Wales (Welsh: Cymru; pronounced IPA: /ˈkəmɹi/, approximately "CUM-ree") is a nation and one of the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom. more...
Wales is located in the south-west of Great Britain and is bordered by Cheshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire to the east, the Bristol Channel to the south, St George's Channel in the west, and the Irish Sea to the north.
The term Principality of Wales, in Welsh, Tywysogaeth Cymru, is sometimes used, although the Prince of Wales has no role in the governance of Wales and this term is unpopular among some. Wales has not been politically independent since 1282, when it was conquered by King Edward I of England. The capital of Wales since 1955 has been Cardiff, although Caernarfon is the location where the Prince of Wales is invested, and Machynlleth was the home of a parliament called by Owain Glyndwr during his revolt at the start of the fifteenth century. In 1999, the National Assembly for Wales was formed, which has limited domestic powers. It can alter laws passed by Westminster but cannot initiate laws of its own.
The Romans established a string of forts across what is now southern Wales, as far west as Carmarthen (Maridunum), and mined gold at Dolaucothi in Carmarthenshire. There is evidence that they progressed even further west. They also built the legionary fortress at Caerleon (Isca), whose magnificent amphitheatre is the best preserved in Britain. The Romans were also busy in northern Wales, and an old legend claims that Magnus Maximus, one of the last emperors, married Elen or Helen, the daughter of a Welsh chieftain from Segontium, near present-day Caernarfon.
Wales was never conquered by the Anglo-Saxons, due to the fierce resistance of its people and its mountainous terrain. An Anglo-Saxon king, Offa of Mercia, is credited with having constructed a great earth wall, or dyke, along the border with his kingdom, to mark off a large part of Powys which he had conquered. Parts of Offa's Dyke can still be seen today.
Wales remained a Celtic region, and its people kept speaking the Welsh language, even as the Celtic elements of England and Scotland gradually disappeared. The name Wales is evidence of this, as it comes from a Germanic root word meaning stranger or foreigner, and as such is related to the names of several other European regions where Germanic peoples came into contact with non-Germanic cultures including Wallonia in Belgium and Wallachia in Romania, as well as the "-wall" of Cornwall. Part of the word "Cymru" is evident in the "Cum-" of Cumberland and Cumbria.
Wales continued to be Christian (see 1904–1905 Welsh Revival and Welsh Methodist revival) when England was overrun by pagan German and Scandinavian tribes, though many older beliefs and customs survived among its people. Thus, Saint David (Dewi Sant) went on a pilgrimage to Rome during the 6th century, and was serving as a bishop in Wales well before Augustine arrived to convert the king of Kent and found the diocese of Canterbury. Although the Druidic religion is alleged to have had its stronghold in Wales until the Roman invasion, many of the so-called traditions, such as the gorsedd, or assembly of bards, were the invention of eighteenth-century "historians." The traditional women's Welsh costume, incorporating a tall black hat, was devised in the nineteenth century by Lady Llanover, herself a prominent patron of the Welsh language and culture.
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