For local government purposes, Wales is divided into 22 unitary authorities. There are 9 counties, 3 cities, and 10 county boroughs, although all have equal status. Collectively these are known as the principal areas of Wales. They came into being on April 1, 1996.
See: List of Welsh principal areas by population, List of Welsh principal areas by area, List of Welsh principal areas by percentage Welsh language
Principal areas of Wales
The current names of the counties and county boroughs are in some cases different from those specified in the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994. The following changes took place, all with effect from April 2, 1996.
From 1889 to 1974, administrative counties of Wales were used for local government for the first time. These were based on the traditional counties of Wales, but not entirely identical.
There were also a number of independent county boroughs
In 1974, the existing administrative counties were replaced by eight new two-tier administrative counties. These were all given names in Welsh only, apart from the Glamorgans, which had English names as well as Welsh. The creation of these new administrative areas effectively separated the administrative counties from the traditional counties, although in reality this had occurred in 1889.
The division into districts of these was as follows
- Clwyd — Alyn and Deeside, Colwyn, Delyn, Glyndwr, Rhuddlan, Wrexham
- Dyfed — Carmarthen, Ceredigion, Dinefwr, Llanelli, Preseli, South Pembroke
- Gwent — Blaenau Gwent, Islwyn, Monmouth, Newport, Torfaen
- Gwynedd — Aberconwy, Arfon, Dwyfor, Meirionnydd, Anglesey
- Mid Glamorgan — Cynon Valley, Ogwr, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda, Rhymney Valley, Taff–Ely
- Powys — Brecon, Montgomery, Radnor
- South Glamorgan — Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan
- West Glamorgan — Lliw Valley, Neath, Port Talbot, Swansea
When these administrative counties were abolished in 1996, they were retained with slight amendations for some purposes such as Lieutenancy, and became known as the preserved counties of Wales. These were further amended in 2003 to ensure that each unitary area is wholly within one preserved county.
The redistribution of these districts into the current unitary authorities is as follows:
|Unitary authorities ||Previous districts |
|Anglesey ||Anglesey |
|Blaenau Gwent ||most of Blaenau Gwent |
|Bridgend ||most of Ogwr |
|Caerphilly ||Islwyn, Rhymney Valley |
|Carmarthenshire ||Carmarthen, Llanelli, Dinefwr |
|Cardiff ||Cardiff, part of Taff–Ely |
|Ceredigion ||Ceredigion |
|Conwy ||Aberconwy, most of Colwyn |
|Denbighshire ||Rhuddlan, parts of Glyndwr and Colwyn |
|Flintshire ||Alyn and Deeside, Delyn |
|Gwynedd ||Arfon, Dwyfor, Meirionnydd |
|Merthyr Tydfil ||Merthyr Tydfil |
|Monmouthshire ||Monmouth, part of Blaenau Gwent |
|Neath Port Talbot ||Neath, Port Talbot, parts of Lliw Valley |
|Newport ||Newport |
|Pembrokeshire ||Preseli, South Pembrokeshire |
|Powys ||Montgomeryshire, Radnorshire, Brecknock, part of Glyndwr |
|Rhondda Cynon Taf ||Rhondda, Cynon Valley, most of Taff-Ely |
|Swansea ||Swansea, parts of Lliw Valley |
|Torfaen ||Torfaen |
|Vale of Glamorgan ||most of Vale of Glamorgan |
|Wrexham ||most of Wrexham, parts of Glyndwr |