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Is Wales a country?
03-15-2003, 08:55 PM
Post: #1
Is Wales a country?
Looking for someone with some background in UK politics/history here... I'm trying to settle a dispute in a genealogical discussion, namely, over the political nature of Wales.

The debate started when someone posted a reference to an ancestor's birthplace as "Wales (England)". The person had actually posted verbatim what was listed in a U.S. census record (from 1880). Another user responded with:

Quote:Wales and England are separate countries.
To say Wales(England) would be like saying,
California(Texas) or perhaps USA(Canada),
and to British readers equally naive.
If you wish to point out the Wales is part
of Great Britain feel free, but for consistancey you should also say Texas(USA) etc.
Now I understand what they were going for; political pride notwithstanding, I would argue, however, that Wales is not it's own country, but merely a region/territory/state within the United Kingdom, just as Northern Ireland and Scotland are not their own countries.

Anybody with more background/insight?
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03-16-2003, 04:15 AM
Post: #2
Is Wales a country?
Although I'm not particularly well-versed in UK politics/history, your Wales/UK discussion actually interests me in that it brings out similar questions of Quebec (Canad) and Taiwan (China).

There are so many dispute in territorial or national boundaries over the world that it would be hard for folks like in the genealogical field to decide whether a certain place is a country or not. I guess a more practical way of solving this problem in a non-political mode is to stick to CURRENT definitions by say the United Nation. So unless there is a documented dispute registered at the UN, you should simply go by the normal route to say, for instance, Texas is a part of the U.S.

Just some thoughts.

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03-16-2003, 11:33 AM
Post: #3
Is Wales a country?
Hey! I'm Welsh and I live in Wales. Maybe I can help. :-)

Wales is what is called a "nation". It's a "country" in the loose sense of the word that belongs to the Kingdom that is the UK. We don't have a government of our own although we do have some powers through a new assembly.

Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland all fall under "Britain" or the "United Kingdom" but it is fair to say that Wales, Scotland and Northrn Irelands are countries in their own right. We have our own international football (soccer), rugby teams etc. We're just still governed by the UK Government in London.

- wil
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03-16-2003, 12:56 PM
Post: #4
Is Wales a country?
Quote:Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland all fall under "Britain" or
the "United Kingdom" but it is fair to say that Wales, Scotland
and Northrn Irelands are countries in their own right.

What would be the distinction between, say, Scotland and Wales? Is it just that Scotland has more autonomy?

Annoyingly enough, the whole relationship between the different parts of the United Kingdom has always confused me. I never know when it's proper to refer to "Britain", "Great Britain", "The United Kingdom", or "England". Usually I just go along with whatever the other guy is saying, and hope I'm not offending anyone.

(I did manage to receive the full benefit of a US high school education - make of that what you may)

It's even more embarrassing in that I'm of largely Scottish descent, and should probably know better. :>

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03-16-2003, 10:58 PM
Post: #5
Is Wales a country?
And I of Irish/Scottish as well Smile ...

Perhaps as wil can attest, the concept of "nation" can be rather vague. In general, we started working from profrock's standpoint, namely that it's usually safe to go with UN designations; being from the left side of the pond, I also go to the CIA World Factbook...

As far as the relationships, here's what the factbook had to say:

Quote:England has existed as a unified entity since the 10th century; the union between England and Wales was enacted under the Statute of Rhuddlan in 1284; in the Act of Union of 1707, England and Scotland agreed to permanent union as Great Britain; the legislative union of Great Britain and Ireland was implemented in 1801, with the adoption of the name the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 formalized a partition of Ireland; six northern Irish counties remained part of the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland and the current name of the country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, was adopted in 1927
So "England" can mean England, or England + Wales; "Great Britain" = England + Wales + Scotland; and "United Kingdom" = Great Britain + Northen Ireland. All that being said, I'm not sure that any of the entities is referred to a "Britain" by itself...

Does that sound right, wil?
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03-17-2003, 02:46 AM
Post: #6
Is Wales a country?
I dunno. Being Welsh, I'd be inclined to go with the following:

If you're talking to an Englishman, refer to England, United Kingdom, Britain as the whole emptire including all countries.

However, if you're speaking to a Welshman or a Scot just refer to their actualy countries. That is, Wales and Scotland -- no mention of England. :-)

- wil
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03-21-2003, 10:43 PM
Post: #7
Is Wales a country?
They have their own National football/soccer team that tries to get into the World Cup every 4 years, England, Ireland and Scotland as well.

Britain/UK encompasses those under some kind of blanket but they are their own countries. This is the way I've always understood it anyhow.

So it wouldn't be Wales (England) but Wales (Britain or UK) I would be inclined to say, if you needed a qualifier. I'm not in the habit of saying Golden, Colorado, USA however.

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03-22-2003, 02:24 AM
Post: #8
Is Wales a country?
Or Wales (Europe) as some in Wales would like you to believe. :-)

- wil
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08-16-2012, 04:45 AM (This post was last modified: 08-16-2012 05:21 AM by screwbiedooo.)
Post: #9
RE: Is Wales a country?
Hi. I live on the Welsh border and I can tell you categorically that Wales is not a country by any reasonable, universally-applied definition. The CIA world Factbook correctly describes its situation (see above) - as part, first of Kingdom of England, then Kingdom of Great Britain, which became UK upon union with Ireland. Before this it was a series of disparate kingdoms that were seldom united.

Head of state: HM Queen Elizabeth II; military: HM armed forces; currency GBP £terling; telephone code: 44; internet domain: .uk; olympic federation: British Olympic association; public broadcaster: BBC; UN representative: UK.

Think of Wales as a Cherokee Nation reservation. When the Anglo-Saxons invaded Britain they pushed most of the Britons (Welsh) into the western territories, one of which is now Wales (others being Cumbria, Cornwall, which are considered counties of England). While fully absorbed into the new country and very much mixed, Wales has retained a cultural tradition and language of its own. BUT, this situation is not at all uncommon across European nations and beyond, and such places are usually denoted as regions or provinces, NOT countries. eg. Brittany, Catalonia, Corsica, Basque country, Bavaria, Schleswig-Holstein, Alsace, Sud-Tirol, South Ossetia, Alaska, Xinjiang etc. etc. etc. ad nauseam...

Wales fields separate sports teams in certain sports in international competition (notably soccer, rugby). This is perhaps the single biggest factor in promoting the notion of Wales as a 'country' to the world's public. This is an anachronism dating back to the days when only British people played these sports. The Welsh Football Association for example predates FIFA, hence FIFA cannot regulate on the issue. The Maoris of New Zealand field their own rugby teams too at world cups. Go figure.

Governmentally England & Wales have been a unit for many centuries, sharing the same statutory rules and legal system. The unit has been referred to as England & Wales, or shortened merely to England. To highlight this see the cricket governing body ECB - full title: The England & Wales Cricket Board. Team name: "England"...! To write Wales (England) is not actually incorrect therefore. Wales has an assembly now as of a few years, which gives it quite a bit of autonomy, and which many now falsely believe makes them an independent country.

Americans are often proud of proclaiming Scottish, Welsh, Irish, English ancestry. It's not a coincidence how the English, Welsh, Scots and Irish all colonised the same parts of the world at the same time without coming to blows!

These days there are many motions to confer official country status on Wales from multiple quarters - Welsh nationalists, supranational 'international community' bodies (world government), internet reference sites, the EU and even the UK itself which has been using the term 'constituent country' to describe Wales for a while (although in this case the term has no legal definition, or basis, since the UK is not a federation). No-one knows what it means! I find the alternative 'Home Nation' much better.

These things are, I believe, part of a clear plan to break up the UK, which is, for a while at least, our actual country; and a sad portent of things to come.
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