Diolch yn fawr, Cymru!
No, that wasn’t a virtual sneeze… that was an expression of gratitude towards the smallest country on the island of Great Britain.
Yes, that’s right – Thank you, Wales! And boy, do we have a lot to be thankful for, like:
It’s probably an understatement to say that there are quite a few things the wider world doesn’t know about Wales, which is, in fact, one of the world’s most beautiful countries, home to a dark and exciting history, and a culture that is both unique and brimming with undeniable charm.
Well, we think it’s about time that the world got to know Wales a little better, so we’ve got an important lesson for you all…
Here are 5 things you never knew you might not know about the beautiful country of Wales:
1. Wales is home to more castles per square mile than anywhere else in the world…
The cynics among you may not think this is very exciting, but we can assure you… it is.
For a country that only houses 8,000 people per square mile and is not even the size of New Jersey, Wales definitely boasts one heck of a lot of castles – 641, to be exact! It’s also home to three million people and 11 million sheep… but that’s getting off topic.
Some of the castles date back as far as the 11th century, and clearly, judging by the sheer amount the country’s home to, back then Wales was the only place to be if you felt like building a castle. Experience the stunning views, thrilling histories and sneaky secret passageways in some of the world’s oldest historical buildings.
Here’s an interesting fact – ever heard of a building called the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Well, forget it! Because Wales has something even better…
— Caerphilly Castle (@Caerphilly_Cadw) January 6, 2016
Caerphilly Castle – it leans even more than the notorious Italian attraction. Who’d have thought it, eh?
There’s also Conwy Castle…
— Lee (@LeeLmps) January 8, 2016
An absolutely breath-taking UNESCO World Heritage site.
And also Caernarfon Castle…
With majestic views over Mount Snowdonia.
But that’s just three out of 641, each one with its own extraordinary story to tell. And one of the great things about Wales is that if you wanted to see them all, the place is so small that you genuinely could!
Let’s not get too carried away though, Wales isn’t all just castles and farmyard animals! It also hosts some pretty amazing cities. Cardiff, for example, has previously been ranked the UK’s favourite city, and has even been ranked among the best cities in the whole of Europe!
— Visit Cardiff (@VisitCardiff) January 11, 2016
Cardiff presents everything a student would want in a city – from stylish boutiques and high street stores, to kooky bars and lively clubs – and so much more just waiting to be discovered.
Overall, Wales is a country that has somehow managed to perfectly blend rustic, historical fairy tale scenes with the benefits of modern cosmopolitan life. And nowhere else in the world does this quite as well!
2. Wales is home to 870 miles of rugged and elegant coastline…
And you can follow the Wales Coast Path and cover and hike the whole thing in 65 days.
— Wales Coast Path (@WalesCoastPath) January 18, 2016
The best thing about it is, you can even have your bags taken and delivered from point to point. Ain’t that just some good old Welsh hospitality?! (Check out Cab-a-Bag and Edge of Wales Walk for all your coastline delivery needs!)
If that just seems like too much of a trek, why not try a section of the Offa’s Dyke Path, a beautiful walk along an ancient 8th century Dyke. The route takes around 12 days to walk in its entirety, but you can take it as far as you like, soaking up that fresh Welsh seaside air!
— Offa’s Dyke Path (@OffasDykePath) January 15, 2016
Hidden amongst the craggy coast near the Welsh region of Abercraf, lies Ogof Ffynnon Ddu, the deepest cave in Britain at 1,010 feet. With over 30 miles of passages, it is also the third longest, and an absolute must-see for any keen Welsh adventurer.
Ogof Ffynnon Ddu is a cave under a hillside in the area surrounding Penwyllt in the Upper Swansea Valley in S. Wales pic.twitter.com/7RKeO1WWVu
— Kaan Ucele (@Ucele_Photo) January 10, 2016
3. Wales is home to the town with the longest place name in Europe.
Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch – try saying that once you’ve had a few pints!
With a tongue-twisting 58 letters, this little Welsh town boasts the title of the longest place name in Europe, and is even the longest valid single-word internet domain in the entire world!
Delivery refused until Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch address was provided in English https://t.co/SyZWZdq6xw
— nino williams (@ninominoli) January 19, 2016
The place name was even used as a secret password in the 1968 cult classic Barbarella, starring Jane Fonda; in the film, the characters recited the name whenever they wished to gain entry to a secret Resistance HQ.
The Welsh language is rich, and a part of the national heritage that the Welsh people keep very much alive. Did you know the Welsh language was Tolkien’s inspiration for the Elvish language in the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy?
Yes, really Legolas, you are very much a part of humble Wales! And proud you should be, too! What’s even more cool than that is that a lot of universities offer extra-curricular Welsh language classes entirely for free (as classes are all delivered in English), so you can go to University, and learn how to speak to elves alongside your degree.
4. Wales is the only country in the world that has to be green by law!
That’s right, the Welsh government have made it their legal duty to promote sustainable development for both its country and its people.
— Megan West (@MeggieJ17) January 17, 2016
With 30% of its landscape protected as national parks…
— Brecon Beacons (@Brecon_News) September 26, 2013
…Areas of outstanding natural beauty…
Today’s Pic of the Day is of Ynys Llanddwyn, on Anglesey, by Sian Monument. Email firstname.lastname@example.org pic.twitter.com/JD1iiAbjAM
— BBC Wales News (@BBCWalesNews) January 12, 2016
…Or even heritage coast sites…
— whitefoot photo (@whitefootphoto) January 17, 2016
It really is their duty to do so! Kudos to the Welsh government – countries all over the world should listen and take note!
5. And finally, Wales is home to the one and only Bat Cave!
As if we couldn’t make Wales sound any more cool, how would you feel if we told you that the Brecon Beacons, one of Wales’s many natural assets, is home to Henrhyd Waterfall, entrance to the Bat Cave in The Dark Knight Rises.
Funnily enough, Christian Bale, epic movie star who starred as the hero in the film, also happens to be from Wales!
And the tiny country sure has turned out its fair share of superstars, including: Michael Sheen, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Matthew Rhys, Catherine Zeta Jones, Shirley Bassey, Dylan Thomas and George Everest just to name a few.
…So, there you have it. Wales may be one of the world’s smallest countries, but it is also one of the friendliest, most enchanting and inspiring of them all. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg – there are so many weird, wonderful and just downright amazing Welsh things just waiting to be discovered.
Let the adventure begin…