The county of Ceredigion was formed in 1996 and has borders close to those of the ancient Welsh Kingdom of Ceredigion, which came into existence over fifteen hundred years ago, after the Roman Empire withdrew from the area. The local economy is based around farming and tourism, with sandy beaches on its long coastline such as Mwnt, whose waters provide a summer home to wildlife including seals and dolphins. The Cambrian Mountains (Mynyddoedd Cambria in Welsh) dominate the east of Ceredigion and the picturesque landscape draws visitors who enjoy exploring its valleys and peaks. Cultural venues in Ceredigion include Theatr Mwldan cinema and arts centre in the town of Cardigan and the Small World Theatre also in Cardigan, which has hosted events and classes including music, dance, drama, arts and crafts. The town saw the first Eisteddfod, which was held by Lord Rhys at Cardigan Castle in the year 1176 and though the twelfth century castle fell into decline, it became council property in 2003 and is being renovated to be developed as a centre for Welsh arts and culture.
The largest town in Ceredigion is Aberystwyth, a coastal resort since Victorian times which is also home to Aberystwyth University. Located at the Penglais campus, Aberystwyth Arts Centre runs a wide range of performing arts events and activities including theatre, film, comedy and music and has workshop and studio space where students can develop their skills. There are also galleries displaying international exhibits as well as the work of Welsh artists, including ceramics, sculpture, painting, photography and digital media. Ceredigion Museum has collections which help visitors to learn about local history and heritage, including costumes, furniture, farming equipment and paintings and the gallery hosts exhibitions of contemporary arts and crafts. Other attractions in Ceredigion include the ruins of Aberystwyth Castle, Ynyslas National Nature Reserve, the landscaped estate of Hafod Uchtryd and the Vale of Rheidol Railway, whose heritage steam trains travel through fields and hills, giving passengers wonderful scenic views of the areas forests and lakes.