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This Britain

Trending: The new 'country the size of Wales'


When Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, warned at the weekend that the UK Border Agency faces a backlog of cases equivalent to the population of Newcastle, many responded by simply scratching their head, having no idea how many people that constituted.

Could Newcastle's population (roughly 280,000) be a new unhelpful unit of comparison set to baffle the public, in the same way that "an area the size of Wales" is used by the media to describe anything from an expanse of rainforest to the size of an iceberg, or North Korea ("five times the size of Wales", according to the BBC)?

To aid this new unit of measurement's smooth transition into the British lexicon, what else is equivalent to the population of Newcastle? Well, the number of Americans who bought Britney Spears' last album in its first week was equivalent to the population of Newcastle as is the average audience for Glee on Sky TV. The total workforce of Nestlé is also equivalent to the population of Newcastle and let's not forget that the population of Newark, New Jersey, is, too. All clear?