Welsh Facts

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Welsh facts that may be of interest to you about Wales and its people. Although we are a small country compared to the rest of the United Kingdom you will be rather surprised at how far the Welsh culture and people have travelled throughout the world. Our Welsh facts page is updated regularly and we are more than happy for you to contact us if there any Welsh facts that we have not added to the page. 

A great link for more Welsh facts is the Famous Welsh website showing famous people from all over the world with Welsh ancestry, this includes film stars, scientists, adventurers and many more. We hope you enjoy browsing our Welsh facts page.

It took until 1959 for the Welsh national flag to be officially unfurled for the first time. The significance of the dragon in Welsh culture is believed to date back to Arthurian legend when Merlin had a vision of a red dragon (representing native Britons) fighting a white dragon (the Saxon invaders). The use of green and white refer to the colours of the House of Tudor, the 15thcentury royal family of Welsh origin. 

There is an inscription halfway up the steps of the Washington Monument which reads Fy iaith, fy ngwlad, fy nghenedl Cymru – Cymru am byth! (“My language, my land, my nation of Wales – Wales for ever!”). It’s possible that twenty per cent of the Pilgrim Fathers of America were Welsh and perhaps more importantly almost fifty percent of the signatories to the American Declaration of Independence were also Welsh or of Welsh heritage. The author of the Declaration of Independence, President Thomas Jefferson, was among those of Welsh descent, along with eight other American presidents.

Did you know that only 21% of the population of Wales speak our native language which is Welsh.

Our welsh alphabet does not contain the letters K, Q, V or Z.

Our national anthem is “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau” which means “Land Of My Fathers”.

We have more castles per square mile than anywhere else in the world.

Our Millenium Stadium in Cardiff has the largest retractable roof of any sports arena in the World.

The Sheep population in Wales is four times greater than the Welsh population of humans.

Many famous people are from Wales, here are a few you may well know:
Richard Burton, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Tom Jones, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Shirley Bassey, Timothy Dalton, Charlotte Church, Gareth Bale, Christian Bale and Roald Dahl. 

Wales is the only part of the UK not to be represented on the Union Flag (Union Jack).

Our motto is “Cymru am Byth” which means “Wales Forever”.

It is believed that King Arthur came from Wales.

There is a town in North Wales which is believed to have the longest place name in the world. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch which translates as “The church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio’s of the red cave”.

Mount Everest was named after Welshman Sir George Everest from Gwernvale, Breconshire.

Gilbern cars were one of the few vehicles ever to be made in Wales at Pontypridd, near Cardiff.

Marconi’s first radio transmission in 1897 was between two points in Wales.

Saint David (in Welsh “Dewi Sant”) our patron Saint was a Welsh Bishop during the 6th century, later regarded as a Saint and our Patron.

Robert Recorde of Pembrokeshire, West Wales invented the “equal to” sign.

Welsh explorer David Thompson mapped 20% of the North American Continent, surveying the Canada/US border from East to West in the 1800s.

Welsh Immigrants began The Mormon Tabernacle choir.

A Welshman founded The New York Times.

America may have taken it’s name from a Welshman.

Welsh people may have settled in America before Columbus.

America’s oldest ethnic society is Welsh.

The Welsh language is spoken in Patagonia a region in South America where Welsh people arrived in 1865.

The last Briton to die in WW1 was a Welshman.

Menai Bridge in Anglesey,  designed by Thomas Telford and opened on 30 January 1826,  was the first suspension bridge in the world constructed to take heavy traffic.

The first official Welsh settler to America, Howell Powell, was from Brecon. He left for Virginia in 1642.

Craig-y-Nos Castle was home for 40 years of opera singer Adelina Patti in the late 1800s. Born in Madrid, she once sang at the White House and was said to have reduced Abraham Lincoln and his wife to tears.

Swallow Falls at Betws-y-coed is the most visited waterfall in Britain.

It was in the gardens of 17th century Nantclwyd Hall, near Ruthin, that Major Walter Wingfield apparently invented lawn tennis in 1873.

The Mumbles in Swansea gets its name from the French word ‘mamelles’, meaning breasts, referring to two little islands located offshore.

In 1881 the first lager brewery in Britain was opened in Wrexham by German immigrants.

Mount Snowdon in North Wales is the highest mountain in Wales at 3650 feet.

The smallest City in the UK is St David’s on the Pembrokeshire coast, West Wales. (population 1484 – Census 1991)

Every one of the statues surrounding Cardiff Castle are of animals.

The scoring system for Golf was invented by Welshman Dr Stableford, an avid golfer. He sadly committed suicide before his 90th birthday because he became blind and could no longer play the game.

Pryce Jones from Newtown, Montgomeryshire, created the first Mail Order business in the World. Delivering to a predominantly remote rural customer base in the hills and valleys of Wales.

Comedian Bob Hope’s parents were married in Cardiff.

Wales’s land mass is 8016 square miles. Coastline 746 miles long.

The River Usk in Wales has the second highest tidal rise and fall in the World.

Spillers Record shop in Cardiff established in 1894 is the oldest record shop and recording business in the world.

In 1804 the world’s first steam powered locomotive “The Iron Horse” ran from Penydarren in Merthyr Tydfil to Abercynon.

The world’s first fare paying passenger railway service in 1807 was on the Oystermouth Railway in Swansea, it later became known as the Swansea and Mumbles Railway. 

Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales has the world’s earliest surviving Iron Railway bridge.  The Pont-y-Cafnau was built in 1793 as well as the world’s first Railway tunnel.

St Donat’s castle in Llantwit Major, Vale of Glamorgan, was purchased in 1925 by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst for his mistress, the actress Marion Davies. He entertained many famous guests including Charlie Chaplin, Arthur Conan Doyle, Winston Churchill, John F Kennedy and George Bernard Shaw. The castle is now an Arts Centre and is a department of UWC Atlantic college sitting in the heart of the college’s campus.

Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales was once the iron capital of the world. Opened in 1765, the Cyfarthfa Ironworks went on to become the largest ironworks on the face of the globe, before being overtaken in 1865 by the nearby Dowlais Ironworks – the first major ironworks to use the Bessemer process.

The Lower Swansea Valley was the largest copper processing area in the world at the end of the 19th century – Copperopolis. Hafod Works were at the time the largest copper works on Earth. By 1873, the Landore district of Swansea boasted the world’s largest steelworks, founded by German-born engineer William Siemens. 

Cardiff used to be the world’s biggest exporter of coal and iron. When it opened in 1839, the West Bute Dock was the largest masonry dock on the planet. The city’s Coal Exchange, established in 1886, used to determine the price of the world’s coal.

The Merthyr Mawr Sand Dunes were once the largest dune system in Europe. They were chosen as the shooting location for the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.

Pembrokeshire-born Bartholomew Roberts is considered the most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy, and is thought to have been the first pirate to name his flag “Jolly Roger”, in June 1721.

The Smithfield Livestock Market in Welshpool, Montgomeryshire, is the largest one-day sheep market in Europe.

The Newport Transporter Bridge, constructed in 1906, is the largest of the nine surviving historic transport bridges in the world. Its span is of 196.5 metres.

Aberdulais Falls near Neath, is home to Europe’s largest electricity generating waterwheel.

The Great Glasshouse at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire, is the world’s largest single-span glasshouse. It measures 95 metres (312 ft) on 55 metres (180 ft) and houses over 1,000 species of plants.

Welshmen James Griffiths and Aneurin Bevan produce the National Insurance Act of 1946, which sets up the UK’s welfare state, known today as the National Health Service (NHS).

The first official census record was drafted in 1801, the population of Wales was 587,000. The town of Merthyr Tydfil with 7,705 inhabitants was at the time the largest town in Wales.

David Lloyd George became the first Welsh Prime Minister of the UK in 1916. He was also the only Prime Minister to speak English as a second language, Welsh being his first.

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