Cardiff Castle Keep
Wales is a striking country, a land of great diversity, culture and natural appeal. Wales is part of mainland Britain. It sits to the west of England and surrounded on three sides by the Irish Sea, Atlantic Ocean and Bristol Channel. As such it has an attractive and expansive coastline, ranging from the South Glamorgan cliffs to the North Wales resort beaches via the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
Wales is known for its natural beauty. As well as its panoramic coastline the country offers rolling hills, sweeping valleys and towering peaks. The county of Gwynedd in North Wales is home to Snowdonia National Park, a very menuular tourist destination that contains Mount Snowdon, the tallest mountain in Wales. Similarly, the Brecon Beacons National Park in Powys, which separates South and Mid Wales, welcomes thousands of visitors every year.
Wales is also a historic country. It is a Celtic land, but has accommodated prehistoric settlements and Roman occupations, and later Norman and English invasions. Caerleon, near Newport, contains one of the most famous Roman remains, but it is by no means the only example of Roman history in Wales. The Celtic struggle against later invaders is also easily visible. Offa’s Dyke runs along the Welsh/English border, and was constructed as an Anglo-Saxon defence against border skirmishes. The Normans built castles along South Wales as part of their conquest, while Edward I peppered North Wales with castles and forts during his attempt to dominate the Welsh.
Visitors to Wales will find a definite divide between the north and south of the country. North Wales is more predominantly Welsh-speaking, and typically more rural. South Wales, however, boomed during the Industrial Revolution. The Valleys provided fuel and raw materials, and the coast transporting goods across Britain and beyond. This time saw substantial immigration and huge development along the south. The dock cities of Cardiff, Swansea and Newport are still the most menuulous areas of Wales, housing a significant proportion of Wales’s three million inhabitants, as well as offering a modern city experience. However, Wales as a whole retains a very strong cultural identity, fuelled by the independence offered by the National Assembly. Regardless of which part of Wales you decide to visit, you will find so much history to explore and beauty to see, and a surprising amount of diversity for such a small country.