Wales, on the west of Britain, extends out into the Irish Sea. Like Scotland it is a nation within a nation. Tourism is big business. Most of the Welsh even welcome the English. In 1982 an estimated twelve million visitors left eight hundred million dollars and created eighty thousand vital jobs. A geography pedant’s paradise, some of the place names are almost incomprehensible to an outsider. Try this one on your tongue: Llanfair-pwllgwyngllogerychwyrndrobwelllanlysiliogogogoch. The Germans do it too, compound their words, but this little Welsh town has to be a winner in the longest name contest. The residents wisely abbreviate the name to Llanfair P.G.
There is also a Betws-y-Coed, no relation to the popular song of a few decades ago that goes Betty Coed Has Eyes of Blue, etc. The capital city, Cardiff, is easy enough to pronounce.
Wales is small, about eight thousand square miles, with a total population of about 2.8 million. Most of the people and industry are in the south. Anglesey Island is connected to the mainland by bridge in the north. The north is also known for the Snowdonia Mountains where hiking, pony-trekking and mountain climbing are popular. The mountains are small but grand and were used by the conquerors of Mt. Everest as a training ground. The Welch seacoast has numerous sandy bays and quiet towns. Freshwater fishing is the most popular of outdoor sports. Some of the riverside hotels own fishing rights along the banks on which they sit.
In Wales all road signs appear in both English and Welsh. The Welsh have a long memory. About 20 percent of them can speak Welsh, a language full of gutturals that bears almost no resemblance to English. The last Welsh prince, Llywelyn, was killed in 1282, and in 1536 Wales was merged into the English state. Even so, a sizable number of Welsh think of themselves as Welsh first, members of the United Kingdom second. A separate TV channel operating twenty-two hours a day is presented in the Welsh language.