What and Where is Wales?

By: IC

Wales is known as the land of song, and boy does the countryside sing to you. Wales is placed on the western side of the UK and is the green bit that sticks out on a map, above Devon and Cornwall, and below Liverpool.

Depending on where you are coming from it should not take you long to get here, but when you get here you'll find that Wales is a very different place.

Although English is the first language in Wales, Wales has its own language that is spoken by 305 of the population. Welsh is one of the oldest languages in Europe and is still used in daily life.

Next there is the Countryside views. Wales has 3 National Parks and 5 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, all part of a landscape that offers opportunities for a wide spectrum of activities. Walking (the most popular), cycling (Wales has many canal paths that meander through stunning countryside) , climbing, golf (the 2010 Ryder cup will be held in Wales at the Celtic Manor Resort), mountain biking (Afan Argoed trail is consistently in the top ten trails in the world in Mountain Biking circles) and paragliding are just the beginning of the list.

Welsh population is around 3 million people, so there's plenty of room for visitors, and you can be sure of a warm Welsh welcome.

Famous sons and daughters of Wales you will have heard of include Richard Burton, Sir Tom Jones, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones and possibly our most famous son Dylan Thomas.

Many other people have been tracing their Welsh ancestry recently - including Tom Cruise, Susan Sarandon, Russell Crowe and Kylie Minogue. Many of the American Cultural Icons were either Welsh or had Welsh ancestry. 14 of the original signatories to the declaration of Independence for example were Welsh. Jack Daniels the drinks man was Welsh, and John Quincy Adams President of the US was also Welsh.

If old Buildings are your thing, then we have over 400 castles at the last count, the Welsh National Opera (one of the world's premier Opera Companies), the largest single-span glasshouse in the world (at the National Botanic Garden of Wales), and a great flag with a Red Dragon on it.

The capital city is Cardiff. The Romans had a fortress here in the first Century AD, but Cardiff's a young upstart by European city Standards really. It was officially given capital status in 1955, and is home to a large concentration of Television and media companies, turning out award- winning productions like the current incarnation of the legendary Dr Who series.

Second city is Swansea to the West which boasts the UK's first area of outstanding natural beauty, 'the Gower'. This is the area that board heads adore as the surfing there is some of the best in the UK.

The National Sport is Rugby, and Wales regularly compete against the top teams in the world and have never been outside of the top 10 teams worldwide.

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