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Nicholas Hopton

Head of UK Embassy to Libya

Part of UK in Qatar

2nd September 2014 Tripoli, Libya

Croeso – Welcome to Wales

Croeso i Gymru – Welcome to Wales.

Later this week, Wales will host the NATO Summit, the largest gathering of international leaders ever to take place in Britain. The theme of the Summit is ‘Building Stability in an Unpredictable World’. By bringing the Summit to Wales, we will be able to shine the global spotlight on this great nation of the United Kingdom.

1 September marked Wales Day, and I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to Wales. With an ancient landscape, packed with adventure, and a rich culture, alive with events and festivals, productions and performances, Wales is a very creative and distinctive part of the UK. Some of my team come from Wales and they often remind me what a wonderful and unique country it is. I know this from personal experience, having spent some of my childhood living in Cardiff and Swansea. I even learned a few Welsh phrases while I was there! This year, I have been lucky enough to spend some of my summer holidays with my family in Wales.

So for those of you who have never visited Wales, I would like to tell you all a bit more about it. Wales is a small country with a rich heritage. Its population is just over 3 million, it has more than 30,000 years of history, and a landscape of beautiful National Parks, mountain ranges, lush valleys, ancient woodlands, lakes and rivers.

Wales was the cradle of the industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries. Its valleys produced the iron and coal that fuelled global progress, and Cardiff became the biggest port in the world. Today Wales’s industry has moved on, but is still thriving in key sectors, including aerospace, automotives and life sciences.

Wales is home to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and has more castles per square mile than anywhere else on the planet – 641 to be exact – ranging from the fortifications of medieval Welsh princes and English kings to the fairy tale castles of 19th century industrialists. But is also boasts a vibrant contemporary cultural scene, from its quirky market towns to its lively, modern cities.

Wales’s cultural heritage is very important. The Welsh language is the strongest survivor of the Celtic languages, and Wales’s strong literary tradition goes back well over a thousand years. This tradition lives on today in Wales’s world-renowned arts events like the Hay Festival, at the iconic Wales Millennium Centre, and in Welsh creative output like Da Vinci’s Demons and Doctor Who.

Hosting the Summit in Wales offers an opportunity to highlight not only Wales’s vibrant heritage, but also its thriving commercial sector – from manufacturing to innovation, life sciences to cyber and its excellent universities that are contributing to this – and the tremendous potential in Wales for investment, business, tourism and higher education.

So whether you’re a first-timer or a regular visitor to Wales – croeso, welcome.

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About Nicholas Hopton

Nicholas Hopton is former UK Ambassador to Iran, Qatar and Yemen. Nicholas is a career diplomat who joined the FCO in 1989 having studied at St Peter’s School, York, and…

Nicholas Hopton is former UK Ambassador to Iran, Qatar and Yemen.

Nicholas is a career diplomat who joined the FCO in 1989 having
studied at St Peter’s School, York, and Cambridge University (Magdalene
College).  He has also studied at La Sapienza University in Rome and ENA in Paris.
With the FCO he has also served overseas in Paris, Rome, Morocco and Mauritania.
He is married with five children.