Wales is a country that forms part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (known as the UK). It is situated in the northwestern part of the continent of Europe.

 

Where is Wales within the UK?

Wales is one of the four countries that make up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. 

We are located on an island called Great Britain, which we share with Scotland and England.

Illustrated map of the UK, showing Wales in context with England, Scotland and Northern Ireland
The location of Wales within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Wales has its own devolved government and its own parliament (the Senedd), although some political decisions are still made by the UK Government, like matters of crime and policing, defence, and foreign affairs. People in Wales travel on British passports, like all citizens who live within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Find out more about how Wales is governed.

Wales as a country - key facts

Official languages: Cymraeg (Welsh) and English

Population: 3.1 million people (4.8% of the UK population)

Size: 8,194 sq miles (21,224 sq km)

Time zone: GMT

Currency: £ Pound Sterling

National Day: St David's Day (1 March)

National Anthem: Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land of my Fathers)

Highest mountain: Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), 1,085m (3,560ft)

Longest place name
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (known locally as Llanfair PG)

Climate: The average temperature is 20°C (68°F) in summer and 6°C (43°F) in winter

National Parks: Three (Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire Coast)

Areas of Outstanding National Beauty: Five (Anglesey, Gower, Wye Valley, Llŷn Peninsula and the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley)

Sites of special scientific interest (SSSI): There are over 1,000 SSSIs in Wales, covering 12% of the country. They form the basis for our network of protected nature conservation areas

Cities and regions in Wales

There are seven cities in Wales: Bangor, Cardiff (our capital), Newport, St Davids, St Asaph, Swansea and Wrexham. St Davids is the UK's smallest city by population, and has been a popular pilgrimage destination for hundreds of years. Wrexham is the country's newest city, having been awarded city status as part of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations in 2022.

Map of the country of Wales, with cities highlighted
Cities of Wales

Wales is made up of 22 local authority areas, each with its own elected council, which makes decisions on local issues like housing, town planning and schools.

These local authority areas are grouped into four regions: North Wales, West Wales, Mid Wales, and South Wales - each with its own distinct geography and landscape.

Is Wales really full of castles?

Yes. Well, sort of. There are more than 600 castles in Wales, more per square mile than anywhere in the world. Some have been lived in continuously for a thousand years, some are romantic ruins, and others have disappeared, leaving almost no trace. Many are native Welsh castles, built by Welsh royal dynasties – often in very beautiful places.

Find out more about Welsh castles.

A view of a castle from across a river with boats and a bridge with mountains in the background
A couple of people walk past a large old ruined castle
Conwy Castle and Laugharne Castle

Is Wales also full of dragons?

Well, there is one on our flag. But beyond that, we couldn't possibly say.

A dog wearing a Welsh flag
A large sculpture of a red dragon in front of a large old castle

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