County (pop., 2001: 116,838), northwestern Wales. It encompasses most of the historic counties of Caernarfonshire and Merioneth. Its administrative centre is Caernarfon. The ancient region of Gwynedd comprised most of northern Wales. The Normans built castles at Caernarfon and Conwy but did not penetrate inland. It thus remained a stronghold of Welsh culture, with a high proportion of Welsh-speaking people. The landscape is mostly mountains of old hard rock cut by Ice Age glaciers. It includes Snowdonia National Park (1951), which covers about half its total area. Tourism is economically important.