Wales is a mainly mountainous country with much of the land being over 150 metres. In the north, Snowdon is the highest mountain in England and Wales, at 1085 metres, and in the south the Brecon Beacons rise to 885 metres. The rivers drain radially from the upland areas, the Severn being the longest river in England and Wales. There are a number of hydro-electric schemes and reservoirs that supply water to major towns. The mountainous nature of the landscape means that large areas are only sparsely populated, with most of the settlements on or near the coast and in the southernmost counties, where almost half the population lives.
Wales has an essentially maritime climate, characterised by weather that is often cloudy, wet and windy but mild. However, the shape of the coastline and the central spine of high ground from Snowdonia southwards to the Brecon Beacons introduce localised differences. Whilst some upland areas can experience harsh weather, the coasts enjoy more favourable conditions and areas in east Wales are more sheltered and hence similar to neighbouring English counties.