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Wales History and Government

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Location: Wales, UKmap
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History of Wales

Wales has been inhabited for at least 200,000 years. Mesolithic hunter-gatherers migrated from central Europe to Great Britain over the landmass known as Doggerland which connected to the two areas.

The Romans arrived in AD 48 and took 30 years to complete their conquest of Great Britain. Today there is evidence of Roman occupation in several areas of Wales.

After the Romans left in AD 410, various Germanic tribes occupied England driving many of the British inhabitants westward into Wales. By the year 500 much of Wales had divided into kingdoms free from Anglo-Saxon rule. These independent Welsh successor states included the kingdoms of Gwynedd, Powys, Dyfed and Seisyllwg, Morgannwg and Gwent.

After the Norman conquest of England, the Normans began some efforts toward conquering Wales as early as 1067. A more concerted effort began in 1081 and by 1094 most of Wales was under the control of England. However, the Welsh revolted several times so that control of parts of Wales switched back and forth for nearly 200 years. By 1283 Wales was controlled and annexed to England by King Edward I.

Historic (Ancient) Counties

King Edward I in 1284, by the Statute of Rhduddlan, created the first four counties, Anglesey, Caernarfonshire, Flintshire and Merionethshire. Others were added over time. The Local Government Act 1972 effective April 1, 1974 abolished these historic and administrative counties. Their territory was realigned into newly formed counties.

  • Anglesey
  • Brecknockshire
  • Caernafonshire (Caernarvonshire)
  • Cardiganshire
  • Carmarthenshire
  • Denbighshire
  • Flintshire
  • Glamorgan
  • Merionethshire
  • Monmouthshire
  • Montgomeryshire
  • Pembrokeshire
  • Radnorshire

Past/Preserved/Ceremonial Counties of Wales

The preserved counties of Wales are the current areas used in Wales for the ceremonial purposes of lieutenancy and shrievalty. They are based on the counties created by the Local Government (Wales) Act 1972 effective April 1, 1974. They were abolished by the Local Government (Wales) Act of 1994 effective April 1, 1996. Their territory was realigned into other counties.

Lieutenancy – a lord-lieutenant is the British Monarch’s personal representative in each county of the United Kingdom
Shrievalty – a high sheriff is a ceremonial officer for each shrieval county.
  • Clwyd
  • Dyfed
  • Gwent
  • Mid Glamorgan
  • South Glamorgan
  • West Glamorgan

Current Governmental Structure as of 1996

Current Counties and Cities of Wales

Administrative Counties

  • Isle of Anglesey
  • Carmarthenshire
  • Ceredigion
  • Denbighshire
  • Flintshire
  • Gwynedd
  • Monmouthshire
  • Newport
  • Pembrokeshire
  • Powys
  • Swansea

County Boroughs

  • Blaneau Gwent
  • Bridgend
  • Caerphilly
  • Cardiff
  • Conwy
  • Merthyr Tydfil
  • Neath Port Talbot
  • Rhondda Cyon Taff
  • Torfaen
  • Vale of Glamorgan
  • Wrexham

Major Cities of Wales

  • Cardiff
  • Swansea
  • Newport
  • Merthyr Tydfil
  • Wrexham
  • Neath




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