JPEG Map of Cornwall (166KB)

General information factsheet
+ Geography and climate
+ Population
+ Government and sovereignty
+ Economy
+ Historical background

Geography and climate

Location: Western Europe, most south-westerly post of Great Britain.
Area: 3,564 sq km (nearly half the size of Luxembourg or Delaware).
Coastline: 570 km.
TerrainGently rolling hills and low mountains. Sea cliffs.
Forest: 26,000 ha. - ( 7%).
Highest elevation
: Brown Willy (420 m).
Climate: Temperate maritime, influenced by the North Atlantic current -the Gulf Stream; mild winters, cool summers and consistently humid.
Average temperature and rainfall index:

  Falmouth (South)
Temp. August 19 C / 13 C
Temp. January 8 C / 4 C
Rainfall 1082 mm


Population: 526.300 (2006).
Only one third of the population live in towns of over 10,000 inhabitants.
Main towns: St Austell, Falmouth, Truro.
Cornish diaspora: Cornish emigrants have headed towards England and mining areas in America, South Africa and Australia.
Population growth rate: +4% between 1991-1999.
Ethnic composition: Base of Celtic and Germanic (Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian). New population contributions mainly from England.
Religious affiliation: info not available.
Official languages: English. Spoken and understood by 100% of the Cornish population.
Unofficial languages: Cornish language became extinct in the 19th century. It is currently being revived by Cornish enthusiasts and is fluently spoken by over 100 speakers. Cornish has been recognised by the UK government under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.


Sovereignty: Territory of the United Kingdom. No legislative autonomy. Cornwall Council is an administrative region of England.
Government type: Administrative region of England, UK.
Capital: Truro.
Constitution: Unwritten; statutes, common law and practice.
Legal system: English common law.
Executive branch: Cornwall Council does not have any executive capacity. Decisions affecting Cornwall are responsibility of the UK government in London, England.
Legislative branch: Cornwall Council does not have any legislative capacity. Decisions affecting Cornwall are debated and adopted by the UK government in Westminster, London, England.
Judicial branch: The Supreme Courts of England and Her Majesty's House of Lords.
Current Government: Government coalition of The Liberal-Democrat Party and independent councillors.
Political parties in Cornwall Council: Liberal Democrats; Independents (not affiliated to any political party); The Conservative Party; British Labour Party; The Liberal Party.
National holiday: No Cornish national day is officially celebrated.
Cornish flag: St. Piran's flag. The black flag with a white cross is the banner of Saint Piran, the patron saint of the tin-miners of Cornwall.


 Tin mining in West Cornwall Photo © J.P. Pouliquen
Tin mining in West Cornwall - Photo © J.P. Pouliquen

- Cornwall is a small rural region depending on the tourist industry.
- Farming and fishing are still the mainstay of the Cornish economy, and agriculture is the predominant land use.
- East Cornwall is economically more dynamic than the west due to the immediate proximity to the Devon cities of Plymouth and Exeter.
- Cornwall's mild weather has helped the County to become a major holiday region in the United Kingdom with more than four million visitors per year. Many people from the large English cities choose to settle in the County to retire.
- Cornwall's population doubles during the summer due to the tourist trade, giving much needed employment and wealth to the region but also adding pressure on local infrastructure and inflating property prices. Many properties in Cornwall are only used in summer as holiday homes.
GDP Purchasing Power Parity: approx. € 5.4 billion (1996).
GDP real growth rate: info not available.
GDP per capita: purchasing power parity - approx. € 11,350 (1996).
Population below poverty line: info not available.
Labour force: info not available.
Labour force - occupation by sectors: info not available.
Unemployment rate: 4.3% (2002).
Budget: info not available.
Currency: Pound Sterling (GBP).
Industries: Tourism, farming, fishing.
Main airports: Newquay (Cornwall), Plymouth (Devon, England).
Main ports: Plymouth (Devon, England).

Historical background

- Megalithic culture in Cornwall ca. 4500-1500 BC. Stone constructions characteristic of the Cornwall's landscape and heritage.
- Bronze Age and trade in the European Atlantic, 1500-700 BC.
- Celtic culture flourishes in Britain circa 500 BC.
- Roman empire: Conquest of the province of Britannia, 43 BC- 75 AD.
- Christianity spreads in Britannia ca. 400 AD, blending with native beliefs and greatly influencing Cornish society to this day.
- Fall of the Roman empire ca. 410 AD.
- Germanic invasions: Angles, Saxons and Frisians invade Britannia from 500 AD. Thousands of Celtic refugees move within or outside Britannia escaping from the Anglo-Saxon invaders. The former Roman territory of "Cornovii" remained unconquered by the Saxons until the 10th century AD.
- Viking age:: Scandinavians raid Cornovii between the 9th and 10th centuries.
- English rule: English king Athelstan conquers Cornwall in 936 AD.
- Anglican Church break away from Catholic Rome in 1534. Cornwall turns Anglican. Act of Uniformity of 1549, decreed that only English was to be used in all church services.
- Kingdom of Great Britain, 1707. Industrial revolution in Britain. Cornish mining industry, 19th century.
- British Empire, 18-20th centuries, many Cornish travel and resettle to British colonial posessions.
- European Union: as a part of the UK, Cornwall becomes a territory of the EEC - EU in 1973.
- Cornish language renaissance: Cornwall's ancient Celtic language has been largely unused by the population since the late Middle Ages. The last monoglot Cornish speaker died in 1676. Steps have been taken to revive it since the 20th century by some individuals and lately with some support from local councils. Although only practised by some enthusiasts, it is now considered as an important part of Cornwall's historical heritage.
- Tourist industry: Since the 1970's Cornwall has become a major holiday destination in the UK. With more than four million visitors per year in a county with a population of half a million, the tourism industry is Cornwall's main source of economic income and employment.

Tagged under: Cornwall

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