Cardiff is the capital of Wales, as well as the most important commercial, cultural, sports, educational and media center in the country. It is also a unitary authority located in the southeast of Wales, on the banks of the Bristol channel and near the English border. The city expanded enormously during the 19th century due to the mining activity and the traffic of its ports. According to the official estimates of the municipality obtained with respect to the 2006 census, the population of Cardiff was 317 500 inhabitants, being then the sixteenth most inhabited city in the United Kingdom. Cardiff is an important tourist center with 11.7 million visitors in 2006.