The size of Wales

January 5, 2007 at 6:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The size of Wales – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

“The size of Wales” is a phrase known for its use by the British news media to enable size comparisons of large areas to be made; by quoting the size of unfamiliar areas in terms of a familiar area (for example, “twice the size of Wales”), the listener, reader, or viewer has less brainwork to do than if presented with an area measured in millions of hectares, thousands of square kilometres, etc. The origin of and reasons for the choice of Wales (rather than England, Scotland, etc.) as a unit of measurement is unknown, but its prevalence as a unit probably results from the convenience of its size (neatly 20,000 square km). Equally conveniently, England is the size of 6.5 Waleses, and Scotland is the size of 4 Waleses.

It may also be from memetic founder effects. The only other widely used measure of similar size is the “Belgium” (as in “three times the size of Belgium”) … German media will sometimes use Saarland, the smallest state in Germany.

In the United States, newscasters similarly refer to the sizes of Texas (big) and Rhode Island (small) when discussing geographic areas, as well as an American football field when considering sizes related to structures. Texas is more than 33 times the size of Wales, while Wales is about 5 times the size of Rhode Island.

I’d rather not even go into the chain of links that brought me to this little tidbit, suffice to say, i have plenty of time on my hands at work today.


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