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Some quick facts and figures about Wales ...

Geography - Tourism - Agriculture and Industry - Emblems - St. David - History - Culture - Statistics

Language

English is the day to day language for most Welsh people. Due to the efforts of many dedicated people the Welsh language still flourishes (and there is a Welsh language TV channel). The 1991 census gave a figure of 18.5 per cent Welsh speakers.

Currency

The currency is that of Britain in general i.e. the pound sterling, sometimes referred to on the Net as the GBP.

Climate

Wales has the sort of climate often described as "temperate". This means that it never gets very hot or very cold. May, June, July and August are the sunniest and driest months, but even in the winter a raincoat and sweater will usually cope with the worst that the weather has to offer. For more weather information check the statistics at the foot of this page and our Travel Notes

Geography

The land area is just over 8,000 square miles and Wales measures 160 miles long by 60 miles wide. Wales has extensive tracts of high plateaux with mountain ranges deeply dissected by river valleys radiating from the centre of the upland area. The lowland area is confined mainly to the relatively narrow coastal belts and the valley floors. Snowdon is the highest mountain at 3,560 feet. The coastline is almost 750 miles long (1,200 Km.) Go to the Data Wales Maps Page for a selection of small maps of Wales.  

Tourism

Nowadays, tourism is a key employer and revenue earner for Wales. Wales has a wealth of holiday cottages and private  hotels, renowned for their hospitality. A Japanese student with an interest in visiting Wales recently wrote with a list of questions. One of these was "Are there any places dangerous for tourists in Wales?" The answer was "no" - but on reflection I would add that visitors should take advice before tackling walks and climbs in mountainous areas when the weather is uncertain. Wales has a mountain rescue service but let's allow them to enjoy their day off. Parents with young children should take care when visiting the ancient castles of Wales. Moats, battlements and dungeons weren't designed to be visitor friendly. As for conversation - it may or may not be appropriate to ask about the current state of Welsh rugby football. 

Agriculture and Industry

Wales is a land of small farms. Sheep farming is predominant in the mountains and moorlands, dairy and mixed farming around the coast. The old heavy industries which once made the port of Cardiff (the capital city) the busiest in the world have declined to such an extent that even coal mining has almost ceased in Wales. British governments have attracted English and multi-national companies to Wales with generous incentives but unemployment is still higher than the average for Britain. Recent years have seen a strong growth in the science and technology sectors, however, so this may change. 

National emblems

The Welsh flag has two equal horizontal stripes, white above green, and a large red dragon passant. We have a drawing and some historical background here

The daffodil and the leek are also famous emblems of Wales. 

St. David - the patron saint of Wales

March 1st is celebrated in Wales as St. David's Day. This is the most important day in the Welsh calendar and the day on which expatriates around the world remember their roots. It is a day for Welsh people to celebrate their culture and identity. St. David was an early crusader for Christianity in Wales and is supposed to have died on March 1st, 589. His remains were buried at what is now the Cathedral of St. David's in Pembrokeshire, west Wales. 

History

The peace and tranquility of the Welsh landscape belies a turbulent history. The Romans occupied Britain for 400 years but never succeded in entirely subduing Wales. Testaments to their efforts may still be seen at the site of the barracks of the II Augusta Legion at the pretty town of Caerleon in South Wales. Archeological excavation still takes place in nearby Caerwent (Venta Silurum) where the beautifully constructed core of the Roman town wall still fascinates, despite the fact that much of its facing stone has been re-used in local houses and farms. Following the Romans came the Saxons, Picts, Vikings and Normans. The history of the medieval period is dominated by the exploits of the rebellious Welsh princes such as Owain Glyndwr. Acts of parliament between 1536 and 1543 unified Wales with England. 

 This history of struggle against invaders from within and without mainland Britain has left Wales with more castles per square mile than any other country in Western Europe. It's a nice irony that previous centuries of oppression have left Wales with a priceless national asset, the great castles in now peaceful rural settings that contribute so much to the beauty of the Welsh landscape. 

Culture

The character of Wales is thankfully still unique. Welsh culture and tradition is celebrated at a festival called the Eisteddfod. We are indebted to the Wales Tourist Board for the background to this important element of Welsh life. 

"....The present form of the eisteddfod is a nineteenth century creation. Wales at that time was a country where the national language and culture lacked patronage because the property owning gentry had become Anglicised. The medieval meeting of the bards called an eisteddfod was revived as a means of attracting patronage for Welsh cultural activity. At first competitions were confined to poetry composition and harp playing but today choir singing, bands, acting, recitation, fiction writing, painting and much more is judged at an eisteddfod." 

 "There are two important annual eisteddfodau in Wales. The first is the National Eisteddfod which is held in North and South Wales in alternate years at the beginning of August. The ceremonies of this Eisteddfod are carried out by the Gorsedd of Bards which is an association of people interested in Welsh literature and music... The International Eisteddfod takes place in Llangollen where dancers, singers and choirs from every part of the world converge to take part in this global festival of music. The Llangollen Eisteddfod usually takes place in July." 
 
 

Statistics -
 

The InfoBase Cymru website is a great resource for those researching modern Wales and its people. "The statistics cover a range of themes including people, economy, education, health, housing and crime."

 

 

 

Data Wales Index Page