Last Updated 07/12/2021.
Yes, Wales is a country. But that question is a little more complicated than it might seem. I am from Wales, I am Welsh. We grew up calling Wales a principality. After all, we have Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, but Wales is, infact, a country along with being part of another country. Let me try to explain
Is Wales a Country
Wales was officially recognised as a country in December 2011 by the ISO. That’s the International Organisation for Standardisation. There is no doubt, at all, that Wales is a country.
However, there are several factors that still make many people believe that Wales is not a country, for instance, Wales does not have its own Welsh passport. Welsh people simply have a British passport.
Also, Wales is not represented separately in the United Nations list of members, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is.
Which makes sense but can also be really confusing!
The United Kindom is a unitary sovereign country. A type of country, if you like, whereas the other four countries that make up the United Kingdom, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, are not.
Wales is Part of Great Britain
Great Britain is actually an island. Great Britain comprises England, Scotland and Wales, but not Northern Ireland which is on a separate island.
This is why the United Kingdom is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Great Britain is the largest of the British Isles and the ninth-largest island in the world.
Wales is not an island, it has land borders with England to the east, but it does have a very long coastline to the north, west, and south. The body of water making much of Wale’s coastline is the Irish Sea. Wales’s southern coast is partly on the Bristol Channel and River Severn.
Tasmania, one of the Australian islands, is the 26th largest, interestingly. Australia itself is the biggest piece of land fully surrounded by water, but unfortunately, a continent can’t also be an island, so Greenland takes the prize for the biggest island in the world.
The British Isles comprises over 6,000 total islands, including Great Britain, Ireland, The Isle of Man and The Hebrides. The Channel Islands are sometimes counted as part of the British Isles, sometimes not.
They seem to be more part of the mainland Europe land mass. So yes, Wales also lies on the British Isles.
Is Wales a Principality
What is a principality? Put simply, a principality is a state ruled by a prince. Wales has the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, but he has no role in the governance of Wales.
Wales has not fully been a principality since the early 1500s. By the late 1500s Wales was unified and really, a country. But this was not officially recognised until 2011. Up to the late 1990s Wales was governed from London, but since then this location has shifted to Wales.
The National Assembly for Wales, created by the Government of Wales Act in 1998, is based in Cardiff.
Wales in Not Part of England
Twenty years ago, on my first trip to Australia, and ironically in New South Wales, an Australian bank asked me to complete a survey. At the end I was asked to tick a box for my country of origin. I was offered “England”. I wasn’t offered “The UK”, certainly not “Britain” the best they could do was England.
Lack of knowledge runs deep and is found in surprising places!
Wales is most certainly not part of England. It shares a border with England, it is next to England, it is not, ever, even slightly, part of England. England is the country next door.
Both England and Wales are part of the UK or Britain. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in fact.
Yes, most Welsh people speak English. Some also speak Welsh. Yes, the Queen is our Queen. Wales has its own parliament (Senedd) which was formed in 1999 or 1998. Devolution has been going on throughout my lifetime.
The Welsh parliament makes laws, decides on taxation, and oversees the Welsh Government. Cardiff is the capital of Wales, where you will find the Senedd Building, opened in 2006 on St David’s Day. This organisation was formerly the Welsh Assembly for Wales.
I hope that clarifies things a little. You see, to us, the Welsh people , this is quite important. I personally don’t mind being called British at all, I am. But I’m not English. I can never be English. Now, you can read more about my home country in our Wales travel blog or our huge guide to Wales with Kids. Once borders open for us, I’m be going home. I’ve been away too long.