The capital city of Wales since 1955, Cardiff (Caerdydd) is located on the south coast of Wales, on the estuary of the River Taff, approximately 153 miles west of London and 66 miles south-east of Carmarthen.
The city has a population of around 305,000. Administratively the City of Cardiff covers an area of approximately 140 sq kms.
This thriving seaport and university city, which owes its phenomenal growth during the 19th and 20th centuries to the export of coal, is now developing rapidly as a major cultural and commercial centre and as a popular tourist centre in itself and for the region. There are many notable historic buildings and as one expects from a major city it has excellent shopping, leisure and entertainment, and visitor facilities.
The town's history dates from 75 AD when the Romans built a fort beside the River Taff in order to control the Welsh tribesmen. Following the Norman conquest a castle was built here by Robert FitzHamon in 1093. The town grew around the castle and it was granted its first royal charter in 1581 by Queen Elizabeth I. During the Civil War, Cardiff was held by the royalists before finally being taken by parliamentary forces, and following the conflict became a peaceful agricultural and fishing community. At the first census in 1801 the town's population was under 2,000, but coal from the surrounding valleys led to the rapid expansion of Cardiff during the early 19th century, and by the time of the First World War Cardiff had grown into the world's premier coal-exporting port.
Historically the town's economy was based upon coal, indeed at one time it was the largest coal-shipping port in the world. Today the service industry is the largest sector of the local economy, employing around 75 per cent of all workers. Tourism of course is an important part of this.
The name Cardiff is a derivative of the city's Welsh name of 'Caerdydd' which means 'city of Dydd'. Dating back to Roman times this may refer to the Roman leader Aulus Didius.