Gwynedd is a principal area in north-west Wales, named after the old Kingdom of Gwynedd. Although one of the biggest in terms of geographical area, it was also one of the most sparsely populated. A large proportion of the population being Welsh-speaking, it became once again a centre of nationalism, with Plaid Cymru gaining a toehold which helped the party on to greater successes.
Settlements in the area include Bala, Bangor, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Caernarfon and Porthmadog. It is the home of the University of Wales, Bangor.
The modern Gwynedd was originally created on April 1, 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972. It covered the entirety of the former administrative counties of Anglesey, and Caernarvonshire along with all of Merionethshire apart from Edeyrnion Rural District (which went to Clwyd), and also a few parishes in Denbighshire: Llanrwst, Llanstaffraid Glan Conway, Eglwysbach, Llanddoget, Llanrwst Rural and Tir Ifan.
In the latest round of local government reorganisation, on April 1, 1996, it was reconstituted to cover a different area, losing Anglesey to became an independent unitary, and Aberconwy to the new Conwy county borough.
As the new Gwynedd covers most of the traditional counties of Caernarfonshire (less the part in the borough of Conwy) and Merionethshire, the reconstituted area was originally named Caernarfonshire and Merionethshire. As one of its first actions, the Council renamed it Gwynedd on April 2.
The pre-1996 boundaries were retained as a ceremonial preserved county - in 2003 the boundary with Clwyd was adjusted to match the modern local government boundary, so that the preserved county now covers the modern Gwynedd along with Anglesey.
The original administrative county contained several districts, these were Aberconwy, Arfon, Dwyfor, Meirionnydd and Anglesey. As a unitary authority the modern entity no longer has any districts, but Arfon, Dwyfor and Meirionnydd remain in use as areas for area committees.
A Gwynedd Constabulary was formed in 1950 from the merger of the Anglesey, Caernarfonshire and Merionethshire forces. A further amalgamation took place in the 1960s when Gwynedd Constabulary was merged with Flintshire and Denbighshire county forces, retaining the name Gwynedd. In one proposal for local government reform in Wales, 'Gwynedd' had been proposed as a name for an administrative county covering all of north Wales, but the scheme as enacted divided this area between Gwynedd and Clwyd. The Gwynedd Constabulary was therefore renamed the North Wales Police.