The capital of Wales is located on the Bristol Channel, at the mouth of the River Taff, 150 miles west of London. The Romans built a small fort and strengthened it in the face of seaborne attacks from Ireland. The town began its continuous existence with the arrival of the Normans in the 11th century. Cardiff acted as a market center and small port for the coastal plain nearby. The castle and lordship came into the possession of Richard III and Henry VII and were granted to the Herbert family of South Wales. The Bute family have greatly influenced the development of Cardiff. The expansion of the city stemmed from the development of coal and iron ore mines in the second half of the 18th century. In 1801 Cardiff’s population was only 1,018, but the town developed rapidly and continuously over the next 100 years as an exporter of coal from South Wales. By 1913 Cardiff had become the largest coal-exporting port in the world. Cardiff is the most important administrative, shopping, and cultural center in Wales, as well as the headquarters for many national organizations and government departments. It is also an important industrial center and a hub for commerce and other services.
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