|The flag of Wales|
When the Roman armies under Julius Caesar reached Wales in 55 B.C., they found themselves with a territory that was occupied by Celts. However, Roman occupation did not take place until a century later. During five centuries, Wales belonged to the Roman province of Britannia.
Later on, during the invasions of Anglo-Saxons and Vikings, the Celtic inhabitants from what nowadays is England, fled to the mountainous regions of Wales. It is in this territory that the Germanic invaders met a prolonged and ferocious resistance. Regional leaders such as Arthur (the legendary King Arthur?) fought and maintained Celtic independence from the Germanic newcomers. It is this moment in history that the Welsh began to gain a feeling of self-identity. The word "Welsh" itself was first used by the Anglo-Saxons, meaning "foreigners" or Romanized". The Celts used the word Cymru (fellow countrymen) to refer to themselves.
Nowadays, English and Welsh are the official languages of Wales. Welsh (Cymraeg) belongs to a branch of Celti an Indo-European language, and is spoken by at least half a million people within Wales and a few hundred thousand outside of the country.
|The Prince of Wales's Coat of Arms|
By the Act of Union of 1536, Wales was incorporated into England. Since then English law and government has ruled in this nation, and Cymru followed the same path as England to become part of the United Kingdom.
Wales remained a rural area until the late 18tn century, but with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution began the exploitation of iron and coal, which brought prosperity to the area. The capital of Wales, Cardiff, grew rapidly during the 19th century as a coal-exporting port, as did the rest of the cities in the southeastern part of the country. For same time Wales was one of the most important industrial areas in the world.
If you ever visit Wales, be sure to have a good look at one of its impressive medieval castles. There are over 400 castle sites in Wales, which explains why it is also known as the "Land of Castles". The majority of these fortresses were built by the Norman kings to protect themselves from Welsh frontier raids. Someone like the legendary King Arthur may have lived in one of these magnificent structures that have survived for centuries! The first allusion to King Arthur is in the Welsh poem Goddodin. According to Arthurian legend: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (Lancelot, Percival, Galahad...) are now sleeping. But they will awake when Wales needs them once again. For this reason, King Arthur is known as the Once...and Future King.
THE CITY WITH THE LONGEST NAME IN THE WORLD IS IN WALES
It is called Llan-fair-pwll-gwyn-gyll-go-ger-y-chwyrn-drobwll-llan-tysiliog-ogo-goch, which means in English: The church of St. Mary, in the valley of the white hazel, near the rapid whirlpool, near the red cave of the church of St. Tysilio.