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You are in:  Nations > Europe > Wales
Wales*Wales flag
Basic facts
The country 
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Capital: Cardiff
Area: 20,760 sq km; 8020 sq miles
Population: 2,946,195 (2000 estimate)
Urbanisation: Rural = 32.5 per cent Urban = 67.5 per cent


Exports: Chemicals, basic metals, motor vehicles, other transport, communications, fuels and minerals, mechanical machinery, electronic machinery, medical and optical goods, food and drink.

Industry: Manufacturing, public administration, tourism, education and health are the major Welsh sources of employment.

Agriculture: Principal crops: wheat and barley, fodder crops (i.e maize, turnips, swedes, kale, cabbage and rape), potatoes, horticulture; livestock products: milk, cream, butter, cheese, milk powder, meat, wool, leather.

Currency: 1 pound sterling (£), consisting of 100 pence.

Natural resources: coal, slate, limestone, gold, lead, copper, zinc, fireclays


The people

Ethnic: White - 98.2 per cent Indian - 0.3 per cent Pakistani - 0.3 per cent Black - 0.3 per cent Other - 0.9 per cent

Language: 18.7% of the population are able to speak Welsh (1991 figures), and the majority of Welsh-speakers can also speak English. Welsh enjoys a degree of official status as the Welsh Language Act 1993 places a duty on the public sector to treat Welsh and English on an equal basis, when providing services to the public in Wales. Welsh and English are the official languages of the National Assembly for Wales and its legislation has to be made in both languages. The Welsh Language Board was created to promote and facilitate the use of Welsh. All children in Wales study Welsh (either as a first or a second language) for 11 years, from the ages of 5 to 16. In 1982, S4C the Welsh-language television channel, was established. This now broadcasts around 30 hours a week in Welsh, as well as 12 hours a day on S4C Digital which was launched in November 1998 and is also broadcast outside Wales. The national Welsh-language radio station BBC Radio Cymru broadcasts over 120 hours a week in Welsh. The Welsh-language entertainment industry now competes on an international level, in the popular rock, folk and classical music fields. Bands like Catatonia and individual singers, such as Siān James and Bryn Terfel , who regularly perform in Welsh, have won major national and international awards.

Religion: The Church in Wales (Anglican) is the largest Christian denomination in Wales with some 137,600 members (1982 figures). The Roman Catholic Church is second largest with 129, 600. Historically speaking, the non-conformist Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist and Independent denominations have been an important influence on Welsh life and together constitute a significant grouping.


The history

Independence: None

Government: Proposals for Welsh devolution were made in July 1997 and were subsequently endorsed in the September 1997 referendum. The Government of Wales Act 1998 established the national Assembly for Wales. The Assembly develops and implements policies on a wide range of devolved matters in the fields of agriculture, economic development, education, health, social services, culture, the environment, transport and local government. Primary legislation for Wales is still made in the UK Parliament, and Wales still sends MPs to the House of Commons, however the Assembly makes secondary legislation on devolved matters. A member of the UK Government the Secretary of State for Wales, represents Welsh interests in the UK Cabinet and the interests of the UK Government in Wales.

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