Introduction

Wales is a Celtic principality in the south west of Great Britain, bordered by England to the west. The Welsh, the native inhabitants have their own culture, music and language.

Geography

Wales (Cymru) is a mountainous country about 200km from north to south and 100 km from east to west, with a land area of approximately 21,000 square kilometers. Wales is bordered by England to the west and sea to the other sides. Wales is largely agricultural with lush green hillsides and high rocky mountains that will remind New Zealanders of home.

Many of the hillsides are dotted with sheep and the familiarity is strengthened as the common New Zealand sheepdog is a "Border Collie", a breed that originated herding sheep on these Welsh hillsides.

As a modern 1st world nation, nearly all of Wales is accessible by road and there is limited requirements for four wheel drive vehicles.

Economy

In 150 years Wales has gone from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy and finally to a post industrial economy.

In the 21st century welsh tourism has emerged as the major, non-agricultural, element to the economy. By 2005 Wales had over 100,000 jobs supporting tourism and by 2009, the city of Cardiff was receiving nearly 15 million visitors annualy .

Tourism

The history and culture of Wales are of interest to tourists.

Historic destinations, including the many castles built across Wales to help establish and maintain the English occupation of Wales such as Caernarfon Castle attract large numbers of tourists.

The industrial revolution and the Welsh industrial heritage left marks that can still be clearly seen on parts of the Welsh landscape. The Museum of Welsh Life, which focuses largely on the industrial past of Wales, receives over 600,000 visitors each year and is the country's most popular tourist attraction. The diverse and often beautiful landscape of Wales also attracts tourism. Popular activities in the three Welsh national park include hiking, mountain walking, hang gliding, kayaking. rock climbing, mountain biking and downhill biking.

Government

For several hundred years Wales was governed directly from London, first as part of England and later as part of the United Kingdom. Today as part of decentralisation policies of the United Kingdom Wales has its own devolved assembly that meets in Cardiff and is responsible for many local matters. The United Kingdom parliament in London is still responsible for external affairs and retains the right to override the Welsh assembly.

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