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Wales

Wales could simply become independent by default. If Scotland goes and Northern Ireland decides to join a united Ireland, England and Wales alone would not work and maybe the English would leave. Inspired by Scotland's example Wales may also claim its independence in a few years. "It will take a lot of work but I think it can happen. I'm over 50 now but we can see independence here in my lifetime," Welsh political campaigner and popular children"s author Angharad Tomos told the Guardian 11 September 2014 after returning from Scotland. Before the Scottish referendum went forward, debates about independence in Wales were widely seen as impossible, but there was a growing optimism among Welsh nationalists.

Just as the Scottish people do, Welsh claim that the reason for all of the problems in the country is Westminster's dominance. "People tell us we're a poor country. Wales is not poor. We've got huge natural resources. We're poor because Westminster makes the rules. They've never made the rules in favor of us and it's getting worse. People are having to use food banks; I never thought that would happen. There's so much unemployment in my area [north west Wales] that young people are disempowered and leaving," Tomos said.

Although the Welsh are aware of the arguments against independence, such as the fact that Wales is not economically strong enough and is located too close to England to be separated, some locals still believe that one day Wales could secede from the United Kingdom. But the majority of Welsh people prefer to live just as they are now and do not want to change the status quo, with recent polls showing that only few percent of voters in Wales would back independence.

The small nation of around 3 million has more sheep than people and sells many of the animals to Europe, mostly transported via England. It is also the UK's largest recipient of EU funds and its crumbling heavy industry in the south of the principality would not likely survive any Brexit-induced shocks very well or for very long.

Despite all that, Wales voted by over 52% in favor or leaving the EU in the 2016 referendum. The devolved Welsh government said it would continue to campaign for the UK to remain in the EU, but with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit approaching in October 2019, public attention is turning to the question of whether Wales should consider independence from a post-Brexit UK.

The devolved assembly has been making laws for Wales since 1999, including abolishing prescription charges and giving financial support to Welsh university students, via tuition loans and living cost grants. Wales was also among the first to introduce free bus travel for old-age pensioners.

In 2017-18, according to Government Expenditure and Revenue Wales 2019 data, estimated GDP in Wales was 70.6 billion pounds (€84 billion, $94 billion), making the Welsh economy the tenth-largest of the UK's twelve regions, ahead of only Northern Ireland and the North East of England. Wales is also the biggest recipient of EU funds in the UK, mainly in the form of structural funding. Wales also has the second-lowest average pay growth of anywhere in the UK and this has worsened since 2007-2009. Economic output per head has been lower in Wales than in most other parts of the UK and of Western Europe for a long time.

Wales is that western portion of Great Britain which lies between the Irish Sea and the River Dee on the north, the counties (or portions of the counties) of Chester, Salop, Hereford, and Gloucester on the east, the estuary of the Severn on the south-east, the Bristol Channel on the south, and Saint George's Channel on the west.

The name Wales has been given to this country not by its own inhabitants but by the Teutonic occupiers of England, and means "the territory of the alien race". "Welsh" (German Walsch) implies a people of either Latin or Celtic origin living in a land near or adjoining that of the Teutons; thus WcUschland is an obsolescent, poetical German term for Italy. After an invasion lasting 330 years, the Anglican, Saxon, and Jutish "comelings" having driven the earlier "homelings" into the hill-country of the west by steady encroachments and spasmodic conquests, the names Wales and Welsh were applied to the ancient people and the land they retained.

Wales is divided into twelve counties: those of Montgomery, Merioneth, Denbigh, Caernarvon, Flint, and Anglesey, form the northern division; while the southern portion comprehends the shires of Glamorgan, Caermanhen, Pembroke, Cardigan, Radnor, and Brecknock. The most perplexing disagreement prevails among writers as to what exactly Wales is; and the question is variously answered, according to the views of each individual on points of nationality— views usually influenced by his racial and political prejudices. One opinion is that Wales consists of twelve particular counties, and that its eastern boundary is identical with that of the eastern-most of those twelve counties. This is the popular, English, schoolmanual view.

According to another view, Wales has thirteen counties, Monmouthshire being the thirteenth, in addition to the above twelve. The English and anglicized inhabitants of the thirteenth county vehemently deny the correctness of its inclusion. They point to the fact that, although Henry VIII had declared the thirteen counties to constitute the Principality of Wales, a statute of Charles II so far detached Monmouthshire from the others as to annex it to the Oxford Assize Circuit. To this the nationalists reply that a council sitting round a table in London could no more unmake Wales than they could transform England into Scotland, or Derbyshire into a part of Ireland.

Wales was formerly of greater extent than it is at present; but, after the Saxons had made themselves masters of the southern and midland parts of England, the Welsh, or the descendants of the ancient Britons, were obliged gradually to retreat to the westward. It does not, however, appear that the Saxons ever made any farther conquests in their country than Monmouthshire and Herefordshire, which are now reckoned parts of England.

Wales abounds in mountains, especially in the northern'part; and the loftiest peaks in the latter diriiion are situated in two counties. In Caernarvonshire, Snowdon, the king of the Welsh mountains, is 3571 feet above the level of the sea. In Merionethshire, Arran Fowddy is 2955; Cader Idris, 2944; Arrenaig, 2809; and Cider Ferwyn, 2563. Flynlimmon, in Montgomeryshire, rises to a height of 2463 feet. The rest of the Welsh mountains are of inferior altitude. The mountainous nature of the country greatly assisted the natives in withstanding the assaults of the Romans, Saxons, and Normans.

The sscent of Snowdon is toilsome and terrific. After passing over craggy rocks, the traveller reaches a verdant expanse; and he then labours up another series of crags. The mountain seems propped up by four vast buttresses, between which are deep hollows, having one or more lakes lodged in them. It is bicapitated; the higher head rises almost to a point; the other appears with serrated tops. Cader-Idris, which seems to have been volcanic, is steep and craggy on every side; and the southern descent is nearly perpendicular. Of these two mountains, the chief rocky ingredients are granite and porphyry. Plynlimmon is also a considerable mountain, dignified by the rise of some fine rivers, among which are the Severn and tbe Wye.

The Welsh lakes are very numerous; but they are in general small and unimportant. That of Bala, called Llyn-Tegid, is about four miles in length, and less than a mile in breadth. Its protest depth is forty feet. The Dee, with little probability, is said to pass through it without a conununication of water. Llyn-Savathan, in the shire of Brecknock, is famous for the multitude of its fish.

Welsh holds a position between Munster Irish on the side of Gaelic, and Cornish on the side of the British division of Celtic—but much nearer the latter. It is not so soft as Irish or Cornish, yet very musical. Its gutturals and aspirates sound rough to foreign ears, and an English writer has picturesquely described Welsh as "a language half blown away oy the wind"; but there can be no question as to its richness in pure vowel-sounds or its masculine force. During the 19th century English unceasingly encroached upon the ancient tongue, driving the linguistic boundary ever further west. Industries, railways, and public elementary schools have been the chief enemies of Welsh, and the extinction of this venerable speech must be looked for in the next generation or two. The language, nevertheless, showed marvellous vitality in the face of odds, and a widespread literary revival brightened its declining years.



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Page last modified: 10-08-2019 19:04:48 ZULU