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banner for Teaching International 2012-2013: The Celtic nations and water - Photograph licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license by Flickr user Oisin Mulvihill (2005).

Note: Links that are followed by (PSU) lead to resources that are accessible only by Penn State students, faculty, and staff.


The Celts

"The Celts occupied a large part of Europe in the Iron Age. Their unity is recognizable by common speech and common artistic tradition, but they did not constitute one race or group of tribes ethnologically. The origins of their culture can be traced back to the Bronze Age... [T]hey reached the height of their power in the La Tène period of the 5th-1st centuries BC. The ancients knew them as fierce fighters and superb horsemen, with savage religious rites conducted by the Druid priesthood. They were farmers, who cultivated fields on a regular basis and had developed ox-drawn ploughs to use in place of manual implements, a revolutionary advance that permanently affected people's way of life. But Celtic political sense was weak and the numerous tribes, continually warring against each other, were crushed between the migratory Germans and the power of Rome, and were ejected or assimilated by the former or conquered outright by the latter."

- excerpted from "Celt". A Dictionary of World History. Oxford University Press, 2000. (PSU)


The Celtic Nations

map of the six Celtic nations with Celtic and English names

While there is some debate over which states or ethnic groups qualify as authentically "Celtic", the faculty at Penn State Greater Allegheny decided to focus on six nations based on their use of living Celtic languages. These are listed below, with the Celtic name of each nation in parentheses. Click on a nation for an overview of its people and culture from Ethnic Groups of Europe: An Encyclopedia (2011).

small flag of Brittany Brittany (Breizh) (PSU)

small flag of Cornwall Cornwall (Kernow) (PSU)

small flag of Ireland Ireland & Northern Ireland (Éire) (PSU)

small flag of Isle of Man Isle of Man (Mannin) (PSU)

small flag of Scotland Scotland (Alba) (PSU)

small flag of Wales Wales (Cymru) (PSU)

Ireland is the only sovereign state among the Celtic nations. Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, along with England, form the United Kingdom. Cornwall is a county in England. The Isle of Man is a self-governing dependency of England, but is consitutionally separate from the United Kingdom. Brittany is a region of France. Finding information on the political, economic, and social life of these nations may require searching for and sifting through information on their parent states.


Country Profiles

CIA World Factbook
Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook (2012)
BBC News
OECD Economic Surveys