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21 Facts About Wales

Wales

Wales is a country full of history, scenery and much more. Here are 21 Facts About Wales that you may not know.

1. The name “Wales” is derived from the Saxon word “Wealh” meaning foreigner, or stranger. Following the Anglo Saxon arrival on the British Isles around 450AD, native Britons were driven out of what is now England, into what is now Wales. Anglo Saxon’s referred to the Native Britons as Wealas.

2 . The Welsh name for Wales is Cymru. This is derived from the ancient Celtic word Combrogi, which literally translates as “Fellow-Countrymen”

3. With more than 600 Castles, Wales has more Castles per square mile than anywhere in the World.

4. Chepstow Castle is the oldest stone Castle, and one of the oldest post Roman stone structures in the UK. While Caerphilly Castle is the 2nd largest Castle in the UK.

Caerphilly Castle

5. The population of Wales is 3.1m. 2m of which live in South Wales, within an hours drive of the Capital, Cardiff

6. Wales has been a recognised country since 1536. Between 1216 and 1536 it was a principality of England. Since 1536, it has been a country in its own right, under English rule, making it Englands oldest colony. Before 1216, Wales was essentially a collection of independent Kingdoms.

7. Despite being a recognised as a country in 1536, it was a country without a capital for over 400 years. Cardiff was not declared the Capital of Wales until 1955, becoming the countries first official capital city

8. Between 1400 & 1415, Owain Glyndwr led an armed rebellion against English rule, and attempted to get independance for Wales. With French Backing, Glyndwr (descended from Welsh Royalty) was crowned Prince of Wales. Despite some early success, ultimately the rebellion was unsuccesful, and Wales remained under English Rule. Owain Glyndwr remains the last native Prince of Wales. During the rebellion, Owain Glyndwr set up his parliment in Machynlleth in North Wales, leading the town to call itself “The Ancient Capital of Wales”

Owain Glyndwr Parliment

9. The Royal Dynasty “House of Tudor” was from Wales, descended from the noble & aristocratic family Tudors of Penmynydd who were from Anglesey in North Wales. King Henry VII, the first Tudor King, was born in Pembroke in 1457. Henry V was also born in Wales. In Monmouth in 1386. For over 100 years, wedding rings in all major Royal weddings have been made from Welsh Gold.

10. Rugby is the national sport of Wales (although Football has grown in popularity and now challenges Rugby for the number one spot). The home of Welsh Rugby, the Principality Stadium was the largest stadium in the world with a retractable roof when it opened in 1999. Since then the AT&T Stadium in Dallas was built, and Bearnabeau in Madrid was redeveloped. Both have retractable roof’s and capacities of 80,000. Just over 5,000 more than The Principality Stadium, which is now the 3rd largest stadium in the world with a retractable roof.

11. In 2013, Gareth Bale, from Cardiff, became the worlds most expensive football player, when Real Madrid brough him from Tottenham Hotspur for £85.3 million. In 1993, Welsh athlete Colin Jackson broke the world record for the 110m hurdles. His record would stand for 13 years.

12. In 2017, Cardiff became the smallest city to ever host the UEFA Champions League. 7 years earlier, in 2010, The Celtic Manor in Newport, South Wales, hosted golf Ryder Cup. The opening event of the London 2012 Olympics was also held in Wales.

13. Cardiff is the only place in the world The FA Cup has been outside of England. In 1927, Cardiff City FC became the first, and only non English club to win the FA Cup. Between 2001 & 2006, The Principality Stadium held every domestic English Footbal Final, including The FA Cup, whilst Wembley Stadium in London was being redeveloped

The Principality Stadium outside view.

14. Wales covers a touch over 8,000 square miles, and has three national parks. The largest is Eyri (Snowdonia) in North Wales. Covering 823sq miles, Eyri is home to Yr Wddfa (Mount Snowdon) the largest mountain in England and Wales. 8 of the 10 tallest mountains in England and Wales can be found in Eyri. The second biggest is Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) at 520 square miles, followed by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park covering 240 square miles. Nearly 20% of the entire county is National Park. With 5 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Anglesey, Gower, Wye Valley, Llyn Peninsula, and the Clwydian Range & Dee Valley), nearly 30% of the entire country is covered by either a National Park, or an AONB. The Cambrian Mountain Range runs from Bannau Brycheiniog to Eyri, and is currently trying to become Wales’ 6th designated AONB. Covering an area of 467 square miles, if successful, it would mean more than 1 third of the entire country of Wales would be protected landscape. This would make Wales the 28th most protected country in the World, ahead of New Zealand, and the 10th most protected country in Europe.

15. The National Eisteddfod is an annual event with celebrates Welsh literature, music and culture. The first Eisteddfod reportedly took place in the 6th Century, but the first documented festival was in 1176. Following Edward 1 conquering of Wales 100 years later, and the resulant subjugation of Wales when, all things Welsh (including the language) were banned, the Eisteddfod ceased to take place. The National Eisteddfod was revived in the 19th Century, with the first one taking place in Aberdare in 1861. Since then it has been held every year, apart from 1914, 2020 & 2021. Each year it is held in a different town or city in Wales. Although on 8 occasions it was held in England. Liverpool, Birkenhead, Chester & London have all hosted the National Eisteddfod. The last time it was held outside of Wales was in 1929, when the event was held in Liverpool for the 3rd time. Today, the National Esiteddfod is the largest cultural festival in Europe, attracting around 6000 competitors, and between 100,000-150,000 visitors. In 2018, it is estimated around 500,000 people attended the festival across the 8 days it took place.

16. Hay-on-Wye has held the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts, better known as The Hay Festival, every year since 1988. The Festival has grown to become one of the biggest literary festivals in the world. Over 10 days in May & June each year, there are 800 events and over 700 speakers, including  authours such as Martin Amis,  Louis de BernièresMark HaddonMario Vargas LlosaHilary MantelIan McEwanMichael MorpurgoBen OkriIan RankinSalman Rushdie. Comedians like Bill BaileyRob BrydonJulian ClaryJack DeeTim Minchin,. Politicians and scientists and general speakers like, Harry Belafonte,  Stephen FryA. C. GraylingGermaine GreerMichael Ignatieff, and David Starkey. amoungst others.

17. The South Wales Coalfield, was one of the largest Coal Fields in the world. Stretching around 90 miles from Carmathenshire to Torfaen, West to East, and around 20 miles, North to South. Large parts of the Coalfield were owned by one man, John Crichton-Stuart, 2nd Marquess of Bute. From mining the coal on his land in the 19th Century, and building Cardiff Docks to export it, he became one of the richest men in the world. The mining of Coal in South Wales, led to the industrialisation of South Wales, and huge population growth. Cardiff grew from a population of around 1800 people at the start of the 19th Century, to around 200,000 people by the start of the 20th Century, as Cardiff Docks grew to become one of the biggest in the world. The Rhondda Valley grew from less than 1000 people in 1851, to 150,000 people 60 years later. In the space of just 20 years between 1891 and 1911, the population of South Wales grew by over 300,000 as people moved to the region from other parts of Wales, England, and further afield

18. Wales has 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They are;
Slate Landscapes of North West Wales made up of 6 former slate quarries across Eyri. Castles and Town Walls of King Edward I in Gwynedd, which include Harlech Castle, Conwy Castle, Caernarfon Castle, Beaumaris Castle and the towns of Conwy and Caernarfon. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal the highest Aqueduct in the UK. Blaenavon Industrial Landscape includes former Ironworks and The Big Pitt in South Wales

19. On 11. May 1897, Marconi transmitted sound from Lavernock Point, south of Penarth near Cardiff to his assistant, George Kemp, on the island of Flat Holm, five kilometers away – the first time a signal had been sent across water. His first words were apparently :”Are you ready”, the incident is recorded on a plaque on the wall of an adjacent Victorian chapel.

20. Anneurin Bevan, from Tredegar, was one of the major driving forces behind the creation of the NHS, the first state funded health authority in the Western World that provided free healthcare to all.

21. Wales is one of just three countries in the world that has a Dragon on its flag. The other two are Bhutan and Malta. Whilst the Dragon on the Bhutan and Wales flag’s are quite large, the dragon on Malta’s flag is very small and  in the middle of the cross in the corner of the flag. The big red dragon, in the centre of the Wales flag is clearly the best however, which makes the Welsh Flag, the best in the world.

Wales Flag
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