Water & Mountain Landscape, Mount Snowdon Trail, Snowdonia National Park, Gwynedd, Wales(PID:50160529398) Source
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Snowdon (/ˈsnoʊdən/; Welsh: Yr Wyddfa, pronounced [ər ˈwɪðva]) is the highest mountain in Wales, at an elevation of 1,085 metres (3,560 ft) above sea level, and the highest point in the British Isles outside the Scottish Highlands. It is located in Snowdonia National Park (Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri) in Gwynedd (historic county of Caernarfonshire). It is the busiest mountain in the United Kingdom and the third most visited attraction in Wales; in 2018 it was visited by 558,000 walkers, with an additional 140,000 people taking the train. It is designated as a national nature reserve for its rare flora and fauna. The rocks that form Snowdon were produced by volcanoes in the Ordovician period, and the massif has been extensively sculpted by glaciation, forming the pyramidal peak of Snowdon and the arêtes of Crib Goch and Y Lliwedd. The cliff faces on Snowdon, including Clogwyn Du'r Arddu, are significant for rock climbing, and the mountain was used by Edmund Hillary in training for the 1953 ascent of Mount Everest. The summit can be reached by a number of paths (there are six main paths) and by the Snowdon Mountain Railway, a rack railway opened in 1896 which carries passengers the 4.7 miles (7.6 km) from Llanberis to the summit station. The summit building, called Hafod Eryri, houses a cafe and is open only when the railway is operating; it opened in 2009 to replace one built in the 1930s. The railway generally operates from March to the end of October, with trains running to the summit station from May. The daily running schedule depends on weather and customer demand. Snowdon is one of three mountains climbed as part of the National Three Peaks Challenge. In addition to being the highest mountain in Wales, Snowdon is also the high point (county top) of the historic county of Caernarfonshire. The English name "Snowdon" comes from the Old English snaw dun meaning "snow hill". The Welsh name – Yr Wyddfa – means "the tumulus" or "the barrow", which may refer to the cairn thrown over the legendary giant Rhitta Gawr after his defeat by King Arthur. As well as other figures from Arthurian legend, the mountain is linked to a legendary afanc (water monster) and the Tylwyth Teg (fairies). A 1682 survey estimated that the summit of Snowdon was at a height of 3,720 feet (1,130 m); in 1773, Thomas Pennant quoted a later estimate of 3,568 ft (1,088 m) above sea level at Caernarfon. It was long believed to be the tallest mountain on the island of Great Britain until measurements taken in the eighteenth century confirmed that Ben Nevis, along with several other Scottish peaks, were taller.  Recent surveys give the height of the summit as 1,085 m (3,560 ft), making Snowdon the highest mountain in Wales, and the highest point in the British Isles outside Scotland. The rocks which today make up Snowdon and its neighbouring mountains were formed in the Ordovician Period. At that time, most of modern-day Wales was near the edge of Avalonia, submerged beneath the ancient Iapetus Ocean. In the Soudleyan stage (458 to 457 million years ago) of the Caradoc age, a volcanic caldera formed, and produced ash flows of rhyolitic tuff, which formed deposits up to 500 metres (1,600 ft) thick. The current summit is near the northern edge of the ancient caldera; the caldera's full extent is unclear, but it extended as far as the summit of Moel Hebog in the south-west. Snowdon and its surrounding peaks have been described as "true examples of Alpine topography". The summits of Snowdon and Garnedd Ugain are surrounded by cwms, rounded valleys scooped out by glaciation. Erosion by glaciers in adjacent cwms caused the characteristic arêtes of Crib Goch, Crib y Ddysgl and Y Lliwedd, and the pyramidal peak of Snowdon itself. Other glacial landforms that can be seen around Snowdon include roches moutonnées, glacial erratics and moraines. In winter, Snowdon often has a covering of snow (giving rise to its English name). Although the amount of snow on Snowdon in winter varies significantly, 55% less snow fell in 2004 than in 1994. The slopes of Snowdon have one of the wettest climates in Great Britain, receiving an annual average of more than 200 inches (5,100 mm) of precipitation. The environment of Snowdon, particularly its rare plants, has led to its designation as a national nature reserve. In addition to plants that are widespread in Snowdonia, Snowdon is home to some plants rarely found elsewhere in Britain. These include the "Snowdon lily", Gagea serotina, which is also found in the Alps and in North America; it was first discovered in Wales by Edward Lhuyd, and the genus Lloydia (now included in Gagea) was later named in his honour by Richard Anthony Salisbury. Snowdon lies in the northern part of Snowdonia National Park, which has also provided some legal protection since the park's establishment in 1951. Otters, polecats, and goats have been seen near or on the mountain, although pine martens have not been seen for many years. Birds that can be seen include the raven, red-billed chough, peregrine, osprey, merlin, red kite and moorland birds. A number of lakes are found in the various cwms of the Snowdon range. Llyn Llydaw – 1,430 feet (440 m) high, 110 acres (45 ha) – lies in Cwm Dyli, Snowdon's eastern cwm, and is one of Snowdonia's deepest lakes, at up to 190 ft (58 m) deep. Various explanations of its name have been put forward, including lludw ("ash"), from ashen deposits along the shore, to Llydaw ("Brittany"). It contains evidence of a crannog settlement, and was the location of a 10-by-2-foot (3 m × 0.6 m) dugout canoe described in the Cambrian Journal in 1862. The lake is significantly coloured by washings from the copper mines nearby, and is used by the Cwm Dyli hydroelectric power station, which opened in 1906. The lake is crossed by a causeway, built in 1853 and raised in the 20th century to prevent the causeway from flooding frequently. Glaslyn – 1,970 feet (600 m) high, 18 acres (7.3 ha) – lies higher up Cwm Dyli than Llyn Llydaw. It was originally called Llyn y Ffynnon Glas, and has a depth of 127 feet (39 m). For a long time, it was believed to be bottomless, and is also the location for various myths. Llyn Ffynnon-y-gwas – 1,430 feet (440 m) high, 10 acres (4.0 ha) – lies in Cwm Treweunydd, Snowdon's north-western cwm, and is passed by the Snowdon Ranger path. It was enlarged by damming for use as a reservoir for use by slate quarries, but the level has since been lowered, and the lake's volume reduced to 24,000 cubic metres (850,000 cu ft). Other lakes include Llyn Du'r Arddu below Clogwyn Du'r Arddu – 1,901 feet (579 m) high, 5 acres (2.0 ha), Llyn Teyrn near Pen-y-pass – 1,237 feet (377 m) high, 5 acres (2.0 ha), and several smaller pools. Snowdon has been described as "the busiest mountain in Britain", with some 557,991 people having walked up the mountain in 2018. There are six main walking paths, which can be combined in various ways. In addition, the circular walk starting and ending at Pen-y-Pass and using the Crib Goch route and the route over Y Lliwedd, both of which involve scrambling, is called the Snowdon Horseshoe, and is considered "one of the finest ridge walks in Britain". The routes are arranged here anticlockwise, starting with the path leading from Llanberis. In winter conditions, all these routes become significantly more dangerous and the Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team state that "additional skills, equipment and knowledge are required". Many inexperienced walkers have been killed over the years attempting to climb the mountain via the main paths. Snowdon offers some of the most extensive views in the British Isles; on exceptionally clear days, Ireland, (the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland), Scotland, England, and the Isle of Man (as well as Wales) are all visible, as well as 24 counties, 29 lakes and 17 islands. From here, it is also possible to see the mountains of the Peak District and South Pennines that surround Manchester. The view between Snowdon and Merrick (southern Scotland) is the longest theoretical line of sight in the British Isles at 144 miles (232 km). In practice, atmospheric conditions make such sightings extremely rare, but a report from 2015 demonstrates the observation. The mountain itself may also be viewed on take off and approach to both Manchester Airport and Liverpool John Lennon Airport on very clear days, and even from Howth Head in Dublin, Ireland. On 26 June 2018, Sam Laming became the first ever Wingsuit pilot to perform a 'Proximity Flight' over a UK mountain, by flying approximately 30 metres over Snowdon's summit, after jumping from a helicopter with fellow wingsuit camera pilot, Mike Hitchcock. The Snowdon Massif includes a number of cliffs, and holds an important place in the history of rock climbing in the United Kingdom. Clogwyn Du'r Arddu is often colloquially known as 'Cloggy' among climbers, and was the site of the first recorded climb in Britain, in 1798. It was carried out by Peter Bailey Williams and William Bingley, while searching for rare plants. It is now considered to be one of the best cliffs in Britain for rock climbing. Y Lliwedd was also explored by early climbers, and was the subject of a 1909 climbing guide, The Climbs on Lliwedd by J. M. A. Thompson and A. W. Andrews, one of the first in Britain. Snowdon was used by Edmund Hillary and his group during preparations for their successful 1953 expedition to climb Mount Everest. The first recorded ascent of Snowdon was by the botanist Thomas Johnson in 1639. However, the 18th-century Welsh historian Thomas Pennant mentions a "triumphal fair upon this our chief of mountains" following Edward I's conquest of Wales in 1284, which could indicate the possibility of earlier ascents. The six main paths were mapped by the Google Trekker in 2015. The elevations and gradients given here are for the start point on a public road, based on Ordnance Survey mapping. Other definitions are possible so alternative figures can be found Llanberis Path Length: 6.8 kilometres (4.2 mi). Elevation gain: 965 metres (3,166 ft). Overall gradient: 1 in 7.1 (14.1%). The Llanberis Path is the longest route to the summit. It follows the line of the railway and being the easiest and least interesting, it is the route used by the annual Snowdon Race, which has a record time of less than 40 minutes recorded from the start to the summit. The section of the Llanberis Path beside the railway near the summit has been called the "Killer Convex"; in icy conditions, this convex slope can send unwary walkers over the cliffs of Clogwyn Du'r Arddu. Four people died there in February 2009. Snowdon Ranger Path The Snowdon Ranger Path crosses a boggy area before ascending past Llyn Ffynnon-y-gwas Length: 6.3 kilometres (3.9 mi). Elevation gain: 935 metres (3,068 ft). Overall gradient: 1 in 6.7 (14.9%). The Snowdon Ranger Path (Welsh: Llwybr Cwellyn) begins at the youth hostel beside Llyn Cwellyn, to the west of the mountain, served by the A4085 and Snowdon Ranger railway station. This was formerly the Saracen's Head Inn, but was renamed under the ownership of the mountain guide John Morton. It is thought to be the oldest path to the summit. The route begins with zigzags through turf, before reaching a flatter boggy area in front of Llyn Ffynnon-y-gwas. The path then climbs to Bwlch Cwm Brwynog, and then snakes along the ridge above Clogwyn Du'r Arddu towards the summit. This path meets the railway, the Llanberis Path, the Crib Goch path, and the combined Pyg Track and Miners' Track all within a short distance, just below the summit. Length: 5.8 kilometres (3.6 mi). Elevation gain: 905 metres (2,969 ft) or 896 metres (2,940 ft) depending on exact start point. Overall gradient: 1 in 6.4 (15.7%). The Rhyd Ddu path, also called the Beddgelert Path, leads from the village of Rhyd Ddu, west of Snowdon, gently up on to Llechog, a broad ridge dropping west from the summit. It is considered one of the easier routes to the summit, with the advantage that the summit is visible from the start, but is one of the least used routes. It climbs at a shallow gradient to Bwlch Main, shortly southwest of the summit, from where it climbs more steeply, meeting up with the Watkin Path at a site marked with a large standing stone a few hundred metres from the summit. An alternative start begins at Pitt's Head on the A4085 road. Watkin Path Plas Cwmllan (right) and Gladstone Rock (left) in Cwm Llan, looking along the Watkin Path Length: 6.2 kilometres (3.9 mi). Elevation gain: 1,025 metres (3,363 ft). Overall gradient: 1 in 6.1 (16.5%). The Watkin Path is "the most demanding route direct to the summit of Snowdon", since it starts at the lowest elevation of any of the main routes and has the steepest overall gradient. It was first conceived by Sir Edward Watkin, a railway owner who had attempted to build a railway tunnel under the English Channel, and had a summer home in Nant Gwynant near the start of the path. It was originally designed as a donkey track and opened in 1892. The start of the Watkin Path has been described as "the prettiest beginning" of the routes up Snowdon. It begins at Bethania on the A498 and climbs initially through old broadleaved woodland. After leaving the woods, the path climbs past the waterfalls of the Afon Llan to the glacial cirque of Cwm Llan, crossing a disused incline from an abandoned slate quarry. It then reaches Plas Cwmllan, formerly the home of the quarry manager for the South Snowdon Slate Works beyond, and later used for target practice by commandos during the Second World War. Near Plas Cwmllan is the large boulder known as Gladstone Rock, which bears a plaque commemorating a speech given in 1892 by William Ewart Gladstone, the then 82-year-old Prime Minister, on the subject of Justice for Wales. The slate workings in Cwm Llan were opened in 1840, but closed in 1882 due to the expense of transporting the slate to the sea at Porthmadog. Various buildings, including barracks and dressing sheds, remain. From the slate quarries, the Watkin Path veers to the north-east to reach Bwlch Ciliau, the col between Snowdon and Y Lliwedd, which is marked by a large orange-brown cairn. From here, it heads west to meet the Rhyd Ddu Path at a standing stone shortly below the summit of Snowdon. Over Y Lliwedd Y Lliwedd In early spring Length: 6.4 kilometres (4.0 mi). The route over Y Lliwedd is more frequently used for descent than ascent, and forms the second half of the Snowdon Horseshoe walk, the ascent being over Crib Goch. It is reached from the summit by following the Watkin Path down to Bwlch y Saethau, and then continuing along the ridge to the twin summits of Y Lliwedd. The path then drops down to Cwm Dyli to join the Miners' Track towards Pen-y-Pass. Miners' Track The Pyg Track (above) and Miners Track (below) merge above Glaslyn. Crib Goch is visible at the top Length: 6.6 kilometres (4.1 mi). Elevation gain: 726 metres (2,382 ft). Overall gradient: 1 in 9.1 (10.9%). The Miners' Track (Welsh: Llwybr y Mwynwyr) begins at the car park at Pen-y-Pass, at an altitude of around 360 metres (1,180 ft). It has the shallowest overall gradient and is the most popular route to the summit of Snowdon. It begins by skirting Llyn Teyrn before climbing slightly to cross the causeway over Llyn Llydaw. It follows the lake's shoreline before climbing to Glaslyn, from where it ascends steeply towards Bwlch Glas. It is joined for most of this zigzag ascent by the Pyg Track, and on reaching the summit ridge, is united with the Llanberis Path and Snowdon Ranger Path. Derelict mine buildings are encountered along several parts of the path. Pyg Track Standing stone marking the start of the Pyg Track at Pen-y-Pass Length: 5.3 kilometres (3.3 mi). Elevation gain: 726 metres (2,382 ft). Overall gradient: 1 in 7.3 (13.7%). The "Pyg Track" (Welsh: Llwybr Pyg), or "Pig Track" (both spellings may be encountered), also leads from Pen-y-Pass. The track climbs over Bwlch y Moch on the eastern flanks of Crib Goch, before traversing that ridge's lower slopes. Above Glaslyn, it is joined by the Miners' Track for the zigzag climb to Bwlch Glas between Snowdon and Garnedd Ugain, where it joins the combined Llanberis and Snowdon Ranger paths. From the website of the Snowdonia National Park Authority, Nobody knows for certain why this path is called the Pyg Track. It's possible that it was named after the pass it leads through, Bwlch y Moch (translated Pigs' Pass) as the path is sometimes spelled 'Pig Track'. Or, maybe because it was used to carry 'pyg' (black tar) to the copper mines on Snowdon. Another possible explanation is that the path was named after the nearby Pen y Gwryd Hotel, popular amongst the early mountain walkers. — Snowdonia National Park Authority Crib Goch Length: 5.0 kilometres (3.1 mi). The traverse of Crib Goch has been described as "one of the finest ridge walks in Britain", and forms part of the Snowdon Horseshoe, a circuit of the peaks surrounding Cwm Dyli. The path follows the Pyg Track before separating off from it at Bwlch y Moch and leading up the East ridge of Crib Goch. After the Crib Goch ridge, it descends slightly to Bwlch Coch, then ascends to the peak of Garnedd Ugain (1,065 metres (3,494 ft)), before dropping to join the Llanberis path. All routes which tackle Crib Goch are considered mountaineering routes or scrambles. Snowdon Mountain Railway Approaching the summit railway station Main article: Snowdon Mountain Railway The Snowdon Mountain Railway (SMR) (Welsh: Rheilffordd yr Wyddfa) is a narrow gauge rack and pinion mountain railway that travels for 4.75 miles (7.6 km) from Llanberis to the summit station of Snowdon. It is the only public rack and pinion railway in the United Kingdom, and after more than 100 years of operation it remains a popular tourist attraction, carrying more than 130,000 passengers annually. Single carriage trains are pushed up the mountain by either steam locomotives or diesel locomotives. It has also previously used diesel railcars as multiple units. The railway was constructed between December 1894, when the first sod was cut by Enid Assheton-Smith (after whom locomotive No.2 was named), and February 1896, at a total cost of £63,800 (equivalent to £7,437,000 as of 2019). Summit Hafod Eryri Hafod Eryri, built in 2009 Hafod Eryri (2009) Wikimedia | © OpenStreetMap General information Addressvia Snowdon Mountain Railway, Llanberis, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 4TY Coordinates53.068865°N 4.075588°W Elevation1,065 m (3,560 ft) Opened12 June 2009 Cost£8.4m Design and construction Architecture firmRay Hole Architects Structural engineerArup Main contractorCarillion Awards and prizesRIBA Welsh Architecture Award 2010 Website Hafod Eryri Visitor Centre The first building to be erected at the Snowdon summit was in 1838 to sell refreshments, and a licence to sell intoxicating liquor was granted in 1845. Very basic accommodation was also provided for visitors. When the Snowdon Mountain Railway was opened in 1896, the company strove to get an alcohol licence for its own proposed new hotel, but being unable to, took over both summit huts by 1898. During the 1930s, many complaints were received about the state of the facilities at the summit and in 1934/5 a new station building was erected in two phases; the upstairs accommodation was completed in 1937. It was designed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis and included rooms for visitors and a cafe. The other operators were bought out and the ramshackle collection of buildings on the summit was cleared. The flat roof was intended to be used as a viewing platform and some photographs show it being used in this way. However, other photographs taken of the cafe show that the roof leaked, which probably explains why the practice was stopped. The Summit was taken over by government agencies during the war and the accommodation was restricted to staff use afterwards. Having become increasingly dilapidated in post-war decades, this building was described by Prince Charles as "the highest slum in Wales". Its state led to a campaign to replace the building. In April 2006, Snowdonia National Park Authority with the support of the Snowdonia Society agreed a deal to start work on a new cafe and visitor centre complex. By mid-October 2006 the old building had been largely demolished. The new RIBA Award-winning £8.4 million visitor centre, Hafod Eryri, designed by Ray Hole Architects in conjunction with Arup and built by Carillion, was officially opened on 12 June 2009 by First Minister Rhodri Morgan. The Welsh National Poet, Gwyn Thomas, composed a new couplet for the new building, displayed at its entrance and on the windows, which reads "Copa'r Wyddfa: yr ydych chwi, yma, Yn nes at y nefoedd / The summit of Snowdon: You are, here, nearer to Heaven". The name Hafod Eryri was chosen from several hundred put forward after a competition was held by the BBC. Hafod is Welsh for an upland summer residence, while Eryri is the Welsh name for Snowdonia. In Welsh folklore, the summit of Snowdon is said to be the tomb of Rhitta Gawr, a giant. This is claimed to be the reason for the Welsh name Yr Wyddfa, literally meaning "the tumulus". Rhitta Gawr wore a cloak made of men's beards, and was slain by King Arthur after claiming Arthur's beard. Other sites with Arthurian connections include Bwlch y Saethau, on the ridge between Snowdon and Y Lliwedd, where Arthur himself is said to have died. A cairn, Carnedd Arthur, was erected at the site and was still standing as late as 1850, but no longer exists. According to the folklore, Arthur had Bedivere throw his sword Excalibur into Glaslyn, where Arthur's body was later placed in a boat to be carried away to Afallon. Arthur's men then retreated to a cave on the slopes of Y Lliwedd, where they are said to sleep until such time as they are needed. Merlin is supposed to have hidden the golden throne of Britain among the cliffs north of Crib y Ddysgl when the Saxons invaded. Glaslyn was also the final resting place of a water monster, known as an afanc (also the Welsh word for beaver), which had plagued the people of the Conwy valley. They tempted the monster out of the water with a young girl, before securing it with chains and dragging it to Glaslyn. A large stone known as Maen Du'r Arddu, below Clogwyn Du'r Arddu, is supposed to have magical powers. Like several other sites in Wales, it is said that if two people spend the night there, one will become a great poet while the other will become insane. Llyn Coch in Cwm Clogwyn has been associated with the Tylwyth Teg (fairies), including a version of the fairy bride legend. In 1968, scenes representing the Khyber Pass were filmed for Carry On... Up the Khyber on the lower part of the Watkin Path. In 2005, Angela Douglas, one of the stars of the film, unveiled a plaque at the precise location where filming took place to commemorate the location filming. It now forms part of the North Wales Film and Television Trail run by the Wales Screen Commission. Wales (Welsh: Cymru [ˈkəm.rɨ] (About this soundlisten)) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate. Welsh national identity emerged among the Britons after the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the 5th century, and Wales is regarded as one of the modern Celtic nations. Llywelyn ap Gruffudd's death in 1282 marked the completion of Edward I of England's conquest of Wales, though Owain Glyndŵr briefly restored independence to Wales in the early 15th century. The whole of Wales was annexed by England and incorporated within the English legal system under the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. Distinctive Welsh politics developed in the 19th century. Welsh Liberalism, exemplified in the early 20th century by David Lloyd George, was displaced by the growth of socialism and the Labour Party. Welsh national feeling grew over the century; a nationalist party, Plaid Cymru was formed in 1925 and the Welsh Language Society in 1962. Established under the Government of Wales Act 1998, the Senedd (the Welsh Parliament, formerly known as the National Assembly for Wales) is responsible for a range of devolved policy matters. At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, development of the mining and metallurgical industries transformed the country from an agricultural society into an industrial nation; the South Wales Coalfield's exploitation caused a rapid expansion of Wales' population. Two-thirds of the population live in South Wales, including Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and the nearby valleys. Now that the country's traditional extractive and heavy industries have gone or are in decline, the economy is based on the public sector, light and service industries, and tourism. In livestock farming, including dairy farming, Wales is a net exporter, contributing towards national agricultural self-sufficiency. Wales closely shares its political and social history with the rest of Great Britain, and a majority of the population in most areas speaks English as a first language, but the country has retained a distinct cultural identity. Both Welsh and English are official languages; over 560,000 Welsh-speakers live in Wales, and the language is spoken by a majority of the population in parts of the north and west. From the late 19th century onwards, Wales acquired its popular image as the "land of song", in part due to the eisteddfod tradition. At many international sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup, Rugby World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, Wales has its own national team. At the Olympic Games, Welsh athletes compete for the UK as part of a Great Britain team. Rugby union is seen as a symbol of Welsh identity and an expression of national consciousness. The English words "Wales" and "Welsh" derive from the same Old English root (singular Wealh, plural Wēalas), a descendant of Proto-Germanic *Walhaz, which was itself derived from the name of the Gaulish people known to the Romans as Volcae. This term was later used to refer indiscriminately to inhabitants of the Western Roman Empire. Anglo-Saxons came to use the term to refer to the Britons in particular; the plural form Wēalas evolved into the name for their territory, Wales. Historically in Britain, the words were not restricted to modern Wales or to the Welsh but were used to refer to anything that Anglo-Saxons associated with Britons, including other non-Germanic territories in Britain (e.g. Cornwall) and places in Anglo-Saxon territory associated with Britons (e.g. Walworth in County Durham and Walton in West Yorkshire). The modern Welsh name for themselves is Cymry, and Cymru is the Welsh name for Wales. These words (both of which are pronounced [ˈkəm.rɨ]) are descended from the Brythonic word combrogi, meaning "fellow-countrymen", and probably came into use before the 7th century. In literature, they could be spelt Kymry or Cymry, regardless of whether it referred to the people or their homeland. The Latinised forms of these names, Cambrian, Cambric and Cambria, survive as names such as the Cambrian Mountains and the Cambrian geological period. History Main articles: History of Wales and Timeline of Welsh history Prehistoric origins See also: Prehistoric Wales A low grassy mound with an entrance at its centre framed by cyclopean stones Bryn Celli Ddu, a late Neolithic chambered tomb on Anglesey Opening lines of one of the Mabinogi myths from the Red Book of Hergest (written pre-13c, incorporating pre-Roman myths of Celtic gods): Gereint vab Erbin. Arthur a deuodes dala llys yg Caerllion ar Wysc... (Geraint the son of Erbin. Arthur was accustomed to hold his Court at Caerlleon upon Usk...) Wales has been inhabited by modern humans for at least 29,000 years. 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. At that time sea levels were much lower than today. Wales was free of glaciers by about 10,250 BP, the warmer climate allowing the area to become heavily wooded. The post-glacial rise in sea level separated Wales and Ireland, forming the Irish Sea. By 8,000 BP the British Peninsula had become an island. By the beginning of the Neolithic (c. 6,000 BP) sea levels in the Bristol Channel were still about 33 feet (10 metres) lower than today. The historian John Davies theorised that the story of Cantre'r Gwaelod's 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. Neolithic colonists integrated with the indigenous people, gradually changing their lifestyles from a nomadic life of hunting and gathering, to become settled farmers about 6,000 BP – the Neolithic Revolution. 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 5,800 BP and 5,500 BP. Over the following centuries they assimilated immigrants and adopted ideas from Bronze Age and Iron Age Celtic cultures. Some historians, such as John T. Koch, consider Wales in the Late Bronze Age as part of a maritime trading-networked culture that included other Celtic nations. This "Atlantic-Celtic" view is opposed by others who hold that the Celtic languages derive their origins from the more easterly Hallstatt culture. 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. Roman era Main article: Wales in the Roman era Roman.Wales.Forts.Fortlets.Roads.jpg The Roman conquest of Wales began in AD 48 and took 30 years to complete; the occupation lasted over 300 years. The campaigns of conquest were opposed by two native tribes: the Silures and the Ordovices. Roman rule in Wales was a military occupation, save for the southern coastal region of south Wales, where there is a legacy of Romanisation. The only town in Wales founded by the Romans, Caerwent, is in south east Wales. Both Caerwent and Carmarthen, also in southern Wales, became Roman civitates. Wales had a rich mineral wealth. The Romans used their engineering technology to extract large amounts of gold, copper and lead, as well as lesser amounts of zinc and silver. No significant industries were located in Wales in this time; this was largely a matter of circumstance as Wales had none of the necessary materials in suitable combination, and the forested, mountainous countryside was not amenable to industrialisation. Latin became the official language of Wales, though the people continued to speak in Brythonic. While Romanisation was far from complete, the upper classes came to consider themselves Roman, particularly after the ruling of 212 that granted Roman citizenship to all free men throughout the Empire. Further Roman influence came through the spread of Christianity, which gained many followers when Christians were allowed to worship freely; state persecution ceased in the 4th century, as a result of Constantine I issuing an edict of toleration in 313. Early historians, including the 6th-century cleric Gildas, have noted 383 as a significant point in Welsh history. In that year, the Roman general Magnus Maximus, or Macsen Wledig, stripped Britain of troops to launch a successful bid for imperial power, continuing to rule Britain from Gaul as emperor, and transferring power to local leaders. The earliest Welsh genealogies cite Maximus as the founder of several royal dynasties, and as the father of the Welsh Nation. He is given as the ancestor of a Welsh king on the Pillar of Eliseg, erected nearly 500 years after he left Britain, and he figures in lists of the Fifteen Tribes of Wales. Post-Roman era See also: Wales in the Early Middle Ages Britain in AD 500: The areas shaded pink on the map were inhabited by the Britons, here labelled Welsh. The pale blue areas in the east were controlled by Germanic tribes, whilst the pale green areas to the north were inhabited by the Gaels and Picts. The 400-year period following the collapse of Roman rule is the most difficult to interpret in the history of Wales. After the Roman departure in AD 410, much of the lowlands of Britain to the east and south-east was overrun by various Germanic peoples, commonly known as Anglo-Saxons. Some have theorized that the cultural dominance of the Anglo-Saxons was due to apartheid-like social conditions in which the Britons were at a disadvantage. By AD 500 the land that would become Wales had divided into a number of kingdoms free from Anglo-Saxon rule. The kingdoms of Gwynedd, Powys, Dyfed and Seisyllwg, Morgannwg and Gwent emerged as independent Welsh successor states. Archaeological evidence, in the Low Countries and what was to become England, shows early Anglo-Saxon migration to Great Britain reversed between 500 and 550, which concurs with Frankish chronicles. John Davies notes this as consistent with the British victory at Badon Hill, attributed to Arthur by Nennius. Having lost much of what is now the West Midlands to Mercia in the 6th and early 7th centuries, a resurgent late-7th-century Powys checked Mercian advances. Aethelbald of Mercia, looking to defend recently acquired lands, had built Wat's Dyke. According to Davies, this have been with the agreement of king Elisedd ap Gwylog of Powys, as this boundary, extending north from the valley of the River Severn to the Dee estuary, gave him Oswestry. Another theory, after carbon dating placed the dyke's existence 300 years earlier, is that it was built by the post-Roman rulers of Wroxeter. King Offa of Mercia seems to have continued this initiative when he created a larger earthwork, now known as Offa's Dyke (Clawdd Offa). Davies wrote of Cyril Fox's study of Offa's 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." However, Fox's interpretations of both the length and purpose of the Dyke have been questioned by more recent research. In 853, the Vikings raided Anglesey, but in 856, Rhodri Mawr defeated and killed their leader, Gorm. The Britons of Wales made peace with the Vikings and Anarawd ap Rhodri allied with the Norsemen occupying Northumbria to conquer the north. This alliance later broke down and Anarawd came to an agreement with Alfred, king of Wessex, with whom he fought against the west Welsh. According to Annales Cambriae, in 894, "Anarawd came with the Angles and laid waste Ceredigion and Ystrad Tywi." Medieval Wales See also: Norman invasion of Wales and Wales in the Late Middle Ages North Wales Principalities, 1267–76 Hywel Dda enthroned The southern and eastern parts of Great Britain 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.[n 1] 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'. The Welsh continued to call themselves Brythoniaid (Brythons or Britons) well into the Middle Ages, though the first written evidence of the use of Cymru and y Cymry is found in a praise poem to Cadwallon ap Cadfan (Moliant Cadwallon, by Afan Ferddig) c. 633. In Armes Prydain, believed to be written around 930–942, the words Cymry and Cymro are used as often as 15 times. However, from the Anglo-Saxon settlement onwards, the people gradually begin to adopt the name Cymry over Brythoniad. From 800 onwards, a series of dynastic marriages led to Rhodri Mawr's (r. 844–77) inheritance of Gwynedd and Powys. His sons founded the three dynasties of (Aberffraw for Gwynedd, Dinefwr for Deheubarth and Mathrafal for Powys). Rhodri's grandson Hywel Dda (r. 900–50) founded Deheubarth out of his maternal and paternal inheritances of Dyfed and Seisyllwg in 930, ousted the Aberffraw dynasty from Gwynedd and Powys and then codified Welsh law in the 940s. Maredudd ab Owain (r. 986–99) of Deheubarth, (Hywel's grandson), temporarily ousted the Aberffraw line from control of Gwynedd and Powys. Maredudd's great-grandson (through his daughter Princess Angharad) Gruffydd ap Llywelyn (r. 1039–63) conquered his cousins' realms from his base in Powys, and extended his authority into England. 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 Gruffydd ap Llywelyn. For about seven brief years, Wales was one, under one ruler, a feat with neither precedent nor successor." 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. The statue of a man in a tunic and short cape clasped at his right shoulder, sculpted in white stone. The figure, set indoors with its back to an arched window, holds a down-pointed sword in his right hand and a scroll in his left. Statue of Owain Glyndŵr (c. 1354 or 1359 – c. 1416) at Cardiff City Hall Norman conquest Within four years of the Battle of Hastings (1066), England had been completely subjugated by the Normans. William I of England established a series of lordships, allocated to his most powerful warriors, along the Welsh border, their boundaries fixed only to the east (where they met other feudal properties inside England). Starting in the 1070s, these lords began conquering land in southern and eastern Wales, west of the River Wye. The frontier region, and any English-held lordships in Wales, became known as Marchia Wallie, the Welsh Marches, in which the Marcher Lords were subject to neither English nor Welsh law. The extent of the March varied as the fortunes of the Marcher Lords and the Welsh princes ebbed and flowed. Owain Gwynedd's grandson Llywelyn Fawr (the Great, 1173–1240), received the fealty of other Welsh lords in 1216 at the council at Aberdyfi, becoming in effect the first Prince of Wales. His grandson Llywelyn ap Gruffudd secured the recognition of the title Prince of Wales from Henry III with the Treaty of Montgomery in 1267. Subsequent disputes, including the imprisonment of Llywelyn's wife Eleanor, culminated in the first invasion by King Edward I of England. As a result of military defeat, the Treaty of Aberconwy exacted Llywelyn's fealty to England in 1277. Peace was short lived and, with the 1282 Edwardian conquest, the rule of the Welsh princes permanently ended. With Llywelyn's death and his brother prince Dafydd's execution, the few remaining Welsh lords did homage to Edward I. Annexation to England The Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284 provided the constitutional basis for a post-conquest government of the Principality of North Wales from 1284 until 1535/36. It defined Wales as "annexed and united" to the English Crown, separate from England but under the same monarch. The king ruled directly in two areas: the Statute divided the north and delegated administrative duties to the Justice of Chester and Justiciar of North Wales, and further south in western Wales the King's authority was delegated to the Justiciar of South Wales. The existing royal lordships of Montgomery and Builth remained unchanged. To maintain his dominance, Edward constructed a series of castles: Beaumaris, Caernarfon, Harlech and Conwy. His son, the future Edward II, was born at Caernarfon in 1284. He became the first English Prince of Wales in 1301, which at the time provided an income from northwest Wales known as the Principality of Wales. Caernarfon Castle, birthplace of Edward II of England After the failed revolt in 1294–95 of Madog ap Llywelyn – who styled himself Prince of Wales in the Penmachno Document – and the rising of Llywelyn Bren (1316), the last uprising was led by Owain Glyndŵr, against Henry IV of England. In 1404, Owain was reputedly crowned Prince of Wales in the presence of emissaries from France, Spain and Scotland. Glyndŵr went on to hold parliamentary assemblies at several Welsh towns, including Machynlleth. The rebellion failed, Owain went into hiding, and nothing was known of him after 1413. Henry Tudor (born in Wales in 1457) seized the throne of England from Richard III in 1485, uniting England and Wales under one royal house. The last remnants of Celtic-tradition Welsh law were abolished and replaced by English law by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542 during the reign of Henry VII's son, Henry VIII. In the legal jurisdiction of England and Wales, Wales became unified with the kingdom of England; the "Principality of Wales" began to refer to the whole country, though it remained a "principality" only in a ceremonial sense. The Marcher Lordships were abolished, and Wales began electing members of the Westminster parliament. Industrial Wales See also: Glamorgan and Lower Swansea valley Dowlais Ironworks (1840) by George Childs (1798–1875) Penrhyn Slate Quarries, 1852 Prior to the British Industrial Revolution there were small-scale industries scattered throughout Wales. These ranged from those connected to agriculture, such as milling and the manufacture of woollen textiles, through to mining and quarrying. Agriculture remained the dominant source of wealth. The emerging industrial period saw the development of copper smelting in the Swansea area. With access to local coal deposits and a harbour that connected it with Cornwall's copper mines in the south and the large copper deposits at Parys Mountain on Anglesey, Swansea developed into the world's major centre for non-ferrous metal smelting in the 19th century. 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. In the north, John Wilkinson's Ironworks at Bersham was a major centre, while in the south, at Merthyr Tydfil, the ironworks of Dowlais, Cyfarthfa, Plymouth and Penydarren became the most significant hub of iron manufacture in Wales. By the 1820s, south Wales produced 40 per cent of all Britain's pig iron. In the late 18th century, slate quarrying began to expand rapidly, most notably in north Wales. The Penrhyn Quarry, opened in 1770 by Richard Pennant, was employing 15,000 men by the late 19th century, and along with Dinorwic Quarry, it dominated the Welsh slate trade. Although slate quarrying has been described as "the most Welsh of Welsh industries", it is coal mining which became the 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 an explosion in demand. As the South Wales coalfield was exploited, Cardiff, Swansea, Penarth and Barry grew as world exporters of coal. By its height in 1913, Wales was producing almost 61 million tons of coal. Modern Wales Main article: Modern history of Wales Battle at Mametz Wood by Christopher Williams (1918) Historian Kenneth Morgan described Wales on the eve of the First World War as a "relatively placid, self-confident and successful nation". The output from the coalfields continued to increase, with the Rhondda Valley recording a peak of 9.6 million tons of coal extracted in 1913. The First World War (1914–1918) saw a total of 272,924 Welshmen under arms, representing 21.5 per cent of the male population. Of these, roughly 35,000 were killed, with particularly heavy losses of Welsh forces at Mametz Wood on the Somme and the Battle of Passchendaele. The first quarter of the 20th century also saw a shift in the political landscape of Wales. Since 1865, the Liberal Party had held a parliamentary majority in Wales and, following the general election of 1906, only one non-Liberal Member of Parliament, Keir Hardie of Merthyr Tydfil, represented a Welsh constituency at Westminster. Yet by 1906, industrial dissension and political militancy had begun to undermine Liberal consensus in the southern coalfields. In 1916, David Lloyd George became the first Welshman to become Prime Minister of Britain. In December 1918, Lloyd George was re-elected at the head of a Conservative-dominated coalition government, and his poor handling of the 1919 coal miners' strike was a key factor in destroying support for the Liberal party in south Wales. The industrial workers of Wales began shifting towards the Labour Party. When in 1908 the Miners' Federation of Great Britain became affiliated to the Labour Party, the four Labour candidates sponsored by miners were all elected as MPs. By 1922, half the Welsh seats at Westminster were held by Labour politicians—the start of a Labour dominance of Welsh politics that continued into the 21st century. After economic growth in the first two decades of the 20th century, Wales' staple industries endured a prolonged slump from the early 1920s to the late 1930s, leading to widespread unemployment and poverty. For the first time in centuries, the population of Wales went into decline; unemployment reduced only with the production demands of the Second World War. The war saw Welsh servicemen and women fight in all major theatres, with some 15,000 of them killed. Bombing raids brought high loss of life as the German Air Force targeted the docks at Swansea, Cardiff and Pembroke. After 1943, 10 per cent of Welsh conscripts aged 18 were sent to work in the coal mines, where there were labour shortages; they became known as Bevin Boys. Pacifist numbers during both World Wars were fairly low, especially in the Second World War, which was seen as a fight against fascism. Plaid Cymru was formed in 1925, seeking greater autonomy or independence from the rest of the UK. The term "England and Wales" became common for describing the area to which English law applied, and in 1955 Cardiff was proclaimed as Wales' capital. Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (The Welsh Language Society) was formed in 1962, in response to fears that the language might soon die out. Nationalist sentiment grew following the flooding of the Tryweryn valley in 1965 to create a reservoir to supply water to the English city of Liverpool. Although 35 of the 36 Welsh MPs voted against the bill (one abstained), Parliament passed the bill and the village of Capel Celyn was submerged, highlighting Wales' powerlessness in her own affairs in the face of the numerical superiority of English MPs in Parliament. Separatist groupings, such as the Free Wales Army and Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru were formed, conducting campaigns from 1963. Prior to the investiture of Charles in 1969, these groups were responsible for a number of bomb attacks on infrastructure. At a by-election in 1966, Gwynfor Evans won the parliamentary seat of Carmarthen, Plaid Cymru's first Parliamentary seat. The next year, the Wales and Berwick Act 1746 was repealed and a legal definition of Wales and of the boundary with England were established. By the end of the 1960s, the policy of bringing businesses into disadvantaged areas of Wales through financial incentives had proven very successful in diversifying the industrial economy. This policy, begun in 1934, was enhanced by the construction of industrial estates and improvements in transport communications, most notably the M4 motorway linking south Wales directly to London. It was believed that the foundations for stable economic growth had been firmly established in Wales during this period, but this was shown to be optimistic after the recession of the early 1980s saw the collapse of much of the manufacturing base that had been built over the preceding forty years. Devolution In a referendum in 1979, Wales voted against the creation of a Welsh assembly with an 80 per cent majority. In 1997, a second referendum on the same issue secured a very narrow majority (50.3 per cent). The National Assembly for Wales (Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru) was set up in 1999 (under the Government of Wales Act 1998) with the power to determine how Wales' central government budget is spent and administered, although the UK Parliament reserved the right to set limits on its powers. The governments of the United Kingdom and of Wales almost invariably define Wales as a country. The Welsh Government says: "Wales is not a Principality. Although we are joined with England by land, and we are part of Great Britain, Wales is a country in its own right."[n 2] Government and politics Main articles: Politics of Wales, Welsh Government, and Senedd See also: Politics of the United Kingdom The Senedd building, designed by Richard Rogers, opened on St David's Day 2006 Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Constitutionally, the UK is a de jure unitary state, with its parliament and government in Westminster. In the House of Commons – the 650-member lower house of the UK Parliament – there are 40 members of Parliament (MPs) who represent Welsh constituencies. At the 2019 general election, 22 Labour and Labour Co-op MPs were elected, along with 14 Conservative MPs and 4 Plaid Cymru MPs. The Wales Office is a department of the UK government responsible for Wales, whose minister the Secretary of State for Wales sits in the UK cabinet. First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford (left) with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) Following devolution in 1997, the Government of Wales Act 1998 created a Welsh devolved assembly now known as the Senedd (formally "Senedd Cymru" or "the Welsh Parliament", and formerly the "National Assembly for Wales" until 2020). Powers of the Secretary of State for Wales were transferred to the devolved government on 1 July 1999, granting the assembly the power to decide how the Westminster government's budget for devolved areas is spent and administered. The 1998 Act was amended by the Government of Wales Act 2006, which enhanced the institution's powers, giving it legislative powers akin to those of the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly. The 60 members of the Senedd (MSs) are elected to five-year terms (four-year terms before 2011) under an additional member system. There are 40 single-member constituencies, with MSs directly elected using the first-past-the-post system. The remaining 20 MSs represent five electoral regions, each including between seven and nine constituencies, using proportional representation. The Senedd must elect a first minister (prif weinidog), who in turn selects ministers to form the Welsh Government. Areas of responsibility The twenty areas of responsibility devolved to the Welsh Government, known as "subjects", include agriculture, economic development, education, health, housing, local government, social services, tourism, transport and the Welsh language. On its creation in 1999, the National Assembly for Wales had no primary legislative powers. In 2007, following passage of the Government of Wales Act 2006 (GoWA 2006), the assembly developed powers to pass primary legislation known at the time as Assembly Measures on some specific matters within the areas of devolved responsibility. Further matters have been added subsequently, either directly by the UK Parliament or by the UK Parliament approving a Legislative Competence Order (LCO, a request from the assembly for additional powers). The GoWA 2006 allows for the Senedd to gain primary lawmaking powers on a more extensive range of matters within the same devolved areas if approved in a referendum. A referendum on extending the law-making powers of the then National Assembly was held on 3 March 2011 and secured a majority for extension. Consequently, the assembly became empowered to make laws, now known as Acts of Senedd Cymru, on all matters in the subject areas, without needing the UK Parliament's agreement. Relations between Wales and foreign states are primarily conducted through the UK prime minister (on behalf of the wider UK), in addition to the foreign secretary and the British ambassador to the United States. However, the Senedd has its own envoy to America, primarily to promote Wales-specific business interests. The primary Welsh Government Office is based in the Washington British Embassy, with satellites in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and Atlanta. The United States has also established a caucus to build direct relations with Wales. In the United States Congress, legislators with Welsh heritage and interests in Wales have established the Friends of Wales Caucus. Local government Main article: Local government in Wales See also: History of local government in Wales For the purposes of local government, Wales has been divided into 22 council areas since 1996. These "principal areas" are responsible for the provision of all local government services. Law and order Main articles: Cyfraith Hywel, Welsh law, Law of the United Kingdom, and English law See also: Marcher Lord A half timbered building of two floors, with four sets of leaded windows to the front aspect and one set to the side. The build has a steep, slate roof, with a single chimney placed left of centre. Steps and a ramp lead up to its single visible entrance The Old Court House, Ruthin, Denbighshire, built 1401, following Owain Glyndŵr's attack on the town Illustration of a Welsh judge from the Laws of Hywel Dda By tradition, Welsh Law was compiled during an assembly held at Whitland around 930 by Hywel Dda, king of most of Wales between 942 and his death in 950. The 'law of Hywel Dda' (Welsh: Cyfraith Hywel), as it became known, codified the previously existing folk laws and legal customs that had evolved in Wales over centuries. Welsh Law emphasised the payment of compensation for a crime to the victim, or the victim's kin, rather than punishment by the ruler. Other than in the Marches, where law was imposed by the Marcher Lords, Welsh Law remained in force in Wales until the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284. Edward I of England annexed the Principality of Wales following the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, and Welsh Law was replaced for criminal cases under the Statute. Marcher Law and Welsh Law (for civil cases) remained in force until Henry VIII of England annexed the whole of Wales under the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542 (often referred to as the Acts of Union of 1536 and 1543), after which English law applied to the whole of Wales. The Wales and Berwick Act 1746 provided that all laws that applied to England would automatically apply to Wales (and the Anglo-Scottish border town of Berwick) unless the law explicitly stated otherwise; this Act was repealed with regard to Wales in 1967. English law has been the legal system of England and Wales since 1536. 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 Senior Courts 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. In 2007 the Wales and Cheshire Region (known as the Wales and Cheshire Circuit before 2005) came to an end when Cheshire was attached to the North-Western England Region. From that point, Wales became a legal unit in its own right, although it remains part of the single jurisdiction of England and Wales. The Senedd has the authority to draft and approve laws outside of the UK Parliamentary system to meet the specific needs of Wales. Under powers approved by a referendum held in March 2011, it is empowered to pass primary legislation, at the time referred to as an Act of the National Assembly for Wales but now known as an Act of Senedd Cymru in relation to twenty subjects listed in the Government of Wales Act 2006 such as health and education. Through this primary legislation, the Welsh Government can then also enact more specific subordinate legislation. Wales is served by four regional police forces, Dyfed-Powys Police, Gwent Police, North Wales Police and South Wales Police. There are five prisons in Wales; four in the southern half of the country and one in Wrexham. Wales has no women's prisons; female inmates are imprisoned in England. Geography and natural history Snowdon, Gwynedd, the highest mountain in Wales Main article: Geography of Wales See also: List of settlements in Wales by population and List of towns in Wales See also: Natural resources of Wales Wales is a generally mountainous country on the western side of central southern Great Britain. It is about 170 miles (270 km) north–south. The oft-quoted 'size of Wales' is about 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales is bordered by England to the east and by sea in all other directions: the Irish Sea to the north and west, St George's Channel and the Celtic Sea to the southwest and the Bristol Channel to the south. Wales has about 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline (along the mean high water mark), including the mainland, Anglesey and Holyhead. Over 50 islands lie off the Welsh mainland; the largest being Anglesey, in the north-west. Much of Wales' diverse landscape is mountainous, particularly in the north and central regions. The mountains were shaped during the last ice age, the Devensian glaciation. The highest mountains in Wales are in Snowdonia (Eryri), of which five are over 1,000 m (3,300 ft). The highest of these is Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), at 1,085 m (3,560 ft). The 14 Welsh mountains, or 15 if including Garnedd Uchaf – often discounted because of its low topographic prominence – over 3,000 feet (910 metres) high are known collectively as the Welsh 3000s and are located in a small area in the north-west. The highest outside the 3000s is Aran Fawddwy, at 905 metres (2,969 feet), in the south of Snowdonia. The Brecon Beacons (Bannau Brycheiniog) are in the south (highest point Pen y Fan, at 886 metres (2,907 feet)), and are joined by the Cambrian Mountains in Mid Wales (highest point Pumlumon, at 752 metres (2,467 feet)). Relief map of Wales: Topography above 600 feet (180 m) National Parks Wales has three national parks: Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire Coast. It has five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty; Anglesey, the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley, the Gower Peninsula, the Llŷn Peninsula, and the Wye Valley. The Gower Peninsula was the first area in the United Kingdom to be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in 1956. As of 2019, the coastline of Wales had 40 Blue Flag beaches, three Blue Flag marinas and one Blue Flag boat operator. Despite its heritage and award-winning beaches; the south and west coasts of Wales, along with the Irish and Cornish coasts, are frequently blasted by Atlantic westerlies/south westerlies that, over the years, have sunk and wrecked many vessels. In 1859 over 110 ships were destroyed off the coast of Wales in a hurricane that saw more than 800 lives lost across Britain. The greatest single loss occurred with the sinking of the Royal Charter off Anglesey in which 459 people died. The 19th century saw over 100 vessels lost with an average loss of 78 sailors per year. Wartime action caused losses near Holyhead, Milford Haven and Swansea. Because of offshore rocks and unlit islands, Anglesey and Pembrokeshire are still notorious for shipwrecks, most notably the Sea Empress oil spill in 1996. The first border between Wales and England was zonal, apart from around the River Wye, which was the first accepted boundary. Offa's Dyke was supposed to form an early distinct line but this was thwarted by Gruffudd ap Llewellyn, who reclaimed swathes of land beyond the dyke. The Act of Union of 1536 formed a linear border stretching from the mouth of the Dee to the mouth of the Wye. Even after the Act of Union, many of the borders remained vague and moveable until the Welsh Sunday Closing act of 1881, which forced local businesses to decide which country they fell within to accept either the Welsh or English law. Geology Main article: Geology of Wales The earliest geological period of the Palaeozoic era, the Cambrian, takes its name from the Cambrian Mountains, where geologists first identified Cambrian remnants. In the mid-19th century, Roderick Murchison and Adam Sedgwick used their studies of Welsh geology to establish certain principles of stratigraphy and palaeontology. The next two periods of the Palaeozoic era, the Ordovician and Silurian, were named after ancient Celtic tribes from this area. Wales lies within the north temperate zone. It has a changeable, maritime climate and is one of the wettest countries in Europe. Welsh weather is often cloudy, wet and windy, with warm summers and mild winters. Highest maximum temperature: 35.2 °C (95 °F) at Hawarden Bridge, Flintshire on 2 August 1990. Lowest minimum temperature: −23.3 °C (−10 °F) at Rhayader, Radnorshire (now Powys) on 21 January 1940. Maximum number of hours of sunshine in a month: 354.3 hours at Dale Fort, Pembrokeshire in July 1955. Minimum number of hours of sunshine in a month: 2.7 hours at Llwynon, Brecknockshire in January 1962. Maximum rainfall in a day (0900 UTC − 0900 UTC): 211 millimetres (8.3 in) at Rhondda, Glamorgan, on 11 November 1929. Wettest spot – an average of 4,473 millimetres (176 in) rain a year at Crib Goch in Snowdonia, Gwynedd (making it also the wettest spot in the United Kingdom). Flora and fauna See also: Fauna of Great Britain, Flora of Great Britain, and List of birds of Wales Wales' wildlife is typical of Britain with several distinctions. Because of its long coastline, Wales hosts a variety of seabirds. The coasts and surrounding islands are home to colonies of gannets, Manx shearwater, puffins, kittiwakes, shags and razorbills. In comparison, with 60 per cent of Wales above the 150m contour, the country also supports a variety of upland habitat birds, including raven and ring ouzel. Birds of prey include the merlin, hen harrier and the red kite, a national symbol of Welsh wildlife. In total, more than 200 different species of bird have been seen at the RSPB reserve at Conwy, including seasonal visitors. Larger mammals, including brown bears, wolves and wildcats, died out during the Norman period. Today, mammals include shrews, voles, badgers, otters, stoats, w
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