Swansea (Welsh: Abertawe, "mouth of the Tawe"), officially known as the City and County of Swansea, is a coastal city and county in Wales. It is Wales's second largest city and the UK's twenty-sixth largest city. Swansea lies within the historic county boundaries of Glamorgan. Situated on the sandy South West Wales coast, the county area includes the Gower Peninsula and the Lliw uplands. The City and County of Swansea had a population of 310,700 in 2011, making it the second most populous local authority area in Wales after Cardiff. During its 19th-century industrial heyday, Swansea was a key center of the copper industry, earning the nickname 'Copperopolis'. Since 2011, Swansea has started to expand into a larger region known as the Swansea Bay City Region. After combining with other councils, it now includes Tenby and other parts of West Wales, its population including these areas an estimated 685,051.

Geography[edit | edit source]

Boundaries[edit | edit source]

The "City and County of Swansea" local authority area is bordered by unitary authorities of Carmarthenshire to the north, and Neath Port Talbot to the east. Swansea is bounded by Swansea Bay and the Bristol Channel to the south.

Topography[edit | edit source]

The local government area is 146 square miles (378.14 kilometers) in size, about 2% of the area of Wales. It includes a large amount of open countryside and a central urban and suburban belt.

Swansea can be roughly divided into four physical areas. To the north are the Lliw uplands which are mainly open moorland, reaching the foothills of the Black Mountain. To the west is the Gower Peninsula with its rural landscape dotted with small villages. To the east is the coastal strip around Swansea Bay. Cutting though the middle from the south-east to the north-west is the urban and suburban zone stretching from the Swansea city center to the towns of Gorseinon and Pontarddulais.

The most populated areas of Swansea are Morriston, Sketty and the city center. The chief urbanized area radiates from the city center towards the north, south and west; along the coast of Swansea Bay to Mumbles; up the Swansea Valley past Landore and Morriston to Clydach; over Townhill to Cwmbwrla, Penlan, Treboeth and Fforestfach; through Uplands, Sketty, Killay to Dunvant; and east of the river from St. Thomas to Bonymaen, Llansamlet and Birchgrove. A second urbanized area is focused on a triangle defined by Gowerton, Gorseinon and Loughor along with the satellite communities of Penllergaer and Pontarddulais.

About three quarters of Swansea is bordered by the sea—the Loughor Estuary, Swansea Bay and the Bristol Channel. The two largest rivers in the region are the Tawe which passes the city center and the Loughor which flows on the northern border with Carmarthenshire.

In the local authority area, the geology is complex, providing diverse scenery. The Gower Peninsula was the first area in the United Kingdom to be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Excluding the urbanized area in the south-eastern corner, the whole of the Gower Peninsula is part of an AONB. Swansea has numerous urban and country parklands. The region has featured regularly in the Wales in Bloom awards.

The geology of the Gower Peninsula ranges from Carboniferous Limestone cliffs along its southern edge from Mumbles to Worm's Head and the salt-marshes and dune systems of the Loughor estuary to the north. The eastern, southern and western coasts of the peninsula are lined with numerous sandy beaches both wide and small, separated by steep cliffs. The South Wales Coalfield reaches the coast in the Swansea area. This had a great bearing on the development of the city of Swansea and other nearby towns such as Morriston. The inland area is covered by large swathes of grassland common overlooked by sandstone heath ridges including the prominent Cefn Bryn. The traditional agricultural landscape consists in a patchwork of fields characterized by walls, stone-faced banks and hedgerows. Valleys cut through the peninsula and contain rich deciduous woodland.

Much of the local authority's area is hilly with the main area of upland being located in the council ward of Mawr. Areas of high land up to 607 feet (185.01 meters) range across the central section and form the hills of Kilvey, Townhill and Llwynmawr, separating the center of Swansea from its northern suburbs. Cefn Bryn, a ridge of high land, forms the backbone of the Gower Peninsula. Rhossili Down, Hardings Down and Llanmadoc Hill form land features up to 633 feet (192.94 meters) high. The highest point is located at Penlle'r Castell at 1,227 feet (373.99 meters) on the northern border with Carmarthenshire.

Climate[edit | edit source]

Typical of the west of Britain, Swansea has a temperate oceanic climate. As part of a coastal region, it experiences a milder climate than the mountains and valleys inland. This same location, though, leaves Swansea exposed to rain-bearing winds from the Atlantic: figures from the Met Office make Swansea the wettest city in Britain. In midsummer, Swansea's temperatures can reach into the high twenties Celsius.

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