Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Its Monarch is Charles Stewart, Prince of Wales, son of Queen Elizabeth II. Their flag has a picture of a dragon, usually called Idris. The Welsh flag forms no part of the Union Flag as Wales is merely a principality.
English is universally spoken in Wales - however, the ancestral Celtic language of Welsh is still spoken as a first or second language by approximately a quarter of the population. The long-term decline in Welsh-speakers has stabilised since the early 1990s.
Druidry survived as a major force in Wales until the 18th century, and may never have completely died out. The first modern Welsh druids date from 1717, but they took many of their rites from existing practices.
The capital of Wales is Cardiff.
The national sport is rugby union, the national emblems are the leek and the daffodil. South Wales was formerly heavily industrialised, with coal mining and steelworking, whereas North Wales is a pastoral area used mainly for sheepfarming.
Mining in South Wales has undergone a recent resurgence due to the discovery of new energy resources, particularly in the Crumlin area.
Welsh-derived surnames are common in the United States. The Welsh name Jones is in fact the fourth commonest surname in the U. S.; within the hundred commonest surnames, the Welsh names Evans, Edward, Morgan, and Jenkins rank 48th, 49th, 57th, and 83rd respectively. Names beginning with a double L, such as Lloyd and Llewellyn are almost certain to be Welsh, as is Floyd (the "Fl" being an attempt to imitate the sound of the Welsh double-L.
It is often said that the vowels in English are "A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y;" however, in Welsh the letter W can be a vowel (pronounced roughly like a double-length U). Most English dictionaries contain some Welsh-derived English words such as cwm (a circular valley or cirque) and crwth (an traditional Celtic fiddle-like musical instrument). These can be very effective stumpers when playing word games, provided of course that they are actually included in whatever dictionary is the authority agreed on by the players.
Notes and references
- Smith, Johnson and Williams ranking first, second and third
- Most Common Surnames in the U. S., website which claims its source is the U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, Population Analysis & Evaluation Staff