Wales is one of four nations which make up The United Kingdom. It is flanked by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west and the Bristol Channel to the south. Wales is located on the west side of Great Britain. Its geography is varied, with coastal plains and valleys in the south, and rolling hills and mountains in the centre and north.
The climate in Wales is moderate, with most rainfall occurring between October and January. Winter days are short and snow is a common site which makes for stunning scenery around Christmas. The temperature in the winter is around 6ºC, climbing up to a comfortable 20ºC in the summer months. Summer days are nice and long, with plenty of natural light until around 10pm.
There are so many things to see in Wales – romantic constructions such as the 13th century Caernarfon Castle (built by King Edward in the 13th century), or the walled market town of Conwy (with its gorgeous castle, fine exponents of mediaeval architecture and wonderful shopping opportunities). The Isle of Anglesey, with its romantic South Stack Lighthouse is the stuff that has inspired countless poets, and the wealth of natural landscapes simply cannot be missed; the lofty Brecon Beacons National Park, the majestic peaks of Snowdonia and the seaside town of Aberystwyth, are revered natural getaways for travellers from all over the world.
Prior to King Henry VIII’s Act of Union in 1536, Wales comprised various independent kingdoms and lordships though it has been inhabited since 250,000 B.C. The ancestors of today’s Welsh people are varied and include the Celts, who migrated from Europe to settle on British land between 500 and 100BC. Invasions by Roman and Saxon warriors prompted the native Britons to head for Wales, and further immigration has added a richness to Welsh culture. By the 9th century, rulers such as Rhodri the Great and Hywel Dda developed the Welsh state, which kept its independence until the Viking invasion in the 11th century, and later, the Normal invasion. During the 12th and 13th centuries, various English kings attempted to take control of Wales, which was finally conquered by Edward I, who declared Wales a principality and names his son the first prince of Wales (in 1301). Wales obtained temporary independence in 1401 under Owen Glendower, though by 1410, the English once again obtained control.
Wales is known as a haven for wildlife watching, with its 216 Wildlife Trust nature reserves, ample coastline, over 4,000m2 of national parks, lush woodlands, and flowing lakes and rivers. Some of its most beautiful animals include grey seals (which frolic on the islands of the Pembrokeshire coast), red kites (striking birds of prey with a unique forked tail, visible in mid Wales) and friendly porpoises, which congregate in Strumble Head in Pembrokeshire. If a bit of greenery tickles your fancy, check out the scenic wild flowers that grow in the many Welsh counties, feast your eyes on the surprisingly colourful fungi (there are about 18,000 different species in the UK), or find inspiration for a poem in the lovely flowers which are unique to Wales – the Welsh and Tenby daffodils.
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