Basic facts about The Valleys, Wales and Britain
Wales is the friendly green hilly bit on the western side of Britain. There’s England to the East, and London is only about 2 hours by road or by rail.
The Valleys are not far from Cardiff, Wales’ capital city in the south and the Brecon Beacons National Park borders the area to the north. The Valleys are often remembered for their role in the industrial revolution but are now popular for the spectacular roller-coaster landscape of hills and vales dotted with friendly towns and villages.
There are two official languages in Wales, English and Welsh. English is spoken by everyone in Wales with Welsh spoken by about one in five of the population. Welsh is one of the oldest languages in Europe, it's a Celtic language, sort of a cousin to Irish, but closer to Breton and Cornish. National TV and radio stations are broadcast in Welsh and English, road signs are written in Welsh and English, there are Welsh medium schools, books, magazines, newspapers and websites. It’s called Cymraeg in Welsh, and here are a few basic phrases to help you get started...
Hello - Helo,
Please- Os gwelwch yn dda,
Then there’s the landscape. The facts and figures might lead you to believe that Wales is small – it covers an area of around 8,000 square miles (or 20,800 square kilometres). But if you could roll it out flat, we bet it would be bigger than Texas.
Wales has three National Parks, five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a number of World Heritage Sites including Blaenavon in The Valleys. All this is part of a landscape that offers opportunities for all kinds of activities. Walking, cycling, climbing, golf, mountain biking and paragliding are just the beginning of the list.
Famous sons and daughters of Wales you will have heard of include Richard Burton, Sir Tom Jones, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones. And lots of other people have been tracing their Welsh ancestry recently - including Tom Cruise, Susan Sarandon, Russell Crowe, Donny Osmond and Kylie Minogue. Many with connections to The Valleys.
Wales also has lots and lots of castles (over 400 at the last count) and Caerphilly Castle in The Valleys is the largest in Wales – well worth a visit!
You’ll be delighted to hear that prices in Wales and in particular The Valleys tend to be fairly reasonable compared to other areas throughout Britain. Pound sterling is the currency.
Weights & measures
Historically Wales/Britain used the Imperial System, but new regulations make use of the Metric System compulsory with the exception of a few items, for example distance and speed are measured in miles and miles per hour.
Voltage is 240 volts AC at 50HZ. Appliances generally use standard 3-pin square plugs and sockets.