Wales History, Language and Culture

History of Wales

Invasions and battles pockmark the history of Wales. Invaders from the Romans, through to the Saxons and the Normans eyed-up the Welsh countryside and set off over the River Severn to see what they could claim. Impressive, rugged castles dotted around the country mark attempts by the invaders to keep the locals in check. Welsh historical heroes include King Arthur (of the round table fame) who is also claimed by the Cornish and who features in ancient Welsh document as an emperor and war hero. Similarly there is Owen Glendower (Owain Glyndwr) who featured in Shakespeare's Henry IV and waged battles against the English, claiming right to the title Prince of Wales. After winning a series of battles, and signing an allegiance with France, he drew the wrath of the English king, who clamped down on the Welsh, banning gatherings of people and Welsh men from holding office. Glyndwr's period of glory eventually came to an end when the forces of Henry V took back the castles and strongholds the Prince of Wales had gained.

Non-conformist religion (particularly the Baptists and Methodists) marked the rise of Welsh nationalism in the 19th century. The non-conformists broke off from the official state religion (Anglican) and taught the Welsh language at Sunday schools. The industrial revolution left a heavy mark on Welsh history, transforming the countryside and the workforce from having a focus on agriculture to coal mining and iron work. It also attracted immigration into Wales, boosting the population.

The University of Wales was established in 1893, and the national library and museum both received their royal charters in 1907. From 1999, an elected Welsh assembly was established in Cardiff, with powers devolved from Westminster. The Welsh authority has quickly established an independent frame of mind, taking a different route from English policies on some issues, most famously free prescriptions and university tuition fees.

Wales Culture


Predominantly Christian (Church of England, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist), sizeable Muslim, Sikh, Jewish and Hindu minorities. Around 15% of the population have no religion.

Language in Wales

English and Welsh are the official languages. Welsh is taught in all schools, and at least one-fifth of the population speaks it.

Language phrases
  • Beer = Cwrw
  • Cheers! = Iechyd Da
  • Closed = Ar gau
  • Danger = Perygl
  • Do you speak English? = A ydych chi'n siarad Saesneg?
  • Doctor = Meddyg
  • Eight = Wyth
  • Eighty = Wythdeg
  • Entrance = Mynedfa
  • Exit = Allanfa
  • Fifty = Pumdeg
  • Five = Pump
  • Forty = Pedwardeg
  • Four = Pedwar
  • Friday = Dydd Gwener
  • Goodbye = Hwyl or da bo chi
  • Hello = Helo
  • Hotel = Gwesty
  • How are you? = Sut ydych chi (formal) / Sut mae (informal)
  • How much does it cost? = Faint ydi hwn?
  • I'm very well = Dw i'n dda iawn
  • I don't speak Welsh = Dydw i ddim yn siarad Cymraeg
  • I don't understand = Dwi ddim yn deall
  • I feel ill = Dw i'n teimlo'n sâl
  • Menu = Bwydlen
  • Monday = Dydd Llun
  • My name is … = Fy enw i yw …
  • Nine = Naw
  • Ninety = Nawdeg
  • No = Na
  • One = Un
  • One Hundred = Cant
  • One Thousand = Mil
  • Open = Ar Agor
  • Please = Os gwelwch yn dda
  • Restaurant = Bwyty
  • Saturday = Dydd Sadwrn
  • Seven = Saith
  • Seventy = Saithdeg
  • Six = Chwech
  • Sixty = Chwedeg
  • Sunday = Dydd Sul
  • Ten = Deg
  • Thank you = Diolch
  • Thirty = Trideg
  • Three = Tri
  • Thursday = Dydd Iau
  • Today = Heddiw
  • Toilets = Toiledau
  • Tomorrow = Yfory
  • Tuesday = Dydd Mawrth
  • Twenty = Dauddeg / Ugain
  • Two = Dau
  • Wednesday = Dydd Mercher
  • Where is …? = Ble mae …?
  • Wine = Gwin
  • Yes = Ie or ydw