Wales is a country in southwest Great Britain known for its rugged coastline, mountainous national parks, distinctive language and Celtic culture.
Wales is called Cymru in Welsh.
Wales is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east, the Irish Sea to its north and west, and the Bristol Channel to its south.
The official languages of Wales are Welsh and English.
Wales has a population of 3,168,000 people as of 2016.
Cardiff is the capital and largest city in Wales and the tenth largest city in the United Kingdom.
Wales is a country full of natural beauty. Much of its landscape is mountainous, from Snowdonia to the northwest, home to the rare and iconic relic of the ice-age the Snowdon lily, to the Brecon Beacons in the south.
Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales, at an elevation of 1,085 meters (3,560 ft) above sea level, and the highest point in the British Isles outside the Scottish Highlands.
Together, the three Welsh National Parks – Snowdonia, Pembrokeshire Coast and Brecon Beacons – protect an impressive 20% of Wales, including precious landscapes, habitats, villages and heritage sites.
The Brecon Beacons National Park shelters Europe’s largest cave system, Mynydd Llangatwg, Britain’s longest and largest showcave, Dan-yr-Ogof, as well as Britain’s deepest cave, Ogof Fynnon Ddu (308 meters / 1,010 feet).
Wales has three UNESCO world heritage sites – Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd, Blaenavon Industrial Landscape and Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal.
The Castles and Town Walls of King Edward includes the castles of Beaumaris and Harlech and the castles and town walls of Caernarfon and Conwy.These extremely well-preserved monuments are examples of the colonization and defence works carried out throughout the reign of Edward I (1272–1307) and the military architecture of the time.
Blaenavon Industrial Landscape – The area around Blaenavon is evidence of the pre-eminence of South Wales as the world’s major producer of iron and coal in the 19th century.
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal – Situated in north-eastern Wales, the 18 kilometre long Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal is a feat of civil engineering of the Industrial Revolution, completed in the early years of the 19th century.The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is the longest aqueduct in Britain (307 meters / 1007 feet).
Wales is the land of mythical King Arthur, the famous Romano-British leader fighting against the invading Anglo-Saxons. Arthur’s fortress, Camelot, is placed by both Geoffrey of Monmouth and Chrétien de Troyes in Caerleon, the site of one of the three Roman legionary forts in Britain.
Chepstow Castle, Monmouthshire, is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain (in other words, the oldest medieval castle made of stone). Its construction began in 1067 – over a hundred years before Windsor Castle was rebuilt in stone (in 1170).
Wales is believed to have more castles per square kilometer than anywhere else in the world.
Begun in 1120, Bangor Cathedral is the oldest cathedral still in use in Britain.
In Llangadwaladr lies Britain’s oldest royal tombstone, that of Cadfan ap Iago, King of Gwynedd from 616 to 625.
The monastery of Bangor-on-Dee, near Wrexham, is the oldest in Britain. It was founded in 560.
The oldest tree in Wales, Llangernyw Yew, is between 4,000 and 5,000 years old.
The National Botanic Garden of Wales features the world’s largest single-span glasshouse measuring 110 meters (360 feet) long by 60 meters (200 feet) wide and houses over 1,000 species of plants.
Famous people from Wales include Richard Burton, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Tom Jones, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Shirley Bassey, Timothy Dalton and Monty Python comedian and film director Terry Jones.
Mount Everest was named after Welsh surveyor and geographer Sir George Everest from Gwernvale, Breconshire.
In 1804, the world’s first railway steam locomotive, “The Iron Horse”, launched on its inaugural journey from from Penydarren to Abercynon in Glamorgan.
The world’s first fare-paying, passenger railway service was established on the Oystermouth Railway in Swansea in 1807. It later became known as the Swansea and Mumbles Railway.
Merthyr Tydfil boasts the world’s earliest surviving iron railway bridge, the Pont-y-Cafnau, built in 1793, as well as the world’s first railway tunnel.
Lawn tennis was invented in 1873 by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield to entertain his guests at a garden party at Nantclwyd House in Llanelidan, Denbighshire.
The medieval St Donat’s Castle was purchased in 1925 by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst for his mistress, the actress Marion Davies.
Lamb is the meat traditionally associated with Welsh cooking owing to the amount of sheep farming in the country.
The population sheep in Wales is four times greater than the Welsh population of humans.
The original national emblem of Wales was the Leek (Cenhinen), over the years this was often confused with a very similar Welsh word Cehhinen Bedr which means daffodils and so the daffodil was adopted as a second emblem of Wales.
In the 2000 Census, 1.7 million Americans reported Welsh ancestry (although the true figure is most likely higher given the high occurrence of Welsh surnames in the USA).
Typically Welsh surnames are given names ending in “-s”, such as Williams, Davies, Jones, Edwards, Roberts, Hughes, Lewis, or Evans. More traditional names include Owen, Lloyd, Morgan, Vaughan, Jenkins, Meredith or Griffith(s).
Only 21% of the entire Welsh population of Wales can speak the native language.
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (lan-vire-pool-guin-gith-go-ger-u-queern-drob-ooth-clandus-ilio-gogo-goch) is a Welsh word which translates roughly as “St Mary’s Church in the Hollow of the White Hazel near a Rapid Whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the Red Cave”.
The Welsh motto is “Cymru am byth” which means “Wales forever”.