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The Land of Your Fathers
2/1/2004
Discover your ancestors' native ground with our step-by-step guide to tracing your Welsh Roots.

On the Wales side of the Severn Bridge, a red dragon signals, “Croesa i Cymru — Welcome to Wales.” You've entered a small nation approximately the size of Rhode Island, yet one with its own Celtic language, rich heritage and distinctive landscape.

Boasting the cities of Cardiff, Swansea and Newport, South Wales is the most heavily populated part of Wales. It's dominated by English speakers and industrialization, thanks to King Coal, which the Welsh have mined and exported since the onset of the Industrial Revolution. Highlighted by rich, undulating farmland, West Wales features the counties of Pembrokeshire — long known as “Little England Beyond Wales” — and Carmarthenshire — with its vocal pocket of Welsh-speaking residents whose voting strength helped create the National Assembly in 1999. Scenic Mid Wales, with its small villages, seaside vistas and Welsh-speaking communities, is often unwittingly bypassed by travelers eager to reach Snowdonia National Park, where hikers and sheep punctuate the hulking gray crags. In the late 13th century, the mountainous terrain offered refuge to Welsh rebels fighting Edward I's army. Though the English king's mighty fortresses still dominate North Wales, and slate mining has reshaped the land, the region is renowned for its beauty.

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