Gwynedd (IPA2|'ɡwɪ.nɛð) is a principal area in north-west Wales, named after the old Kingdom of Gwynedd. Although one of the biggest in terms of geographical area, it is also one of the most sparsely populated. A large proportion of the population is Welsh-speaking.

Gwynedd is the home of Bangor University and includes the scenic Llŷn Peninsula, and most of the Snowdonia National Park.

The name "Gwynedd" is also used for a preserved county, covering Anglesey as well as the principal area.


Gwynedd was an independent kingdom from the end of the Roman period until the 13th Century when it was conquered and subjugated by England (for more on this period see Kingdom of Gwynedd). The modern Gwynedd is based on the territory of the former realm and was one of eight Welsh counties originally created on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972. It covered the entirety of the former administrative counties of Anglesey, and Caernarvonshire along with all of Merionethshire apart from Edeyrnion Rural District (which went to Clwyd), and also a few parishes in Denbighshire: Llanrwst, Llansanffraid Glan Conwy, Eglwysbach, Llanddoget, Llanrwst Rural and Tir Ifan.

The county was divided into five districts: Aberconwy, Arfon, Dwyfor, Meirionnydd and Anglesey.

The Local Government (Wales) Act 1994 abolished the 1974 county (and the five districts) on 1 April 1996, and its area was divided: Anglesey became an independent unitary authority, and Aberconwy (which included the former Denbighshire parts) passed to the new Conwy county borough. The remainder of the county was constituted a principal area with the name Caernarfonshire and Merionethshire, reflecting that it covered most of the areas of the two historic counties. As one of its first actions, the Council renamed itself Gwynedd on 2 April 1996.Modern Gwynedd is governed by Gwynedd Council. As a unitary authority the modern entity no longer has any districts, but Arfon, Dwyfor and Meirionnydd remain in use as areas for area committees.

The pre-1996 boundaries were retained as a preserved county for a few purposes such as the Lieutenancy - in 2003 the boundary with Clwyd was adjusted to match the modern local government boundary, so that the preserved county now covers the modern Gwynedd along with Anglesey, and that the borough of Conwy is entirely within Clwyd.

A Gwynedd Constabulary was formed in 1950 from the merger of the Anglesey, Caernarfonshire and Merionethshire forces. A further amalgamation took place in the 1960s when Gwynedd Constabulary was merged with the Flintshire and Denbighshire county forces, retaining the name "Gwynedd". In one proposal for local government reform in Wales, "Gwynedd" had been proposed as a name for a local auhority covering all of north Wales, but the scheme as enacted divided this area between Gwynedd and Clwyd. To prevent confusion, the Gwynedd Constabulary was therefore renamed the North Wales Police.

The Snowdonia National Park was formed in 1951. After the 1974 local authority reorganisation, the park fell entirely within the boundaries of the County of Gwynedd, and was run a as a department of Gwynedd County Council. After the 1996 local government reorganisation, part of the park fell under Conwy Borough County Council, and the park's administration separated from the Gwynedd council. Gwynedd Council does still appoint 9 of the 18 members of the Snowdonia National Park Authority (Conwy council appoints 3, and the National Assembly for Wales appoints the remaining 6).


Top performing secondary schools in Gwynedd, (5 GCSEs, grade A-C), according to the latest inspection reports from Estyn(All schools bilingual):

75% Ysgol Y Gader, Dolgellau

74% Ysgol Tryfan, Bangor

70% Ysgol Uwchradd Tywyn, Tywyn

68% Ysgol Botwnnog, Botwnnog

68% Ysgol Brynrefail, Llanrug

67% Ysgol Glan y Môr, Pwllheli

60% Ysgol Eifionydd, Porthmadog

60% Ysgol Friars, Bangor

54% Ysgol Dyffryn Nantlle, Penygroes

54% Ysgol y Berwyn, Bala

53% Ysgol y Moelwyn, Blaenau Ffestiniog

51% Ysgol Syr Hugh Owen, Caernarfon

50% Ysgol Ardudwy, Harlech

46% Ysgol Dyffryn Ogwen, Bethesda

2001 census and housing

According to the 2001 census the number of Welsh speakers in Wales increased for the first time in over 100 years, with 20.5% in a population of over 2.9 million claiming fluency in Welsh, or one in five. [ Census shows Welsh language rise Friday, 14 February, 2003 extracted 12-04-07] ] Additionally, 28% of the population of Wales claimed to understand Welsh. The census revealed that the increase was most significant in urban areas However, the number of Welsh speakers declined in Gwynedd from 72.1% in 1991 to 68.7%.

The decline in Welsh speakers in Gwynedd may be attributable to non Welsh speaking residents moving to North Wales, driving up property rates above what local Welsh speakers may afford, according to former Gwynedd county councillor Seimon Glyn of Plaid Cymru, whose controversial comments in 2001 focused attention on the issue. [ [ Plaid bids to defuse 'racism' row, BBC Wales, 21 February, 2001] ] Glyn was commenting on a report underscoring the problem of rocketing house prices outstripping what locals could pay, with the report warning that '...traditional Welsh communities could die out..." as a consequence. [ [ 'Racist' remarks lost Plaid votes, BBC Wales, 3 September, 2001] ]

Much of the rural Welsh property market was driven by buyers looking for second homes for use as holiday homes, or for retirement. Many buyers were drawn to Wales from England because of relatively inexpensive house prices in Wales as compared to house prices in England. [ Property prices in England and Wales Wednesday, 8 August, 2001, extracted 24 Jan 2008] ] [ House prices outpacing incomes Monday, 3 December, 2001, extracted 24 Jan 2008] ] The rise in home prices outpaced the average earnings income in Wales and meant that many local people could not afford to purchase their first home.

In 2001 nearly a third of all properties in Gwynedd were bought by buyers from out of the county, and with some communities reporting as many as a third of local homes used as holiday homes. [ Apology over 'insults' to English, BBC Wales, 3 September, 2001] ] [ UK: Wales Plaid calls for second home controls, BBC Wales, November 17, 1999] ] Holiday home owners spend less then six months of the year in the local community.

The issue of locals being priced out of the local housing market is common to many rural communities throughout Britain, but in Wales the added dimension of language further complicated the issue, as many new residents did not learn the Welsh language. [ Double tax for holiday home owners Thursday, 16 December, 1999, extracted 24 Jan 2008] ] [ Controls on second homes reviewed Wednesday, 5 September, 2001 extracted 24 Jan 2008] ] [ [ Gwynedd considers holiday home curb Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, extracted 24 Jan 2008] ]

Concerned for the Welsh language under these pressures, Glyn said "Once you have more than 50% of anybody living in a community that speaks a foreign language, then you lose your indigenous tongue almost immediately". [ Plaid plan 'protects' rural areas, BBC Wales, 19 June, 2001] ]

"Plaid Cymru" had long advocated controls on second homes, and a 2001 task force headed by Dafydd Wigley recommended land should be allocated for affordable local housing, and called for grants for locals to buy houses, and recommended council tax on holiday homes should double, following similar measures in the Scottish Highlands.

However the Welsh Labour-Liberal Democrat Assembly coalition rebuffed these proposals, with Assembly housing spokesman Peter Black stating that "we [can not] frame our planning laws around the Welsh language", adding "Nor can we take punitive measures against second home owners in the way that they propose as these will have an impact on the value of the homes of local people".

By fall 2001 the Exmoor National Park authority in England began consideration to limit second home ownership there which was also driving up local housing prices by as much as 31%. Elfyn Llwyd, "Plaid Cymru's" Parliamentary Group Leader, said that the issues in Exmoor National Park were the same as in Wales, however in Wales there is the added dimension of language and culture.

Reflecting on the controversy Glyn's comments caused earlier in the year, Llwyd observed "What is interesting is of course it is fine for Exmoor to defend their community but in Wales when you try to say these things it is called racist..."

Llwyd called on other parties to join in a debate to bring the Exmoor experience to Wales when he said "... I really do ask them and I plead with them to come around the table and talk about the Exmoor suggestion and see if we can now bring it into Wales".

By spring 2002 both the Snowdonia National Park (Welsh: "Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri") and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park (Welsh: "Parc Cenedlaethol Arfordir Penfro") authorities began limiting second home ownership within the parks, following the example set by Exmoor. [ Park to ban new holiday homes Wednesday, 6 March, 2002 extracted 24 Jan 2008] ] According to planners in Snowdonia and Pembroke applicants for new homes must demonstrate a proven local need or the applicant had strong links with the area.

In the local elections of May 1st 2008 several councillors were returned for the Llais Gwynedd party. The party was essentially a pressure group against closures to local schools and other local amenities in Gwynedd and challenged the traditional dominance of Plaid Cymru in this area to represent the rural Welsh.

Notable people from Gwynedd

Owain fon Williams footballer, currently playing for Crewe Alexandra.

Duffy, soul singer-songwriter.

Opera singer Bryn Terfel.

Hedd Wyn, born Ellis Evans, the famous poet came from the village of Trawsfynydd.

Sasha, world-famous DJ


ee also

* Garth Celyn
* List of places in Gwynedd for all villages, towns and cities in Gwynedd.
* Snowdonia National Park
* Llŷn Peninsula
* Bodysgallen Hall

External links

* [ llywelyn garth celyn - The Royal Line of Gwynedd]
* [ Bangor University]
* [ Gwynedd Council]

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