Welsh intellectuals in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries wrote extensively on the subject of Welsh culture, promoting the language as the key to preserving national identity.
Welsh literature, poetry, and music flourished in the nineteenth century as literacy rates and the availability of printed material increased.
Throughout Wales there was a serious effort in the second half of the twentieth century to maintain and promote the language.
Wales is surrounded by water on three sides: to the north, the Irish Sea; to the south, the Bristol Channel; and to the west, Saint George's Channel and Cardigan Bay.
The English counties of Cheshire, Shropshire, Hereford, Worcester, and Gloucestershire border Wales on the east.
The popularity of Wales as a vacation destination and weekend retreat, especially near the border with England, has created a new, nonpermanent population. There are approximately 500,000 Welsh speakers today and, due to a renewed interest in the language and culture, this number may increase.
Most people in Wales, however, are English-speaking, with Welsh as a second language; in the north and west, many people are Welsh and English bilinguals.