-Scottish border) unless the law explicitly stated otherwise. This act, with regard to Wales, was repealed in 1967. However, Wales and England, as part of a single legal entity, share the same legal system—except for a few changes to accommodate the autonomy recently afforded to Wales. In this sense, English law is the law of Wales. (See England and Wales.)
English law is regarded as a common law system, with no major codification of the law, and legal precedents are binding as opposed to persuasive. The court system is headed by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom which is the highest court of appeal in the land for criminal and civil cases.The Supreme Court of Judicature of England and Wales is the highest court of first instance as well as an appellate court. The three divisions are the Court of Appeal; the High Court of Justice and the Crown Court. Minor cases are heard by the Magistrates Courts or the County Court.
Since devolution in 2006, the Welsh Assembly has had the authority to draft and approve some laws outside of the UK Parliamentary system to meet the specific needs of Wales. Under powers conferred by Legislative Competency Orders agreed by all parliamentary stakeholders, it is able to pass laws known as Assembly Measures in relation to specific fields, such as health and education. As such, Assembly Measures are a subordinate form of primary legislation, lacking the scope of UK-wide acts of parliament, but able to be passed without the approval of the UK parliament or Royal Assent for each act. Through this primary legislation, the Welsh Assembly Government can then also draft more specific secondary legislation. With devolution, the ancient and historic Wales and Chester court circuit was also disbanded and a separate Welsh court circuit was created to allow for any Measures passed by the Assembly.
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