These are historic counties used for geographic purposes. Due to the large populations of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire they are divided into twelve local authorities namely Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Bridgend, Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff, Newport, Monmouthshire, Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly and Merthyr Tydfil.
Cities and towns
Designated areas of outstanding natural beauty
South Wales is a very mixed area. There is stunning pastoral scenery in many parts of South West Wales, the Vale of Glamorgan near Cardiff and the Wye Valley in the historic county of Monmouthshire. Wales' two largest cities, Cardiff and Swansea, are both located in the historic county of Glamorgan and offer an excellent selection of stores, restaurants and entertainment opportunities. The coast around Pembrokeshire and the Gower Peninsula in Swansea, in particular, have stunning coastal paths and sandy beaches, and the area boasts an abundance of castles. In addition, South Wales has a proud industrial heritage, with Port Talbot being a major steel processing town, while the valleys in central Glamorgan were once the center of the Welsh coal mining industry. Since the 60s, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire have been very popular with people involved in alternative and counter culture; consequently South West Wales has become home to many communes and organic farms.
It is important to note that while Welsh people are British, they are NOT English. Calling them so would almost certainly cause offence.
Welsh is commonly spoken is Carmarthenshire, North Pembrokeshire and parts of west Glamorgan, but it is used much less in South Pembrokeshire, most of Glamorgan and Monmouthshire. English is spoken throughout the region.
M4 motorway from London to near Carmarthen
Great Western runs a main line service from London to Swansea, with stops in Newport, Cardiff, Bridgend, Port Talbot and Neath. Arriva Trains Wales covers the rural areas west and north of Swansea.
There is an international airport at Cardiff and a small airport serving private planes at Swansea
Swansea offers mooring facilities for around 700 boats at the city's marina.
Cardiff, Swansea and Newport are connected to the National Bus Company network linking them to other major UK cities
Trains connect all the main centers of population, and a local bus network links the the stations to the smaller communities in the area.
South Wales has the same problems that occur in other regions of the United Kingdom, with some neighbourhoods in cities such as Cardiff, Newport, Swansea being less welcoming to visitors than others.
Additionally care should be taken around any public paths, especially in remote rural areas, help may take longer to get to you than usual.