Constitutionally, although we will refer to Wales as a separate country of the United Kingdom, it is actually a principality. Whatever its official status, Wales is a part of the UK that has a unique charm all of its own.
Geographically, Wales occupies a large peninsula that juts out into the Irish Sea and the border with England is found to the east. As with much of the western side of Great Britain (the mainland island of the UK), Wales is predominately made up of very hilly landscapes. The Brecon Beacons in the south and east and Snowdonia National Park (in the northwest) are the most mountainous regions.
The overall population of Wales stands at around three million people, this represents a mere 5% of the UK total. The vast majority of the Welsh live in the far south of the country and indeed, this is where you will find the three largest cities.
Cardiff is the capital of Wales and this is situated close to the Bristol Channel coast. This is easily the most cosmopolitan part of Wales and is where over three hundred thousand people have made their homes. Swansea is the second largest city (population around two hundred thousand people) and this is not too far west of the capital. Newport is the third largest city and this is east of Cardiff, approaching the border with England in an area known as Gwent.
The south of Wales is affectionately known as ‘The Valleys’ and this is where you will find a number of picturesque towns and villages that nestle snugly in between the hills of the area. The main industry in this part of the world until the end of the twentieth century was coal mining, this industry has now disappeared and this has had quite a significant and detrimental impact on the area as they have struggled to come to terms with such a massive loss of employment.
As you head due southwest you come to a rural and breathtaking county of Wales known as Pembrokeshire. The coastline in this part of the UK is dramatic and rugged and definitely well worth a visit. Moving along the west coast of Wales, you eventually reach the towns of Aberystwyth, Pwllheli and the small city of Bangor. Anglesey and Holy Island sit at the northwest corner of Wales and this is where many of the ferries depart for Ireland from.
If you are looking for awesome mountainous views you should definitely head to the north of the country? Mount Snowdon is over 1000m high and this makes it one of the highest peaks in the UK. The north coast is especially pleasant for holiday makers. Llandudno is the most well-kept resort along this stretch of coast and travel inland to the beautiful town of Betws-y-Coed for one of the most breath-taking parts of the whole country.
We simply have to give the Welsh accent a mention too! This is always deemed to be one of the most popular accents across the whole UK and when you hear the locals almost sing out their everyday words to you, you will soon appreciate why. When in Wales, many locals can easily become confused by the fact that all signs are in the Welsh language. This is far-removed from English and looks like complete gobbledygook, but it does make for a very authentic stay in this Celtic country of the United Kingdom and although only a small percentage of the population speaks their language, they are staunchly proud of it.