Places in World Most Likely to Secede Cymru or Wales

About Cymru or Wales a place in the world likely to secede from Great Britain, size, population, and history of conflict.



Size: 8,017 sq. mi. (20,844 sq. km.).

Population: 2.8 million.

Located in western Britain, Cymru, as the Welsh call their country, or Wales as it is known to most people, is a rocky territory of plateaus, peaks, and meadows with a damp, maritime climate. North Wales is more rural and rugged than the coal-producing region of South Wales, where Cardiff, the capital, is located.

Celtic tribes conquered and absorbed the Iberian inhabitants of Wales in the late Bronze Age, and later Roman and Anglo-Saxon invasions served to isolate, rather than integrate, this people; the Saxons named them Waelisc ("Welsh," or "foreign"). Neither Romanized nor Anglicized with the rest of Britain, both the Celtic tongue and brunet Iberian-Celtic appearance persist. Today, English is the main language; while less than 50,000 speak Welsh exclusively, more than 25% speak both English and Welsh. About 70% of the population is centered in the industrial region of Glamorgan in South Wales.

From Roman times to the Middle Ages, the Welsh remained a law unto themselves, fiercely repelling England's Saxon invaders. By 1063, Gryffyd ap Llewelyn had unified North and South Wales as a single kingdom, but the Normans under William the Conqueror occupied the country only a few years later. Welsh guerrillas fought the Normans for 200 years; final British conquest in 1282 was completed by Edward I, who named his eldest son Prince of Wales, a title designating Britain's crown princes ever since. Resentment over the increasing use of English again provoked Welsh rebellion in 1399 under Owen Glendower. With the 1485 accession of the Welsh Tudor Henry VII, Wales and England finally came under one crown. The Act of Union in 1536 integrated Wales into the English system of law and land tenure.

The secretary of state for Wales is the chief official of the principality. With little local control over its political and economic affairs, Wales is represented by 36 members in Britain's House of Commons. The Plaid Cymru, or Welsh Nationalist party, holds three of those 36 seats and advocates full national status for Wales within a federalized United Kingdom.

Welsh identity has always leaned strongly toward political radicalism, emphasizing its own cultural and linguistic differences. Tightly woven to the highly centralized London government, both the Welsh pastoral and heavy industrial economies have suffered under Britain's recent financial difficulties. Most Welsh voters believe that Wales could better manage its own affairs. Under the political "devolution" passed by the House of Commons on Nov. 16, 1977, Wales will have its own elected assembly and executive, but no revenue-raising powers.

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