Cardiff(Welsh: ) is the capital and largest city in Wales and the ninth largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is the country's chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for Wales. The unitary authority area's mid-2011 population was estimated to be 346,100, while the population of the Larger Urban Zone was estimated at 861,400 in 2009. Cardiff is a significant tourist centre and the most popular visitor destination in Wales with 18.3 million visitors in 2010. In 2011, Cardiff was ranked sixth in the world in National Geographic's alternative tourist destinations.
The city of Cardiff is the county town of the historic county of Glamorgan (and later South Glamorgan). Cardiff is part of the Eurocities network of the largest European cities. The Cardiff Urban Area covers a slightly larger area outside of the county boundary, and includes the towns of Dinas Powys and Penarth. A small town until the early 19th century, its prominence as a major port for the transport of coal following the arrival of industry in the region contributed to its rise as a major city.
Cardiff was made a city in 1905, and proclaimed the capital of Wales in 1955. Since the 1990s, Cardiff has seen significant development. A new waterfront area at Cardiff Bay contains the Senedd building, home to the Welsh Assembly and the Wales Millennium Centre arts complex. Current developments include the continuation of the redevelopment of the Cardiff Bay and city centre areas with projects such as the Cardiff International Sports Village, a BBC drama village and a new business district in the city centre.
Sporting venues in the city include the Millennium Stadium (the national stadium for the Wales national rugby union team and the Wales national football team), SWALEC Stadium (the home of Glamorgan County Cricket Club), Cardiff City Stadium (the home of Cardiff City football team), Cardiff International Sports Stadium (the home of Cardiff Amateur Athletic Club) and Cardiff Arms Park (the home of Cardiff Blues and Cardiff RFC rugby union teams). The city is also HQ of the Wales Rally GB and was awarded with the European City of Sport in 2009 due to its role in hosting major international sporting events. It has been announced that Cardiff will again be the European City of Sport in 2014. The Millennium Stadium hosted 11 football matches as part of the 2012 Summer Olympics, including the games' opening event and the men's bronze medal match.
Cardiff plays host to many high-profile sporting events at local, national and international level and in recognition of the city's commitment to sport for all Cardiff has been awarded the title of European Capital of Sport 2014. Organised sports have been held in the city since the early 19th century. National home sporting fixtures are nearly always played in the city. All Wales' multi-sports agencies and many of the country's sports governing bodies have their headquarters in Cardiff and the city's many top quality venues have attracted world famous sports events, sometimes unrelated to Cardiff or to Wales. In 2008/09, 61% of Cardiff residents regularly participated in sport and active recreation, the highest percentage out of all 22 local authorities in Wales.
Rugby union fans around the world have long been familiar with the Cardiff Arms Park, and its successor the Millennium Stadium, which hosted the FA Cup for six years (from 2001 to 2006) it took to rebuild Wembley Stadium. In 2009, Cardiff hosted the first Ashes cricket test, between England and Australia, to be held in Wales. Cardiff hosted eight football matches of the London 2012 Olympics.
Cardiff City F.C. (founded 1899 as Riverside FC) played their home games at Ninian Park from 1910 until the end of the 2008–09 season. The club's new home is the Cardiff City Stadium, which until 2012, they rented to the Cardiff Blues the cities professional rugby union team, the Blues returning to the Arms Park. Cardiff City have played in the English Football League since the 1920–21 season, climbing to Division 1 after one season. Cardiff City are the only non-English team to have won FA Cup, beating Arsenal in the 1927 final at Wembley Stadium. They were runners up to Portsmouth in the 2008 final, losing 1–0 at the new Wembley Stadium. Cardiff City currently play in the Premier League. Cardiff has numerous smaller clubs including Bridgend Street A.F.C., Caerau (Ely) A.F.C., Cardiff Corinthians F.C., Cardiff Grange Harlequins A.F.C., Cardiff Metropolitan University F.C., and Ely Rangers A.F.C. who all play in the Welsh football league system.
Cardiff Arms Park (Welsh: Parc yr Arfau Caerdydd), in central Cardiff, is among the world's most famous venues—being the scene of three Welsh
Grand Slams in the 1970s (1971, 1976 and 1978) and six Five Nations titles in nine years—and was the venue
for Wales' games in the 1991 Rugby World Cup. The
Arms Park has a sporting history dating back to at least the 1850s, when Cardiff Cricket Club (formed 1819) relocated to the site. The ground was donated to Cardiff CC in 1867 by the Marquess of
Bute. Cardiff Cricket Club shared the ground with Cardiff Rugby Football Club (founded 1876) —forming Cardiff Athletic Club between them—until 1966, when the cricket section moved to Sophia Gardens. Cardiff Athletic Club and the Welsh Rugby Union established two stadia on the site—Cardiff RFC
played at their stadium at the northern end of the site, and the Wales national rugby union team played international matches at the National Stadium, Cardiff Arms Park, which opened in 1970. The
National Stadium was replaced by the 74,500 capacity Millennium Stadium (Welsh: Stadiwm y Mileniwm) in 1999—in time for the 1999 Rugby World Cup—and is home stadium to the Wales national rugby and football teams for international matches. In addition to Wales' Six Nations Championship and other international
games, the Millennium Stadium held four matches in the 2007
Rugby World Cup and six FA Cup finals (from the 2001–02 to 2005–06 seasons) while Wembley
Stadium was being rebuilt.