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 15th century 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”.
Wales is sometimes known as the “Castle capital of the world” there are more per square mile than anywhere else in the world, with over 100 still standing, either as ruins or restored buildings.
The Principality 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.
The world’s first message ever sent by radio was transmitted by Guglielmo Marconi on May 11 1897, from Larvernock Point, south of Penarth to a mast on Flat Holm in the Bristolchannel – a grand distance of three miles.
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.
The first official Welsh settler to America, Howell Powell, was from Brecon. He left for Virginia in 1642.
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.
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
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.
In 1804 the world’s first steam powered locomotive “The Iron Horse” ran from Penydarren in Merthyr Tydfil to Abercynon. On February 21, Richard Trevithick’s pioneering engine hauled 10 tons of iron and 70 men nearly ten miles at a speed of five miles-per-hour, winning the railway’s owner a 500 guinea bet into the bargain. He was 20 years ahead of his time – Stephenson’s “Rocket” was not even on the drawing board. A replica of the steam engine can be see at the National Waterfront museum
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.
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.
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
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.
The loser of the last fatal duel to be fought in Wales, Thomas Heslop, is buried in the church yard at Llandyfriog, near Newcastle Emlyn. The duel was apparently fought over ‘ungentlemanly remarks’ made about the barmaid at the town’s Salutation Inn in 1814.
Rhos-on-sea has, in St Trillo’s, the smallest chapel in Britain, measuring only 11ft by 8ft and seating just six people.
It is said that the famous American Whiskey Jack Daniels has Welsh origins. Jack Daniel, the company said, was the youngest son of 10 children born to Calaway and Lucinda Daniel who had emigrated to the USA in the final years of the 18th century. They did, however, acknowledge that Jack came from Celtic stock. His grandfather was certainly Welsh and his grandmother Scottish – so maybe whiskey distilling was in his blood.
The corgi dog (the Queen’s favorite!) originates from Wales; it means dwarf-dog or cor-ci.
Felinfoel Brewery in South Wales, the oldest in Wales, was the first outside the US to sell beer in cans starting in 1931.
The first boundary between England and Wales came in 784AD with the creation of Offa’s Dyke by King Offa of Mercia.
Bill Frost was a Welsh inventor who apparently took to the air 8 years before the Wright brothers in his ‘Flying Machine’ in Saundersfoot 1895 before crashing into a tree.
Despite many years of extraction, Wales still has an immense source of many natural materials, and is responsible for many countries’ supplies from coal and slate to copper and steel. At one point, South Wales made up 40% of all coal exported by the UK.
Rugby is the national sport of Wales. The first international game took place in 1881 between Wales and England. Throughout 1907 and 1910, the Welsh were undefeated.
Al Capone’s accountant Llewelyn Humphreys, aka Murray the Hump, came from a Powys family and at one point was America’s most wanted man. He took control of the mob after Capone’s incarceration.
Wales were the first nation to win the Rugby Grand Slam when they beat Ireland in Belfast in 1908. The team had to wear trial jerseys without the Prince of Wales feathers because someone packed the wrong kit!
The British royal family use Welsh gold for wedding rings. This tradition was continued in the royal wedding of 2011 by the Duke, the future Prince of Wales, and Duchess of Cambridge.
Every year an Eisteddfod, a festival of poetry, literature and music, is conducted across with Wales, with the first being held by Lord Rhys at Cardigian castle in 1176.
St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was actually Welsh! A resident of Banwen in the Dulais Valley, he was apparently taken to Ireland by Irish slavers.
Roald Dahl, the world famous children’s author of so many tales including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and The BFG, was born in Cardiff in 1916.
For St David’s Day 2014, residents in Bala, North Wales, cooked the world’s largest Welsh cake. The fruity griddled flat-bread measured an astonishing 5ft (1.5m) wide and weighed 48lbs (21.7kg)! After that mammoth creation, it would have been rude to waste so it was subsequently cut into 200+ pieces.
In 1997, the Welsh voted for the creation of the National Assembly for Wales. For the first time in 40 years, Wales was recognized legally as a distinct constitutional entity within the UK. In 2006, following this vote and the passing of the Government of Wales act, the Senedd was created, the home of the National Assembly.
Dylan Thomas, the world renowned poet and writer of ‘Under the Milk Wood’, was born in Wales in 1914 – but with a name like Dylan you may have guessed that!
The Welsh love-spoon is an iconic symbol across the world, originally carved by men to their respective lover’s family as a sign he was capable and skilled with his hands. Each symbol is representative of something, from the knot representing love, to the twist meaning the couple’s bond.