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In 2016, an analysis of the geography of Welsh surnames commissioned by the Welsh Government found that 718,000 people (nearly 35% of the Welsh population) have a family name of Welsh origin, compared with 5.3% in the rest of the United Kingdom, 4.7% in New Zealand, 4.1% in Australia, and 3.8% in the United States, with an estimated 16.3 million people in the countries studied having at least partial Welsh ancestry.
The names "Wales" and "Welsh" are traced to the Proto-Germanic word "Walhaz" meaning "foreigner", "stranger", "Roman", "Romance-speaker", or "Celtic-speaker" which was used by the ancient Germanic peoples to describe inhabitants of the former Roman Empire, who were largely romanised and spoke Latin or Celtic languages.
The UCL research suggested a migration on a huge scale during the Anglo-Saxon period.
Dr Mark Thomas, of the Centre for Genetic Anthropology at UCL said, "It appears England is made up of an ethnic cleansing event from people coming across from the continent after the Romans left.
Although the Welsh language was certainly used at the time, Gwyn A.
Williams argues that even at the time of the erection of Offa's Dyke, the people to its west saw themselves as Roman, citing the number of Latin inscriptions still being made into the 8th century.
Some current genetic research supports the idea that people living in the British Isles are likely mainly descended from the indigenous European Paleolithic (Old Stone Age hunter gatherers) population (about 80%), with a smaller Neolithic (New Stone Age farmers) input (about 20%).
Paleolithic Europeans seem to have been a homogeneous population, possibly due to a population bottleneck (or near-extinction event) on the Iberian peninsula, where a small human population is thought to have survived the glaciation, and expanded into Europe during the Mesolithic.
The use of the word Cymry as a self-designation derives from the post-Roman Era relationship of the Welsh with the Brythonic-speaking peoples of northern England and southern Scotland, the peoples of "Yr Hen Ogledd" (English: In Welsh literature, the word Cymry was used throughout the Middle Ages to describe the Welsh, though the older, more generic term Brythoniaid continued to be used to describe any of the Britonnic peoples, including the Welsh, and was the more common literary term until The claim has also been made that Indo-European languages may have been introduced to the British Isles as early as the early Neolithic (or even earlier), with Goidelic and Brythonic languages developing indigenously.
The language, which falls within the Insular Celtic family, has historically been spoken throughout Wales, with its predecessor Common Brittonic once spoken throughout most of the island of Great Britain.
Prior to the 20th century, large numbers of Welsh people spoke only Welsh, with little or no fluent knowledge of English.
The same etymological origin is shared by the names of various other Celtic or Latin peoples such as the Walloons and the Vlachs, as well as of the Swiss canton of Valais.
The modern Welsh name for themselves is Cymry, and Cymru is the Welsh name for Wales.