Unitary authority in northwest Wales, created 1996 from part of the former county of Gwynedd.
Area 2,546 sq km/983 sq mi
TownsCaernarfon (administrative headquarters)
Physical area includes the highest mountain in Wales, Snowdon (1,085 m/3,560 ft), and the largest Welsh lake, Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake)
FeaturesSnowdonia National Park; seaside resorts; Bardsey Island; Portmeirion; 13th-century castles at Harlech, Criccieth, and Caernafon
Industries gold mining at Dolgellau, textiles, electronics, slate, tourism
Agriculture cattle and sheep-farming
Population (2001) 116,850
Most of Gwynedd lies within Snowdonia National Park. The Lleyn Peninsula, which juts out into the Irish Sea and forms the northern limit of Cardigan Bay, is a rural area with many seaside resorts. Off the tip of the peninsula is the former pilgrimage centre of Bardsey Island, with its 6th-century ruined abbey. In Tremadog Bay is the fantasy resort of Portmeirion, built by Clough Williams-Ellis and made famous by the 1960s television show The Prisoner.
Topography other mountains include Carnedd Llywelyn (1,062 m/3,484 ft), Carnedd Dafydd (1,044 m/3,425 ft), Glyder Fawr (999 m/3,278 ft), Aran Mawddwy (926 m/3,038 ft) and Cadair Idris (892 m/2,928 ft). There are several attractive river valleys, including the Dyfi (Dovey), Mawddach, and Maentwrog. There are over 50 lakes among the mountains and several waterfalls. The River Dee drains Bala Lake before passing out of the authority.
Other features A rack railway to the top of Snowdon can be taken from the village of Llanberis, which also houses the Welsh Slate Museum. Other tourist centres and seaside resorts in the area include Aberdaron, Abersoch, Barmouth, Criccieth, Dolgellau, Harlech, and Pwllheli. Features of Pen y Bryn manor house at Aber, near Bangor, have been identified as surviving from the royal palace of Llewellyn I and Llewellyn II. The castles and town walls of King Edward I in the unitary authority are a World Heritage Site. The area includes Caernarfon (1283), Criccieth (1230), and Harlech (1283) castles. Caernarfon also includes the Sergontium Roman Fort Museum. Edward II and T E Lawrence were born in the area.
Industry and agriculture It is generally a region of mixed farming with sheep rearing on the hills and dairy and beef cattle on the lowland fringes. The district is noted for its hardy mountain sheep, rams, and Welsh black cattle. Quarrying for slate and granite were major occupations but have now declined, and light industries are found in the small towns. The Clogau mine at Bontddu supplies the gold for royal wedding rings. Lead, copper, and manganese have been worked near Dolgellau in the past.
Croeso I Gyngor Gwynedd
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