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At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, development of the mining and metallurgical industries transformed the country from an agricultural society into an industrial nation; the South Wales Coalfield's exploitation caused a rapid expansion of Wales' population.
Two-thirds of the population live in south Wales, mainly in and around Cardiff (the capital), Swansea and Newport, and in the nearby valleys.
Although Wales closely shares its political and social history with the rest of Great Britain, and a majority of the population speaks English, the country has retained a distinct cultural identity and is officially bilingual.
Over 560,000 Welsh language speakers live in Wales, and the language is spoken by a majority of the population in parts of the north and west.
Neolithic colonists integrated with the indigenous people, gradually changing their lifestyles from a nomadic life of hunting and gathering, to become settled farmers about 6,000 BP – the Neolithic Revolution.
They cleared the forests to establish pasture and to cultivate the land, developed new technologies such as ceramics and textile production, and built cromlechs such as Pentre Ifan, Bryn Celli Ddu and Parc Cwm long cairn between about 5,800 BP and 5,500 BP.
The Cumbric language, which is thought to have been closely related to Welsh, was spoken in this area until becoming extinct around the 12th century.At that time sea levels were much lower than today, and the shallower parts of what is now the North Sea were dry land.The east coast of present day England and the coasts of present day Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands were connected by the former landmass known as Doggerland, forming the British Peninsula on the European mainland. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.Welsh national identity emerged among the Celtic Britons after the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the 5th century, and Wales is regarded as one of the modern Celtic nations.