Pembrokeshire facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Pembrokeshire's location in Wales
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|• Type||Pembrokeshire County Council|
|• Total||610 sq mi (1,590 km2)|
|Area rank||5th largest Welsh county|
|• Rank||Ranked 13th in Wales|
|• Density||200/sq mi (76/km2)|
|• Density rank||19th|
|• Ethnicity||99.2% White|
|• Rank||Ranked 8th|
|• Any skills||29.4%|
|ISO 3166 code||GB-PEM|
Pembrokeshire ( pem-BRUUK-sheer-,_--shər; Welsh: Sir Benfro) is a county in the south-west of Wales. It is bordered by Carmarthenshire to the east, Ceredigion to the northeast, and the rest by sea. The county is home to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The Park occupies more than a third of the area of the county and includes the Preseli Hills in the north as well as the 190-mile (310 km) Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
Historically, mining and fishing were important activities, while industry nowadays is focused on agriculture (86 per cent of land use), oil and gas, and tourism; Pembrokeshire's beaches have won many awards. The county has a diverse geography with a wide range of geological features, habitats and wildlife. Its prehistory and modern history have been extensively studied, from tribal occupation, through Roman times, to Welsh, Irish, Norman, English, Scandinavian and Flemish influences.
Pembrokeshire County Council's headquarters are in the county town of Haverfordwest. The council has a majority of Independent members, but the county's representatives in both the Senedd and UK Parliament are Conservative. Pembrokeshire's population was 122,439 at the 2011 census, an increase of 7.2 per cent from the 2001 figure of 114,131. Ethnically, the county is 99 per cent white and, for historical reasons, Welsh is more widely spoken in the north of the county than in the south.
- Notable people
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The county town is Haverfordwest. Other towns include Pembroke, Pembroke Dock, Milford Haven, Fishguard, Tenby, Saundersfoot, Narberth, Neyland and Newport. St David's, in the west of the county, is the United Kingdom's smallest city with a population of 2,000 (in 2010). Saundersfoot is the biggest village in Pembrokeshire with a population of well over 2,500.
- See List of places in Pembrokeshire for a comprehensive list of settlements in Pembrokeshire.
The county's coastline includes internationally important seabird breeding sites and numerous bays and sandy beaches. Pembrokeshire contains a predominantly coastal park, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, which includes a 186-mile walking trail, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. A large estuary and natural harbour at Milford Haven cuts deeply into the coast; this inlet is formed by the confluence of the Western Cleddau (which goes through Haverfordwest), the Eastern Cleddau, and rivers Cresswell and Carew. The estuary is bridged by the large Cleddau Bridge (toll bridge) which carries the A477 between Neyland and Pembroke Dock; upstream bridges span the Cleddau at Haverfordwest and Canaston Bridge.
Large bays are Newport Bay, Fishguard Bay, St Bride's Bay and a portion of Carmarthen Bay. There are several small islands off the Pembrokeshire coast, the largest of which are Ramsey Island, Grassholm Island, Skomer Island and Caldey Island.
Geology and landscape
Pembrokeshire's diverse range of geological features was a key factor in the establishment of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and a number of sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs).
Rocks now found in Pembrokeshire were formed more than 290 million years ago; the youngest rocks, from the Carboniferous period, contain the Pembrokeshire Coalfield, the older rocks being Pre-Cambrian. Younger rocks have been lost by subsequent geological processes. The land on which Pembrokeshire is today was established approximately 60 million years ago by a combination of uplift and falling sea levels. The sea cliffs and inland tors that are now a feature of the county were those that were resistant to weathering that has taken place since. The landscape was subject to considerable change as a result of the ice ages over the last several thousand years, meltwater from which cut the river valleys seen across the county today. About 20,000 years ago the Irish Sea ice sheet deposited areas of clays. While Pembrokeshire is not a seismically active area, two periods of activity were noted in the 19th century. In 1873 there was a double shock (intensity: 4) in the west of the county, and a series of more pronounced activity (maximum intensity: 7) over a six-day period in August 1892.
In the north of the county are the Preseli Hills (Mynydd Preseli), a wide stretch of high moorland supporting sheep farming and some forestry, with many prehistoric sites and the probable source of the bluestones used in the construction of the inner circle of Stonehenge in England. The highest point is Foel Cwmcerwyn at 1,759 feet (536 m), which is also the highest point in Pembrokeshire. Elsewhere in the county most of the land is used for farming of dairy cows, arable crops, oil seed rape, and the well-known Pembrokeshire potato.
Pembrokeshire's wildlife is diverse, with marine, estuary, ancient woodland, moorland and farmland habitats all within the county. The response to an appeal for otter sightings in 2014 yielded more than 100 sightings. Seals whales, dolphins and porpoises can be seen frequently off the Pembrokeshire coast.
Human habitation of the region of Pembrokeshire extends back to 125,000 and 70,000 BCE. By the late Roman Empire period, an Irish tribe known as the Déisi settled in the region between 350 and 400, with their realm known as Demetae. In the post-Roman period, the Irish Déisi merged with the local Welsh, with the regional name underlying Demetae evolving into Dyfed, which existed as an independent petty kingdom until its heiress, Elen, married Hywel Dda in 904. Hywel merged Dyfed with his own maternal inheritance of Seisyllwg, forming the new realm of Deheubarth ("southern district"). The region suffered from devastating and relentless Viking raids during the Viking Age, with the Vikings establishing settlements and trading posts at Haverfordwest, Fishguard and Caldey Island.
Dyfed, the region of Pembrokeshire, remained an integral province of Deheubarth, but this was contested by invading Normans and Flemings who arrived between 1067 and 1111. The region became known as Pembroke (sometimes archaic "Penbroke"), after the Norman castle built in the cantref of Penfro. In 1136 Prince Owain Gwynedd sought to avenge the execution of his sister, Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd; with Gwenllian's husband the Prince Rhys, he swept down from Gwynedd with a formidable army, and at Crug Mawr near Cardigan met and destroyed a 3,000-strong Norman/Flemish army. The remnants of the Normans fled across the bridge at Cardigan which collapsed and the Teifi river is said to have been choked with drowned men-at-arms and horses. Owain's brother Cadwallader took de Clare's daughter Alice as his wife. Owain incorporated Deheubarth into Gwynedd, re-establishing control of the region. Mortally weakened Norman/Flemish influence never fully recovered in West Wales. Princess Gwenllian is one of the best-remembered victims.
In 1138 the county of Pembrokeshire was named as a county palatine. Rhys ap Gruffydd, Gwenllian's son, re-established Welsh control over much of the region and threatened to retake all of Pembrokeshire, but died in 1197. After Deheubarth was split by a dynastic feud, Llywelyn the Great almost succeeded in retaking the region of Pembroke between 1216 and his death in 1240.
In 1457 Henry Tudor was born at Pembroke Castle. He landed an army not far from his birthplace 28 years later in 1485; he rallied support, marched to Leicestershire and defeated the larger army of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field. As Henry VII of England, he founded the House of Tudor, a dynasty that ruled England until 1603.
The Laws in Wales Act 1535 divided the county into hundreds, which followed with some modifications the boundaries of the cantrefi, ancient jurisdictions which went back to before the Norman conquest. The hundreds were (clockwise from the northeast): Cilgerran or Kilgerran, Cemais or Kemes, Dewisland or Dewsland, Roose, Castlemartin, Narberth and Dungleddy (Daugleddau). Each hundred was divided into a number of civil parishes.
During the First English Civil War (1642–1646) the county gave strong support to the Roundheads (Parliamentarians), in sharp contrast to the rest of Wales, which was staunchly Cavalier (Royalist). In spite of this an incident in Pembrokeshire triggered the opening shots of the Second English Civil War when local units of the New Model Army mutinied. Oliver Cromwell defeated the uprising at the Siege of Pembroke in July 1648. On 13 August 1649 the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland began when its forces sailed from Milford Haven.
In 1791 a petition was presented to the House of Commons concerning the poor state of many of the county's roads, pointing out that repairs could not be made compulsory by the law as it stood. The petition was referred to committee.
There has been considerable military activity in Pembrokeshire in the 20th century: for example, military exercises in the Preseli Hills and a number of former military airfields. Military and industrial targets in the county were subjected to bombing during World War II.
Pembrokeshire has numerous prehistoric (such as Pentre Ifan) and historic places, including a number of almost-complete and ruined castles dating from Norman times. Other important sites include Big House, Penrhos Cottage, Slebech Park, St David's Cathedral and Strumble Head Lighthouse.
There are many known shipwrecks off the Pembrokeshire coast. The county has six lifeboat stations, the earliest of which was established in 1822; in 2015 a quarter of all Royal National Lifeboat Institution Welsh rescues took place off the Pembrokeshire coast.
Pembrokeshire's population was 122,439 at the 2011 census.
As a result of differential immigration over hundreds of years, such as the influx of Flemish people, the south of the county has fewer Welsh-speaking inhabitants (about 15 per cent) than the north (about 50 per cent). The rough line that can be drawn between the two regions, illustrated by the map, is known as the Landsker Line, and the area south of the line has been termed "Little England Beyond Wales". The first objective, statistically based description of this demarcation was made in the 1960s, but the distinction was remarked upon as early as 1603 by George Owen of Henllys. A 21st century introduction of Welsh place names for villages which had previously been known locally only by their English names has caused some controversy.
In 1851, a religious census of Pembrokeshire showed that of 70 per cent of the population, 53 per cent were nonconformists and 17 per cent Church of England (now Church in Wales, in the Diocese of St Davids). The 2001 census for Preseli Pembrokeshire constituency showed that 74 per cent were Christian and 25 per cent of no religion (or not stated), with other religions totalling less than 1 per cent. This approximates to the figures for the whole of Wales.
In 2001, Preseli Pembrokeshire constituency was 99 per cent white European, marginally lower than in 1991, compared with 98 per cent for the whole of Wales. 71 per cent identified their place of birth as Wales and 26 per cent as from elsewhere in the UK.
There are no motorways in Pembrokeshire; the nearest is the M4 motorway from London which terminates at the Pont Abraham services in Carmarthenshire some 46 miles (74 km) from Haverfordwest. The A40 crosses Pembrokeshire from the border with Carmarthenshire westwards to Haverfordwest, then northwards to Fishguard. The A477 from St. Clears to Pembroke Dock is 24 miles (39 km) long, of which only 2 miles (3.2 km) are dual carriageway. The Cleddau Bridge, toll-free from 28 March 2019, carries the A477 across the Cleddau Estuary. The A478 traverses eastern Pembrokeshire from Tenby in the south to Cardigan, Ceredigion in the north, a distance of 30 miles (48 km). The A487 is the other major route, running northwest from Haverfordwest to St Davids, then northeast following the coast, through Fishguard and Newport, to the boundary with Ceredigion at Cardigan. Owing to length restrictions in Fishguard, some freight vehicles are not permitted to travel northeast from Fishguard but must take a longer route via Haverfordwest and Narberth. The B4329 former turnpike runs from Eglwyswrw in the north to Haverfordwest across the Preseli Hills.
The main towns in the county are covered by regular bus and train services operated by First Cymru (under their "Western Welsh" livery), Transport for Wales and sometimes FirstGroup's GWR respectively, and many villages by local bus services, or community or education transport.
Pembrokeshire is served by rail via the West Wales Lines from Swansea. Direct trains from Milford Haven run to Manchester Piccadilly. Branch lines terminate at Pembroke Dock, Milford Haven and Fishguard, linking with ferries to Ireland from Pembroke Dock and Fishguard. Seasonal ferry services operate from Tenby to Caldey Island, from St Justinians (St Davids) to Ramsey Island and Grassholm Island, and from Martin's Haven to Skomer Island. Haverfordwest (Withybush) Airport provides general aviation services.
The flag of Pembrokeshire consists of a yellow cross on a blue field. In the centre of the cross is a green pentagon bearing a red and white Tudor rose. The rose is divided quarterly and counterchanged: the inner and outer roses have alternating red and white quarters.
There are seven local newspapers based in Pembrokeshire: the Western Telegraph (the largest in Pembrokeshire), The Milford Mercury, Tenby Observer, Pembroke Observer, County Echo and The Pembrokeshire Herald (founded 2013). The Milford Mercury (circulation 3,681) and Western Telegraph (circulation 19,582) are part of the Newsquest group. Pembrokeshire's Best Magazine was launched in 2011. Narberth is home to Radio Pembrokeshire, Radio Carmarthenshire and Scarlet FM broadcasting to listeners every week.
In 2009, the question of county names and Royal Mail postal addresses was raised in parliament; it was argued that Royal Mail's continued use of the county address Dyfed was causing concern and confusion in the Pembrokeshire business community.
As the national sport of Wales, rugby union is widely played throughout the county at both town and village level. Haverfordwest RFC ,founded in 1875, is a feeder club for Llanelli Scarlets. Village team Crymych RFC in 2014 plays in WRU Division One West.
Triathlon event Ironman Wales was hosted by Pembrokeshire for the third year running in 2013, contributing an estimated £4 million to the local economy. Ras Beca, a mixed road, fell and cross country race attracting UK-wide competitors, has been held in the Preseli Mountains annually since 1977. The record of 32 minutes 5 seconds has stood since 1995. Pembrokeshire Harriers athletics club was formed in 2001 by the amalgamation of Cleddau Athletic Club (established 1970) and Preseli Harriers (1989) and is based in Haverfordwest.
The annual Tour of Pembrokeshire road-cycling event takes place over 50, 75 or 100 miles. The 4th Tour, in April 2015, attracted 1,600 riders including Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman and there were 1,500 entrants to the 2016 event. Part of Route 47 of the Celtic Trail cycle route is in Pembrokeshire. The Llys y Fran Hillclimb is an annual event run by Swansea Motor Club.
Abereiddy's Blue Lagoon was the venue for a round of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in 2012, 2013 and 2016; the Welsh Surfing Federation has held the Welsh National Surfing Championships at Freshwater West for several years and Llys y Fran Country Park hosted the Welsh Dragonboat Championships from 2014 to 2016.
While not at major league level, cricket is played throughout the county and many villages such as Lamphey, Creselly, Llangwm, Llechryd and Crymych field teams in minor leagues under the umbrella of the Cricket Board of Wales.
Pembrokeshire is well known for its excellent food, having capitalised on the quality of its agricultural produce. This abundance of produce and food outlets means that the county can "satisfy even the pickiest palate". In 2013 the Pembrokeshire Early Potato was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the European Commission.
- See also Category:People from Pembrokeshire
- Henry Tudor (later Henry VII) was born in Pembrokeshire.
- Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Picton GCB, born in Haverfordwest, was the most senior officer to die at the Battle of Waterloo
- Jemima Nicholas, heroine of the so-called "last invasion of Britain" in 1797, was from Fishguard.
In the arts, siblings Gwen and Augustus John were both born in Pembrokeshire. Graham Sutherland painted locally in the 1930s, gaining inspiration from the landscape. The novelist Sarah Waters was born and brought up in Pembrokeshire and actors Rhys Ifans and Christian Bale were born in Withybush Hospital in the county. Singers Duffy and Connie Fisher both grew up in Pembrokeshire.
Stephen Crabb, former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Secretary of State for Wales, was brought up in Pembrokeshire and represents the county as one of its two Members of Parliament.
Pembrokeshire's coastal landscape and wealth of historic buildings has made it a popular location choice for television and film, including Moby Dick at Fishguard in 1956 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at Freshwater West in 2010. Others include (click on "show" to see the full list):
|1940||The Thief of Bagdad||Freshwater West|
|1961||Fury at Smugglers' Bay||Abereiddy|
|1968||The Lion In Winter||Pembroke Castle, Marloes Sands, Milford Haven|
|1972||Under Milk Wood||Fishguard|
|1977||Jabberwocky||Pembroke Castle & Bosherston|
|1998||Basil||Tenby, Manorbier, Bosherston|
|2003||I Capture The Castle||Manorbier Castle|
|2008||The Edge of Love||Tenby & Laugharne|
|2010||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows||Freshwater West|
|2010||Robin Hood||Freshwater West|
|2010||Third Star||Barafundle Bay, Stackpole Estate|
|2011||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows||Freshwater West|
|2012||Snow White & the Huntsman||Marloes Sands|
|2015||Under Milk Wood||Solva|
|2015||The Bad Education Movie||Pembroke Castle|
|2016||Their Finest Hour and a Half||Trecwn, Haverfordwest, Cresswell Quay, Freshwater West, Porthgain|
|2016||Me Before You||Pembroke, Pembroke Castle|
Pembrokeshire's economy now relies heavily on tourism; agriculture, once its most important industry with associated activities such as milling, is still significant. Mining of slate and coal had largely ceased by the 20th century. Since the 1950s, petrochemical and liquid natural gas industries have developed along the Milford Haven Waterway and the county has attracted other major ventures. In 2016, the Rt. Hon. Stephen Crabb, then Welsh Secretary, commented in a government press release: "...with a buoyant local economy, Pembrokeshire is punching above its weight across the UK."
Pembrokeshire County Show, celebrating 60 years at Haverfordwest Showground in August 2019, is the largest three-day such event in Wales. Showcasing agriculture, food and drink, sport, entertainment and other activities, it expected 100,000 visitors.
Until the 12th century, a great extent of Pembrokeshire was virgin woodland. Clearance in the lowland south began under Anglo-Flemish colonisation and under mediaeval tenancies in other areas. Such was the extent of development that by the 16th century there was a shortage of timber in the county. Little is known about mediaeval farming methods, but much arable land was continuously cropped and only occasionally ploughed. By the 18th century, many of the centuries-old open field systems had been enclosed, and much of the land was arable or rough pasture in a ratio of about 1:3.
Kelly's Directory of 1910 gave a snapshot of the agriculture of Pembrokeshire: 57,343 acres (23,206 ha) were cropped (almost half under oats and a quarter barley), there were 37,535 acres (15,190 ha) of grass and clover and 213,387 acres (86,355 ha) of permanent pasture (of which a third was for hay). There were 128,865 acres (52,150 ha) of mountain or heathland used for grazing, with 10,000 acres (4,000 ha) of managed or unmanaged woodland. Estimates of livestock included 17,810 horses, 92,386 cattle, 157,973 sheep and 31,673 pigs. Of 5,981 agricultural holdings, more than half were between 5 and 50 acres.
Pembrokeshire has good soil and benefits from the Gulf Stream, which provides a mild climate and a longer growing season than other parts of Wales. Pembrokeshire's mild climate means that crops such as its new potatoes (which have protected geographical status under European law) often arrive in British shops earlier in the year than produce from other parts of the UK. Other principal arable crops are oilseed rape, wheat and barley, while the main non-arable activities are dairy farming for milk and cheese, beef production and sheep farming.
The county lends its name to the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, a herding dog whose lineage can be traced back to the 12th century, but which in 2015 was designated as a "vulnerable" breed.
Since 2006, Pembrokeshire Local Action Network for Enterprise and Development (PLANED) has provided a forum to promote an integrated approach to rural development, in which communities, public sector and voluntary partners and specialist interest groups come together to influence policy and promote projects aimed at sustainable agriculture. Sub-groups include promoting food and farming in schools and shortening supply chains.
With Pembrokeshire's extensive coastal areas and tidal river estuaries, fishing was an important industry at least from the 16th century. Many ports and villages were dependent on the fishing. The former large sea fishing industry around Milford Haven is now greatly reduced, although limited commercial fishing still takes place. At its peak, Milford was landing over 40,000 tons of fish a year. Pembrokeshire Fish Week is a biennial event which in 2014 attracted 31,000 visitors and generated £3 million for the local economy.
Slate quarrying was a significant industry in the 19th and early 20th centuries with quarrying taking place at about 100 locations throughout the county. Over 50 coal workings in the Pembrokeshire Coalfield were in existence between the 14th and 20th centuries, with the last coal mine, at Kilgetty, closing in 1950. Pembrokeshire has 61 disused coal tips; only one of these is in Category C (carrying a potential safety risk), but its location has not been disclosed.
Oil, gas and renewable energy
There are two oil refineries, two liquified natural gas (LNG) terminals and the 2,000 MW gas-fired Pembroke Power Station (opened in 2012) at Milford Haven. The LNG terminals on the north side of the river, just outside Milford Haven were opened in 2008; a 196-mile (315 km) pipeline connecting Milford Haven to Tirley in Gloucestershire was completed in 2007. The two oil refineries are operated by Chevron (formerly Texaco) producing 214,000 bbl/d (34,000 m3/d) and Murco (formerly Amoco/Elf) producing 108,000 bbl/d (17,200 m3/d); the latter was sold to Puma Energy in 2015 with the intention of converting it to a storage facility. At the peak, there were a total of five refineries served from around the Haven: the Esso refinery operated from 1960 to 1983, was demolished in the late 1980s and the site converted into the South Hook LNG terminal; the Gulf Refinery operated from 1968 to 1997 and the site now incorporates the Dragon LNG terminal; BP had an oil terminal at Angle Bay which served its refinery at Llandarcy and operated between 1961 and 1985.
The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority has identified a number of areas in which renewable energy can be, and has been, generated in the county. Following several years of planning after the initial impact studies begun in 2011, the first submarine turbine of three was installed in Ramsey Sound in December 2015. The cumulative impact of single and multiple wind turbines is not without controversy and was the subject of a comprehensive assessment in 2013. In 2011 the first solar energy farm in Wales was installed at Rhosygilwen, Rhoshill with 10,000 panels in a field of 6 acres (2.4 ha), generating 1 MW.
Pembrokeshire's tourism portal is Visit Pembrokeshire, run by Pembrokeshire County Council. In 2015 4.3 million tourists visited the county, staying for an average of 5.24 days, spending £585 million; the tourism industry supported 11,834 jobs. Many of Pembrokeshire's beaches have won awards, including Poppit Sands and Newport Sands. In 2018, Pembrokeshire received the most coast awards in Wales, with 56 Blue Flag, Green Coast or Seaside Awards. In the 2019 Wales Coast Awards, 39 Pembrokeshire beaches were recognised, including 11 awarded Blue Flag status.
The Pembrokeshire coastline is a major draw to tourists; in 2011 National Geographic Traveller magazine voted the Pembrokeshire Coast the second best in the world and in 2015 the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park was listed among the top five parks in the world by a travel writer for the Huffington Post. Countryfile Magazine readers voted the Pembrokeshire Coast the top UK holiday destination in 2018, and in 2019 Consumers' Association members placed Tenby and St Davids in the top three best value beach destinations in Britain. With few large urban areas, Pembrokeshire is a "dark sky" destination. The many wrecks off the Pembrokeshire coast attract divers. The decade from 2012 saw significant, increasing numbers of Atlantic bluefin tuna, not seen since the 1960s, and now seen by some as an opportunity to encourage tourist sport fishing.
The county has a number of theme and animal parks (examples are Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo, Manor House Wildlife Park, Blue Lagoon Water Park and Oakwood Theme Park), museums and other visitor attractions including Castell Henllys reconstructed Iron Age fort, Tenby Lifeboat Station and Milford Haven's Torch Theatre. There are 21 marked cycle trails around the county.
Pembrokeshire Destination Management Plan for 2020 to 2025 sets out the scope and priorities to grow tourism in Pembrokeshire by increasing its value by 10 per cent in the five years, and to make Pembrokeshire a top five UK destination.
From mediaeval times, Rhys ap Gruffydd (c. 1132-1197), ruler of the kingdom of Deheubarth, was buried in St Davids Cathedral. and Gerald of Wales was born c. 1146 at Manorbier Castle. Henry Tudor (later Henry VII) was born in 1457 at Pembroke Castle.
In later military history, Jemima Nicholas, heroine of the so-called "last invasion of Britain" in 1797, was from Fishguard, Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Picton GCB, born in Haverfordwest, was killed at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 and Private Thomas Collins is believed to be the only Pembrokeshire man that fought in the Battle of Rorke's Drift in 1879.
Stephen Crabb, a former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and Secretary of State for Wales, was brought up in Pembrokeshire and is one of the county's two Members of Parliament, the other being Simon Hart, who is also the current Secretary of State for Wales.
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