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Portfolio > On Location (UK) 1 > North Wales                                                                                Click on an image below to reveal enlarged version

North Wales, UK

North Wales (Welsh: Gogledd Cymru), also known as the North of Wales (or simply the North, or in Welsh 'y Gogledd' in Wales), is a geographic region of Wales, encompassing its northernmost areas. It borders Mid Wales (or South Wales under some definitions) to the south, England to the east, and the Irish Sea to the north and west. The area is highly mountainous and rural, with Snowdonia National Park (Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri) and the Clwydian Range, known for its mountains, waterfalls and trails, located wholly within the region. Its population is more concentrated in the north-east, and northern coastal areas of the region, whilst significant Welsh-speaking populations are situated in its western and rural areas. North Wales is imprecisely defined, lacking any exact definition or administrative structure. For the public purposes of healthpolicing and emergency services, and for statistical, economic and cultural purposes, North Wales is commonly defined administratively as its six most northern principal areas, but other definitions of the geographic region exist, with Montgomeryshire historically considered to be part of the region. Those from North Wales are sometimes referred to as "Gogs" (from "Gogledd" – the Welsh word for "north"); in comparison, those from South Wales are sometimes called "Hwntws" by those from North Wales.


The region includes the localities of WrexhamDeesideRhylColwyn BayFlintBangorLlandudno, and Holyhead. The largest localities in North Wales are the town of Wrexham and the conurbations of Deeside and Rhyl/Prestatyn, where the main retail, cultural, educational, tourism, and transport infrastructure and services of North Wales are located. Historically, for most of North Wales, the region can be referred to as simply "Gwynedd", named after one of the last independent Welsh kingdoms, the Kingdom of Gwynedd. This has led to a stronger sense of Welsh identity and home to more Welsh-language speakers, especially in North West Wales, than the rest of Wales. The term "North Wales" is rarely applied to all of Wales during the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain and the period of the Heptarchy, to distinguish it from "West Wales", known today as Cornwall, although the term "Wales" or the names of the various petty kingdoms of Wales (Gwynedd, and Powys in North Wales) are more commonly used to depict the region during this time.

The region is steeped in history, being a crucial component in Welsh medieval history, and was from the 5th to the 12th/13th centuries under the control of the influential Welsh kingdoms of Gwynedd, and Powys following the end of Roman rule in Britain. The Kingdom of Gwynedd controlled the majority of what is now the commonly defined 6 counties of North Wales, including all of the North Wales coast, with Powys retaining control over what is modern Powys, and parts of Wrexham and Flintshire, in addition to part of Shropshire. Through their over 800 year existences', their rulers acclaimed themselves to be the "King(s) of the Britons", and Gwynedd would lead the charge in the subsequent formation of the Principality of Wales. The mountainous stronghold of Snowdonia formed the nucleus of that realm and would become the last redoubt of independent Medieval Wales — only overcome in 1283 by English forces under Edward I. To this day it remains a stronghold of the Welsh language and a centre for Welsh national and cultural identity.

The area is mostly rural with many mountains and valleys. This, in combination with its coast (on the Irish Sea), means tourism is the principal industry. Farming, which was once the principal economic force in the area, is now much reduced in importance. The average income per capita of the local population is the lowest in the UK. The eastern part of North Wales contains the most populous areas, with more than 300,000 people living in the areas around Wrexham and Deeside. Wrexham, with a population of 63,084 in 2001 is the largest town. The total population of North Wales is 696,300 (2017). The majority of other settlements are along the coast, including some popular resort towns, such as RhylLlandudnoPwllheliPrestatyn and Tywyn. There are two cathedral cities – Bangor and St. Asaph – and a number of medieval castles (e.g. CricciethDolbadarnDolwyddelanHarlechCaernarfon CastleBeaumarisConwy) The area of North Wales is about 6,172 square kilometres, making it slightly larger than the country of Brunei, or the island of Bali. The highest mountain in Wales is Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), in northwest Wales. It is the highest mountain in Britain and Ireland excluding Scotland's highlands (with Ben Nevis).



North Wales has a distinct regional identity. Its dialect of the Welsh language differs from that of other regions, such as South Wales, in some ways: for example llefrith is used in most of the North instead of llaeth for "milk"; a simple sentence such as go upstairs now might be Dos i fyny'r grisiau rŵan in North Wales, and Cer lan y stâr nawr in South Wales. Colloquially, a person from North Wales (especially one who speaks with this dialect or accent) is known as a North Walian, or a Gog (from the Welsh gogledd, meaning "north"). There are Welsh medium schools scattered all across North Wales, ranging from primary to secondary schools.

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