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Wales Cymru Facts


Wales (‘Cymru’ in Welsh) is a country within the United Kingdom covering an area of around 20,779 km2 with 1,200km of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea. The highest mountain in Wales is Snowdon (known in Welsh as ‘Yr Wyddfa’), which stands at 1,085 metres (3,560 feet) above sea level and is part of the Snowdonia National Park. Its summit is the highest point in the British Isles outside of Scotland. Mount Everest was named after the Welsh geographer and surveyor Colonel Sir George Everest.


In 2011 Wales had a population of approximately 3,063,456 with two thirds living in South Wales, mainly around the cities of Cardiff, Swansea and Newport. People from South Wales are colloquially known as ‘Hwntws’, whereas North Walians are known as ‘Gogs’. Cardiff (Caerdydd in Welsh) is the capital of Wales, has a population of 346,100 , making it the 10th largest city in the United Kingdom and is located on the banks of the river Taff.


Wales has two official languages, Welsh and English. Welsh is a Celtic language established in the 6th century and is closely related to Cornish and Breton and is one of Europe’s oldest living languages. Welsh is currently spoken by approximately 721,700 of the population. The Welsh alphabet consists of the following 28 letters and is a purely phonetic language:

a, b, c, ch, d, dd, e, f, ff, g, ng, h, i, l, ll, m, n, o, p, ph, r, rh, s, t, th, u, w, y

Features of Welsh phonology found their way into Sindarin, a fictional language devised by J. R. R. Tolkien for use in his secondary world known as Middle-earth.


As well as the native Welsh speakers there are also between 1,500 and 5,000 Welsh speakers living in the Chubut region of Patagonia in southern Argentina. A Welsh colony known as Y Wladfa was established in 1865 as the Argentine government of the time encouraged the immigration of Europeans to populate the country outside the Buenos Aires region.

The name of the Welsh language television channel is S4C, which translates as Channel 4 Wales, and started broadcasting in 1982, a day before the English Channel 4.


The currency of Wales is the British Pound Sterling, and all sterling has been manufactured in Llanstrisant in South Wales since the Royal Mint relocated their operations there in 1968.

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is a town on Anglesey (the largest island in Wales, known as ‘Ynys Mon’ in Welsh) which has the longest place name in Europe. The name translates to English as ‘St. Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the church of St. Tysilio with a red cave’.

The Welsh flag has a green and white background with a red dragon, making it one of only three countries in the world that has a dragon on their national flag, the others being Bhutan and Malta. Wales is the only country of the United Kingdom not to be represented on the Union flag (The Union Jack).


There are nearly 3 times as many sheep and lambs in Wales as there are people (8.9million in 2011).

The leek and the daffodils are both national symbols of Wales, potentially due to the similarity of their Welsh spelling (Cenin is a Leek and Cenin Pedr is a Daffodil).

Rugby Union is considered the national sport in Wales and the national team play their home games at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. The stadium was built in 1999 to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup, has a seating capacity of 74,500 and has the world´s second largest fully retractable roof after the Cowboys Stadium in Texas. The stadium also hosts international football matches along with Wrexham´s Racecourse Ground, the world's oldest international football stadium that still hosts international matches.


With a total of 600 castles, Wales has more castles per square mile than any other country in the world.

The Welsh National Anthem is called ´Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau´, which translates to English as ´Land of My Fathers’.

The patron saint of Wales is Saint David and his birthplace, named St Davids (or Tyddewi in Welsh) is the smallest city in the United Kingdom. It is also believed that the patron saint of Ireland, St Patrick, was a Welsh missionary.

Text by Penri Jones from Bangor Wales


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