Swansea - United Kingdom

Swansea (/ˈswɒnzi/; Welsh: Abertawe [abɛrˈtawɛ]), is a coastal city and county, officially known as the City and County of Swansea (Welsh: Dinas a Sir Abertawe) in Wales, UK. Swansea lies within the historic county boundaries of Glamorgan and the ancient Welsh commote of Gŵyr on the southwest coast. The county area includes Swansea Bay (Welsh: Bae Abertawe) and the Gower Peninsula. Swansea is the second largest city in Wales and the twenty-fifth largest city in the United Kingdom. According to its local council, the City and County of Swansea had a population of 241,300 in 2014. The last official census stated that the city, metropolitan and urban areas combined concluded to be a total of 462,000 in 2011, making it, after Cardiff, the second most populous local authority area in Wales.

During its 19th-century industrial heyday, Swansea was a key centre of the copper industry, earning the nickname Copperopolis.

From the early 1700s to the late 1800s, Swansea was the world’s leading copper-smelting area. Numerous smelters along the River Tawe received copper and other metal ores shipped from Cornwall and Devon, as well as from North and South America, Africa, and Australia. The industry declined severely in the late 1800s, and none of the smelters are now active.

The port of Swansea initially traded in wine, hides, wool, cloth and later in coal. After the invention of the reverbatory furnace in the late 1600s, copper smelting was able to use coal rather than more-expensive charcoal. At the same time, the mines of Cornwall were increasing copper production. Swansea became the ideal place to smelt the Cornish copper ores, being close to the coalfields of South Wales and having an excellent port to receive ships carrying Cornish copper ore. Because each ton of copper ore smelted used about three tons of coal, it was more economical to ship the copper ore to Wales rather than send the coal to Cornwall.

The first copper smelter at Swansea was established in 1717, followed by many more. Once smelting was established, the smelters began receiving high-grade ore and ore concentrates from around the world. More coal mines, from north-east Gower to Clyne and Llangyfelach), opened to meet demand. In the 1850s Swansea had more than 600 furnaces, and a fleet of 500 oceangoing ships carrying out Welsh coal and bringing back metal ore from around the world. At that time most of the copper matte produced in the United States was sent to Swansea for refining. .

Smelters also processed arsenic, zinc, tin, and other metals. Nearby factories produced tinplate and pottery. The Swansea smelters became so adept at recovering gold and silver from complex ores that in the 1800s they received ore concentrates from the United States, for example from Arizona in the 1850s, and Colorado in the 1860s.

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 urbanised 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 characterised 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 185 metres (607 ft) range across the central section and form the hills of Kilvey, Townhill and Llwynmawr, separating the centre 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 193 metres (633 ft) high. The highest point is located at Penlle'r Castell at 374 metres (1,227 ft) on the northern border with Carmarthenshire.

The poet Dylan Thomas is perhaps the best-known. He was born in the town and grew up at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Uplands, where he lived for 23 years and produced two-thirds of his published work from his tiny bedroom which has been faithfully recreated as it may have been in 1934 and is open for house tours, events, Edwardian dinner parties and overnight stays. There is a memorial to him in the nearby Cwmdonkin Park; his take on Swansea was that it was an "ugly lovely town". In the 1930s Thomas was a member of a group of local artists, writers and musicians known as The Kardomah Gang, as they frequently met in the Kardomah Café which was in Castle Street, Swansea until bombed during the second World War.

Throughout the 19th century, the Vivian family did much to develop Swansea into a city. Their wealth and influence came from large copper mining, smelting and trading businesses in Swansea (Vivian & Sons), and is still visible today in their former family residences: Singleton Abbey (now used by Swansea University), Sketty Hall, Clyne Castle and Clyne Gardens. Henry Vivian became the first Lord Swansea in 1893.

Swansea's most famous daughter is Hollywood actress Catherine Zeta-Jones who still owns a home in Mumbles. Swansea is also the home town of 2013 ITU Triathlon World Champion Non Stanford. The thriller writer, Mark Ellis was educated in Swansea.

People from Swansea are known locally as Swansea Jacks, or just Jacks. The source of this nickname is not clear. Some attribute it to Swansea Jack, the life-saving dog.

Swansea City Centre is undergoing a £1 billion transformation scheme. A large area of the city is earmarked for redevelopment. A new city-centre retail precinct is planned involving demolition of the dilapidated St. David's Shopping Centre which has three or four traders, about 13% of the retail space in the centre and the Quadrant Shopping Centre. Including relocation of the Tesco Superstore near to the city's Sainsbury's store in Parc Tawe, the new retail precinct will be almost four times the size of the Quadrant Centre. The city centre is also being brightened up with street art and new walkways, along with the first phase of the David Evans – Castle Street development. New green spaces will be provided in conjunction with the proposed Quadrant Square and Grand Theatre Square. Redevelopment of the Oxford Street car park and Lower Oxford Street arcades are also planned.

At the sea front, The Tower, Meridian Quay is now Wales's tallest building at a height of 107 metres (351 ft) with a restaurant on the top (29th) floor. It was under construction adjacent Swansea Marina until 2010.

The local newspaper is the Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post. The Swansea Herald of Wales was a free newspaper which was distributed every week to residential addresses until 2011 when the paper ceased to be in print. The Cardiff edition of the free daily paper Metro is distributed throughout the city. The Council also produces a free monthly newspaper called the Swansea Leader. Swansea Life is a monthly lifestyle magazine published and distributed in Swansea.

Swansea is served by three local radio stations – the Contemporary Hit Radio-formatted 96.4 The Wave on FM and DAB, its sister station Swansea Sound on 1170MW and DAB and lastly, the Adult Contemporary-orientated 102.1 Swansea Bay Radio on FM and DAB. The city also has a community radio station Radio Tircoed. It is also served by two regional radio stations: Heart South Wales on its Swansea area frequency (106.0FM) and Nation Radio on its Swansea area frequency (107.3FM) and DAB.

The patients and staff at Singleton Hospital can listen to the hospital radio station, Radio City 1386AM and Swansea University also runs its own radio station, Xtreme Radio, on 1431 AM. Providing the DAB service, the local multiplex called Swansea SW Wales is broadcast from Kilvey Hill. This transmitter also provides digital terrestrial television in the Swansea area. As well as Kilvey Hill the city is in the catchment areas of the Wenvoe transmitter (in the Vale of Glamorgan) and the Carmel transmitter in Carmarthenshire.

Since 1924, the BBC has maintained a studio in the city; Dylan Thomas worked here in the interwar years, when the studio was used for the BBC Regional Programme. Currently it has facilities to broadcast live radio and television and is listed as a BBC regional studio.

In mid-2008, the BBC included Swansea in its "Big Screen" project, and a large live permanent television screen has been sited in Castle Square.

Independent filmmakers Undercurrents and Studio8 are based in Swansea, and the city plays host to the BeyondTV Film Festival. BeyondTV is annual event organised by Undercurrents to showcase the best of activism filmmakers. Swansea has also hosted the annual Swansea Bay Film Festival, where past-winning directors have included Gareth Evans, Anthony James, Alun D Pughe and Andrew Jones.

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