For a small country we have a varied and dramatic
landscape. It is only 274 km (170 miles) from north
to south and 97 km (60 miles) east to west at it's
There are nearly three million of us living here. The main population and industrial areas are in south Wales, where you’ll find Cardiff, our capital city. The Wrexham area in north east Wales is also quite densely populated.
Here in Wales you’re never far from a mountain or the sea - so it’s no wonder walkers, cyclists, surfers and sailors love to come and visit.
To the east we have England - leaving us with three other sides of sea, which explains over 1,200km (750 miles) of coastline. Gower, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Cardigan Bay all have wonderful, clean beaches and some surprising marine life.
Visitors to our shores include dolphins, porpoises, basking sharks, Atlantic grey seals and leatherback turtles. Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion are seen as an area of international importance for bottle nosed dolphins, and New Quay in Cardigan Bay has the only summer residence of bottle nosed dolphins in the UK.
The Gower Peninsula was the first area in the whole of the UK to be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in 1956.
There are also several islands off the Welsh mainland, the largest being Ynys Môn(Anglesey) in the northwest.
Shaped by the last Ice Age, some 10,000 years ago, our landscape is mountainous, particularly in north and mid Wales.
The highest mountains are in the dark and craggy Snowdonia range in the north, and include Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), which, at 1085 m (3,560 ft) is the highest peak in Wales.
As you travel south you will notice the landscape becomes much softer, though the hills remain of course. In mid Wales we have the Cambrian Mountains and moving further south The Brecon Beacons (highest point Pen-y-Fan 886m (2,907ft).
South Wales, where the industrial revolution really took hold, has a very different feel from the rest of Wales, which is generally more rural. Here you will find the steep-sided valleys once home to our coal mines, carved up by rivers like the Rhondda, Taff, Rhymney and Cynon.
Welsh is a Celtic language, closely related
to Cornish and Breton. The Welsh we speak
today is directly descended from the
language of the sixth century, and is one of
Europe’s oldest living languages.
The Welsh language is spoken widely throughout the country and is the first language in many parts of the north and west. National TV and radio stations broadcast in Welsh, road signs are written in Welsh and English, there are Welsh medium schools, books, magazines newspapers and websites.
It’s called Cymraeg in Welsh, and it’s a language with entirely regular and phonetic spelling. Although you wouldn’t necessarily know it to look at a word like Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
(The name means "St Mary's church in the hollow of the black hazel near to the rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio of the red cave" in Welsh. It was invented in the 1860s by a local tailor to make the village famous for having the railway station with the longest name.
English speakers saying "Clan-vire-poolth-guin-gilth-go-ger-u-queern-drob-oolth-clandus-ilio-gogo-goch" will sound close to how it is meant to sound. A recording of a person saying the name properly can be heard by listening to this sound file on the village website.)
But most other Welsh words are a lot shorter, and once you know the rules, you can learn to read and pronounce Welsh fairly easily.
Basic Welsh Language Phrases
Here are some simple words and phrases to get you started:
- - Bore da (Pronounced: Boh-reh dah): Good morning
- - Prynhawn da (Prin-houn dah): Good afternoon
- - Nos da (nohs dah): Good night
- - Croeso i Gymru (Croesoh ee Gum-reeh): Welcome to Wales
- - Iechyd da! (Yeh-chid dah): Cheers!
- - Tafarn (Tav-arn): Pub
- - Diolch (Dee-olch): Thanks
- - Da iawn (Dah ee-aw-n): Very good
Other Useful Links