Where is Wales and how big is it?
On the west of the island called Great Britain, Wales is a member of the United Kingdom. It’s to the west of England. Wales is just over 20,000 square kilometers in size. At its widest it’s 200 kilometers east to west, and 250 Kilometers north to south.
What’s the geography of Wales?
Wales has a varied geography with strong contrasts. In the south, flat coastal plains gives way to valleys, then to ranges of hills and mountains in mid and north Wales. There are three national parks and five areas of outstanding natural beauty, which cover a quarter of the land mass of Wales. 80% of the land is dedicated to agriculture, ranging from crops to livestock. The largest mountains in the north are part of the Snowdonia range, with the largest mountain being Snowdon at 1,085 metres. There are over 1300 kilometres of coastline ranging from long flat sandy beaches to towering cliffs.
When did Wales come into existence?
As a country, Wales began with Henry VIII’s Act of Union in 1536. Before that time Wales had been a loose collection of independent kingdoms and lordships with influxes and incursions from Europe. It’s believed that Wales, as an area of land, has been inhabited since 250,000 BC.
Who are the Welsh?
The Welsh today are descended from many people. Celtic tribes from Europe came to settle the whole of the British isles around 500-100 BC, alongside the original Iron Age population. It was their language which sowed the seeds of the modern Welsh language. Roman and Saxon invasions pushed the original Britons into the land area of Wales, where they became the Welsh people. Inward and outward migration has added diverse new layers of population across history.
What’s the population of Wales?
The people of Wales are descended from many ethnic groups, including the original Britons and other population groups including the Celts,
Romans and Scandinavians. Around three quarters of the 2.94 million population are concentrated around the large cities and mining valleys of the south east of the country. In the last 100 years, Wales has welcomed many diverse new groups to settle and be part of its population.
The Welsh Language
Welsh is a Celtic language spoken in Wales (Cymru) by about 740,000 people, and in the Welsh colony (yr Wladfa) in Patagonia, Argentina (yr Ariannin) by several hundred people. There are also Welsh speakers in England (Lloegr), Scotland (yr Alban), Canada, the USA (yr Unol
Daleithiau), Australia (Awstralia) and New Zealand (Seland Newydd).
At the beginning of the 20th century about half of the population of Wales spoke Welsh as an everyday language. Towards the end of the century, the proportion of Welsh speakers had fallen to about 20%. According to the 2001 census 582,368 people can speak Welsh, 659,301 people can either speak, read or write Welsh, and 797,717 people, 28% of the population, claimed to have some knowledge of the language.
According to a survey carried out by S4C, the Welsh language TV channel, the number of Welsh speakers in Wales is around 750,000, and about 1.5 million people can ‘understand’ Welsh. In addition there are an estimated 133,000 Welsh-speakers living in England, about 50,000 of them in the Greater London area.
Today there are radio stations and a TV channel, that broadcast entirely or mainly in Welsh. There are also weekly and monthly newspapers and magazines. About 500 books in Welsh are published annually, and there is a thriving Welsh language music scene. There are a number of Welsh language theater groups, and regular eisteddfodau or cultural festivals are held throughout Wales.
All school pupils in Wales study Welsh as a first or second language for 12 years, from the age of 5 to 16. The first school to use Welsh as the medium of instruction was set up in Aberystwyth in 1939. There are currently over 440 primary schools and over 50 secondary schools in Wales that teach entirely or mainly through the medium of Welsh. There is also a Welsh-medium school in London. Some courses at Welsh universities and colleges are taught through Welsh, and there are numerous Welsh courses for adults throughout Wales.
Where to live in Wales?
Cost of Living in Wales – City Guide
No matter where you intend to move to in the world, the cost of living will be a factor that you will want to consider. So how much does it cost to live in Wales? Here are some average figures for a couple of hotpots in beautiful Wales.
Cost of Living in Cardiff:
85sqm home rents for between £600-£950pm
Utilities for an 85sqm home with 2 occupants is about £130pm
45sqm studio rents for between £680-£1100pm
Utilities for a 45sqm studio with 1 occupant is about £135pm
Monthly public transport ticket will cost you about £46pm
Basic pub grub for 2 is about £20
Average price of a terraced house in Cardiff £196,000
Average price of a semi-detached house in Cardiff £239,000
Average price of a flat in Cardiff £144,000
Cost of Living in Swansea
85sqm home rents for between £870-£1200pm
Utilities for an 85sqm home with 2 occupants is about £160pm
45sqm studio rents for between £740-£1100pm
Utilities for a 45sqm studio with 1 occupant is about £80pm
Monthly public transport ticket will cost you about £50pm
Basic pub grub for 2 is about £20
Average price of a terraced house in Swansea £111,000
Average price of a semi-detached house in Swansea £145,000
Average price of a detached house in Swansea £220,000
As in all countries of the United Kingdom, education in Wales is free and compulsory between the ages of five and sixteen. There are significant differences between education in Wales and education in the rest of the United Kingdom that are worth noting. These differences have become more pronounced since the creation of the National Assembly for Wales in 1998. Preschool As in the UK, there are both state-funded and privately funded preschool centers for children under five. There are an increasing number of state- funded preschool institutions throughout Wales, most of which concentrate on ages three and four.
The structure of primary education in Wales is very similar to primary education in England and the rest of the UK. Children usually spend their first year in Reception (ages 4 to 5), which is designed to prepare children for later years of school, before moving up to Year 1. Children usually remain in primary school until Year 6 in Wales (age 10/11), when they sit Key Stage 2 examinations. Up until 2002 children in Wales used to be examined at the end of Key Stage 1 (ages six and seven), this practice has now been abolished however, and replaced with optional teacher assessment exercises. Key Stage 2 examinations are also under serious review in Wales.
Compulsory secondary education takes place between Years 7 and 11 in Wales (ages 11 to 16), although many students continue secondary
education until Year 13 (age eighteen). Students finish Key Stage Three in Year 9 (age 14) and sit Key Stage 3 exams in Mathematics, English
and Science, although these exams are also currently under review in Wales. All students in Wales sit GCSE exams in Year 11 (age 15/16), in a
range of subjects, of which English, Science, Mathematics and Welsh are compulsory. If students choose to continue education, they go on to sit AS level examinations in three to five subjects in Year 12, and then A level examinations in three to four subjects in Year 13. Students also have the option of obtaining NVQ qualifications during this period. As of 2000, all external examinations, from Key Stage 2, right through to A Level (but not including NVQ) are regulated by the Awdurdod Cymwysterau, Cwricwlwm ac Asesu Cymru (ACCAC), a uniquely Welsh qualifications authority.
The Welsh Language
For all schools in Wales, including schools where Welsh isn’t the principal language, the study of the Welsh language is compulsory until age
Higher Education – Small fees for a fantastic education!!
There are a number of Universities, and higher education centers throughout Wales, and higher education remains popular among Welsh
students. Undergraduate university applications are dealt with by the University and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS), a British organisation, and university entrance is dependent largely upon success in A level examinations.
The main difference between UK and Welsh universities is their funding. While recent legislation to increase the amount of money universities receive from students by introducing national ‘top up’ fees will effect Wales, Welsh students will only have to pay an additional £1,200 (as opposed £3,000 for many English students) due to a Welsh Assembly ruling. This is still under review however.
Other than the University of Wales (which has branches in seven Welsh cities, including Aberystwyth, Newport, Bangor and Cardiff), the
University of Cardiff is perhaps the most prestigious institution in the country. Most Welsh universities offer the chance to study Welsh history, and the Welsh language.
Health Care – National Health Service. Medication is also free.
Healthcare in Wales is mainly provided by the Welsh public health service, NHS Wales. NHS Wales provides healthcare to all permanent
residents that is free at the point of need and paid for from general taxation. Health is a matter that is devolved, and considerable differences are now developing between the public healthcare systems in the different countries of the United Kingdom. Though the public system dominates healthcare provision, private health care and a wide variety of alternative and complementary treatments are available for those willing to pay.
Dental Care is free if you:
Are aged under 18;
Are aged 18 and in full time education.
Pregnant or had a baby in the last year.
Dental Care is subsidised by the Government so a % is paid by adult patient.
The largest religion in modern Wales is Christianity, with almost 58% of the population describing themselves as Christian in the 2011 census. The Presbyterian Church of Wales was for many years the largest denomination; it was born out of the Welsh Methodist revival in the 18th century and seceded from the Church of England in 1811. Non-Christian religions have relatively few followers in Wales, with Muslims making up 1.5% of the population while Hindus and Buddhists represent 0.3%.
My favourite is Caswell Bay.
The Passionate Welsh Man – My favorite speech.
Wales still has thousands of cafés, restaurants and pubs where you get chips with everything and a salad means a bit of wilted lettuce and a few segments of fridge-cold tomato, but it is increasingly rare to find a town where you can’t find good food. Native Welsh cuisine is frequently rooted in economical ingredients, but an increasing number of menus make superb use of traditional fare, such as salt-marsh lamb (best served minted or with thyme or rosemary), wonderful Welsh black beef, fresh salmon and sewin (sea trout), frequently combined with the national vegetable, the leek. Specialties include laver bread (bara lawr), edible seaweed often mixed with oats then fried with a traditional breakfast of pork sausages, egg and bacon. Other dishes well worth investigating include Glamorgan sausages (a spiced vegetarian combination of Caerphilly cheese, breadcrumbs and leeks), cawl (a chunky mutton broth), and cockles, trawled from the estuary north of the Gower. The best-known of Wales’ famed cheeses is Caerphilly, a soft, crumbly, white cheese that forms the basis of a true Welsh rarebit when mixed with beer and toasted on bread. Creamy goat’s cheeses can be found all over the country, such as the superb Cothi Valley goat’s cheese, as well as delicacies like organic Per Las blue cheese, and Collier’s mature cheddar.
Other dairy products include ice cream, which, despite the climate, is exceptionally popular, with numerous companies creating home-made ices such as the Swansea area’s Joe’s Ice Cream or north Wales’ Cadwaladr’s.
Two traditional cakes are almost universal. Welsh cakes are flat, crumbling pancakes of sugared dough (a little like a flattened scone), while bara brith, a popular accompaniment to afternoon tea, literally translates as “speckled (with dried fruit) bread”.
Welsh pubs vary as much as the landscape, from opulent Edwardian palaces of smoked glass, gleaming brass and polished mahogany in the
larger towns and cities, to thick-set stone barns in wild, remote countryside. Where the church has faltered as a community focal point, the pub often still holds sway, with those in smaller towns and villages, in particular, functioning as community centres as much as places in which to drink alcohol. Live music – and, this being Wales, singing – frequently round off an evening. As a rule of thumb, if a pub has both a bar and a lounge, the bar will be more basic and frequently very male-dominated, while the lounge will tend to be plusher, more mixed and probably a better bet for a passing visitor.
Expats living in Wales