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Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom, bordered by England to its east, and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. Wales has a population estimated at three million andis officially bilingual; the indigenous Welsh language and English have equal status, and bilingual signs are the norm throughout the land. The once-steady decline in Welsh speaking has reversed overrecent years, however, with fluent Welsh speakers currently estimated to be around 20% of the population.
During the Iron Age and early medieval period, Wales was inhabited by the Celtic Britons. Adistinct Welsh national identity emerged in the centuries after the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the 5th century, and Wales is regarded as one of the modern Celtic nations today. In the 13thcentury, the defeat of Llewelyn by Edward I completed the Anglo-Norman conquest of Wales and brought about centuries of English occupation. Wales was subsequently incorporated into England with the Laws inWales Acts 1535–1542, creating the legal entity known today as England and Wales. Distinctive Welsh politics developed in the 19th century, and in 1881 the Welsh Sunday Closing Act became the firstlegislation applied exclusively to Wales. In 1999 the National Assembly for Wales was created, which holds responsibility for a range of devolved matters.
In 1955, Cardiff (Welsh: Caerdydd) wasproclaimed as the capital city and it is the largest city in Wales with a population of 317,500. For a period it was the biggest coal port in the worldand, for a few years before World War I, it handled agreater tonnage of cargo than either London or Liverpool. Two-thirds of the Welsh population live in South Wales, with another concentration in eastern North Wales. Many tourists visiting Wales havebeen drawn to its "wild ... and picturesque" landscapes. From the late 19th century onwards, Wales acquired its popular image as the "land of song", attributable in part to the revival of the...
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