Is Wales A Country?

The Welsh flag waving.
The Welsh flag waving.

A country is a geographic region with a distinct national entity, political characteristics, legal jurisdiction, and defined boundaries. It is part of the United Kingdom and not completely independent so it is not a country in its own right but called one because that's what its administrative level is called. 

Is Wales a Country?

Wales is one of the four countries that makes up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The terminology here is the name for the first administrative level much like states in the United States or provinces in Canada. It borders England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. Although Wales is a country, it is not a sovereign state and is therefore not a member of the UN.

Wales is governed by a devolved government officially known as the Government of Wales. It is headed by the First Minister of Wales. The government of Wales only handles matters on devolved issues while the government of the UK that is headed by the prime minister handles more complex issues. The Welsh Assembly acts as the legislature although its power is superseded by the UK parliament. Cardiff is both the largest city and the capital of Wales.

Thus while Wales meets a lot of the requirements to be a country it is not independent and sovereign which are requirements in the classical definitions of a country. 

Brief History Of Wales

Wales has experienced continuous human settlement for the past 10 millennials although it was first settled 29 millennials ago. In AD 48, the Romans conquered Wales and ruled the territory for over 300 years until its collapse. The collapse of the Roman Empire paved the way for the invasion of the territory by Germanic tribes. Several kingdoms formed in the territory as the Germanic tribes sought independence from the kingdoms in central Europe. In 1536, the kingdom of England merged with Wales. In 1707, the kingdom of Scotland merged with the pair to form Great Britain. In 1801, Ireland merged with Great Britain to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1922, a civil war erupted in Ireland and the country split into two; Northern ireland and the Irish Free State that later became the Republic of Ireland. The rest of Ireland remained as part of the UK.

Devolution In Wales

The government of Wales handles twenty devolved functions including education, local government, health, housing, economic development, social services, transport, and tourism. The national assembly was created in 1999 but it was not until 2007 that it gained the power to pass primary legislation on specific issues concerning Wales. Key or sensitive matters are passed by the UK Parliament or proposed by the assembly and approved by the UK Parliament. The prime minister of the United Kingdom handles foreign matters concerning Wales.


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