Pembrokeshire (, or ; ) is a county in the south west of Wales. It borders Carmarthenshire to the east and Ceredigion to the north east. Pembrokeshire County Council's headquarters are in the county town of Haverfordwest.
The county is home to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the only coastal national park of its kind in the United Kingdom and one of three national parks in Wales, the others being Snowdonia and Brecon Beacons national parks. Over the years Pembrokeshire's beaches have been awarded many International Blue Flag Awards, Green Coast Awards and Seaside Awards. In 2011 it had 39 beaches recommended by the Marine Conservation Society.
Pembrokeshire's population, according to the UK Census, was 114,131 in 2001 rising to 122,400 by the following census in 2011, an increase of 8.2%.
Much of Pembrokeshire has been English in language for many centuries. The boundary between the English and Welsh speakers is known as the Landsker Line and southern Pembrokeshire is occasionally referred to as Little England beyond Wales.
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 AD 350 and 400, with their realm known as Demetae.
In the post Roman period, the Irish Déisi merged with the local Welsh, with the name of the region evolving into Dyfed, which existed as an independent petty kingdom until its heiress, Elen, married Hywel the Good in AD 904.
Hywel merged Dyfed with his own maternal inheritance of Seisyllwg, forming the new realm of Deheubarth. 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.
In 1136 Prince Owain Gwynedd sought to avenge the execution of his sister the Princess Gwenllian of Deheubarth and her children; with Gwenllian's husband the Prince Rhys 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 was choked with drowned men-at-arms and horses. Owain's brother Cadwallader took de Clares 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.
The Lord Rhys, Prince of Deheubarth, Princess Gwenllian's son, reestablished 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 managed to retake the region of Pembroke between 1216 and his death in 1240.
In 1457 Henry Tudor was born at Pembroke Castle and, 28 years later, landing an army not far from his birthplace, he rallied support, marched through Wales to Bosworth field in Leicestershire and defeated the larger army of Richard III. As Henry VII he founded the Tudor dynasty which successfully ruled England until 1603.
The Act of Union of 1536 divided the county into hundreds, which followed with some modifications the boundaries of the cantrefs, ancient jurisdictions which went back to before the Norman conquest. The 1536 hundreds were (clockwise from the north-east): Cilgerran or Kilgerran, Cemais or Kemes, Dewisland or Dewsland, Roose, Castlemartin, Narbeth and Dungleddy or Daugleddau. The Genuki web pages on Pembrokeshire include a list of the parishes within each hundred.
During the First English Civil War (1642-1646) the county gave strong support to the Parliamentary cause, in sharp contrast to the rest of Wales which was staunchly Royalist. In spite of this an incident in Pembrokeshire triggered the opening shots of the Second Civil War when local units of the New Model Army mutinied. Oliver Cromwell defeated the uprising at the Siege of Pembroke in July 1648. In 1649 Cromwell's expeditionary force for Ireland sailed from Milford Haven.
Pembrokeshire has seen considerable military activity from the Civil War to the Cold War with, 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 2.
There are many known shipwrecks off the Pembrokeshire coast. The county has six lifeboat stations, the earliest of which was established in 1822.