Falcons WR Roddy White added to NFC Pro Bowl team

Written By Ivan Kolev on Thursday, January 12, 2012 | 8:18 AM

Thursday, January 12, 2012

NicknameThe Motor City, Motown, Renaissance City, The D, Hockeytown, Rock CityMotto"Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus"(Latin for, "We Hope For Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes")

Detroit () is the largest city in the state of Michigan and the seat of Wayne County. Detroit is a major port city on the Detroit River, in the Midwestern United States. It was founded on July 24, 1701, by the French explorer, adventurer, and nobleman Antoine de la Mothe, sieur de Cadillac. Its name originates from the French word detroit () for strait, in reference to its location on the river connecting the Great Lakes.

Known as the world's traditional automotive center, "Detroit" is a metonym for the American automobile industry and an important source of popular music legacies celebrated by the city's two familiar nicknames, the Motor City and Motown. Other nicknames emerged in the 20th century, including City of Champions beginning in the 1930s for its successes in individual and team sport, Arsenal of Democracy (during World War II), The D, D-Town, Hockeytown (a trademark owned by the city's NHL club, the Red Wings), Rock City (after the Kiss song "Detroit Rock City"), and The 3–1–3 (its telephone area code). There have been six ships of the United States Navy named after the city, including USS Detroit (LCS-7).

In 2010, the city had a population of 713,777 and ranked as the 18th most populous city in the United States. At its peak in 1950, the city was the fifth-largest in the U.S.A., but has since seen a major shift in its population to the suburbs. Between 2000 and 2010, the city's population declined by 25%. Among major American cities during the decade, only New Orleans experienced a greater decrease by percentage.

The name Detroit sometimes refers to the Metro Detroit area, a sprawling region with a population of 4,296,250 for the Metropolitan Statistical Area, making it the U.S.A.'s eleventh-largest, and a population of 5,218,852 for the nine-county Combined Statistical Area as of the 2010 Census Bureau estimates. The Detroit–Windsor area, a critical commercial link straddling the Canada–U.S. border, has a total population of about 5,700,000.

The city name comes from the Detroit River (), meaning the strait of Lake Erie, linking Lake Huron and Lake Erie; in the historical context, the strait included Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River. Traveling up the Detroit River on the ship Le Griffon (owned by Cavelier de La Salle), Father Louis Hennepin noted the north bank of the river as an ideal location for a settlement.

There, in 1701, the French officer Antoine de La Mothe Cadillac, along with fifty-one additional French-Canadians, founded a settlement called Fort Ponchartrain du Detroit, naming it after the comte de Pontchartrain, Minister of Marine under Louis XIV. France offered free land to attract families to Detroit, which grew to 800 people in 1765, the largest city between Montreal and New Orleans. Francois Marie Picote, sieur de Belestre (Montreal 1719–1793) was the last French military commander at Fort Detroit (1758–1760), surrendering the fort on November 29, 1760 to the British. The region's fur trade was an important economic activity. Detroit's city flag reflects this French heritage. (See Flag of Detroit, Michigan).

During the French and Indian War (1760), British troops gained control and shortened the name to Detroit. Several tribes led by Chief Pontiac, an Ottawa leader, launched Pontiac's Rebellion (1763), including a siege of Fort Detroit. Partially in response to this, the British Royal Proclamation of 1763 included restrictions on white settlement in unceded Indian territories. Detroit passed to the United States under the Jay Treaty (1796). In 1805, fire destroyed most of the settlement. A river warehouse and brick chimneys of the wooden homes were the sole structures to survive.

From 1805 to 1847, Detroit was the capital of Michigan. As the city expanded, the street layout plan developed by Augustus B. Woodward, Chief Justice of the Michigan Territory was followed. Detroit fell to British troops during the War of 1812 in the Siege of Detroit, was recaptured by the United States in 1813 and incorporated as a city in 1815.

Prior to the American Civil War, the city's access to the Canadian border made it a key stop along the underground railroad. Then a Lieutenant, the future president Ulysses S. Grant was stationed in the city. His dwelling is still at the Michigan State Fairgrounds. Because of this local sentiment, many Detroiters volunteered to fight during the American Civil War, including the 24th Michigan Infantry Regiment (part of the legendary Iron Brigade) which fought with distinction and suffered 82% casualties at Gettysburg in 1863. Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying "Thank God for Michigan!" Following the death of President Abraham Lincoln, George Armstrong Custer delivered a eulogy to the thousands gathered near Campus Martius Park. Custer led the Michigan Brigade during the American Civil War and called them the Wolverines.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many of the city's Gilded Age mansions and buildings arose. Detroit was referred to as the Paris of the West for its architecture, and for Washington Boulevard, recently electrified by Thomas Edison. Strategically located along the Great Lakes waterway, Detroit emerged as a transportation hub. The city had grown steadily from the 1830s with the rise of shipping, shipbuilding, and manufacturing industries. In 1896, a thriving carriage trade prompted Henry Ford to build his first automobile in a rented workshop on Mack Avenue.

In 1903 Ford founded the Ford Motor Company. Ford's manufacturing—and those of automotive pioneers William C. Durant, the Dodge brothers, Packard, and Walter Chrysler—reinforced Detroit's status as the world's automotive capital; it also served to encourage truck manufacturers such as Rapid and Grabowsky.

With the introduction of Prohibition, smugglers used the river as a major conduit for Canadian spirits, organized in large part by the notorious Purple Gang. Strained racial relations were evident in the 1920s trial of Dr. Ossian Sweet, a black Detroit physician acquitted of murder. A man died when shots were fired from Ossian's house into a threatening mob who gathered to try to force him out of a predominantly white neighborhood.

With the factories came high-profile labor unions in the 1930s such as the United Auto Workers which initiated disputes with manufacturers. The labor activism during those years increased influence of union leaders in the city such as Jimmy Hoffa of the Teamsters and Walter Reuther of the autoworkers. The 1940s saw the construction of the world's first urban freeway system below ground level, the Davison and the industrial growth during World War II that led to Detroit's nickname as the Arsenal of Democracy.

Industry spurred growth during the first half of the 20th century as the city drew tens of thousands of new residents, particularly workers from the Southern United States, to become the United States' fourth largest. At the same time, tens of thousands of European immigrants located in the city. Social tensions rose with the rapid pace of growth. The color blind promotion policies of the auto plants resulted in racial tension that erupted into a full-scale riot in 1943.

Consolidation during the 1950s, especially in the automobile sector, streamlined the supply chain. An extensive freeway system constructed in the 1950s and 1960s had facilitated commuting. The Twelfth Street riot in 1967, as well as court-ordered busing accelerated white flight from the city. Commensurate with the shift of population and jobs to its suburbs, the city's tax base eroded. In the years following, Detroit's population fell from a peak of roughly 1.8 million in 1950 to less than half that number today. The gasoline crises of 1973 and 1979 impacted the U.S. auto industry as small cars from foreign makers made inroads. Heroin and crack cocaine use afflicted the city with the influence of Butch Jones, Maserati Rick, and the Chambers Brothers. Renaissance has been a perennial buzzword among city leaders, reinforced by the construction of the Renaissance Center in the late 1970s. This complex of skyscrapers, designed as a city within a city, together with other developments, slowed and eventually began to reverse the trend of businesses leaving Downtown Detroit by the late 1990s. In 1980, Detroit hosted the Republican National Convention which nominated Ronald Reagan to a successful bid for President of the United States. By then, nearly three decades of inadequate policies and crime had caused areas like the Elmhurst block to decay. During the 1980s, vacant structures were demolished to make way for redevelopment.

In the 1990s, the city began to receive a revival with much of it centered in the Downtown, Midtown, and New Center areas. One Detroit Center (1993) arose on the city skyline. In the ensuing years, three casinos opened in Detroit: MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino, and Greektown Casino which debuted as resorts in 2007–08. New downtown stadiums were constructed for the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions in 2000 and 2002, respectively; this put the Lions' home stadium in the city proper for the first time since 1974. The city also saw the historic Book Cadillac Hotel and the Fort Shelby Hotel reopen for the first time in over 20 years. The city hosted the 2005 MLB All-Star Game, 2006 Super Bowl XL, 2006 World Series, WrestleMania 23 in 2007 and the NCAA Final Four in April 2009 all of which prompted many improvements to the downtown area.

The city's riverfront is the focus of much development following the example of Windsor, Ontario which began its waterfront parkland conversion in the 1990s. In 2001, the first portion (stretching from Joe Louis Arena through Hart Plaza) of the International Riverfront was completed as a part of the city's 300th anniversary celebration. In succeeding years, the waterfront gained miles of parks and fountains. In 2011, the Port Authority Passenger Terminal opened with the river walk connecting Hart Plaza to the Renaissance Center. This development is a mainstay in the city's plan to enhance its economy through tourism. Along the river, developers are constructing upscale condominiums such as Watermark Detroit. Some city limit signs, particularly on the Dearborn border say "Welcome to Detroit, The Renaissance City Founded 1701."

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of ; of this, is land and is water. Detroit is the principal city of the Metro Detroit and Southeast Michigan regions.

The highest elevation in the city is in the University District neighborhood in northwestern Detroit, west of Palmer Park, sitting at a height of . Detroit's lowest elevation is along its riverfront, sitting at a height of . Detroit completely encircles the cities of Hamtramck and Highland Park. On its northeast border are the communities of Grosse Pointe. The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is the only international wildlife preserve in North America, uniquely located in the heart of a major metropolitan area. The Refuge includes islands, coastal wetlands, marshes, shoals, and waterfront lands along of the Detroit River and Western Lake Erie shoreline.

Three road systems cross the city: the original French template, radial avenues from a Washington, D.C.-inspired system, and true north–south roads from the Northwest Ordinance township system. The city is north of Windsor, Ontario. Detroit is the only major city along the U.S.–Canadian border in which one travels south in order to cross into Canada.

Detroit has four border crossings: the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit–Windsor Tunnel provide motor vehicle thoroughfares, with the Michigan Central Railway Tunnel providing railroad access to and from Canada. The fourth border crossing is the Detroit–Windsor Truck Ferry, located near the Windsor Salt Mine and Zug Island. Near Zug Island, the southwest part of the city sits atop a salt mine that is below the surface. The Detroit Salt Company mine has over of roads within.

Detroit and the rest of southeastern Michigan have a humid continental climate (Koppen Dfa) which is influenced by the Great Lakes. Winters are cold, with moderate snowfall and temperatures at night dropping below around six times per year, while summers are warm to hot with temperatures exceeding on 15 days. Snowfall, which typically peaks from December to through February, averages per season. Monthly averages range from in January to in July. The highest recorded temperature was on July 24, 1934, while the lowest recorded temperature was on January 21, 1984. Seen in panorama, Detroit's waterfront shows a variety of architectural styles. The post modern neogothic spires of the One Detroit Center (1993) were designed to blend with the city’s Art Deco skyscrapers. Together with the Renaissance Center, they form a distinctive and recognizable skyline. Examples of the Art Deco style include the Guardian Building and Penobscot Building downtown, as well as the Fisher Building and Cadillac Place in the New Center area near Wayne State University. Among the city's prominent structures are U.S.A.'s largest Fox Theatre, the Detroit Opera House, and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

While the downtown and New Center areas contain high-rise buildings, the majority of the surrounding city consists of low-rise structures and single-family homes. Outside of the city's core, residential high-rises are found in neighborhoods such as the East Riverfront extending toward Grosse Pointe and the Palmer Park neighborhood just west of Woodward. The University Commons-Palmer Park district in northwest Detroit is near the University of Detroit Mercy and Marygrove College which anchors historic neighborhoods including Palmer Woods, Sherwood Forest, and the University District.

The National Register of Historic Places lists several area neighborhoods and districts. Neighborhoods constructed prior to World War II feature the architecture of the times with wood frame and brick houses in the working class neighborhoods, larger brick homes in middle class neighborhoods, and ornate mansions in neighborhoods such as Brush Park, Woodbridge, Indian Village, Palmer Woods, Boston-Edison, and others.

The oldest neighborhoods are along the Woodward and East Jefferson corridors, while neighborhoods built in the 1950s are found in the far west and closer to 8 Mile Road. Some of the oldest extant neighborhoods include West Canfield and Brush Park. Both have seen multi-million dollar restorations and construction of new homes and condominiums. thumb|right|150px|Detroit Financial District viewed from the [[Detroit International Riverfront|International Riverfront.]] Many of the city's architecturally significant buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places and the city has one of U.S.A.'s largest surviving collections of late 19th and early 20th century buildings. There are a number of architecturally significant churches and cathedrals, including St. Joseph's, St. Mary's, and Ste. Anne de Detroit.

There is substantial activity in urban design, historic preservation and architecture. A number of downtown redevelopment projects—of which Campus Martius Park is one of the most notable—have revitalized parts of the city. Grand Circus Park stands near the city's theater district, Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, and Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers. Other projects include the demolition of the Ford Auditorium off of Jefferson St.

The Detroit International Riverfront includes a partially completed three and one-half mile riverfront promenade with a combination of parks, residential buildings, and commercial areas from Hart Plaza to the MacArthur Bridge accessing Belle Isle (the largest island park in a U.S. city). The riverfront includes Tri-Centennial State Park and Harbor, Michigan's first urban state park. The second phase is a two mile (3 km) extension from Hart Plaza to the Ambassador Bridge for a total of five miles (8 km) of parkway from bridge to bridge. Civic planners envision that the riverfront properties condemned under eminent domain, with their pedestrian parks, will spur more residential development. Other major parks include Palmer (north of Highland Park), River Rouge (in the southwest side), and Chene Park (on the east river downtown).

Detroit has a variety of neighborhood types. The revitalized Downtown, Midtown, and New Center areas feature many historic buildings and are high density, while further out, particularly in the northeast and on the fringes, the city reported increased vacancies in 2009, for which a number of solutions have been proposed. In 2007, Downtown Detroit was named 18th (out of 35) best neighborhood in which to retire among the U.S.A.'s 30 largest metro areas by CNN Money Magazine editors. Lafayette Park is a revitalized neighorhood on the city's east side, part of the Ludwig Mies van der Rohe residential district. The urban renewal project was originally called the Gratiot Park Development. Planned by Mies van der Rohe, Ludwig Hilberseimer and Alfred Caldwell it includes a landscaped, park with no through traffic, in which these and other low-rise apartment buildings are situated. Immigrants have contributed to the city's neighborhood revitalization, especially in southwest Detroit. Southwest Detroit has experienced a thriving economy in recent years, as evidenced by new housing, increased business openings and the recently opened Mexicantown International Welcome Center. A 2009 parcel survey found 93% of the city's occupied housing to be in good condition, with 97% in good or fair condition. The 2009 survey found 33,527 or 10% of the city's housing to be unoccupied, but recommended that only one percent or 3,480 of the city's housing units be demolished. In 2010, the city began using federal funds on its quest to demolish 10,000 empty residential structures. About 3,000 of these of the residential structures were torn down in 2010. The city has cleared a section of land to initiate the Far Eastside Plan for new neighborhood construction. Detroit has numerous neighborhoods consisting of vacant properties resulting in low inhabited density, stretching city services and infrastructure. These neighborhoods are concentrated in the northeast and on the city's fringes. About one fourth of residential lots in the city were undeveloped in 2009, up from ten percent in 2000. A number of solutions have been proposed for dealing with the shrinkage, including resident relocation from more sparsely populated neighborhoods and converting unused space to agricultural use, though the city expects to be in the planning stages for up to another two years. In 2011, the Mayor Bing announced a plan to better focus municipal services to meet the needs in the more and less densely-populated areas.

In April 2008, the city announced a $300-million stimulus plan to create jobs and revitalize neighborhoods, financed by city bonds and paid for by earmarking about 15% of the wagering tax. The city's working plans for neighborhood revitalizations include 7-Mile/Livernois, Brightmoor, East English Village, Grand River/Greenfield, North-End, and Osborn. Private organizations have pledged substantial funding to the efforts.

Downtown Detroit is growing in its population of young professionals and retail is expanding. A number of luxury high rises have been built. The east river development plans include more luxury condominium developments. A desire to be closer to the urban scene has attracted young professionals to take up residence among the mansions of Grosse Pointe just outside the city. Detroit's proximity to Windsor, Ontario, provides for views and nightlife, along with Ontario's minimum drinking age of 19. A 2011 study by Walk Score ranked Detroit 22nd most walkable of fifty largest U.S. cities. Live music has been a prominent feature of Detroit's nightlife since the late 1940s, bringing the city recognition under the nickname 'Motown'. The metropolitan area has many nationally prominent live music venues. Concerts hosted by Live Nation perform throughout the Detroit area. Large concerts are held at DTE Energy Music Theatre and The Palace of Auburn Hills. The Detroit Theatre District is the U.S.A.'s second largest and hosts Broadway performances. Major theaters include the Fox Theatre, Music Hall, the Gem Theatre, Masonic Temple Theatre, the Detroit Opera House, the Fisher Theatre, The Fillmore Detroit, St. Andrews Hall, the Majestic Theatre, and Orchestra Hall which hosts the renowned Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The Nederlander Organization, the largest controller of Broadway productions in New York City, originated with the purchase of the Detroit Opera House in 1922 by the Nederlander family.

Motown Motion Picture Studios with produces movies in Detroit and the surrounding area based at the Pontiac Centerpoint Business Campus for a film industry expected to employ over 4,000 people in the metro area.

The city of Detroit has a rich musical heritage and has contributed to a number of different genres over the decades leading into the new millennium. Important music events in the city include: the Detroit International Jazz Festival, the Detroit Electronic Music Festival, the Motor City Music Conference (MC2), the Urban Organic Music Conference, the Concert of Colors, and the hip-hop Summer Jamz festival.

In the 1940s, blues artist John Lee Hooker became a long-term resident in the city's southwest Delray neighborhood. Hooker, among other important blues musicians migrated from his home in Mississippi bringing the Delta Blues to northern cities like Detroit. Hooker recorded for Fortune Records, the biggest pre-Motown blues/soul label. During the 1950s, the city became a center for jazz, with stars performing in the Black Bottom neighborhood. Prominent emerging Jazz musicians of the 1960s included: trumpet player Donald Byrd who attended Cass Tech and performed with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers early in his career and Saxophonist Pepper Adams who enjoyed a solo career and accompanied Byrd on several albums. The Graystone International Jazz Museum documents jazz in Detroit.

Other, prominent Motor City R&B stars in the 1950s and early 1960s was Nolan Strong, Andre Williams and Nathaniel Mayer – who all scored local and national hits on the Fortune Records label. According to Smokey Robinson, Strong was a primary influence on his voice as a teenager. The Fortune label was a family-operated label located on Third Avenue in Detroit, and was owned by the husband and wife team of Jack Brown and Devora Brown. Fortune, which also released country, gospel and rockabilly LPs and 45s, laid the groundwork for Motown, which became Detroit's most legendary record label.

Berry Gordy, Jr. founded Motown Records which rose to prominence during the 1960s and early 1970s with acts such as Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Diana Ross & The Supremes, the Jackson 5, Martha and the Vandellas, The Spinners, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and Marvin Gaye. Artists were backed by the Funk Brothers, the Motown house band that was featured in Paul Justman's 2002 documentary film Standing in the Shadows of Motown, based on Allan Slutsky's book of the same name. The Motown Sound played an important role in the crossover appeal with popular music, since it was the first African American owned record label to primarily feature African-American artists. Gordy moved Motown to Los Angeles in 1972 to pursue film production, but the company has since returned to Detroit. Aretha Franklin, another Detroit R&B star, carried the Motown Sound; however, she did not record with Berry's Motown Label.

Local artists and bands rose to prominence in the 1960s and 70s including: the MC5, The Stooges, Bob Seger, Amboy Dukes featuring Ted Nugent, Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, Rare Earth, Alice Cooper, and Suzi Quatro. The group Kiss emphasized the city's connection with rock in the song Detroit Rock City and the movie produced in 1999. In the 1980s, Detroit was an important center of the hardcore punk rock underground with many nationally known bands coming out of the city and its suburbs, such as The Necros, The Meatmen, and Negative Approach.

In 1990s and the new millennium, the city has produced a number of influential hip hop artists, including Eminem, the hip-hop artist with the highest cumulative sales, hip-hop producer J Dilla, rapper and producer Esham and hip hop duo Insane Clown Posse. Detroit is cited as the birthplace of techno music. Prominent Detroit Techno artists include Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson. The band Sponge toured and produced music, with artists such as Kid Rock and Uncle Kracker. The city also has an active garage rock genre that has generated national attention with acts such as: The White Stripes, The Von Bondies, The Dirtbombs, Electric Six, and The Hard Lessons.

Many of the area's prominent museums are located in the historic cultural center neighborhood around Wayne State University and the College for Creative Studies. These museums include the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Detroit Historical Museum, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Detroit Science Center, as well as the main branch of the Detroit Public Library. Other cultural highlights in Detroit include Motown Historical Museum, the Pewabic Pottery studio and school, the Tuskegee Airmen Museum, Fort Wayne, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (CAID), and the Belle Isle Conservatory. In 2010, the G.R. N'Namdi Gallery opened in a complex in Midtown. Important history of America and the Detroit area are exhibited at The Henry Ford, the U.S.A.'s largest indoor-outdoor museum complex. The Detroit Historical Society provides information about tours of area churches, skyscrapers, and mansions. Inside Detroit, meanwhile, hosts tours, educational programming, and a downtown welcome center. Other sites of interest are the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak, the Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory on Belle Isle, and Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills.

The city's Greektown and three downtown casino resort hotels serve as part of an entertainment hub. The Eastern Market farmer's distribution center is the largest open-air flowerbed market in the United States and has more than 150 foods and specialty businesses. On Saturdays, about 45,000 people shop the city's historic Eastern Market. The Midtown and the New Center area are centered on Wayne State University and Henry Ford Hospital. Midtown has about 50,000 residents and attracts millions of visitors each year to its museums and cultural centers; for example, the Detroit Festival of the Arts in Midtown draws about 350,000 people.

Annual summer events include the Electronic Music Festival, International Jazz Festival, the Woodward Dream Cruise, the African World Festival, the Detroit Hoedown, Noel Night, and Dally in the Alley. Within downtown, Campus Martius Park hosts large events, including the annual Motown Winter Blast. As the world's traditional automotive center, the city hosts the North American International Auto Show. Held since 1924, America's Thanksgiving Parade is one of the nation's largest. River Days, a five-day summer festival on the International Riverfront lead up to the Windsor-Detroit International Freedom Festival fireworks, which draw super sized-crowds ranging from hundreds of thousands to over three million people.

An important civic sculpture in Detroit is "Spirit of Detroit" by Marshall Fredericks at the Coleman Young Municipal Center. The image is often used as a symbol of Detroit and the statue itself is occasionally dressed in sports jerseys to celebrate when a Detroit team is doing well. A memorial to Joe Louis at the intersection of Jefferson and Woodward Avenues was dedicated on October 16, 1986. The sculpture, commissioned by Sports Illustrated and executed by Robert Graham, is a 24-foot (7.3 m) long arm with a fisted hand suspended by a pyramidal framework.

Artist Tyree Guyton created the controversial street art exhibit known as the Heidelberg Project in 1986, using found objects including cars, clothing and shoes found in the neighborhood near and on Heidelberg Street on the near East Side of Detroit. Guyton continues to work with neighborhood residents and tourists in constantly evolving the neighborhood-wide art installation.

Detroit is one of 12 American metropolitan areas that are home to professional teams representing the four major sports in North America. All these teams but one play within the city of Detroit itself (the NBA's Detroit Pistons play in suburban Auburn Hills at The Palace of Auburn Hills). There are three active major sports venues within the city: Comerica Park (home of the Major League Baseball team Detroit Tigers), Ford Field (home of the NFL's Detroit Lions), and Joe Louis Arena (home of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings). A 1996 marketing campaign promoted the nickname "Hockeytown".

In college sports, Detroit's central location within the Mid-American Conference has made it a frequent site for the league's championship events. While the MAC Basketball Tournament moved permanently to Cleveland starting in 2000, the MAC Football Championship Game has been played at Ford Field in Detroit since 2004, and annually attracts 25,000 to 30,000 fans. The University of Detroit Mercy has a NCAA Division I program, and Wayne State University has both NCAA Division I and II programs. The NCAA football Little Caesars Pizza Bowl is held at Ford Field each December.

Sailboat racing is a major sport in the Detroit area. Lake Saint Clair is home to many yacht clubs which host regattas. Bayview Yacht Club, the Detroit Yacht Club, Crescent Sail Yacht Club, Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, The Windsor Yacht Club, and the Edison Boat Club each participate in and are governed by the Detroit Regional Yacht-Racing Association or DRYA. Detroit is home to many One-Design fleets including, but not limited to, North American 40s, Cal 25s, Cuthbertson and Cassian 35s, Crescent Sailboats, Express 27s, J 120s, J 105, Flying Scots, and many more.

The Crescent Sailboat, NA-40, and the L boat were designed and built exclusively in Detroit. Detroit also has a very active and competitive junior sailing program.

Since 1916, the city has been home to Unlimited Hydroplane racing, held annually (with exceptions) on the Detroit River near Belle Isle. Often, the hydroplane boat race is for the APBA Challenge Cup, more commonly known as the Gold Cup (first awarded in 1904, created by Tiffany) which is the oldest active motorsport trophy in the world.

The city hosted the Detroit Indy Grand Prix on Belle Isle Park from 1989 to 2001 and again in 2007 and 2008. The event generated about $53 million in economic impact for the area. In 2007, open-wheel racing returned to Belle Isle with both Indy Racing League and American Le Mans Series Racing.

In the years following the mid-1930s, Detroit was referred to as the "City of Champions" after the Tigers, Lions, and Red Wings captured all three major professional sports championships in a seven-month period of time (the Tigers won the World Series in October, 1935; the Lions won the NFL championship in December, 1935; the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup in April, 1936). Gar Wood (a native Detroiter) won the Harmsworth Trophy for unlimited powerboat racing on the Detroit River in 1931. In the next year, 1932, Eddie "The Midnight Express" Tolan, a black student from Detroit's Cass Technical High School, won the 100- and 200-meter races and two gold medals at the 1932 Summer Olympics. Joe Louis won the heavyweight championship of the world in 1937. Also, in 1935 the Detroit Lions won the NFL championship. The Detroit Tigers have won ten American League pennants (The most recent being in 2006) and four World Series titles. In 1984, the Detroit Tigers' World Series championship, after which crowds had left three dead and millions of dollars in property damage. The Detroit Red Wings have won 11 Stanley Cups (the most by an American NHL Franchise), the Detroit Pistons have won three NBA titles, and the Detroit Shock have won three WNBA titles.

Detroit has the distinction of being the city which has made the most bids to host the Summer Olympics without ever being awarded the games: seven unsuccessful bids for the 1944, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1972 games. It came as high as second place in the balloting two times, losing the 1964 games to Tokyo and the 1968 games to Mexico City.

Detroit hosts many WWE events such as the 2007 WWE's WrestleMania 23 which attracted 80,103 fans to Ford Field; the event marking the 20th anniversary of WrestleMania III which drew a reported 93,173 to the Pontiac Silverdome in nearby Pontiac in 1987. The city hosted the Red Bull Air Race in 2008 on the International Riverfront.

The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News are the major daily newspapers, both broadsheet publications published together under a joint operating agreement. Media philanthropy includes the Detroit Free Press high school journalism program and the Old Newsboys' Goodfellow Fund of Detroit. In December, 2008, the Detroit Media Partnership announced that the two papers would reduce home delivery to three days a week, print reduced newsstand issues of the papers on non-delivery days and focus resources on Internet-based news delivery. These changes went into effect in March, 2009. Founded in 1980, the Metro Times is a weekly publication, covering news, arts & entertainment. Also founded in 1935 and based in Detroit the Michigan Chronicle is one of the oldest and most respected African-American weekly newspapers in America. Covering politics, entertainment, sports and community events. The Detroit television market is the 11th largest in the United States; according to estimates that do not include audiences located in large areas of Ontario, Canada (Windsor and its surrounding area on broadcast and cable TV, as well as several other cable markets in Ontario, such as the city of Ottawa) which receive and watch Detroit television stations.

Detroit has the 11th largest radio market in the United States, though this ranking does not take into account Canadian audiences.

Detroit and the surrounding region constitute a major manufacturing center, most notably as home to the 'Big Three' automobile companies, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. The city is an important center for global trade with large international law firms having their offices in both Detroit and Windsor. About 80,500 people work in downtown Detroit, comprising one-fifth of the city's employment base. Detroit's six county Metropolitan Statistical Area has a population of about 4.3 million and a workforce of about 2.1 million. In May 2011, the Department of Labor reported metropolitan Detroit's unemployment rate at 11.6%, with the city's unemployment rate for May 2011 at 20%.

Firms in the region pursue emerging technologies including biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology, and hydrogen fuel cell development. The city of Detroit has made efforts to lure the region's growth companies downtown with advantages such as a wireless Internet zone, business tax incentives, entertainment, an International Riverfront, and residential high rises. Compuware completed its world headquarters in downtown Detroit in 2003. OnStar, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and HP Enterprise Services have located at the Renaissance Center. PricewaterhouseCoopers Plaza offices are adjacent to Ford Field and Ernst & Young completed its office building at One Kennedy Square in 2006.

In 2011, Quicken Loans relocated its world headquarters, and 4,000 employees, to downtown Detroit, consolidating its suburban offices, a move considered of high importance to city planners to reestablish the historic downtown. Some Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Detroit include General Motors, auto parts maker American Axle & Manufacturing, and DTE Energy. Other major industries include advertising, law, finance, chemicals, and computer software. Medical research centers and service providers such as the Detroit Medical Center and Henry Ford Hospital are major employers in the city. Casino gaming plays an important economic role, with Detroit the largest city in the United States to offer casino resort hotels. Caesars Windsor, Canada's largest, complements the MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity Casino, and Greektown Casino in Detroit. The casino hotels contribute significant tax revenue along with thousands of jobs for residents. Gaming revenues have grown steadily, with Detroit ranked as the fifth largest gambling market in the U.S.A. for 2007. When Casino Windsor is included, Detroit's gambling market ranks third or fourth. In an effort to support spending within the city, certain business owners set up "mints" to distribute the Detroit Community Scrip. The scrip is used at local clubs and bars to ensure some dollars stay within the city by establishing a note that is only legal tender at certain places.

There are about four thousand factories in the area. The domestic auto industry is primarily headquartered in Metro Detroit. New vehicle production, sales, and jobs related to automobile use account for one of every ten jobs in the United States. The area is also an important source of engineering job opportunities. A 2004 Border Transportation Partnership study showed that 150,000 jobs in the Windsor-Detroit region and $13 billion in annual production depend on the City of Detroit's international border crossing. A rise in automated manufacturing using robotic technology has created related industries in the area; inexpensive labor in other parts of the world and increased competition have led to a steady transformation of certain types of manufacturing jobs in the region with the Detroit area gaining new lithium ion battery plants. In addition to property taxes, residents pay an income tax rate of 2.50%.

The city has cleared sections of land while retaining a number of historically significant vacant buildings in order to spur redevelopment; though the city has struggled with finances, it issued bonds in 2008 to provide funding for ongoing work to demolish blighted properties. In 2006, downtown Detroit reported $1.3 billion in restorations and new developments which increased the number of construction jobs in the city. In decade leading up to 2006, downtown Detroit gained more than $15 billion in new investment from private and public sectors.

The Detroit automakers and local manufacturing have made significant restructurings in response to market competition. GM began the initial public offering of stock in 2010. General Motors has invested heavily in all fuel cell equipped vehicles, while Chrysler has focused research and development into biodiesel. In August 2009, Michigan and Detroit's auto industry received $1.36 B in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy for the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries. For 2010, the domestic automakers reported significant profits indicating the beginning of rebound along with an economic recovery for the Detroit area.

In 2010, the city had 713,777 residents. The name Detroit sometimes refers to Metro Detroit, a six-county area with a population of 4,296,250 for the Metropolitan Statistical Area, making it the U.S.A.'s eleventh-largest, and a population of 5,218,852 for the nine-county Combined Statistical Area as of the 2010 Census Bureau estimates. The Detroit-Windsor area, a critical commercial link straddling the Canada-U.S. border, has a total population of about 5,700,000. Immigration continues to play a role in the region's projected growth.

About 33.8% of city residents lived below the federal poverty level in 2007, the highest among large U.S. cities. In contrast, Metro Detroit suburbs are among the more affluent in the U.S.

The city's population increased more than sixfold during the first half of the 20th century, fed largely by an influx of European, Middle Eastern (Lebanese),(Assyrian/Chaldean), and Southern migrants to work in the burgeoning automobile industry. However, since 1950 the city has seen a major shift in its population to the suburbs. In 1910, fewer than 6,000 blacks called the city home; in 1930 more than 120,000 blacks lived in Detroit. The thousands of African Americans who came to Detroit were part of the Great Migration of the 20th century.

The city population dropped from its peak of 1,849,568 in 1950 to 713,777 in 2010, in part due to urban flight to the suburbs and a change in its jobs base. In the first decade of the 21st century, about two-thirds of the total black population in metropolitan area resided within the city limits of Detroit.

As of the 2010 Census, there were 713,777 people, 269,445 households, and 162,924 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,144.3 people per square mile (1,986.2/km?). There were 349,170 housing units at an average density of 2,516.5 units per square mile (971.6/km?). The racial makeup of the city was 82.7% Black, 10.6% White, 1.1% Asian, 0.4% Native American, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 3.0% other races, 2.2% two or more races. In addition, 6.8% of the population self-identified as Hispanic or Latino, of any race.

There were 269,445 households out of which 34.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 21.5% were married couples living together, 31.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.5% were non-families, 34.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.9% had someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.36.

There is a wide age distribution in the city, with 31.1% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 19.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 89.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.5 males.

For the 2000 Census, median household income in the city was $29,526, and the median income for a family was $33,853. Males had a median income of $33,381 versus $26,749 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,717. 21.7% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 34.5% of those under the age of 18 and 18.6% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line. A 2007 Social Compact report showed the city of Detroit's median household income at $34,512, a 12% increase over the Census estimate. About 50 percent of city residents are functionally illiterate; this means that they have difficulty performing basic everyday tasks, such as reading labels or filling out forms.

thumb|right|150px|The historic Guardian Building is [[Wayne County, Michigan|Wayne County headquarters. The city government is run by a mayor and nine-member city council and clerk elected on an at-large nonpartisan ballot. Since voters approved the city's charter in 1974, Detroit has had a "strong mayoral" system, with the mayor approving departmental appointments. The council approves budgets but the mayor is not obligated to adhere to any earmarking. City ordinances and substantially large contracts must be approved by the council. The city clerk supervises elections and is formally charged with the maintenance of municipal records. Municipal elections for mayor, city council and city clerk are held at four-year intervals, in the year after presidential elections (so that there are Detroit elections scheduled in 1993, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2009, etc.). Following a November 2009 referendum, seven council members will be elected from districts beginning in 2013 while two will continue to be elected at-large.

Detroit's courts are state-administered and elections are nonpartisan. The Probate Court for Wayne County is located in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center in downtown Detroit. The Circuit Court is located across Gratiot Ave. in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, in downtown Detroit. The city is home to the 30 Sixth District Court, as well as the First District of the Michigan Court of Appeals and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Detroit has several sister cities, including Chongqing (People's Republic of China), Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Kitwe (Zambia), Minsk (Belarus), Nassau, Bahamas, Toyota (Japan), and Turin (Italy).

Politically, the city consistently supports the Democratic Party in state and national elections (local elections are nonpartisan). According to a study released by the Bay Area Center for Voting Research, Detroit is the most liberal large city in America, measuring only the percentage of city residents who voted for the Democratic Party.

In 2000, the City requested an investigation by the United States Justice Department into the Detroit Police Department which was concluded in 2003 over allegations regarding its use of force and civil rights violations. The city proceeded with a major reorganization of the Detroit Police Department.

Urban development in Detroit has been an important issue. In 1973, the city elected its first black mayor, Coleman Young. Despite development efforts, his combative style during his five terms in office was not well received by many whites. Mayor Dennis Archer, a former Michigan Supreme Court Justice, refocused the city's attention on redevelopment with a plan to permit three casinos downtown.

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick resigned his office effective September 19, 2008, after pleading guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice and no contest to one count of assaulting and obstructing a police officer. Kilpatrick was succeeded in office on an interim basis by City Council President Kenneth Cockrel, Jr.. Following a special election on May, 2009, businessman and former Detroit Pistons star Dave Bing became the Mayor and was subsequently re-elected to a full term of office.

Although crime has declined significantly since the 1970s, the violent crime rate is one of the highest in the U.S.A., while the chances are roughly 1 in 16 to be a victim of a property crime. The city had the sixth highest number of violent crimes among the 25 largest U.S. cities in 2007. The rate of violent crime dropped 11 percent in 2008. Neighborhoodscout.com reported a crime rate of 62.18 per 1000 residents for property crimes, and 16.73 per 1000 for violent crimes (compared to national figures of 32 per 1000 for property crimes and 5 per 1000 for violent crime in 2008).

The city's downtown typically has lower crime than national and state averages. According to a 2007 analysis, Detroit officials note that about 65 to 70 percent of homicides in the city were drug related, with the rate of unsolved murders roughly 70%.

Detroit is home to several institutions of higher learning, including Wayne State University, a national research university with medical and law schools in the Midtown area. Other institutions in the city include the University of Detroit Mercy with its schools of Law, Dentistry, and Nursing, the College for Creative Studies, Lewis College of Business, Marygrove College and Wayne County Community College. In June 2009, the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine opened a satellite campus located at the Detroit Medical Center. The Detroit College of Law, now affiliated with Michigan State University, was founded in the city in 1891 and remained there until 1997, when it relocated to East Lansing. The University of Michigan was established in 1817 in Detroit and later moved to Ann Arbor in 1837. In 1959, University of Michigan–Dearborn was established in neighboring Dearborn. With about 84,000 public school students (2010–11), the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) district is the largest school district in Michigan. Detroit has an additional 54,000 charter school students for a combined enrollment of about 138,000 students.

In the mid-to-late 1990s, the Michigan Legislature removed the locally elected board of education amid allegations of mismanagement and replaced it with a reform board appointed by the mayor and governor. The elected board of education was re-established following a city referendum in 2005. The first election of the new 11-member board of education occurred on November 8, 2005. Due to growing Detroit Charter Schools enrollment, the city planned to close many public schools. State officials report a 68% graduation rate for Detroit's public schools adjusted for those who change schools. Detroit public school system students recently received the lowest test scores ever recorded by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Detroit is served by various private schools, as well as parochial Roman Catholic schools operated by the Archdiocese of Detroit. The Archdiocese of Detroit lists a number of primary and secondary schools in the city, along with those in the metro area as Catholic education has emigrated to the suburbs. There are 23 Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of Detroit. Of the three Catholic high schools in the city, two are operated by the Society of Jesus and the third is co-sponsored by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Congregation of St. Basil. Within the city of Detroit, there are over a dozen major hospitals which include the Detroit Medical Center (DMC), Henry Ford Health System, St. John Health System, and the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center. The DMC, a regional Level I trauma center, consists of Detroit Receiving Hospital and University Health Center, Children's Hospital of Michigan, Harper University Hospital, Hutzel Women's Hospital, Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, Sinai-Grace Hospital, and the Karmanos Cancer Institute. The DMC has more than 2,000 licensed beds and 3,000 affiliated physicians. It is the largest private employer in the City of Detroit. The center is staffed by physicians from the Wayne State University School of Medicine, the largest single-campus medical school in the United States, and the U.S.A.'s fourth largest medical school overall. Detroit Medical Center formally became a part of Vanguard Health Systems on December 30, 2010 as a for profit corporation. Vanguard has agreed to invest nearly $1.5 B in the Detroit Medical Center complex which will include $417 M to retire debts, at least $350 M in capital expenditures and an additional $500 M for new capital investment. Vanguard has agreed to assume all debts and pension obligations. In 2010, Henry Ford Health System in the New Center also announced a $500 M expansion in Detroit with plans for a biomedical research center. The metro area has many other hospitals including William Beaumont Hospital, St. Joseph's, and University of Michigan Medical Center. With its proximity to Canada and its facilities, ports, major highways, rail connections and international airports, Detroit is an important transportation hub. The city has three international border crossings, the Ambassador Bridge, Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and Michigan Central Railway Tunnel, linking Detroit to Windsor, Ontario. The Ambassador Bridge is the single busiest border crossing in North America, carrying 27% of the total trade between the U.S. and Canada. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), the area's principal airport, is located in nearby Romulus and is a primary hub for Delta Air Lines and a secondary hub for Spirit Airlines. Bishop International Airport (FNT) in Flint, Michigan is the second busiest commercial airport in the region. Coleman A. Young International Airport (DET), previously called Detroit City Airport, is on Detroit's northeast side. Although Southwest Airlines once flew from the airport, the airport now maintains only charter service and general aviation. Willow Run Airport, in far-western Wayne County near Ypsilanti, is a general aviation and cargo airport. Mass transit in the region is provided by bus services. The Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) provides service to the outer edges of the city. From there, the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) provides service to the suburbs. Cross border service between the downtown areas of Windsor and Detroit is provided by Transit Windsor via the Tunnel Bus. It is also possible for those who cross to Detroit on the tunnel bus to use a Transit Windsor transfer for transfers onto Detroit Smart buses, allowing for travel around Metro Detroit from a single fare.

An elevated rail system known as the People Mover, completed in 1987, provides daily service around a loop downtown. The Woodward Avenue Light Rail, beginning in 2013, will serve as a link between the Detroit People Mover and SEMCOG Commuter Rail which extends from Detroit's New Center area to The Henry Ford, Dearborn, Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Ypsilanti, and Ann Arbor Amtrak provides service to Detroit, operating its Wolverine service between Chicago and Pontiac. Baggage cannot be checked at this location; however, up to two suitcases in addition to any "personal items" such as briefcases, purses, laptop bags, and infant equipment are allowed on board as carry-ons. The Amtrak station is located in the New Center area north of downtown. The J.W. Westcott II, which delivers mail to lake freighters on the Detroit River, is the world's only floating post office.

Metro Detroit has an extensive toll-free expressway system administered by the Michigan Department of Transportation. Four major Interstate Highways surround the city. Detroit is connected via Interstate 75 and Interstate 96 to Kings Highway 401 and to major Southern Ontario cities such as London, Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area. I-75 (The Chrysler and Fisher Freeways) is the region's main north-south route, serving Flint, Pontiac, Troy, and Detroit, before continuing south (as the Detroit-Toledo and Seaway Freeways) to serve many of the communities along the shore of Lake Erie.

I-94 (The Edsel Ford Freeway) runs east-west through Detroit and serves Ann Arbor to the west (where it continues to Chicago) and Port Huron to the northeast. The stretch of the current I-94 freeway from Ypsilanti to Detroit was one of America's earlier limited-access highways. Henry Ford built it to link the factories at Willow Run and Dearborn during World War II. A portion was known as the Willow Run Expressway. I-96 runs northwest-southeast through Livingston, Oakland and Wayne Counties and (as the Jeffries Freeway through Wayne County) has its eastern terminus in downtown Detroit.

I-275 runs north-south from I-75 in the south to the junction of I-96 and I-696 in the north, providing a bypass through the western suburbs of Detroit. I-375 (The Chrysler Spur) is a short spur route in downtown Detroit, an extension of the Chrysler Freeway. I-696 (The Reuther Freeway) runs east-west from the junction of I-96 and I-275, providing a route through the northern suburbs of Detroit. Taken together, I-275 and I-696 form a semicircle around Detroit. Michigan State highways designated with the letter M serve to connect major freeways.

Toyota, Japan Dubai, United Arab Emirates Turin, Italy Kitwe, Zambia Minsk, Belarus Nassau, Bahamas Chongqing, P.R. China Coventry, United Kingdom

}} , in various formats at" href="http://openlibrary.org/works/OL161750W/The_history_of_Detroit_and_Michigan_or_The_metropolis_illustrat">Farmer, Silas. (1884) (Jul 1969) The history of Detroit and Michigan, or, The metropolis illustrated: a chronological cyclopaedia of the past and present: including a full record of territorial days in Michigan, and the annuals of Wayne County, in various formats at Open Library.Powell, L. P (1901). "Detroit, the Queen City," Historic Towns of the Western States (New York).City of Detroit official websiteDetroit Metro Convention & Visitors BureauDetroit Regional Chamber of CommerceDetroit Entertainment DistrictDetroit Historical Museums & SocietyDetroit Riverfront ConservancyExperience DetroitVirtual Motor City Collection at Wayne State University Library, contains over 30,000 images of Detroit from 1890 to 1980

Category:Cities in Michigan Category:Populated places on the Great Lakes Category:County seats in Michigan Michigan Category:Metro Detroit Category:Michigan Neighborhood Enterprise Zone Category:Port settlements in the United States Category:Populated places established in 1701 Category:Underground Railroad locations Category:Populated places in Michigan with African American majority populations Category:Populated places in Wayne County, Michigan Category:Detroit River

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Blank says Falcons 'not where we need to be'

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Get ready to crown King James

LeBron James showed on Christmas Day that he can lead Miami Heat to NBA glory this season. LeBron James showed on Christmas Day that he can lead Miami Heat to NBA glory this season.

The Miami Heat chose to remain in their locker room while the Dallas Mavericks celebrated their championship at mid-court before Sunday's season-opener for both teams.

Miami then came out and burned hotter than a pine forest in mid-August, building a 35-point lead in the third quarter en route to a more than comfortable opening-day win over the team that beat them in last season’s Finals.

While the Mavericks were certainly distracted by the banner-raising ceremony prior to the game and are not as bad as the Heat made them look, there is no question that Miami’s performance on Christmas Day was the rule and not the exception going forward.

Fans, critics and pundits alike must expect Miami to dominate this lockout-shortened season.

They must expect LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and company to bury teams early and often, just as they did to the defending champions on Sunday.

Compared to last season, the Heat are deeper, healthier and obviously more experienced. Add that mix to a team that was just two wins short of a title last June, and you realize that the Heat truly is on for this campaign.

If you are an avid Heat-hater and you’re searching for any teams that may prevent "King James" from finally being crowned, look no further than the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Both the Bulls and Thunder are young, deep and are led by superstars in Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant respectively.

The rest of the contenders are nothing more than pretenders. In the East, the New York Knicks may have acquired Tyson Chandler to play alongside the dynamic duo of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, but they don’t play enough defense and don’t have enough depth to make a serious run.

The Boston Celtics have struggled to stay healthy in recent seasons mainly due to their advancing age. With the condensed season bringing lots of games in a short amount of time, I expect that trend to continue.

Miami’s in-state rivals the Orlando Magic are too distracted by Dwight Howard’s inevitable departure to be taken seriously. Howard, who becomes a free agent at the end of this season, has already been tipped for a move to either the New Jersey Nets or L.A. Lakers.

Speaking of the Lakers, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol don’t have the legs to run with the rest of the league’s elite. The departure of Lamar Odom to Dallas and longtime coach Phil Jackson’s retirement signal a changing of the guard not only out West, but in Los Angeles.

L.A.’s other team –- the historically woeful Clippers –- brought in Chris Paul to play alongside the high-flying Blake Griffin.

While they’re sure to be must-see TV, they need at least another season to gel and be considered a force once the postseason rolls around.

As for the San Antonio Spurs and defending champions Mavericks? Both have tremendous quality and experience, but their best days are certainly behind them. Dallas may put together one final deep playoff run, but won’t be a challenge for the Thunder or Heat.

The stage is set for LeBron to win his first NBA title. If Christmas Day’s hardwood action was any indication, then "King James" and company won’t have to stay in their locker room during next year’s season opener.

Posted by: CNN World Sport Producer, Sam Krumov
Filed under: U.S. Sport

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Tiger holds no terror for golf's new world order

Tiger Woods celebrates his victory in the Chevron World Challenge but sterner tests await in 2012. Tiger Woods celebrates his victory in the Chevron World Challenge but sterner tests await in 2012.

If you want to know why Tiger Woods isn’t about to dominate golf the way he once did, watch Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy go head to head at the Dubai World Championship this weekend.

Suddenly the sport’s focus is on two Brits –- 1st and 2nd in the world rankings -– battling it out to finish top of Europe’s money list. In years gone by, that sort of headline-grabber would have played out in the United States.

But this isn’t about a switch in golf’s geographical power base; it’s about a generational change. And the disappearance of Tiger’s fear factor despite his first tournament victory for more than two years.

While it would be a stretch to include Donald in the rising ranks of brilliant young golfers (despite his youthful looks, he is 34), the Englishman is finally fulfilling the talent that’s been evident for many seasons.

After four victories, three second places and 19 top-10 finishes in 2011, Donald has quite rightly risen to world number one –- despite his lack of a major title.

McIlroy, however, is at the vanguard of the players who are young, skilful beyond their years and impatient for success; not just the odd tournament victory here or there, they want major titles.

The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland has already done that, becoming the youngest winner of the U.S. Open since the legendary Bobby Jones in 1923. And that was despite the trauma of his last-round collapse in The Masters at Augusta just two months earlier.

Great things beckon for McIlroy, the cream of a crop that includes Australia’s Jason Day, Americans Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley and Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa.

Those players will have seen Tiger Woods’ win at the Chevron World Challenge as a challenge, not a barrier. Their whole approach to golf is “Bring it on!”

And the same could be said for a slightly older, but no more daunted group, which contains the likes of Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, 2010 U.S. Open victor Graeme McDowell, big-hitting Dustin Johnson and 2010 U.S.PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer.

Tiger Woods' cheerleaders would have us believe that he’s about to turn back the clock several years, terrorize golf once again and storm past Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles.

But the world has changed.

Posted by: Alex Thomas, CNN World Sport Anchor
Filed under: Golf

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Baylor QB Griffin to enter NFL Draft

Published January 11, 2012

| Sports Network

Waco, TX –  Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III will enter the NFL Draft.

The fourth-year junior quarterback made it official Wednesday afternoon, announcing while wearing Baylor colors that he is forgoing his senior season with the program he helped raise to prominence.

"It's a day of celebration," said Bears head coach Art Briles, who was at Griffin's side during the press conference. "I'm excited, I'm happy and I'm happy for Robert because of the way he's conducted himself for four years and the journey he's got in front of him."

More to follow...

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Giants' Pierre-Paul has right outlook

Some may think New York Giants young defensive end Jason Paul is foolish for providing the top-seeded and defending Super Bowl board material by guaranteeing a victory in this weekend's NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Lambeau Field.

Others might believe the disposition of the rising defender was spot on.

"We're going to win," Pierre-Paul said following the Giants' triumph over Atlanta in this past Sunday's playoff opener. "One hundred percent we're going to win, because we're the best."

What else is Pierre-Paul going to say? How would his teammates, coaches and the media react had he said the opposite? Joe Namath, Mark Messier and Jim Fassel are just a few examples of players or coaches who have pledged victory for their respective teams, and Pierre-Paul simply became the latest to join the list with his bold statement.

Over the past month, the Giants have resembled a nasty bunch of players who are on a mission much like in the 2007 playoffs, when they needed to dispose of a Brett Favre-led Packers team on a cold night in Wisconsin to reach the Super Bowl. They have played superb in winning four of five outings since a four-game losing streak from Nov. 13-Dec. 4 and steamrolled the Falcons, 24-2, in their Wild Card-Round matchup.

Pierre-Paul, who recorded a career-high and team-best 16 1/2 sacks in the regular season, had eight tackles versus Atlanta. He ended the regular season with a sack in each of the last four games, totaling six in that span, but did not get to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in a 38-35 loss at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 4.

Rogers and the Packers' offense will surely be a stiffer challenge than the Falcons for New York's defense, which is led by its dominating front line of Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Chris Canty and Osi Umenyiora. All eyes will be on Pierre-Paul for this anticipated showdown, however, though the second-year talent out of South Florida has taken a step back from his previous claim of an absolute Giants win.

"If the defense, offense, special teams, we all do our jobs and execute it on Sunday, we should win," a more reserved Pierre-Paul told New York radio station WFAN on Tuesday.

Pierre-Paul added that he is not going to twist his words around and was simply reacting after an exciting finish versus the Falcons. People tend to say things when emotions run high, and Pierre-Paul's demeanor was probably meant to be more of an uplifting compliment to his team rather than a knock on Green Bay. He was not punished for his comments, which may come as a surprise since head coach Tom Coughlin is a "no nonsense" kind of guy.

Coughlin is more concerned with how his players perform than what is said on the airwaves, however.

"I just think that we also have done a better job underneath, and that was an issue for us in terms of pattern reads, identification, recognition of who is where and doing a better job with a lot of the checkdowns," Coughlin said on Monday of his defense's performance. "There were a couple [Sunday] that were open, but by in large we have done a better job of that. We are just playing better coverage and we are playing the rush better, let's put it that way."

New York's defense is averaging just 10 points allowed over the last three games, and shutting down opposing quarterbacks has been its calling card. Rodgers is unlike most quarterbacks in the NFL, however, and had his way with the Giants' secondary in the first meeting just over a month ago, passing for 369 yards with four touchdown strikes and one interception. He was sacked twice in that one, with Tuck and reserve end Dave Tollefson each getting to the All-Pro. Pierre-Paul had three tackles and also batted down a pair of pass attempts, and Umenyiora was not active due to an ankle injury.

With New York's big guns on the defensive front at full strength for round two of this matchup, the trash-talking will go by the wayside to make room for those who can back it up. Pierre-Paul has been waiting for almost a week now to prove that his words weren't just to sell papers, but to solidify his belief that the Giants are the better team.

Come Sunday night, the nation will know.

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Freestyle skier Burke critical after crash

Published January 11, 2012

| Sports Network

Freestyle skier Sarah Burke, who has won four Winter X Games gold medals in superpipe and is considered to be one of the top halfpipe riders in the world, was in critical condition Wednesday following an accident during a training session.

Burke, 28, suffered "serious injuries" while skiing in Park City, Utah, at a sponsor event on Tuesday.

She was airlifted to a hospital in Salt Lake City and was intubated and sedated in critical condition Wednesday, according to a statement by Dr. Safdar Ansari, a University of Utah Health Care head trauma specialist.

The Canadian Freestyle Ski Association said Burke's husband, Rory Bushfield, and her family were by her bedside and expressed thanks to well-wishers around the world.

"Sarah is a very strong young woman and she will most certainly fight to recover," her husband said, according to the ski organization.

Peter Judge, the chief executive of Canadian Freestyle, said: "This is an extremely unfortunate situation and we are awaiting further word on Sarah's condition."

Burke played an instrumental role in having her sport included in the Olympics for the first time. It will debut at the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.

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Chivas USA snaps up Bolanos

Published January 11, 2012

| Sports Network

Carson, CA –  Chivas USA bolstered its attack on Wednesday with the addition of midfielder/winger Miller Bolanos from LDU Quito in Ecuador.

"Miller is an exciting young attacking player," said Chivas USA head coach Robin Fraser. "He's a good passer, good finisher, and good at running at people, definitely a special attacking talent and we certainly look forward to having him."

The 21-year-old Bolanos joined Quito in 2009, where he went on to make 93 appearances for the club, scoring 22 goals.

"He is a versatile player that was sought out by other international clubs. He really wanted to play here and we got it done," general manager Jose Domene said. "He will be a great addition to Chivas USA because he is a different type of player that is not afraid to take on people. Miller has a great shot and can play as a winger, attacking mid and second forward."

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Georgia TE Charles declares for NFL Draft

Published January 11, 2012

| Sports Network

Athens, GA –  Georgia junior tight end Orson Charles announced Wednesday that he will skip his final season and enter the NFL Draft.

Charles, a Mackey Award finalist, had 45 catches for 574 yards and five touchdowns this past season. He leaves as the school's all-time leader in receiving yards (1,370) for a tight end.

"The fans stuck with us through a rough season last year and through our struggles this season, and our coaching staff provided me with the tools necessary to make it in football and in life," Charles said in a release. "Either decision I made, I want to be able look back at it and be happy with the choice I made and I think I will with this decision. It was difficult but not stressful to be in a situation where you can't go wrong either way."

The Bulldogs went 10-4 this season and reached the SEC Championship Game, losing to LSU. They then lost in three overtimes to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl.

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Glenn Whelan signs new Stoke deal

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Socrates – The day a football dream died

Socrates was the captain and lynchpin of Brazil's 1982 World Cup side -- the greatest team never to win the World Cup. Socrates was the captain and lynchpin of Brazil's 1982 World Cup side -- the greatest team never to win the World Cup.

The anticipation prior to the 1982 World Cup finals tournament in Spain was electric.

Were the rumors true? Did Brazil really have a team to match the great 1970 World Cup-winning side? Could 12 years of hurt be finally over with the "Class of '82" living up to the hype by taking the trophy back to Brazil for a fourth time?

Since transfixing the world in Mexico, Brazil had suffered a relative slump in fortunes - out-played by the Dutch "Total Football" in 1974, and the goal-difference victims of Argentina’s highly-dubious 6-0 success over Peru in 1978.

But this was the team that would change all that, a team playing football from another planet.

I sat transfixed to my TV set during that summer of 1982. Wide-eyed, impressionable, and simply in awe as the Soviet Union, Scotland and New Zealand were brushed aside in the group stage.

I had never seen football played this way, and I never have since.

Every goal they scored was a masterpiece, perfectly created and superbly executed. The team played with a carefree abandon and it didn’t matter that perhaps they were not strong defensively. Who cared? They would just score more goals than their opposition anyway.

The full-backs, Leandro and Junior, bombed forward at the speed of light, with Cerezo a stubborn rock as the holding midfielder.

Irrepressible left-winger Eder, and Falcao on the right, possessed samba skills and quick feet that simply bamboozled defenses, with striker Zico the heir-apparent to Pele at No. 10.

And conducting the orchestra? Socrates. Tall, thin and simply brilliant, gliding across the turf with a poise and style that only the great Zinedine Zidane has matched in modern times.

Socrates was the fulcrum, the playmaker – the ball went through him at all times. He was the man who would follow Carlos Alberto to become the next Brazilian to lift the World Cup.

It was Socrates who skipped past two challenges before letting fly from the edge of the box against the Soviet Union.

It was Socrates whose surging run led to Eder’s beautiful lob against Scotland, and it was Socrates who laid a perfectly-weighted pass into Falcao’s path for the fourth goal in the same match.

In a team jam-packed with special talents, his star shone the brightest.

Next up, the second group phase. Football fate had pitted Brazil, Argentina and Italy together, three of the six world champions in the same section.

Italy had already beaten Argentina and now it was Brazil’s turn to face their South American rivals and exorcise the ghosts of the 1978 tournament.

They did it in style, thumping the world champions 3-1 as a young, bushy-haired Diego Maradona saw red with five minutes to go for a crude kick at a Brazilian defender.

So Brazil against Italy for a semifinal place. Brazil had scored 13 goals in four games, Italy had scored four and had reached the second phase despite not winning a single match.

What followed was one of the greatest games of football the world has ever seen.

After Paolo Rossi had given Italy the lead, Socrates took center stage again. Bursting through from midfield, he raced onto Zico’s pass to slide the ball past Dino Zoff from an acute angle.

The goals kept coming. Rossi again (2-1 Italy), Falcao with a screamer from the edge of the box (2-2).

A draw was all Brazil needed to reach the semifinals, but Rossi - who had been embroiled in a match-fixing scandal along with several of his Italy teammates prior to the tournament -– would not be denied.

More lax Brazilian defending gave the striker his hat-trick with 16 minutes remaining. Italy had won, Brazil were out, unbelievably.

The gods of football couldn’t defend for toffee – they didn’t need to, they would just score more goals than their opposition. But the wily Italians blew that theory out of the water.

However, Brazil’s "Class of '82" had left their mark on the world of football. It didn’t matter about the result, what mattered was they had taken the game to a new level.

The beautiful pictures painted by the most talented group of players I have ever seen will remain with me forever.

Cerezo, Junior, Leandro, Falcao, Eder, Zico and the maestro Socrates. The greatest team never to win the World Cup.

Thanks for the memories Socrates. Your genius will never be forgotten.

Posted by: CNN Digital Sports Writer, Greg Duke
Filed under: Football

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Footballers are TV stars, and should act like it ...

Luis Suarez was banned by the FA for eight matches after racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra. Luis Suarez was banned by the FA for eight matches after racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra.

The ruling by the Football Association to ban Liverpool and Uruguay striker Luis Suarez for eight matches and to fine him $63,000 for racial abuse has proved controversial for a number of reasons.

It is the first time the governing body of English football has disciplined a player on such terms, a move that has been welcomed by many in the game as tangible evidence that talk of "kicking racism out of football" has some teeth.

It also poses an interesting debate on the use of language and the meaning of words within context. Many would argue "negrito" – the term aimed by Suarez at Manchester United's black defender Patrice Evra – is tantamount to a nickname in places like Uruguay and carries no racial association in such regions.

Consequently, is it unfair of a European society like England to place the negative connotations associated with a more familiar "n" word on a similarly sounding, but harmless, moniker?

How much does the location and the audience dictate the definition of the word and indeed the offence? Liverpool, one of the most successful soccer clubs in the world, maintain it should be impossible to cause offence if only Evra heard the word in question. It was considerations like these that made the case so technical and in need of time-consuming assessment.

The fact the news of the 24-year-old striker's disciplining was followed swiftly by England captain John Terry being charged for allegedly using racist language, a criminal offence in Britain, means racism in football is once again making headlines.

Terry has always vehemently denied the allegations. The London-born defender issued this statement: "I am disappointed with the decision to charge me and hope to be given the chance to clear my name as quickly as possible," a sentiment he is sure to push on his day in court on February 1. Either way there will be scratching of heads in the hierarchy of the English game as to how one of the land's most respected players could find himself in such a situation.

The crux of the matter remains, however, that theoretical arguments on applying the letter of the law misses the more serious overarching point: football is no longer just a game.

The sport of soccer is the most popular sport on the planet by a long margin with nearly every region of the world displaying passion for the beautiful game. The broadcasting of live matches holds a captive global audience unlike any other form of entertainment.

The only event that can match the pulling power of the World Cup is the Olympic Games, and that comes only once every four years; football is played year round, week in, week out.

Footballers are the superstars of this drama and like any in-demand entertainer are paid handsomely for their talents. However, unlike other well-paid entertainers, too many footballers seem ignorant to the power of the stage they ply their trade on.

A football pitch used for the English Premier League and the European Champions League is not the same as a pitch at a local park; it is a television set that is broadcast to millions of viewers around the world.

Whether it's racist abuse, foul language or berating referees, is it really too much to ask that footballers comprehend that playing in front of television cameras demands behaviour that is acceptable for family viewing? A simple rationale maybe, but one which, if applied, would see the end of such offences.

There has also been an interesting line followed by both Andre Villas Boas, Terry's manager at Chelsea, and Kenny Dalglish, Suarez's boss at Liverpool, in their unwavering support of their players. Surely there comes a point where the coaches should say racism is not welcome at either club and if the players were to be found guilty or to lose their appeal (in Suarez's case) they will be subject to internal disciplinary action?

Posted by: Ben Wyatt, CNN Digital Sport Producer
Filed under: Football

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Houston's Robinson announces retirement

Published January 11, 2012

| Sports Network

Houston, TX –  Houston Dynamo defender Eddie Robinson announced his retirement on Wednesday after 11 seasons in Major League Soccer.

Robinson also revealed that while his playing career is coming to a close, he has accepted a position in the Houston front office.

"I am excited. This move brings a whole new set of challenges for me," Robinson said in a statement. "I care a lot about this organization and I want to see it succeed. I am now in a position to help the organization grow from a different standpoint."

The 33-year-old captured four MLS Cup titles during his career, two with San Jose and then two more when the club moved to Houston in 2006.

Robinson appeared in 96 regular-season matches for the Dynamo as well as nine playoff contests while being named to the MLS All-Star team in 2006 and MLS Best XI during the 2007 campaign.

"I am extremely pleased to have Eddie join us in the front office after an illustrious playing career," Dynamo president Chris Canetti said. "He was an integral part of our team's success and he will bring a lot of value to what we are trying to do as a club moving forward."

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Tony Pulis offers to manager Wales for memorial match

Wales (, ; pronounced ) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km? (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,200 km (746 mi) of coastline, including its offshore islands; the largest, Anglesey (), is also the largest island in the Irish Sea. Generally mountainous, its highest mountains are in the north and central areas, especially in Snowdonia (), which contains Snowdon (), its highest peak.

During the Iron Age and early medieval period, Wales was inhabited by the Celtic Britons. A distinct Welsh national identity emerged in the centuries after the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the 5th century, and Wales is regarded as one of the modern Celtic nations today. Gruffydd ap Llywelyn was recognised as king of Wales in 1057. Llywelyn ap Gruffydd's death in 1282 marked the completion of Edward I of England's conquest of Wales. The castles and town walls erected to ensure its permanence are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Owain Glyndwr briefly restored independence to what was to become modern Wales, in the early 15th century. Wales was subsequently annexed by England under the Laws in Wales Acts 1535–1542 since when, excluding those matters now devolved to Wales, English law has been the legal system of Wales and England. Distinctive Welsh politics developed in the 19th century. Welsh Liberalism, exemplified in the early 20th century by Lloyd George, was displaced by the growth of socialism and the Labour Party. Welsh national feeling grew over the century; Plaid Cymru was formed in 1925 and Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg (The Welsh Language Society) in 1962. The National Assembly for Wales, created in 1999 following a referendum, holds responsibility for a range of devolved policy matters.

Wales lies within the north temperate zone, its changeable, maritime climate making it one of the wettest countries in Europe. It was an agricultural society for most of its early history, the country's terrain making arable farming secondary to pastoral farming, the primary source of Wales' wealth. In the 18th century, the introduction of the slate and metallurgical industries, at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, began to transform the country into an industrial nation; the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape date from that period. The south Wales coalfield's exploitation in the Victorian era caused a rapid expansion of the Welsh population. Two-thirds of Wales' three million population live in south Wales, mainly in and around the cities of Cardiff (), Swansea () and Newport (), and in the nearby valleys. Another concentration live in eastern north Wales. Cardiff, Wales' capital, is the country's most populous city, with 317,500 residents, and for a period was the biggest coal port in the world. Today, with the country's traditional heavy industries (coal, steel, copper, tinplate and slate) either gone or in decline, Wales' economy depends on the public sector, light and service industries, and tourism.

Although Wales shares a close political and social history with the rest of Great Britain, it has retained a distinct cultural identity. Wales is officially bilingual, the Welsh and English languages having equal status. The Welsh language is an important element of Welsh culture, and its use is supported by national policy. Over 580,000 Welsh speakers live in Wales, more than 20% of the population. From the late 19th century onwards, Wales acquired its popular image as the "land of song," attributable in part to the revival of the eisteddfod tradition. At international sporting events, such as the FIFA World Cup, Rugby World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, Wales is represented by national teams regulated and organised by over fifty national governing bodies of sports in Wales. At the Olympic Games, Welsh athletes compete as part of a Great Britain team. Although football has traditionally been the more popular sport in north Wales, rugby union is seen as a symbol of Welsh identity and an expression of national consciousness.

The Anglo-Saxon word for 'foreign' or 'foreigner' was Waelisc and a 'foreign(er's) land' was called Wealas. The modern English forms of these words with respect to the modern country are Welsh (the people) and Wales (the land), respectively.

Historically in Britain the words were not restricted to modern Wales or to the Welsh but were used indiscriminately to refer to anything that the Anglo-Saxons associated with Celtic Britons, including other foreign lands (e.g., Cornwall), places once associated with Celtic Britons (e.g., Walworth in County Durham and Walton in West Yorkshire), the surnames of people (e.g., Walsh and Wallace) and various other things that were once new and foreign to the Anglo-Saxons (e.g., the walnut). None of these historic usages is necessarily connected to Wales or the Welsh.

The Anglo-Saxon words are derived from the same Germanic root (singular Walh, plural Walha), applied to Italic and Celtic peoples and places, that has provided modern names for Continental lands (e.g., Wallonia and Wallachia) and peoples (e.g., the Vlachs via a borrowing into Old Church Slavonic), none of which has any connection to Wales or the Welsh.

The modern Welsh name for themselves is Cymry, and Cymru is Welsh for "Land of the Cymry". The etymological origin of Cymry is from the Brythonic word combrogi, meaning "fellow-countrymen". The use of the word Cymry as a self-designation derives from the post-Roman Era relationship of the Welsh with the Brythonic-speaking peoples of northern England and southern Scotland, the peoples of Yr Hen Ogledd (). In its original use, it amounted to a self-perception that the Welsh and the "Men of the North" were one people, exclusive of all others. In particular, the term was not applied to the Cornish or the Breton peoples, who are of similar heritage, culture, and language to both the Welsh and the Men of the North. The word came into use as a self-description probably before the 7th century. It is attested in a praise poem to Cadwallon ap Cadfan (Moliant Cadwallon, by Afan Ferddig) c. 633. In Welsh literature, the word Cymry was used throughout the Middle Ages to describe the Welsh, though the older, more generic term Brythoniaid continued to be used to describe any of the Britonnic peoples (including the Welsh) and was the more common literary term until c. 1100. Thereafter Cymry prevailed as a reference to the Welsh. Until c. 1560 Cymry was used indiscriminately to mean either the people (Cymry) or their homeland (Cymru).

The Latinised forms of these names are Cambrian or Cambric ("Welsh") and Cambria ("Wales"). They survive as lesser-used alternative names for Wales, Welsh and the Welsh people. Examples include the Cambrian Mountains (which cover most of Wales), the newspaper Cambrian News, as well as the organisations Cambrian Airways, Cambrian Railways and Cambrian Archaeological Association. Outside Wales, this form survives as the name of Cumbria in North West England, which was once a part of Yr Hen Ogledd. This form also appears at times in literary references, perhaps most notably in the pseudohistorical Historia Regum Britanniae of Geoffrey of Monmouth, where the character of Camber is described as the eponymous King of Cymru.

Wales has been inhabited by modern humans for at least 29,000 years. Continuous human habitation dates from the end of the last ice age, between 12,000 and 10,000 years before present (BP), when Mesolithic hunter-gatherers from central Europe began to migrate to Great Britain. At that time sea levels were much lower than today, and the shallower parts of what is now the North Sea were dry land. The east coast of present day England and the coasts of present day Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands were connected by the former landmass known as Doggerland, forming the British Peninsula on the European mainland. Wales was free of glaciers by about 10,250 BP, the warmer climate allowing the area to become heavily wooded. The post-glacial rise in sea level separated Wales and Ireland, forming the Irish Sea. Doggerland was submerged by the North Sea and, by 8,000 BP, the British Peninsula had become an island. By the beginning of the Neolithic (c. 6,000 BP) sea levels in the Bristol Channel were still about 33 feet (10 m) lower than today. John Davies has theorised that the story of Cantre'r Gwaelod's drowning and tales in the Mabinogion, of the waters between Wales and Ireland being narrower and shallower, may be distant folk memories of this time.

Neolithic colonists integrated with the indigenous people, gradually changing their lifestyles from a nomadic life of hunting and gathering, to become settled farmers about 6,000 BP – the Neolithic Revolution. They cleared the forests to establish pasture and to cultivate the land, developed new technologies such as ceramics and textile production, and built cromlechs such as Pentre Ifan, Bryn Celli Ddu and Parc Cwm long cairn between about 5,500 BP and 5,800 BP. In common with people living all over Great Britain, over the following centuries the people living in what was to become known as Wales assimilated immigrants and exchanged ideas of the Bronze Age and Iron Age Celtic cultures. According to John T. Koch and others, Wales in the Late Bronze Age was part of a maritime trading-networked culture that also included the other Celtic nations, England, France, Spain and Portugal where Celtic languages developed. By the time of the Roman invasion of Britain the area of modern Wales had been divided among the tribes of the Deceangli, Ordovices, Cornovii, Demetae and Silures for centuries. The only town in Wales founded by the Romans, Caerwent, is in South Wales. Both Caerwent and Carmarthen, also in southern Wales, became Roman civitates. Wales had a rich mineral wealth. The Romans used their engineering technology to extract large amounts of gold, copper and lead, as well as modest amounts of some other metals such as zinc and silver. Roman economic development was concentrated in south-eastern Britain, and no significant industries located in Wales. This was largely a matter of circumstance, as Wales had none of the necessary materials in suitable combination, and the forested, mountainous countryside was not amenable to industrialisation. Although Latin became the official language of Wales, the people tended to continue to speak in Brythonic. While Romanisation was far from complete, the upper classes of Wales began to consider themselves Roman, particularly after the ruling of 212 that granted Roman citizenship to all free men throughout the Empire. Further Roman influence came through the spread of Christianity, which gained many followers after Christians were allowed to worship freely in 313.

Early historians, including the 6th century cleric Gildas, have noted 383 as a significant point in Welsh history, as it is stated in literature as the foundation point of several medieval royal dynasties. In that year the Roman general Magnus Maximus, or Macsen Wledig, stripped all of western and northern Britain of troops and senior administrators, to launch a successful bid for imperial power; continuing to rule Britain from Gaul as Emperor. Gildas, writing in about 540, says that Maximus left Britain not only with all of its Roman troops, but also with all of its armed bands, governors, and the flower of its youth, never to return. Having left with the troops and Roman administrators, and planning to continue as the ruler of Britain in the future, his practical course was to transfer local authority to local rulers. The earliest Welsh genealogies give Maximus the role of founding father for several royal dynasties, including those of Powys and Gwent. It was this transfer of power that has given rise to the belief that he was the father of the Welsh Nation. He is given as the ancestor of a Welsh king on the Pillar of Eliseg, erected nearly 500 years after he left Britain, and he figures in lists of the Fifteen Tribes of Wales.

The 400 years following the collapse of Roman rule is the most difficult to interpret in the history of Wales. After the Roman departure from Britain in 410, much of the lowlands of Britain to the east and south-east were overrun by various Germanic tribes. However by 500 AD, the land that would become Wales had divided into a number of kingdoms free from Anglo-Saxon rule. The kingdoms of Gwynedd, Powys, Dyfed and Seisyllg, Morgannwg and Gwent emerged as independent Welsh successor states. Archaeological evidence, in the Low Countries and what was to become England, shows early Anglo-Saxon migration to Great Britain reversed between 500 to 550, which concurs with Frankish chronicles. John Davies notes this as consistent with the British victory at Badon Hill, attributed to Arthur by Nennius. This tenacious survival by the Romano-Britons and their descendants in the western kingdoms was to become the foundation of what we now know as Wales. With the loss of the lowlands, England's kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria, and later Wessex, wrestled with Powys, Gwent and Gwynedd to define the frontier between the two peoples.

Having lost much of what is now the West Midlands to Mercia in the 6th and early 7th centuries, a resurgent late-seventh-century Powys checked Mercian advancement. Aethelbald of Mercia, looking to defend recently acquired lands, had built Wat's Dyke. According to John Davies, this endeavour may have been with Powys king Elisedd ap Gwylog's own agreement, however, for this boundary, extending north from the valley of the River Severn to the Dee estuary, gave Oswestry to Powys. Another theory, after carbon dating placed the dyke's existence 300 years earlier, is that it may have been built by the post-Roman rulers of Wroxeter. King Offa of Mercia seems to have continued this consultative initiative when he created a larger earthwork, now known as Offa's Dyke (). Davies wrote of Cyril Fox's study of Offa's Dyke: "In the planning of it, there was a degree of consultation with the kings of Powys and Gwent. On the Long Mountain near Trelystan, the dyke veers to the east, leaving the fertile slopes in the hands of the Welsh; near Rhiwabon, it was designed to ensure that Cadell ap Brochwel retained possession of the Fortress of Penygadden." And, for Gwent, Offa had the dyke built "on the eastern crest of the gorge, clearly with the intention of recognizing that the River Wye and its traffic belonged to the kingdom of Gwent." However, Fox's interpretations of both the length and purpose of the Dyke have been questioned by more recent research. Offa's Dyke largely remained the frontier between the Welsh and English, though the Welsh would recover by the 12th century the area between the Dee (), and the Conwy known then as Y Berfeddwlad. By the eighth century, the eastern borders with the Anglo-Saxons had broadly been set.

In 853 the Vikings raided Anglesey, but in 856 Rhodri Mawr defeated and killed their leader, Gorm. The Britons of Wales later made their peace with the Vikings and Anarawd ap Rhodri allied with the Norsemen occupying Northumbria to conquer the north. This alliance later broke down and Anarawd came to an agreement with Alfred, king of Wessex, with whom he fought against the west Welsh. According to Annales Cambriae, in 894, "Anarawd came with the Angles and laid waste Ceredigion and Ystrad Tywi."

The southern and eastern parts of Great Britain lost to English settlement became known in Welsh as Lloegyr (Modern Welsh Lloegr), which may have referred to the kingdom of Mercia originally, and which came to refer to England as a whole. The Germanic tribes who now dominated these lands were invariably called Saeson, meaning "Saxons". The Anglo-Saxons called the Romano-British 'Walha', meaning 'Romanised foreigner' or 'stranger'. The Welsh continued to call themselves Brythoniaid (Brythons or Britons) well into the Middle Ages, though the first written evidence of the use of Cymru and y Cymry is found in a praise poem to Cadwallon ap Cadfan (Moliant Cadwallon, by Afan Ferddig) c. 633. In Armes Prydain, believed to be written around 930–942, the words Cymry and Cymro are used as often as 15 times. However, from the Anglo-Saxon settlement onwards, the people gradually begin to adopt the name Cymry over ''Brythoniad.

From 800 onwards, a series of dynastic marriages led to Rhodri Mawr's (r. 844–77) inheritance of Gwynedd and Powys. His sons in turn would found three principal dynasties (Aberffraw for Gwynedd, Dinefwr for Deheubarth, and Mathrafal for Powys). Rhodri's grandson Hywel Dda (r. 900–50) founded Deheubarth out of his maternal and paternal inheritances of Dyfed and Seisyllwg in 930, ousted the Aberffraw dynasty from Gwynedd and Powys, and then codified Welsh law in the 940s. Maredudd ab Owain (r. 986–99) of Deheubarth (Hywel's grandson) would, (again) temporarily oust the Aberffraw line from control of Gwynedd and Powys.

Maredudd's great-grandson (through his daughter Princess Angharad) Gruffydd ap Llywelyn (r. 1039–63) would conquer his cousins' realms from his base in Powys, and even extend his authority into England. Historian John Davies states that Gruffydd was "the only Welsh king ever to rule over the entire territory of Wales... Thus, from about 1057 until his death in 1063, the whole of Wales recognised the kingship of Gruffudd ap Llywelyn. For about seven brief years, Wales was one, under one ruler, a feat with neither precedent nor successor." Owain Gwynedd (1100–70) of the Aberffraw line was the first Welsh ruler to use the title princeps Wallensium (prince of the Welsh), a title of substance given his victory on the Berwyn Mountains, according to John Davies.

Within four years of the Battle of Hastings England had been completely subjugated by the Normans. William I of England established a series of lordships, allocated to his most powerful warriors along the Welsh border, the boundaries fixed only to the east. This frontier region, and any English-held lordships in Wales, became known as Marchia Wallie, the Welsh Marches, in which the Marcher Lords were subject to neither English nor Welsh law. The area of the March varied as the fortunes of the Marcher Lords and the Welsh princes ebbed and flowed. The March of Wales, which existed for over 450 years, was abolished under the Acts of Union in 1536.

Owain Gwynedd's grandson Llywelyn Fawr (the Great, 1173–1240), wrested concessions out of the Magna Carta in 1215 and receiving the fealty of other Welsh lords in 1216 at the council at Aberdyfi, became the first Prince of Wales. His grandson Llywelyn ap Gruffydd also secured the recognition of the title Prince of Wales from Henry III with the Treaty of Montgomery in 1267. Later however, a succession of disputes, including the imprisonment of Llywelyn's wife Eleanor, daughter of Simon de Montfort, culminated in the first invasion by King Edward I of England. As a result of military defeat, the Treaty of Aberconwy exacted Llywelyn's fealty to England in 1277. Peace was short lived and, with the 1282 Edwardian conquest, the rule of the Welsh princes permanently ended. With Llywelyn's death and his brother prince Dafydd's execution, the few remaining Welsh lords did homage for their lands to Edward I. Llywelyn's head was carried through London on a spear; his baby daughter Gwenllian was locked in the priory at Sempringham, where she remained until her death 54 years later.

To help maintain his dominance, Edward constructed a series of great stone castles. Beaumaris, Caernarfon and Conwy. His son, the future King Edward II of England, was born at Edward's new castle at Caernarfon in 1284. He became the first English Prince of Wales, not as an infant, but in 1301. The apocryphal story that Edward tricked the Welsh by offering them a Welsh-born Prince who could speak no English, was first recorded in 1584. The title also provided an income from the north–west part of Wales known as the Principality of Wales, until the Act of Union (1536), after which the term principality, if used at all, was believed to be associated with the whole of Wales. After the failed revolt in 1294–95 of Madog ap Llywelyn – who styled himself Prince of Wales in the so-called Penmachno Document – there was no major uprising until that led by Owain Glyndwr a century later, against Henry IV of England. In 1404, Owain was reputedly crowned Prince of Wales in the presence of emissaries from France, Spain and Scotland. Glyndwr went on to hold parliamentary assemblies at several Welsh towns, including Machynlleth. The rebellion was ultimately to founder, however, and Owain went into hiding in 1412, with peace being essentially restored in Wales by 1415. Although the English conquest of Wales took place under the 1284 Statute of Rhuddlan, a formal Union did not occur until 1536, shortly after which Welsh law, which continued to be used in Wales after the conquest, was fully replaced by English law, under what would become known as the Act of Union.

Prior to the British Industrial Revolution, which saw a rapid economic expansion between 1750 and 1850, there were signs of small-scale industries scattered throughout Wales. These ranged from industries connected to agriculture, such as milling and the manufacture of woollen textiles, through to mining and quarrying. Until the Industrial Revolution, Wales had always been reliant on its agricultural output for its wealth and employment and the earliest industrial businesses were small scale and localised in manner. The emerging industrial period commenced around the development of copper smelting in the Swansea area. With access to local coal deposits and a harbour that could take advantage of Cornwall's copper mines and the copper deposits being extracted from the then largest copper mine in the world at Parys Mountain on Anglesey, Swansea developed into the world's major centre for non-ferrous metal smelting in the 19th century. The second metal industry to expand in Wales was iron smelting, and iron manufacturing became prevalent in both the north and the south of the country. In the north of Wales, John Wilkinson's Ironworks at Bersham was a significant industry, while in the south, a second world centre of metallurgy was founded in Merthyr Tydfil, where the four ironworks of Dowlais, Cyfarthfa, Plymouth and Penydarren became the most significant hub of iron manufacture in Wales. In the 1820s, south Wales alone accounted for 40% of all pig iron manufactured in Britain.

In the late 18th century, slate quarrying began to expand rapidly, most notably in north Wales. The most notable site, opened in 1770 by Richard Pennant, is Penrhyn Quarry which, by the late 19th century, was employing 15,000 men; and along with Dinorwic Quarry, dominated the Welsh slate trade. Although slate quarrying has been described as 'the most Welsh of Welsh industries', it is coal mining which has become the single industry synonymous with Wales and its people. Initially, coal seams were exploited to provide energy for local metal industries but, with the opening of canal systems and later the railways, Welsh coal mining saw a boom in its demand. As the south Wales coalfield was exploited, mainly in the upland valleys around Aberdare and later the Rhondda, the ports of Swansea, Cardiff and later Penarth, grew into world exporters of coal and, with them, came a population boom. By its height in 1913, Wales was producing almost 61 million tons of coal. As well as in South Wales, there was also a significant coalfield in the north-east of the country, particularly around Wrexham. As Wales was reliant on the production of capital goods rather than consumer goods, it possessed few of the skilled craftspeople and artisans found in the workshops of Birmingham or Sheffield in England and had few factories producing finished goods – a key feature of most regions associated with the Industrial Revolution. However, there is increasing support that the industrial revolution was reliant on harnessing the energy and materials provided by Wales and, in that sense, Wales was of central importance.

Historian Kenneth Morgan described Wales on the eve of the First World War as a "relatively placid, self-confident, and successful nation". Output from the coalfields continued to increase, with the Rhondda Valley recording a peak of 9.6 million tons of coal extracted in 1913. The outbreak of the First World War (1914–1918) saw Wales, as part of the United Kingdom, enter hostilities with Germany. A total of 272,924 Welshmen served in the war, representing 21.5% of the male population. Of these, roughly 35,000 were killed. The two most notable battles of the War to include Welsh forces were those at Mametz Wood on the Somme and Third Ypres.

The first quarter of the 20th century also saw a shift in the political landscape of Wales. Since 1865, the Liberal Party had held a parliamentary majority in Wales and, following the general election of 1906, only one non-Liberal Member of Parliament, Keir Hardie of Merthyr Tydfil, represented a Welsh constituency in Westminster. Yet by 1906, industrial dissension and political militancy had begun to undermine Liberal consensus in the Southern coalfields. In 1916, David Lloyd George became the first Welshman to become Prime Minister of Britain when he was made head of the 1916 coalition government. In December 1918, Lloyd George was re-elected at the head of a Conservative-dominated coalition government, and his poor handling of the 1919 coalminers' strike was a key factor in destroying support for the Liberal party in south Wales. The industrial workers of Wales began shifting towards a new political organisation, established by Hardie and others to ensure an elected representation for the working class, and now called the Labour party. When in 1908 the Miners' Federation of Great Britain became affiliated to the Labour Party the four Labour candidates sponsored by miners were all elected as MPs. By 1922, half of the Welsh seats in Westminster were held by Labour politicians, which was the beginning of a Labour hegemony which would dominate Wales into the 21st century.

Despite economic growth in the first two decades of the 20th century, from the early 1920s to the late 1930s, Wales' staple industries endured a prolonged slump, leading to widespread unemployment and poverty in the South Wales valleys. For the first time in centuries, the population of Wales went into decline; the scourge of unemployment only relented with the production demands of the Second World War. The Second World War (1939–1945) saw Welsh servicemen and women fight in all the major theatres of war, with some 15,000 of them killed. Bombing raids brought major loss of life as the German Air Force targeted the docks at Swansea, Cardiff and Pembroke. After 1943, 10% of Welsh conscripts aged 18 were sent to work in the coal mines to rectify labour shortages; they became known as Bevin Boys. Pacifist numbers during both World Wars were fairly low, especially in the Second World War, which was seen as a fight against fascism. Of the political parties active in Wales, only Plaid Cymru advocated a neutral stance, on the grounds that it was an 'imperialist war'.

The 20th century saw a revival in Welsh national feeling. Plaid Cymru was formed in 1925, seeking greater autonomy or independence from the rest of the UK. In 1955, the term England and Wales became common for describing the area to which English law applied, and Cardiff was proclaimed as capital city of Wales. Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg () was formed in 1962, in response to fears that the language may soon die out. Nationalist sentiment grew following the flooding of the Tryweryn valley in 1965 to create a reservoir supplying water to the English city of Liverpool. Despite 35 of the 36 Welsh Members of Parliament voting against the bill, with the other abstaining, Parliament still passed the bill and the village of Capel Celyn was submerged, highlighting Wales' powerlessness in her own affairs in the face of the numerical superiority of English MPs in the Westminster Parliament. Both the Free Wales Army and Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru (, abbreviated as MAC) were formed as a direct result of the Tryweryn destruction, conducting campaigns from 1963. In the years leading up to the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales in 1969, these groups were responsible for a number of bomb blasts—destroying water pipes, tax and other offices and part of a dam being built for a new English-backed project in Clywedog, Montgomeryshire. In 1966 the Carmarthen Parliamentary seat was won by Gwynfor Evans at a by-election, Plaid Cymru's first Parliamentary seat. In the following year, the Wales and Berwick Act 1746 was repealed and a legal definition of Wales and of the boundary with England was stated.

By the end of the 1960s, the regional policy of bringing firms into disadvantaged areas of Wales through financial incentives, had proven very successful in diversifying the once industrial landscape. This policy, begun in 1934, was enhanced by the construction of industrial estates and improving transport communications, most notably the M4 motorway linking Wales directly to London. There was a belief that the foundations for stable economic growth had been firmly established in Wales during this period; but these views were shown to be wildly optimistic after the recession of the early 1980s saw the collapse of much of the manufacturing base that had been built over the preceding forty years.

The first referendum, in 1979, in which the Welsh electorate voted on the creation of an assembly for Wales resulted in a large majority for the "no" vote. However, in 1997, a referendum on the same issue secured a "yes", although by a very narrow majority. The National Assembly for Wales (Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru) was set up in 1999 (as a consequence of the Government of Wales Act 1998) and possesses the power to determine how the central government budget for Wales is spent and administered, although the UK parliament reserves the right to set limits on the powers of the Welsh Assembly.

The governments of the United Kingdom and of Wales almost invariably define Wales as a country. The Welsh Assembly Government says: "Wales is not a Principality. Although we are joined with England by land, and we are part of Great Britain, Wales is a country in its own right." The title Prince of Wales is still conferred on the heir apparent to the British throne, currently Prince Charles. However the Prince of Wales has no constitutional role in modern Wales. According to the Welsh Assembly Government: "Our Prince of Wales at the moment is Prince Charles, who is the present heir to the throne. But he does not have a role in the governance of Wales, even though his title might suggest that he does."

Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom (UK). Constitutionally, the UK is a de jure, unitary state, its parliament and government in Westminster. In the House of Commons – the lower house of the UK government – Wales is represented by 40 MPs (of 646) from Welsh constituencies. Labour MPs hold 29 of the 40 seats, the Liberal Democrats hold four seats, Plaid Cymru, three and the Conservatives, three. A Secretary of State for Wales sits in the UK cabinet and is responsible for representing matters pertaining to Wales. The Wales Office is a department of the United Kingdom government, responsible for Wales. Cheryl Gillan has been Secretary of State for Wales since 12 May 2010, replacing Peter Hain of the previous Labour administration. Gillan was appointed to the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition Westminster government following the United Kingdom general election of 2010.

Referendums held in Wales and Scotland in 1997 chose to establish a limited form of self-government in both countries. In Wales, the consequent process of devolution began with the Government of Wales Act 1998, which created the National Assembly for Wales (). Powers of the Secretary of State for Wales were transferred to the devolved government on 1 July 1999, granting the Assembly responsibility to decide how the Westminster government's budget for devolved areas is spent and administered. The 1998 Act was amended by the Government of Wales Act 2006 which enhanced the Assembly's powers, giving it legislative powers akin to the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly. The Assembly consists of 60 members, known as Assembly Members (). Members (AMs ()) are elected for four year terms under an additional member system. Forty of the AMs represent geographical constituencies, elected under the First Past the Post system. The remaining twenty AMs represent five electoral regions, each representing between seven and nine constituencies, using the d'Hondt method of proportional representation. The Assembly must elect a First Minister, who selects ministers to form the Welsh Assembly Government.

Labour remained the largest Assembly party following the 2007 election, winning 26 of the 60 seats. Having insufficient support to form a government, the Labour Party entered into the 'One Wales' agreement with Plaid Cymru, forming a coalition, the Labour leader as First Minister. Carwyn Jones has been First Minister and leader of Welsh Labour since Rhodri Morgan retired from office in December 2009, after nine years and ten months as First Minister. Ieuan Wyn Jones, Deputy First Minister in the coalition government, is leader of Plaid Cymru, the second-largest party in the Assembly with 14 of the 60 seats. The Presiding Officer of the Assembly is Rosemary Butler of Welsh Labour. Other Assembly parties are the Conservative Party, the loyal opposition with 13 seats, the Liberal Democrats with six seats, and one independent member. The Lib-Dems had previously formed part of a coalition government with Labour in the first Assembly. Under the 'One Wales' agreement, a referendum on giving the Welsh assembly full law-making powers on devolved 'matters' is promised "as soon as practicable, at or before the end of the assembly term (in 2011)" and both parties have agreed "in good faith to campaign for a successful outcome to such a referendum".

The twenty areas of responsibility devolved to the Welsh Assembly Government, known as 'matters', include agriculture, economic development, education, health, housing, local government, social services, tourism, transport and the Welsh language. On its creation in 1999, the National Assembly for Wales had no primary legislative powers. However, since the Government of Wales Act 2006 (GoWA 2006) came into effect in 2007, the Assembly has power to pass primary legislation as Assembly Measures on some specific matters within the areas of devolved responsibility. Further matters have been added subsequently, either directly by the UK Parliament or by the UK Parliament approving a Legislative Competence Order (LCO); a request from the National Assembly for additional powers. The GoWA 2006 allows for the Assembly to gain primary lawmaking powers on a more extensive range of matters within the same devolved areas if approved in a referendum.

A referendum on extending the law-making powers of the National Assembly was accordingly held on 3 March 2011. It asked the question: "Do you want the Assembly now to be able to make laws on all matters in the 20 subject areas it has powers for?" The result of the vote was that 63.49% voted 'yes', and 36.51% voted 'no'. Consequently, the Assembly is now able to make laws, known as Acts of the Assembly, on all matters in the subject areas, without needing the UK Parliament's agreement.

Wales is also a distinct UK electoral region of the European Union represented by four Members of the European Parliament.

For the purposes of local government, Wales has been divided into 22 council areas since 1996. These "principal areas" are responsible for the provision of all local government services.

Map of principal areas

Areas are Counties, unless marked *(for Cities) or † (for County Boroughs). Welsh language forms are given in parentheses, where they differ from the English..

Note: Wales has five cities. In addition to Cardiff, Newport and Swansea, the communities of Bangor and St David's also have city status in the United Kingdom.

By tradition, Welsh Law was compiled during an assembly held at Whitland around 930 CE by Hywel Dda, king of most of Wales between 942 and his death in 950. The 'law of Hywel Dda' (), as it became known, codified the previously existing folk laws and legal customs that had evolved in Wales over centuries. Welsh Law emphasised the payment of compensation for a crime to the victim, or the victim's kin, rather than on punishment by the ruler. Other than in the Marches, where law was imposed by the Marcher Lords, Welsh Law remained in force in Wales until the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284. Edward I of England annexed the Principality of Wales following the death of Llywelyn the Last and Welsh Law was replaced for criminal cases under the Statute. Marcher Law and Welsh Law (for civil cases) remained in force until Henry VIII of England annexed the whole of Wales under the Laws in Wales Acts 1535-1542 (often referred to as the Acts of Union of 1536 and 1543), after which English Law applied to the whole of Wales. The Wales and Berwick Act 1746 provided that all laws that applied to England would automatically apply to Wales (and the Anglo-Scottish border town of Berwick) unless the law explicitly stated otherwise. This act, with regard to Wales, was repealed in 1967. However, excluding those matters devolved to Wales since 1999, English law has been the legal system of Wales and England since 1536.

English law is regarded as a common law system, with no major codification of the law, and legal precedents are binding as opposed to persuasive. The court system is headed by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom which is the highest court of appeal in the land for criminal and civil cases. The Supreme Court of Judicature of England and Wales is the highest court of first instance as well as an appellate court. The three divisions are the Court of Appeal; the High Court of Justice and the Crown Court. Minor cases are heard by the Magistrates' Courts or the County Court.

Since devolution in 2006, the Welsh Assembly has had the authority to draft and approve some laws outside of the UK Parliamentary system to meet the specific needs of Wales. Under powers conferred by Legislative Competency Orders agreed by all parliamentary stakeholders, it is able to pass laws known as Assembly Measures in relation to specific fields, such as health and education. As such, Assembly Measures are a subordinate form of primary legislation, lacking the scope of UK-wide acts of parliament, but able to be passed without the approval of the UK parliament or Royal Assent for each 'act'. Through this primary legislation, the Welsh Assembly Government can then also draft more specific secondary legislation. In 2007 the Wales and Cheshire Region (known as the Wales and Cheshire Circuit before 2005) came to an end when Cheshire was attached to the North-Western England Region. From that point Wales became a legal unit in its own right.

Wales is served by four regional police forces, Dyfed-Powys Police, Gwent Police, North Wales Police and South Wales Police. There are four prisons in Wales, though all are based in the southern half of the country. As well as no northern provision for Welsh prisoners, there are no female prisons in Wales, with inmates being housed in English prisons.

Wales is a generally mountainous country on the western side of central southern Great Britain. It is about 274 km (170 mi) north–south and 97 km (60 mi) east–west. The oft-quoted 'size of Wales' is about 20,779 km? (8,023 sq mi). Wales is bordered by England to the east and by sea in all other directions: the Irish Sea () to the north and west, St George's Channel () and the Celtic Sea () to the southwest and the Bristol Channel () to the south. Altogether, Wales has over 1,180 km (733 mi) of coastline. Over 50 islands lie off the Welsh mainland; the largest being Anglesey (), in the northwest.

Much of Wales' diverse landscape is mountainous, particularly in the north and central regions. The mountains were shaped during the last ice age, the Devensian glaciation. The highest mountains in Wales are in Snowdonia (Eryri), of which five are over 1,000 m (3,281 ft); known as 'super-mountains'. The highest of these is Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), at 1,085 m (3,560 ft). The 14 (or 15 if including Garnedd Uchaf; often discounted due to its low topographic prominence) Welsh mountains over 3,000 feet (914 m) high are known collectively as the Welsh 3000s and are located in a small area in the north-west.

The highest outside the 3000s is Aran Fawddwy, at 905 metres (2,969 ft), in the south of Snowdonia. The Brecon Beacons () are in the south (highest point Pen-y-Fan, at 886 metres (2,907 ft)), and are joined by the Cambrian Mountains in Mid Wales. The highest point being Pumlumon at 752 metres (2,467 ft).

Wales has three national parks: Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire Coast. It has five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. These areas include Anglesey, the Clwydian Range, the Gower Peninsula and the Wye Valley. The Gower Peninsula was the first area in the United Kingdom to be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in 1956. Forty two percent of the coastline of South and West Wales is designated as Heritage Coast, with 13 specific designated strips of coastline maintained by the Countryside Council of Wales. As from 2010 the coastline of Wales has 45 Blue Flag beaches and five Blue Flag marinas. Despite its Heritage and award winning beaches; the south and west coasts of Wales, along with the Irish and Cornish coasts, are frequently blasted by Atlantic westerlies/south westerlies that, over the years, have sunk and wrecked many vessels. On the night of 25 October 1859, over 110 ships were destroyed off the coast of Wales when a hurricane blew in from the Atlantic. More than 800 lives were lost across Britain due to the storm but the greatest tragedy was the sinking of the Royal Charter of the coast of Anglesey in which 459 people died. The number of shipwrecks around the coast of Wales reached a peak in the 19th century with over 100 craft losses and an average loss of life of about 78 sailors per year. Wartime action caused losses near Holyhead, Milford Haven and Swansea. Due to offshore rocks and unlit islands, Anglesey and Pembrokeshire are still notorious for shipwrecks, most notably the Sea Empress Disaster in 1996.

The first border between Wales and England was zonal, apart from around the River Wye, which was the first accepted boundary. Offa's Dyke was supposed to form an early distinct line but this was thwarted by Gruffudd ap Llewellyn, who reclaimed swathes of land beyond the dyke. The Act of Union of 1536 formed a linear border stretching from the mouth of the Dee to the mouth of the Wye. Even after the Act of Union, many of the borders remained vague and moveable until the Welsh Sunday Closing act of 1881, which forced local businesses to decide which country they fell within to accept either the Welsh or English law.

The Seven Wonders of Wales is a list in doggerel verse of seven geographic and cultural landmarks in Wales probably composed in the late 18th century under the influence of tourism from England. All the "wonders" are in north Wales: Snowdon (the highest mountain), the Gresford bells (the peal of bells in the medieval church of All Saints at Gresford), the Llangollen bridge (built in 1347 over the River Dee, St Winefride's Well (a pilgrimage site at Holywell) in Flintshire, the Wrexham () steeple (16th-century tower of St Giles' Church, Wrexham), the Overton Yew trees (ancient yew trees in the churchyard of St. Mary's at Overton-on-Dee) and Pistyll Rhaeadr – a tall waterfall, at 240 ft (73 m). The wonders are part of the rhyme: :Pistyll Rhaeadr and Wrexham steeple, :Snowdon's mountain without its people, :Overton yew trees, St Winefride's Wells, :Llangollen bridge and Gresford bells.

The earliest geological period of the Paleozoic era, the Cambrian, takes its name from the Cambrian Mountains in mid-Wales where geologists first identified Cambrian remnants. In evolutionary studies the Cambrian is the period when most major groups of complex animals appeared (the Cambrian explosion). The older rocks underlying the Cambrian rocks in Wales lacked fossils which could be used to differentiate their various groups and were referred to as Pre-cambrian.

In the mid-19th century, two prominent geologists, Roderick Murchison and Adam Sedgwick (who first proposed the name of the Cambrian period), independently used their studies of the geology of Wales to establish certain principles of stratigraphy and palaeontology. The next two periods of the Paleozoic era, the Ordovician and Silurian, were named after ancient Celtic tribes from this area based on Murchison's and Sedgwick's work.

Wales lies within the north temperate zone. It has a changeable, maritime climate and is one of the wettest countries in Europe. Welsh weather is often cloudy, wet and windy, with warm summers and mild winters. The long summer days and short winter days are due to Wales' northerly latitudes (between 53° 43? N and 51° 38? N). Aberystwyth, at the mid point of the country's west coast, has nearly 17 hours of daylight at the summer solstice. Daylight at midwinter there falls to just over seven and a half hours. The country's wide geographic variations cause localised differences in sunshine, rainfall and temperature. Average annual coastal temperatures are and in low lying inland areas, lower. It becomes cooler at higher altitudes; annual temperatures decrease on average approximately each 100 metres (330 ft) of altitude. Consequently, the higher parts of Snowdonia experience average annual temperatures of . Temperatures in Wales are kept higher than would otherwise be expected at its latitude by the North Atlantic Drift, a branch of the Gulf Stream. The ocean current, bringing warmer water to northerly latitudes, has a similar effect on most of north west Europe. As well as its influence on Wales' coastal areas, air warmed by the Gulf Stream is carried further inland by the prevailing winds.

At low elevations, summers tend to be warm and sunny. Average maximum temperatures range between and . Winters tend to be fairly wet, but rainfall is rarely excessive and the temperature usually stays above freezing. Spring and autumn feel quite similar and the temperatures tend to stay above – also the average annual daytime temperature.

The sunniest time of year tends to be between May and August. The south-western coast is the sunniest part of Wales, averaging over 1700 hours of sunshine annually. Wales' sunniest town is Tenby, Pembrokeshire. The dullest time of year tends to be between November and January. The least sunny areas are the mountains, some parts of which average less than 1200 hours of sunshine annually. The prevailing wind is south-westerly. Coastal areas are the windiest, gales occur most often during winter, on average between 15 and 30 days each year, depending on location. Inland, gales average fewer than six days annually.

Rainfall patterns show significant variation. The further west, the higher the expected rainfall; up to 40% more. At low elevations, rain is unpredictable at any time of year, although the showers tend to be shorter in summer. The uplands of Wales have most rain, normally more than 50 days of rain during the winter months (December to February), falling to around 35 rainy days during the summer months (June to August). Annual rainfall in Snowdonia averages between 3,000 millimetres (120 in) (Blaenau Ffestiniog) and 5,000 millimetres (200 in) (Snowdon's summit). The likelihood is that it will fall as sleet or snow when the temperature falls below , and snow tends to be lying on the ground there for an average of 30 days a year. Snow falls several times each winter in inland areas, but is relatively uncommon around the coast. Average annual rainfall in those areas can be less than 1,000 millimetres (39 in). Met Office statistics show Swansea to be the wettest city in Great Britain, with an average annual rainfall of 1,360.8 millimetres (53.57 in). This has led to the old adage "If you can see Mumbles Head it is going to rain – if you can't, it is raining". Cardiff is Great Britain's fifth wettest city, with 908 millimetres (35.7 in). Rhyl is Wales' driest town, its average annual rainfall 640 millimetres (25 in).

Highest maximum temperature: at Hawarden Bridge, Flintshire on 2 August 1990. Lowest minimum temperature: at Rhayader, Radnorshire (now Powys) on 21 January 1940. Maximum number of hours of sunshine in a month: 354.3 hours at Dale Fort, Pembrokeshire in July 1955. Minimum number of hours of sunshine in a month: 2.7 hours at Llwynon, Brecknockshire in January 1962. Maximum rainfall in a day (0900 UTC – 0900 UTC): 211 millimetres (8 in) at Rhondda, Glamorgan, on 11 November 1929. Wettest spot – an average of 4,473 millimetres (176 in) rain a year at Crib Goch in Snowdonia, Gwynedd (making it also the wettest spot in the United Kingdom).

thumb|The Red Kite (Milvus milvus)a national symbol of Welsh wildlife

Wales’ wildlife is typical of Britain with several distinctions. Due to its long coastline Wales hosts a variety of seabirds. The coasts and surrounding islands are home to colonies of gannets, Manx Shearwater, puffins, kittiwakes, shags and razorbills. In comparison, with 60% of Wales above the 150m contour, the country also supports a variety of upland habitat birds, including raven and ring ouzel. Birds of prey include the merlin, hen harrier and the red kite, a national symbol of Welsh wildlife. In total, more than 200 different species of bird have been seen at the RSPB reserve at Conwy, including seasonal visitors.

The larger Welsh mammals died out during the Norman period, including the brown bear, wolf and the wildcat. Today, mammals of note include shrews, voles, badgers, otters, hedgehogs and fifteen species of bat. Two species of small rodent, the yellow-necked mouse and the dormouse, are of special Welsh note being found at the historically undisturbed border area. Other animals of note include, otter, stoat and weasel. The Pine Marten which has the occasional sighting, has not been officially recorded since the 1950s. The polecat was nearly driven to extinction in Britain, but hung on in Wales and is now rapidly spreading. Feral goats can be found in Snowdonia.

Like Cornwall, Brittany and Ireland, the waters of South-west Wales of Gower, Pembrokeshire and Cardigan Bay attract marine animals including basking sharks, Atlantic grey seals, leatherback turtles, dolphins, porpoises, jellyfish, crabs and lobsters. Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion in particular are recognised as an area of international importance for Bottlenose dolphins, and New Quay has the only summer residence of bottlenose dolphins in the whole of the UK. River fish of note include char, eel, salmon, shad, sparling and Arctic char, whilst the Gwyniad is unique to Wales, found only in Bala Lake. Wales is also known for its shellfish, including cockles, limpet, mussels and periwinkles. Herring, mackerel and hake are the more common of the country's seafish.

The north facing high grounds of Snowdonia support a relict pre-glacial flora including the iconic Snowdon lily -Lloydia serotina – and other alpine species such as Saxifraga cespitosa, Saxifraga oppositifolia and Silene acaulis – an eco-system not found elsewhere in the UK. Wales also hosts a number of plant species not found elsewhere in the UK including the Spotted Rock-rose Tuberaria guttata on Anglesey and Draba aizoides on the Gower.

thumb|right|300px|St. David's Building, University of Wales, Lampeter () A distinct education system has developed in Wales. Formal education before the 18th century was the preserve of the elite. The first grammar schools were established in Welsh towns such as Ruthin, Brecon and Cowbridge. One of the first successful schooling systems was started by Griffiths Jones, who introduced the circulating schools in the 1730s; believed to have taught half the country's population to read. In the 19th century, with increasing state involvement in education, Wales was forced to adopt an education system that was English in ethos even though the country was predominantly Non-conformist, Welsh speaking and demographically uneven due to the economic expansion in the south. In some schools, to ensure Welsh children spoke English at school, the Welsh Not was used; a policy seen as a hated symbol of English oppression. The "not", a piece of wood hung round the neck by string, was given to any child overheard speaking Welsh, who would pass it to a different child if overheard speaking Welsh. At the end of the day, the wearer of the "not" would be beaten. The extent of its practice, however, is difficult to determine. State and local governmental edicts resulted in schooling in the English language which, following Brad y Llyfrau Gleision (the ), was seen as more academic and worthwhile for children.

The University College of Wales opened in Aberystwyth in 1872. Cardiff and Bangor followed, and the three colleges came together in 1893 to form the University of Wales. The Welsh Intermediate Education Act of 1889 created 95 secondary schools. The Welsh Department for the Board of Education followed in 1907, which gave Wales its first significant educational devolution. A resurgence in Welsh language schools in the later half of the 20th century at nursery and primary level saw attitudes shift towards teaching in the medium of Welsh. In schools where English is the first language, Welsh is a compulsory subject until the age of 16. However, there has never been a Welsh-language college, and in the University of Wales, at the start of the 21st century only 100 of its 5000 academic staff were teaching through the medium of Welsh. In 2006 there were 33 nursery, 1555 primary, 244 secondary comprehensive and 43 special schools with 56 independent schools in Wales. In 2004 the country had 505,208 pupils taught by 27,378 teachers.

Over the last 250 years, Wales has been transformed first from a predominantly agricultural country to an industrial, and now a post-industrial economy. Since the Second World War, the service sector has come to account for the majority of jobs, a feature typifying most advanced economies. Total headline Gross Value Added (GVA) in Wales in 2009 was ?44.5 billion, or ?14,842 per head of population; 74.3 per cent of the UK average. In the three months to July 2010, the employment rate for working-age adults in Wales was 67 per cent, compared to 70.7 per cent across the UK as a whole.

From the middle of the 19th century until the post-war era, the mining and export of coal was a dominant industry. At its peak of production in 1913, nearly 233,000 men and women were employed in the South Wales coalfield, mining 56 million tons of coal. Cardiff was once the largest coal-exporting port in the world and, for a few years before the First World War, handled a greater tonnage of cargo than either London or Liverpool. In the 1920s, over 40% of the male Welsh population worked in heavy industry. According to Professor Phil Williams, the Great Depression "devastated Wales", north and south, due to its "overwhelming dependence on coal and steel". From the mid 1970s, the Welsh economy faced massive restructuring with large numbers of jobs in traditional heavy industry disappearing and being replaced eventually by new ones in light industry and in services. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Wales was successful in attracting an above average share of foreign direct investment in the UK. However, much of the new industry was essentially of a "branch factory" ("screwdriver factory") type where a manufacturing plant or call centre is located in Wales but the most highly-paid jobs in the company are retained elsewhere.

Due to poor-quality soil, much of Wales is unsuitable for crop-growing and livestock farming has traditionally been the focus of agriculture. The Welsh landscape (protected by three national parks) and 45 Blue Flag beaches, as well as the unique culture of Wales, attract large numbers of tourists, who play an especially vital role in the economy of rural areas. Wales has struggled to develop or attract high value-added employment in sectors such as finance and research and development, attributable in part to a comparative lack of 'economic mass' (i.e. population) – Wales lacks a large metropolitan centre. The lack of high value-added employment is reflected in lower economic output per head relative to other regions of the UK – in 2002 it stood at 90% of the EU25 average and around 80% of the UK average. In June 2008, Wales made history by becoming the first nation in the world to be awarded Fairtrade Status.

The pound sterling is the currency used in Wales. Numerous Welsh banks issued their own banknotes in the 19th century. The last bank to do so closed in 1908, since when, although banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland continue to have the right to issue banknotes in their own countries, the Bank of England has a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in Wales. The Commercial Bank of Wales, established in Cardiff by Sir Julian Hodge in 1971, was taken over by the Bank of Scotland in 1988 and absorbed into its parent company in 2002. The Royal Mint, who issue the coinage circulated through the whole of the UK, have been based at a single site in Llantrisant since 1980. Since decimalisation, in 1971, at least one of the coins in UK circulation has depicted a Welsh design, e.g. the 1995 and 2000 one Pound coin (shown left). However, Wales has not been represented on any coin minted from 2008.

Public healthcare in Wales is provided by NHS Wales (), which was originally formed as part of the NHS structure for England and Wales created by the National Health Service Act 1946, but with powers over the NHS in Wales coming under the Secretary of State for Wales in 1969. In turn, responsibility for NHS Wales was passed to the Welsh Assembly and Executive under devolution in 1999. Historically, Wales was served by smaller 'cottage' hospitals, built as voluntary institutions. As newer more expensive diagnostic techniques and treatments became available through medical advancement, much of the clinical work of the country has been concentrated in newer, larger district hospitals. As of 2006, there were seventeen district hospitals in Wales, although none situated in Powys. NHS Wales provides public healthcare in Wales and employs some 90,000 staff, making it Wales’ biggest employer. The Minister for Health and Social Services is the person within the Welsh Assembly Government who holds cabinet responsibilities for both health and social care in Wales.

A 2009 Welsh health survey, conducted by the Welsh Assembly, reported that 51% of adults reported their health good or excellent, while 21% described their health as fair or poor. The survey also recorded that 27% of Welsh adults had a long-term chronic illness, such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Enquiries into health related lifestyle choices report 27% of the adult population are smokers, 45% admit drinking alcohol above recommended guidelines at least once a week, while 29% undertake the recommended weekly physical activity.

In 2011, Wales' population was estimated to have risen to over three million for the first time (mid 2010 estimate: 3,006,400). Data from the last census (2001) reported the population in Wales as 2,903,085. The main population and industrial areas are in South Wales, consisting of the cities of Cardiff, Swansea and Newport and surrounding areas, with another significant population in the north-east around Wrexham. According to the 2001 census, 96% of the population was White British, and 2.1% non-white (mainly of British Asian origin). Most non-white groups were concentrated in the southern port cities of Cardiff, Newport and Swansea. Welsh Asian and African communities developed mainly through immigration since the Second World War. In the early 21st century, parts of Wales saw an increased number of immigrants settle from recent EU accession countries such as Poland; though a 2007 study showed a relatively low number of employed immigrant workers from the former Eastern bloc countries in Wales compared to other regions of the United Kingdom.

In the 2001 Labour Force Survey, 72% of adults in Wales considered their national identity as wholly Welsh and another 7% considered themselves to be partly Welsh (Welsh and British were the most common combination). A recent study estimated that 35% of the Welsh population have surnames of Welsh origin (5.4% of the English and 1.6% of the Scottish population also bore 'Welsh' names). However, many modern surnames derived from old Welsh personal names actually arose in England. In 2001, a quarter of the Welsh population were born outside Wales, mainly in England; about 3% were born outside the UK. The proportion of people who were born in Wales differs across the country, with the highest percentages in the South Wales Valleys and the lowest in Mid Wales and parts of the north-east. In both Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil, 92% were Welsh-born, compared to only 51% and 56% in the border counties of Flintshire and Powys. Just over 1.75 million Americans report themselves to have Welsh ancestry, as did 440,965 Canadians in Canada's 2006 census.

In his 1707 work Archaeologia Britannica Edward Lhuyd, Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum, noted the similarity between the two Celtic language families: Brythonic or P–Celtic (Breton, Cornish and Welsh); and Goidelic or Q–Celtic (Irish, Manx and Scottish Gaelic). He argued that the Brythonic languages originated in Gaul (France), and that the Goidelic languages originated in the Iberian Peninsula. Lhuyd concluded that as the languages had been of Celtic origin, the people who spoke those languages were Celts. (According to a more recent hypothesis, also widely embraced today, Goidelic and Brythonic languages, collectively known as Insular Celtic languages, evolved together for some time separately from Continental Celtic languages such as Gaulish and Celtiberian.) From the 18th century, the peoples of Brittany, Cornwall, Ireland, Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales were known increasingly as Celts, and they are regarded as the modern Celtic nations today.

The Welsh Language Act 1993 and the Government of Wales Act 1998 provide that the English and Welsh languages be treated on a basis of equality. English is spoken by almost all people in Wales and is the de facto main language. Code-switching is common in all parts of Wales and is known by various terms, though none is recognised by professional linguists. "Wenglish" is the Welsh English language dialect. It has been influenced significantly by Welsh grammar and includes words derived from Welsh. According to John Davies, Wenglish has "been the object of far greater prejudice than anything suffered by Welsh". Northern and western Wales retain many areas where Welsh is spoken as a first language by the majority of the population, and English learnt as a second language. The 2001 census showed 582,400 people, 20.8% of the Welsh population, were able to speak Welsh, an increase from the 19.0% shown in the 1981 census. According to language surveys conducted in 2004 and 2006, that number has dropped slightly to 20.5%, and the number of fluent speakers dropped by 3% between 1992 and 2006. Although monoglotism in young children continues, life-long monoglotism in Welsh is recognised to be a thing of the past.

Road signs in Wales are generally in both English and Welsh; where place names differ in the two languages, both versions are used (e.g. "Cardiff" and "Caerdydd"). The decision as to which is placed first being that of the local authority. During the 20th century, a number of small communities of speakers of languages other than Welsh or English, such as Bengali or Cantonese, established themselves in Wales as a result of immigration.

The largest religion in Wales is Christianity, with 71.9% of the population describing themselves as Christian in the 2001 census. The Church in Wales with 56,000 adherents has the largest attendance of the denominations. It is a province of the Anglican Communion, and was part of the Church of England until disestablishment in 1920 under the Welsh Church Act 1914. The Presbyterian Church of Wales was born out of the Welsh Methodist revival in the 18th century and seceded from the Church of England in 1811.

The second largest attending faith in Wales is Roman Catholic, with an estimated 43,000 members. Non-Christian religions are small in Wales, making up approximately 1.5% of the population. The 2001 census recorded 18.5% of people declaring no religion, while 8% did not reply to the question. The patron saint of Wales is Saint David (), with St David's Day () celebrated annually on 1 March.

In 1904, there was a religious revival (known by some as the 1904-1905 Welsh Revival or simply The 1904 Revival) which started through the evangelism of Evan Roberts and saw large numbers of people converting to nonconformist and Anglican Christianity, sometimes whole communities. Robert's style of preaching became the blueprint for new religious bodies such as Pentacostalism and the Apostolic Church. The Apostolic Church holds its annual Apostolic Conference in Swansea each year, usually in August.

Islam is the largest non-Christian religion in Wales, with more than 30,000 reported Muslims in the 2001 census. There are also communities of Hindus and Sikhs mainly in the South Wales cities of Newport, Cardiff and Swansea, while the largest concentration of Buddhists is in the western rural county of Ceredigion. Judaism was the first non-Christian faith (excluding pre-Roman animism) to be established in Wales however, as of the year 2001, the community has declined to approximately 2,000. Paganism and Wicca are also growing in Wales. According to the 2001 Census, there are 7,000-recorded Wiccans in England and Wales, with 31,000 Pagans.

Wales has a distinctive culture including its own language, customs, holidays and music.

Wales has three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: The Castles and Town walls of King Edward I in Gwynedd; Pontcysyllte Aqueduct; and the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape.

The remnants of the native Celtic mythology of the pre-Christian Britons was passed down orally, in much altered form, by the cynfeirdd (). Some of their work survives in much later medieval Welsh manuscripts, known as: the Black Book of Carmarthen and the Book of Aneirin (both 13th century); the Book of Taliesin and the White Book of Rhydderch (both 14th century); and the Red Book of Hergest (c. 1400). The prose stories from the White and Red Books are known as the Mabinogion, a title given to them by their first translator, Lady Charlotte Guest, and also used by subsequent translators. Poems such as Cad Goddeu (The Battle of the Trees) and mnemonic list-texts like the Welsh Triads and the Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain, also contain mythological material. These texts also include the earliest forms of the Arthurian legend and the traditional history of post-Roman Britain.

Other sources of Welsh folklore include the 9th century Latin historical compilation Historia Britonum (the History of the Britons) and Geoffrey of Monmouth's 12th century Latin chronicle Historia Regum Britanniae (the History of the Kings of Britain), as well as later folklore, such as The Welsh Fairy Book by W. Jenkyn Thomas.

Many works of Celtic art have been found in Wales. In the Early Medieval period, the Celtic Christianity of Wales was part of the Insular art of the British Isles. A number of illuminated manuscripts from Wales survive, of which the 8th century Hereford Gospels and Lichfield Gospels are the most notable. The 11th century Ricemarch Psalter (now in Dublin) is certainly Welsh, made in St David's, and shows a late Insular style with unusual Viking influence.

The best of the few Welsh artists of the 16th–18th centuries tended to leave the country to work, many of them moving to London and Italy. Richard Wilson (1714–82) is arguably the first major British landscapist. Although more notable for his Italian scenes, he painted several Welsh scenes on visits from London. By the late 18th century, the popularity of landscape art grew and clients were found in the larger Welsh towns, allowing more Welsh artists to stay in their homeland. Artists from outside Wales were also drawn to paint Welsh scenery, at first due to the Celtic Revival. Then in the early 19th century, the Napoleonic Wars preventing the Grand Tour to continental Europe, travel through Wales came to be considered more accessible. An Act of Parliament in 1857 provided for the establishment of a number of art schools throughout the United Kingdom and the Cardiff School of Art opened in 1865. Graduates still very often had to leave Wales to work but Betws-y-Coed became a popular centre for artists and its artist's colony helped form the Royal Cambrian Academy of Art in 1881. The sculptor Sir William Goscombe John made many works for Welsh commissions, although he had settled in London. Christopher Williams, whose subjects were mostly resolutely Welsh, was also based in London. Thomas E. Stephens and Andrew Vicari had very successful careers as portraitists based respectively in the United States and France. Sir Frank Brangwyn was Welsh by origin but spent little time in Wales.

Many Welsh painters gravitated towards the art capitals of Europe. Augustus John and his sister Gwen John, lived mostly in London and Paris. However the landscapists Sir Kyffin Williams and Peter Prendergast lived in Wales for most of their lives, though remaining in touch with the wider art world. Ceri Richards was very engaged in the Welsh art scene; as a teacher in Cardiff and even after moving to London. He was a figurative painter in international styles including Surrealism. Various artists have moved to Wales, including Eric Gill, the London-Welshman David Jones and the sculptor Jonah Jones. The Kardomah Gang was a intellectual circle centred on the poet Dylan Thomas and poet and artist Vernon Watkins in Swansea, which also included the painter Alfred Janes.

South Wales had several notable potteries, one of the first important sites being the Ewenny Pottery in Bridgend, which began producing earthenware in the 17th century. In the 18th and 19th centuries, with more scientific methods becoming available more refined ceramics were produced led by the Cambrian Pottery (1764–1870, also known as "Swansea pottery") and later Nantgarw Pottery near Cardiff, which was in operation from 1813 to 1822 making fine porcelain and then utilitarian pottery until 1920. Portmeirion Pottery, founded in 1960 by Susan Williams-Ellis, daughter of Clough Williams-Ellis, creator of the italianate village of Portmeirion, Gwynedd, is based in Stoke-on-Trent, England.

Wales can claim one of the oldest unbroken literary traditions in Europe. The literary tradition of Wales stretches back to the sixth century and, with the inclusion of Geoffrey of Monmouth and Gerald of Wales, boasts two of the finest Latin authors of the Middle Ages. The earliest body of Welsh verse, by poets Taliesin and Aneirin, survive not in their original form, but in medieval versions and have undergone significant linguistic changes. Welsh poetry and native lore and learning survived the Dark Ages, through the era of the Poets of the Princes (c1100–1280) and then the Poets of the Gentry (c1350-1650). The Poets of the Princes were professional poets who composed eulogies and elegies to the Welsh princes while the Poets of the Gentry where a school of poets that favoured the cywydd metre. The period is notable for producing one of Wales' greatest poets, Dafydd ap Gwilym. After the Anglicisation of the gentry the tradition declined.

Despite the extinction of the professional poet, the integration of the native elite into a wider cultural world did bring other literary benefits. Humanists such as William Salesbury and John Davies brought Renaissance ideals from English universities when they returned to Wales. While in 1588 William Morgan became the first person to translate the Bible into Welsh. From the 16th Century onwards the proliferation of the 'free-metre' verse became the most important development in Welsh poetry, but from the middle of the 17th century a host of imported accentual metres from England became very popular. By the 19th century the creation of a Welsh epic, fuelled by the eisteddfod, became an obsession with Welsh language writers. The output of this period was prolific in quantity but unequal in quality. Initially the eisteddfod was askance with the religious denominations, but in time these bodies came to dominate the competitions, with the bardic themes becoming increasingly scriptural and didactic. The period is notable for the adoption by Welsh poets of bardic names, made popular by the eisteddfod movement.

Major developments in 19th century Welsh literature include Lady Charlotte Guest's translation of the Mabinogion, one of the most important medieval Welsh prose tales of Celtic mythology, into English. 1885 saw the publication of Rhys Lewis by Daniel Owen, credited as the first novel written in the Welsh language. The 20th century experienced an important shift away from the stilted and long-winded Victorian Welsh prose, with Thomas Gwynn Jones leading the way with his 1902 work Ymadawiad Arthur. The slaughter in the trenches of the First World War, had a profound effect on Welsh literature with a more pessimistic style of prose championed by T. H. Parry-Williams and R. Williams Parry. The industrialisation of south Wales saw a further shift with the likes of Rhydwen Williams who used the poetry and metre of a bygone rural Wales but in the context of an industrial landscape. Though the inter-war period is dominated by Saunders Lewis, for his political and reactionary views as much as his plays, poetry and criticism.

After the end of the Second World War, several Welsh poets and writers in the English language came to note. These included Alexander Cordell, whose novels are often set within a historic Wales, while Gwyn Thomas became the voice of the English speaking Welsh valleys with his humorous take on grim lives. At the same time the post war period saw the emergence of one of the most notable and popular Welsh writers of the 20th century; Dylan Thomas one of the most innovative poets of his time. Other important authors born in Wales, but not writing in the Welsh language or with a 'Welsh' style, include Nobel Prize winner Bertrand Russell and children's writer Roald Dahl.

Over fifty national governing bodies regulate and organise their sports in Wales. Most of those involved in competitive sports select, organise and manage individuals or teams to represent their country at international events or fixtures against other countries. Wales is represented at major world sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup, Rugby World Cup and the Commonwealth Games. At the Olympics Games, Welsh athletes compete alongside those of Scotland, England and Northern Ireland as part of a Great Britain team.

Although football has traditionally been the more popular sport in North Wales, rugby union is seen as a symbol of Welsh identity and an expression of national consciousness. The Welsh national rugby union team takes part in the annual Six Nations Championship and has also competed in every Rugby World Cup, hosting the tournament in 1999. The five professional sides that replaced the traditional club sides in major competitions in 2003 were replaced in 2004 by the four regions: Scarlets; Cardiff Blues; Newport Gwent Dragons; and the Ospreys. The Welsh regional teams play in the Magners League, the Anglo-Welsh Cup (LV Cup), the European Heineken Cup and the European (Amlin) Challenge Cup.

Wales has had its own football league since 1992. For historical reasons, two Welsh clubs (Cardiff City, and Swansea City) play in the English Football League. Another four Welsh clubs play in English football's feeder leagues: Wrexham, Newport County, Merthyr Town and Colwyn Bay.

In international cricket, Wales and England field a single representative team, administered by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), called the England cricket team, or simply 'England'. Occasionally, a separate Wales team play limited-overs competitions. Glamorgan County Cricket Club is the only Welsh participant in the England and Wales County Championship.

Wales has produced several world-class participants of individual sports including snooker players Ray Reardon, Terry Griffiths, Mark Williams and Matthew Stevens. Track athletes who have made a mark on the world stage, including the 110-metre hurdler Colin Jackson who is a former world record holder and the winner of numerous Olympic, World and European medals as well as Tanni Grey-Thompson who has won 11 Paralympic gold medals. Wales also has a tradition of producing world-class boxers. Joe Calzaghe was WBO World Super-Middleweight Champion who then won the WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine super middleweight and Ring Magazine Light-Heavyweight titles. Other former boxing World champions include Enzo Maccarinelli, Freddie Welsh, Howard Winstone, Percy Jones, Jimmy Wilde, Steve Robinson and Robbie Regan.

All Welsh television broadcasts are digital. The last of the analogue transmitters ceased broadcasts in April 2010, and Wales became the UK's first digital nation. Cardiff is home to the television output of Wales. BBC Cymru Wales is the national broadcaster. Based in Llandaff, Cardiff, it produces Welsh-oriented English and Welsh language television for BBC ONE Wales, BBC TWO Wales and S4C channels. BBC Cymru Wales has also produced programmes, such as Life on Mars, Dr Who and Torchwood, shown worldwide. ITV the UK's main commercial broadcaster has a Welsh-oriented service branded as ITV Wales, whose studios are in Culverhouse Cross, Cardiff. S4C, based in Llanishen, Cardiff, first broadcast on 1 November 1982. Its output was mostly Welsh language at peak hours, but shared English language content with Channel 4 at other times. Since the digital switchover in April 2010, the channel has broadcast exclusively in Welsh. BBC Cymru Wales provide S4C with ten hours of programming per week. Their remaining output is commissioned from ITV and independent producers.

BBC Cymru Wales is Wales' only national radio broadcaster. BBC Radio Wales is their English language radio service, broadcasting throughout Wales in English. BBC Radio Cymru is their Welsh language radio service, broadcasting throughout Wales in Welsh. A number of independent radio stations broadcast to the Welsh regions, predominantly in English. Several regional radio stations broadcast in Welsh: output ranges from two, two minute news bulletins each weekday (Radio Maldwyn), through over 14 hours of Welsh language programmes weekly (Swansea Sound), to essentially bilingual stations offering between 37% and 44% of programme content (Heart Cymru (formerly Champion 103) and Radio Ceredigion respectively).

Most of the newspapers sold and read in Wales are national newspapers available throughout Britain, unlike in Scotland where many newspapers have rebranded into Scottish based titles. The Western Mail is Wales' only national daily newspaper. Wales-based regional daily newspapers include: Daily Post (which covers north Wales); South Wales Evening Post (Swansea); South Wales Echo (Cardiff); and South Wales Argus (Newport). Y Cymro is a Welsh language newspaper, published weekly. Wales on Sunday is the only Welsh Sunday newspaper to cover the whole of Wales.

The Welsh Books Council (WBC) is the Welsh Assembly Government funded body tasked with promoting Welsh literature. The WBC provides publishing grants for qualifying English and Welsh language publications. Around 600–650 books are published each year, by some of the dozens of Welsh publishers. Wales' main publishing houses include Gomer Press, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Honno, the University of Wales Press and Y Lolfa.

Magazines published in Welsh and English cover general and specialist subjects. Cambria, a Welsh affairs magazine published bi-monthly in English, has subscribers in over 30 countries. Titles published quarterly in English include Planet and Poetry Wales. Welsh language magazines include the current affairs titles Golwg () (published weekly) and Barn () (monthly). Among the specialist magazines, Y Wawr () is published quarterly by Merched y Wawr, the national organisation for women. Y Traethodydd (), a quarterly publication by The Presbyterian Church of Wales, first appeared in 1845; the oldest Welsh publication still in print.

About 78% of the land surface of Wales is given over to agricultural use. However, very little of this is arable land; the vast majority consists of permanent grass pasture or rough grazing for herd animals such as sheep and cows. Although both beef and dairy cattle are raised widely, especially in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, Wales is more well-known for its sheep farming and thus lamb is the meat traditionally associated with Welsh cooking.

Traditional dishes include laverbread (made from laver (porphyra umbilicalis), an edible seaweed); bara brith (fruit bread); Cawl (a lamb stew); cawl cennin (leek soup); Welsh cakes; and Welsh lamb. Cockles are sometimes served as a traditional breakfast with bacon and laverbread.

Although Wales has its own traditional food, and has absorbed much of the cuisine of England, Welsh diets now owe more to the countries of India, China and the United States. Chicken Tikka Masala is the country's favourite dish while hamburgers and Chinese food outsell fish and chips as a takeaway.

Wales is often referred to as "the land of song", and is notable for its harpists, male choirs, and solo artists. The principal Welsh festival of music and poetry is the annual National Eisteddfod. The Llangollen International Eisteddfod echoes the National Eisteddfod but provides an opportunity for the singers and musicians of the world to perform. Traditional music and dance in Wales is supported by a myriad of societies. The Welsh Folk Song Society has published a number of collections of songs and tunes.

Traditional instruments of Wales include telyn deires (triple harp), fiddle, crwth, pibgorn (hornpipe) and other instruments. The Cerdd Dant Society promotes its specific singing art primarily through an annual one-day festival.

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales performs in Wales and internationally. The Welsh National Opera is based at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay, while the National Youth Orchestra of Wales was the first of its type in the world.

Wales has a tradition for producing notable singing artists including Sir Geraint Evans, Dame Gwyneth Jones, Dame Anne Evans, Dame Margaret Price, Ivor Novello, John Cale, Sir Tom Jones, Bonnie Tyler, Bryn Terfel, Mary Hopkin, Charlotte Church, Katherine Jenkins, Meic Stevens, Dame Shirley Bassey and Duffy.

Popular bands to have emerged from Wales have included the Beatles-nurtured power pop group Badfinger in the 1960s, Man and Budgie in the 1970s and The Alarm in the 1980s. Wales experienced a strong emergence of groups during the 1990s led by Manic Street Preachers, followed by the likes of the Stereophonics and Feeder; notable during this period were Catatonia, Super Furry Animals, and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci who gained popular success as dual-language artists. Recently successful Welsh bands include Lostprophets, Bullet for My Valentine, Funeral for a Friend and Kids in Glass Houses. The Welsh traditional and folk music scene is in resurgence with performers and bands such as Crasdant, Carreg Lafar, Fernhill, Sian James and The Hennessys.

The emergence of male voice choirs in the 19th century, has remained a lasting tradition in Wales. Originally these choirs where formed as the tenor and bass sections of chapel choirs, and embraced the popular secular hymns of the day. Many of the historic choirs continue to survive in modern Wales singing a mixture of traditional and popular songs.

The earliest surviving Welsh plays are two medieval miracle plays, Y Tri Brenin o Gwlen and Y Dioddefaint a'r Atgyfodiad. A recognised Welsh tradition of theatre emerged on the 18th century, in the form of an interlude, a metrical play performed at fairs and markets. The larger Welsh towns began building theatres during the 19th century, and drew in the likes of James Sheridan Knowles and William Charles Macready to Wales. Along with the playhouses, there existed mobile companies at visiting fairs, though from 1912, most of these travelling theatres settled, purchasing theatres to perform in.

Drama in the early 20th century thrived, but the country failed to produce a Welsh National Theatre company. After the Second World War the substantial number of amateur companies that existed before the outbreak of hostilities, reduced by two thirds. Though the increasing competition of television in the 1950s and 1960s, saw a need for greater professionalism in the theatre. The result of which saw the plays of the likes of Emlyn Williams and Alun Owen staged, while Welsh actors, including Richard Burton, Rachel Roberts, Donald Houston and Stanley Baker were establishing themselves as artistic talents. Welsh actors to have crossed the Atlantic more recently to star in Hollywood films include: Ioan Gruffudd; John Rhys-Davies; Anthony Hopkins; Matthew Rhys; Michael Sheen; and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Welsh comedians include Tommy Cooper, Griff Rhys Jones, Harry Secombe and Paul Whitehouse.

Dance as a pastime is a popular hobby in Wales, while the country's traditional dance lie in folk dancing and clog dancing. The first mention of dancing in Wales was recorded in a 12th Century account by Giraldus Cambrensis, but by the 19th Century traditional dance had all but died out; attributed to the influence of Nonconformists and their belief that any physical diversion was worthless and satanic, especially mixed dancing. These ancient dances, orally passed down, were almost single-handedly rescued by Lois Blake (1890–1974) who recorded them in numerous instruction pamphlets, recording both steps and music. In a similar vein, clog dancing was preserved and developed by the likes of Howel Wood (1882–1967) who perpetuated the art at local and national stages. Clog dancing, traditionally a male dominated art, is now a common part of eisteddfodau. In 2010, a 30 year traditional dance festival held in Caernarvon came to an end after a lack of attending participants, though clog dancing has seen a revival during the early part of the 21st century.

The Welsh Folk Dance Society was founded in 1949, and it supports a network of national amateur dance teams and publishes support material. Contemporary dance grew out of the capital in the 1970s, one of the earliest companies, Moving Being, came from London to Cardiff in 1973. Jumpers Dance Company was formed in 1978, eventually becoming The Dance Company of Wales. Conversely, Wales does not have its own national ballet company.

The National Museum [of] Wales was founded by royal charter in 1907 and is now a Welsh Government sponsored body. The National Museum is made up of seven sites across the country, including the National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans National History Museum and Big Pit National Coal Museum. In April 2001, the attractions attached to the National Museum were granted free entry by the Assembly, and this action saw the visitor numbers to the sites increase during 2001–2002 by 87.8% to 1,430,428.

Aberystwyth is home to the National Library of Wales, which houses some of the most important collections in Wales, including the John William's Library and the Shirburn Castle collection. As well as its printed collection the Library holds important Welsh art collections including portraits and photographs, ephemera such as postcards, posters and Ordnance Survey maps.

As well as celebrating many of the traditional religious festivals of Great Britain, such as Easter and Christmas, Wales has its own unique celebratory days. An early festivity was Mabsant, where local parishes would celebrate the patron saint of their local church. This celebration died out in the 19th century, to be replaced by Saint David's Day; celebrated on 1 March throughout Wales, and by Welsh expats around the world.

Commemorating the patron saint of friendship and love, Dydd Santes Dwynwen's popularity has been increasing recently. It is celebrated on 25 January in a similar way to St Valentine's Day; by exchanging cards and by holding parties and concerts.

Calan Gaeaf, associated with the supernatural and the dead, is observed on 1 November. It has largely been replaced by Hallowe'en. Other festivities include Calan Mai, celebrating the beginning of summer, Calan Awst and Gwyl Fair y Canhwyllau.

The main road artery linking cities and other settlements along the south Wales coast is the M4 motorway. It also provides a link to England and eventually, London. The Welsh section of the motorway, managed by the Welsh Assembly Government, runs from the Second Severn Crossing to Pont Abraham, Carmarthenshire, connecting the cities of Cardiff, Newport and Swansea. In north Wales the A55 expressway performs a similar role along the north Wales coast providing connections between Holyhead and Bangor, and Wrexham and Flintshire. It also links to England, principally Chester. The main north-south Wales link is the A470, which runs from Cardiff to Llandudno.

Cardiff International Airport is the only large and international airport in Wales. Providing links to European and North American destinations, it is about 12 miles (19 km) southwest of Cardiff city centre, in the Vale of Glamorgan. Highland Airways ran internal flights between Anglesey (Valley) and Cardiff, from May 2007 until March 2010, until the company went into administration. The service (dubbed "Ieaun Air" after Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones, AM for Ynys Mon) resumed on 10 May 2010, with Isle of Man airline Manx2 the carrier.

The country also has a significant railway network managed by the Welsh Assembly Government, which reopened old railway lines to extend rail usage. Cardiff Central and Cardiff Queen Street are the busiest and the major hubs on the internal and national network. Beeching cuts in the 1960s mean that most of the remaining network is geared toward east-west travel to or from England. Services between north and south Wales operate through the English towns of Chester and Shrewsbury. Valley Lines services operate in Cardiff, the South Wales Valleys and surrounding area and are heavily used as commuter lines. Arriva Trains Wales is the major operator of rail services within Wales. It also operates routes from within Wales to Crewe, Manchester, Birmingham and Cheltenham. Virgin Trains operate services from north Wales to London as part of the West Coast Main Line. First Great Western operate services from London to Newport and Cardiff every half hour, with an hourly continuation to Swansea. It also runs services from Cardiff and Newport to southern England. CrossCountry offer services from Cardiff to Nottingham and Newcastle upon Tyne via the West Midlands, East Midlands and Yorkshire.

Wales is served by four commercial ferry ports. Regular ferry services to Ireland operate from Holyhead, Pembroke and Fishguard. The Swansea to Cork service, cancelled in 2006, was reinstated in March 2010.

The Flag of Wales incorporates the red dragon () of Prince Cadwalader along with the Tudor colours of green and white. It was used by Henry VII at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 after which it was carried in state to St. Paul's Cathedral. The red dragon was then included in the Tudor royal arms to signify their Welsh descent. It was officially recognised as the Welsh national flag in 1959. The British Union Flag incorporates the flags of Scotland, Ireland and England, but has no Welsh representation. Technically it is represented by the flag of England, as the Laws in Wales act of 1535 annexed Wales to England, following the 13th-century conquest.

The daffodil and the leek are also symbols of Wales. The origins of the leek can be traced to the 16th century, while the daffodil became popular in the 19th century, encouraged by David Lloyd-George. This is attributed to confusion of the Welsh for leek, cenhinen, and that for daffodil, cenhinen Bedr or St. Peter's leek. A report in 1916 gave preference to the leek, which has appeared on British pound coins.

The Prince of Wales' heraldic badge is sometimes used to symbolise Wales. The badge, known as the Prince of Wales's feathers, consists of three white feathers emerging from a gold coronet. A ribbon below the coronet bears the German motto Ich dien (). Several Welsh representative teams, including the Welsh rugby union, and Welsh regiments in the British Army (the Royal Welsh, for example) use the badge, or a stylised version of it. However, its use is controversial and rejected by some as a symbol of the British monarchy, rather than of Wales.

"Hen Wlad fy Nhadau" () is the National Anthem of Wales, and is played at events such as football or rugby matches involving the Wales national team as well as the opening of the Welsh Assembly and other official occasions.

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