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Wales is approximately 150miles (242 km.) from north to south. About two - thirds of the total population of 2.8 million people live in the South Wales coastal area, where the three biggest towns are located: Swansea, Cardiff and Newport.

The Welsh are very proud of their language and culture. These are best preserved in the north and west of the country, for in the south and east they have been more challenged by industrialization. The west coast, mid Wales and North Wales are wild and beautiful !

Although visitors don't need passports to cross the border from England into Wales they soon realise that they are entering a country with its own distinct geography, culture, traditions and, of course language.


Welsh is one of the Celtic languages, like Scottish and Irish Gaelic. It is estimated that Welsh is spoken by 16 to 20 per cent of the population, although in North and West Wales 50 per cent speak the language. The Welsh Language Act of 1967 said that all official documents should be in both languages, and most road signs are printed in English and Welsh.

Since the 1960s there has been increased interest in Welsh. At secondary schools almost 50 per cent of all pupils learn Welsh as a first or second language. Since 1982 there has also been an independent fourth TV channel broadcasting mainly in Welsh.

Although not many Welsh words are well known in England, the word eisteddfod is understood by almost everybody. This is the Welsh name for an annual competition where people meet to dance, sing and read poems. Usually, only Welsh is spoken and in recent years they have attracted people who wish to protest against the influence of English on the Welsh language and culture.

The Welsh and their words

The traditional culture in Wales has always placed special emphasis on the reading of poetry and the singing of choirs. In the 19th century there was apowerful puritan religious movement that preached a good and simple life. In the chapels the oratory of the preacher and the strong singing of male voice choirs were used to win the hearts of the people and turn them away from bad living.


This Welsh understanding of the power of words lies behind afine tradition of radical and eloquent politicians who have contributed a great deal to British politics since the beginning of the century. David Lloyd George, although born in Manchester of Welsh parents, was brought up in Wales. He entered the House of Commons at the age of twenty - seven as a member of the Liberal Party.

After holding various government offices, he became the first Welsh Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1916, a post he held until 1922. His interest in the old and Equally inspired by fairness and justice, Aneurin Bevan, who had worked in the coal - mines of South Wales as a boy, became one of the most powerful speakers ever known in the House of Commons. His battle with authority began when he led the miners in the general strike of 1929.

A poet

Dylan Thomas was born in Swansea and worked in London as a journalist writing radio and film scripts at the same time. One of his most famous radio plays, Under Milk Wood , has been adapted for the stage and performed all over the world.

The National Parks

There are three National Parks in Wales which cover approximately one - fifth of the whole country. These parks are protected by law because of their natural beaity, but ordinary people still live and work there. The most famous of the parks is Snowdonia in the north - west. It covers 840 square miles of some of Wales' most breathtaking countryside. The highest mountain range in Wales is in this area, with several peaks over 3,000 feet (910m.). The highest, Snowdon, is 3,560 feet (1,085m.).

Many people travel to the parks each year for special holydays. These include a large number of outdoor activities such as walking, climbing, and riding, or water sports such as canoeing and fishing. People camp and live without all the usual comforts of home.


Susan Sheerin, Jonathan Seath, Gillian White

" Spotlight on Britain"

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