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.
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' estimated 80,000 population now live in south Wales, mainly in and around the cities of Cardiff (Caerdydd), Swansea (Abertawe) and Casnewydd, and in the nearby valleys. Another concentration lives in eastern north Wales. Cardiff is the country's most populous city, with 117,500 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.
Wales have the Welsh as a official language. 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 73% 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