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facts about Wales

Wales is famed for its mighty mountains, rugged coastline and distinctive Celtic culture, but there are many interesting facts about Wales that you probably didn’t know!

Despite being a relatively small country, this rugby-mad nation is home to some of the UK’s highest mountains, most beautiful beaches and a famous face or two! With its own character and history, Wales offers plenty to see and do.

Continue reading to discover interesting facts about Wales…


1. Wales’ National Day is St David’s Day.

daffodils

St David’s Day/Dydd Dewi Sant is a day of music, culture and language, celebrated annually on the 1st of March.

In honour of St David, this Welsh national celebration is one of the most colourful days on the calendar. It is custom to wear a daffodil or a leek, which are two of Wales’ national emblems and children dress in traditional costume.

Fuel your day of celebration with traditional Welsh foods, including welsh cakes and cawl! Afterwards, partake in a number of parades across Wales, including the National St David’s Day Parade, which takes place in the centre of Cardiff.

See a sea of red dragons and the flag of St David, as the non-military parade brings together several cultural groups to join an imaginative celebration of Welsh heritage and culture.


2. The corgi dog originates from Wales.

welsh corgi pembroke

Yes, that’s right, Queen Elizabeth II’s beloved dogs hail from Wales!

The Pembroke Welsh corgi ancestry is said to date back to the 10th century and despite their tiny size, they have been used for herding for decades! Interestingly, Welsh legend says that they are an “enchanted” breed and serve as the steed for fairy warriors.

Another Welsh fact, the origin of the name “corgi” is hard to determine! Some interpret the Welsh word “cor” to mean dwarf and “gi” as a form of the Welsh word dog. Combine those meanings together and you have a dwarf dog! Others interpret the Welsh word “cor” to mean gather or watch over, hence their world-class herding reputation!


3. The red, white and green dragon flag was officially recognised in 1959.

welsh flag

The Welsh flag that we know and love – a striking red dragon on a green and white background – was officially recognised in 1959. The dragon incorporates the red dragon of Cadwaladr, King of Gwynedd, along with the Tudor colours of red and green.

The dragon has been associated with Wales for centuries before Cadwaladr’s reign; however, the origin of the symbol has been lost in myth. Moreover, others suggest that the green and white colours represent the leek, the national emblem of Wales.


4. One of the best beach bars in the world can be found in Wales.

 

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This fact about Wales may come as a surprise! But, that’s right, Wales’ tiny Ty Coch Inn sound itself on the official list of the best beach bars in the world!

Ty Coch, which can be found on the Llŷn Peninsula, started life as a vicarage in 1823 before it was opened as an inn in 1842, to feed the hungry shipbuilders who worked on the beach!

Today, however, this hidden beach will see thirsty patrons walk nearly a mile across the beach or across the golf course. After the small trek, you are rewarded with striking views of Snowdonia and Ireland. Children can enjoy the sandy beach and calm waters, while the adults linger over a point and savour the surroundings!

Be sure to tick this attraction off your UK bucket list!


5. Wales has more castles per square mile than anywhere else in Europe.

powis castle

Often referred to as the ‘Castle Capital of the World’, Wales has more castles per square mile than anywhere else in Europe.

With more than 600 castles in Wales to discover, almost every corner of the country has an impressive feat of architecture. From the star of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!, Gwyrch Castle in North Wales to the fairytale setting of Castell Coch in South Wales. You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to discovering Welsh castles.


6. World-famous author Roald Dahl was born in Cardiff.

Cardiff Bay

Another interesting fact about Wales is that despite being a relatively small country, it is home to a number of famous faces!

We all know that Tom Jones is a Welsh hero, but did you know that the children’s novelist, Roald Dahl was Welsh too?

Roald Dahl was born in 1916 and Cardiff was the focal point for the writer’s early life. His family lived in a substantial home, Villa Marie on Fairwater Road, which is today marked by a blue plaque for visitors to recognise.

Moreover, the Welsh city knows no shortage of Welsh talent, with Shirley Bassey and Charlotte Church also born in Cardiff!


7. Wales is home to one of the smallest cathedral cities in the world.

st davids

No bigger than a village on the coastline of Pembrokeshire lies the tiny city of St Davids. St Davids is in fact the smallest city in the UK and is the seventh smallest in the world!

The city is built around the 6th-century cathedral and was granted city status by the HM the Queen by Royal Charter on 1st June 1995.

The tiny city is surrounded by beautiful coastal scenery, renowned for its abundance of wildlife and gorgeous beaches. The area is also rich in early Christian heritage, with it being the site of St David’s monastery and where St Patrick is said to have set sail to Ireland.

More interesting facts about Wales!


8. Pistyll Rhaeadr is Britain’s tallest single-drop waterfall.

Pistyll Rhaeadr

At 240ft, Pistyll Rhaeadr is Britain’s tallest single-drop waterfall, resting in the Berwyn Mountains.

Sitting just four miles away from the charming village of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant in Powys, the enchanting waterfall attracts many visitors each year.

This is a great spot for a flying visit or if you’re feeling more adventurous, find a collection of walks surrounding. From the short stroll to the top of the waterfall to the challenging 7 miles Ridge walk.

Afterwards, venture to the tearoom, which boasts many original 18th century features. Here, you can cosy around the fire with a hot chocolate or admire water with an ice cream in hand.


9. Anglesey is the largest island in both England and Wales.

South Stack Lighthouse

Anglesey is by far the largest island in England and Wales and the seventh-largest in the British Isles.

Separated by mainland Wales by the famous Menai Strait, Anglesey covers an area of 261 square miles and includes Holy Island. Holy Island sits on Anglesey’s western edge and is littered with its own collection of coves, headlands and bays. In addition to luxurious places to eat, visit and stay.

On Anglesey, you will find an array of beaches, walks and unusual places to stay. As well as the small tidal island of Ynys Llanddwyn, where St Dwynwen is said to have lived!


10. The Welsh town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is the second-longest place name in the world!

The longest place name in the UK

Despite its impressive 58 letter name, this Welsh village is the second-longest name in the world! Second to a hill in the North Island of New Zealand, which has an 85 letter name!

Originally, the Isle of Anglesey village was just Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll, but in the 1860s it acquired the new name to draw in railway tourists. Even today, this 19th-century strategy is paying off with flocks of people visiting for the photo opportunity.

The 58 letter English translation is ‘The Church of Mary in the Hollow of the White Hazel Near the Fierce Whirlpool and the Church of Tysilio By the Red Cave’. You can find the Church of Mary just a short stroll away from the train station; however no one alive knows the location of the red cave!


11. Wales is home to the longest and fastest zip wire in Europe. 

 

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Another claim to fame is that Wales is home to the longest zip-wire in Europe and the fastest in the world.

Located in Penrhyn Quarry, at the heart of the Snowdonia National Park, Velocity 2 is the best-known adventure activity in Wales. Those who are feeling brave can soar through the sky and admire the blue water of the quarry.

Race your family and friends along the 1.5 km parallel line and reach possible speeds of up to and over 100mph!


12. Mount Everest is named after a Welshman Sir George Everest.

Everest

Sir George Everest was born in Gwernvale, Wales in 1970 before spending much of his adult life in India.

After serving as a young officer in the army, George became the assistant to Colonel William Lambton. Together, they began the Great Trigonometric Survey of India, a project that aimed to survey the entire Indian subcontinent.

When Everest retired, he was succeeded as a surveyor by Andrew Waugh and was knighted in 1861. Everest had always favoured native-place names and objected to the proposal to have the highest peak in the world named after himself. Waugh was unaware of any indigenous name, however, the Tibetans did call the mountain the Chomolungma (“Goddess Mother of the World”).

Despite this, in 1865 they decided to dub the world’s tallest peak Mount Everest. It’s unknown that Everest ever set eyes on the mountain named in his honour!


Do you know of any more facts about Wales? Be sure to let us know on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter! Alternatively, uncover our Wales travel guide to find inspiration for things to do here.

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