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The local area guide to living in Cardiff
The capital of Wales is a beautiful port city with a bustling crowd of university students, ancient buildings, incredible history and no shortage of activities. Cardiff became the official capital of Wales in 1955, though it was officially a city for fifty years prior. Today, it is the largest, most diverse city in the country and the 10th largest city in all of the United Kingdom. 11% of its residents speak Welsh.
Thousands of tourists are drawn yearly to Cardiff’s many interesting historical and cultural attractions, including Cardiff Castle and the National Museum and Gallery at Cathays Park showcases many significant works of art. There is no shortage of music and entertainment in Cardiff. The Wales Millennium Centre features opera, ballet, comedy and musicals and is the home of both the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the Welsh National Opera. St David's Hall features regular ballet and classical music performances.
Cardiff has been the set for many British television programmes and films, including Doctor Who, the Sarah Jane Adventures and Merlin. Though shows are often filmed on location in the streets of Cardiff, a large production studio in Porth Teigr Way has been used to create a wide array of supplementary settings
Information about the local residents
As of the 2011 census, there were 346,100 residents of Cardiff, though including the surrounding urban zone such as the Vale of Glamorgan and some areas of the Valleys puts the figure at over 841,600 people. About 11% of Cardiff’s residents speak Welsh.
Cardiff is very diverse due to a combination of factors, including its past as a trading port, immigration after World War II and the large number of university students. The ethnic makeup of the population of Cardiff is about 90% white British, 2% mixed race, 4% South Asian, 1% black and 1% other ethnic groups.
There are plenty of excellent options for education in Cardiff, including nearly 100 state primary schools and 20 state secondary schools. Most of these are either bilingual for Welsh and English or are Welsh medium. The city also benefits from many excellent independent school options.
Until recently, secondary schools were placed in one of five categorical bands in Wales based on performance standards. Band one includes those schools which have performed best in criteria such as GCSE results and attendance. The only band one secondary school in Cardiff is Mary Immaculate High School, though many other secondary schools have excellent reputations as will be revealed by the newly arriving colour-coded performance system in 2016.
Cardiff offers many higher education opportunities, including Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, University of Glamorgan and the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.
Cardiff is the major transport hub in Wales, and as such has excellent connections for travel. Cardiff Central railway station is the largest in Wales and has regular services to London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham. For more local destinations, most commuters use Cardiff Queen Street Station. Bus services and The Valley Lines, a network of commuter trains, help link the suburbs and surrounding villages to central Cardiff.
The M4 motorway runs through Cardiff, providing the city with an excellent connection westward to Swansea and eastward to London. Other major roadways serving the city include the A470 towards north Wales and the A4232, which circles the city.
Cardiff Airport is Wales’s only international airport and provides regular timetables for Paris, Amsterdam and Tenerife, as well as cities within the UK.
Cardiff still has a good number of Victorian markets still in operation. The Morgan Quarter of Cardiff has three arcade markets: The Royal Arcade, Cardiff’s oldest, Wyndham Arcade, alive with a buzzing atmosphere, and the Morgan Arcade, which still retains its original Venetian windows and is home to Spillers Records, the world’s oldest record shop.
St David’s Dewi Sant is the newest shopping centre and has the largest John Lewis outside of London, as well as a wide selection of high street brands and department stores. Queen’s Arcade also offers several high street brands and at the end of Queen’s Street is the Capitol Shopping Centre, featuring such favourites as Jaeger, Dune and H&M.
Most of Cardiff’s nightlife happens in the city centre, particularly along St Mary Street. Here, there are restaurants to suit all palates and plenty of pubs and clubs. The Brewery Quarter is always lively, and Charles Street in another hotspot for nightlife. Apart from central, Cardiff Bay also offers a number of lovely restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs.
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