In journalistic British English, the canonical unit of measurement for large-scale environmental disasters: burning rainforests, reductions in icecap sizes, holes in ozone layers, etc.

The actual area of the Principality is 20 768 km2 but for this usage just work on the basis of either 20 000 km2 or ten thousand square miles.

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that every British journalist when faced with a disaster such as a forest fire, flood, earthquake, tidal wave or hurricane that has created widespread devastation of a sufficently noteworthy extent, will inform us that an 'area the size of Wales' has been subjected to said devastation.

If the facts warrant it, the journalist may refer to multiples of this standard unit of measure such as an 'area twice the size of Wales' or even occasionally to fractions thereof, such as an 'area half the size of Wales'. The reasons for this are uncertain but are probably something to do with the fact that Wales is quite small but still, in the minds of a British audience, counts as a 'whole country', and therefore sounds like an impressively large area. Although no matter how big or small the area efffected no one will ever refer to an 'area the size of Hampshire' or an 'area the size of Scotland'.

The ever helpful Wales-o-meter at http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~kelky/sk/sizeofwales.html will help you calculate the size of your chosen area relative to the universally accepted standard of Wales.

Note for American readers for Wales substitute Massachusetts.

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