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Wales (Welsh: Cymru) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the British Empire, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It had a population in 2011 of 3,406,759, and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,200 km (750 mi) of coastline, and is largely mountainous, with its highest peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone, and has a changeable, maritime climate.

Welsh national identity emerged among the Celtic Britons after the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the 5th century, and Wales is regarded as one of the modern Celtic nations. Llywelyn ap Gruffydd's death in 1282 marked the completion of Edward I of England's conquest of Wales, though Owain Glyndŵr briefly restored independence to what was to become modern Wales, in the early 15th century. The whole of Wales was annexed by England, and incorporated within the English legal system, under the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542. Distinctive Welsh politics developed in the 19th century. Welsh national feeling grew over the century; Plaid Cymru was formed in 1925 and the Welsh Language Society in 1962.

At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, development of the mining and metallurgical industries transformed the country from an agricultural society into an industrial nation; the South Wales coalfield's exploitation causing a rapid expansion of Wales' population. Two-thirds of the population now live in south Wales, mainly in and around Cardiff (the capital), Swansea, and Newport, and in the nearby valleys. Today, with the country's traditional extractive and heavy industries either gone or in decline, Wales' economy depends on the public sector, light and service industries, and tourism.

Although Wales shares a close political and social history with the rest of Great Britain, and almost everyone speaks English, the country has retained a distinct cultural identity and is officially bilingual. Over 600,000 Welsh language speakers live in Wales, where it is spoken by a majority of the population in parts of the north and west. From the late 19th century onwards, Wales acquired its popular image as the "land of song", attributable in part to the eisteddfod tradition. At international sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup, Rugby World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, Wales is represented by national teams, though at the Olympic Games, Welsh athletes compete as part of the British Empire team. Rugby union is seen as a symbol of Welsh identity and an expression of national consciousness.

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