Wales is a country steeped in history, myth, and breathtaking scenery. From the rugged beauty of Snowdonia to the medieval charm of its castles, Wales’s history and culture is packed full of intrigue and mystery.
In today’s blog post, we introduce to you some interesting facts about Wales. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
General Wales Facts
1. Wales is one of the four countries in the United Kingdom (the others are England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland). Although Wales is considered a country, the UK is also often considered a country, so it is like a country within a country.
2. Wales is on the island called Great Britain, which it shares with England and Scotland. Wales shares a border with England to the east and is surrounded by the Irish Sea to the north and west. There is much confusion over the names England, Great Britain, and United Kingdom.
3. Wales is small. If it were a US state, it would be the 4th smallest one, between New Jersey and Connecticut in size. As a country, it is almost exactly the same size as Israel. It’s not the smallest country in the UK, though. That would be Northern Ireland.
4. Welsh (Cymraeg) is the official language of Wales, but English is the most commonly spoken language. Approximately 18% of the country speaks Welsh, while almost three-quarters of the population can’t speak any Welsh at all.
5. Nearly half the population of Wales is non-religious. The main religion in Wales is Christianity. 43.6% of the Welsh population follow the Christian faith. According to a 2021 census, 46.5% of the population doesn’t follow a religion.
6. Wales is renowned for its impressive and diverse landscapes, including rolling hills, valleys, mountains, and coastal areas. Snowdonia National Park and Brecon Beacons National Park showcase its natural beauty. With a height of 1,085 m (3,560 ft), Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales.
7. Wales boasts an impressive collection of medieval castles, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Notable examples include Caernarfon Castle, Conwy Castle, and Cardiff Castle.
Fun Facts about Welsh History
8. Wales is one of the oldest civilizations in the world. The earliest evidence of anatomically modern humans living in the country dates back to 31,000 BC. However, continuous habitation by modern homo sapiens began in approximately 9,000 BC.
9. The history of what is now Wales dates back 230,000 years with the presence of Neanderthals. Excavations at Pontnewydd Cave in Denbighshire revealed human teeth and stone tools from 225,000 years ago.
10. Wales is home to one of the earliest formal human burial sites in Europe. Referred to as the ‘Red Lady of Paviland’, bones from an early settler were found in a sea cave on the Gower Peninsula. They are believed to be roughly 33,000 years old.
11. Ancient Wales was home to Celtic Druids, mystical religious leaders who held rituals and ceremonies in sacred groves. They believed in life after death, so they would bury ornaments, weapons, and food with the dead.
12. Dolaucothi Gold Mines in Carmarthenshire are the only known Roman gold mines in Great Britain. Romans used advanced engineering techniques to extract gold, leaving behind intriguing underground tunnels that date back over 2,000 years.
13. Ancient Wales had a rich tradition of bardic schools where bards (poets) were trained. These schools played a significant role in preserving and passing on Welsh culture and history.
14. Wales has a pilgrimage site associated with miraculous healing waters. Called St. Winefride’s Well, it is in Holywell in North Wales. It has been visited by those seeking physical and spiritual healing for centuries.
15. The Vikings attacked Wales repeatedly in the 10th century. During this time, Welsh people were taken and sold as slaves. In 987, more than 2,000 men were taken and sold from the island of Anglesey.
16. Some of the stones that make up Stonehenge are from Wales. These bluestones are believed to have been transported from the Preseli Hills in Wales. The stones had to be transported 140 miles to the Stonehenge location.
17. Wales has the most castles per square mile in the world. Despite its size, Wales once had more than 600 castles. Today, 400 still stand, with Chepstow Castle (1067 AD) being the oldest surviving castle in the country.
18. Between 1801 and 1851, it is believed that a chapel was built in Wales every eight days. At one point, there were enough chapels in Wales to seat half the nation’s population.
19. In 1557, Welsh mathematician Robert Recorde invented the equals sign (=). He created the sign to avoid the repetition of using the words ‘equal to.’’
20. In 1842, in Blackwood, Caerphilly, there was one pub for every 5 people in the town. There were 200 taverns around the town too. This huge increase in pubs came about after the Beer Act of 1830 was introduced.
21. The microphone was invented in Wales in 1878. David Edward Hughes (1831-1900) from Corwen, North Wales also created the first fully functioning radio communication system.
22. Wales is home to the oldest record shop in the world. Spillers Records in Cardiff was originally opened in 1894.
23. Traditional Welsh costumes varied dramatically from costumes worn by the English and Scottish. Welsh women would wear a gown, a bedgown, a shawl, and a unique tall Welsh hat. Men wore waistcoats, jackets, wool stockings, breeches, and black felt hats.
24. A traditional craft in Wales involves carving intricate love spoons. Historically, these spoons were given as tokens of affection and often featured elaborate designs and symbols.
Interesting Facts about Modern Wales
25. Conwy in North Wales is home to the world’s smallest house, known as “Quay House.” Built in 1680, it’s only about 10 feet (3 meters) by 6 feet (1.8 meters) and was once inhabited by a fisherman.
26. There are 3 times more sheep than people in Wales. The human population sits at approximately 3 million, while the sheep population is more than 9 million.
27. Despite being the capital city of Wales, Cardiff is only the 13th biggest city in the United Kingdom by population. Cardiff currently has a population of approximately 360,000 and sits between Bradford and Belfast in the rankings.
28. Wales has been ranked the 10th most beautiful place in the world. Best known for its stunning coastline and rugged mountain landscapes, Wales ranked higher than Finland, Switzerland, Peru, and Norway.
29. The national flag of Wales features a red dragon. It’s one of the few national flags that includes a mythical creature. The dragon has been a symbol of Welsh identity for centuries.
30. In the 1980s, a mysterious creature dubbed the “Beast of Bont” was reported in the small Welsh village of Bont. Some described it as a big cat or panther-like creature, sparking local legends. It is still believed the beast stalks sheep around the village today.
31. The town of Llanwrtyd Wells hosts an annual Bog Snorkeling Championship. Participants snorkel through a water-filled trench cut through a peat bog, showcasing the eccentric side of Welsh culture.
32. A small village on the island of Anglesey is famous for having one of the longest place names in the world. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch contains 58 characters. The name was introduced to commercialize the town.
33. Pot Noodle, a famous instant noodle brand in the UK, is from Wales. The original idea for instant noodles in a cup of course came from Japan, but this brand has been made in Crumlin, South Wales since the 1970s.
34. In some parts of Wales, the New Year is welcomed with the Calennig tradition. Children go door-to-door singing and offering a song in exchange for small gifts.
35. On Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day), towns like Llandeilo host pancake races. Locals who choose to participate race while flipping pancakes in frying pans.
36. Wales has a unique tradition of having a goat as part of its military. The Goat Major, a ceremonial position, is responsible for the goat mascot of the Royal Welsh Regiment.