I’m unexpectedly back in the United States for two weeks. After four and a half months in Europe, I needed a bit of a break from traveling to start writing my book. Hostels just aren’t the right environment for writing and with an airline credit I needed to use, I figured my parent’s house was a good place to go. Despite all my time overseas, I really do like the United States. It’s got a very interesting history. Some interesting facts:
The United States is the fattest country in the world with 33% of the population being obese.
Atlanta International Airport is the world’s busiest airport.
College Park, Maryland has the oldest functioning airport in the USA.
Point Roberts, Washington cannot be entered or exited without going through Canada. Both nations have immigration points of entry despite a population of less than 1,000.
Wisconsin has more lakes than Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes.
The longest stone arch bridge in the world is the Rockville Bridge in Marysville, Pennsylvania.
Salt Lake City has a law against carrying an unwrapped ukulele on the street.
The Hollywood Bowl in California is the world’s largest amphitheater.
The first motion picture theater opened in Los Angeles in 1902.
Tallahassee, Florida was the only Confederate state capital that did not fall to the Union during the Civil War.
Maine grows 98% of the nation’s blueberries.
Wabash, Indiana was the first electrically lighted city in the world.
Pensacola, Florida is actually the oldest city in the US. It was settled in 1559 by Don Tristan de Luna.
The first public university in the United States was the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Kentucky has the largest cave system in the world – the Mammoth cave system has over 200 miles of caves.
Wyoming was the first place in the USA to allow women to hold office and vote.
The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France in 1884.
Though the statue is associated with New York City, it is physically located in New Jersey.
Some of Gandhi’s ashes can be found in the Lake Shrine Temple near Los Angeles.
The first person to become president who was born in a hospital was Jimmy Carter.
Arlington National Cemetery was once Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s plantation.
Manhattan’s Chinatown has the most Chinese residents in the Western Hemisphere.
The original London Bridge was transplanted to Lake Havasu, Arizona, in 1968.
American Indians were not US citizens until 1924.
The King of Thailand is technically an American citizen. He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1927.
The United States has no official language.
The word “sideburns” comes from the American Civil War and named after General Ambrose Burnside.
Harvard was the first university in the United States and founded in 1636.
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had a bet on who would die first. They both died the same day on July 4th, 1826, each thinking the other had outlived the other.
The holiday of Thanksgiving actually dates back to the Civil War and was designed to help bring the Union together.
New York was once ruled by the Dutch and called New Amsterdam.
The original capital of the United States was Philadelphia. Washington D.C. became the capital in 1790.
The United States Navy has the second largest air force in the world. The United States Air Force has the first.
The United States debt per person is $45,000 USD.
George Washington used to grow hemp.
The Republic of Ragusa, now part of present day Croatia, was the first country to recognize the United States in 1776.
John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln in a theatre and was found in a warehouse. Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy from a warehouse and was found in a theatre.
All three major 1996 Presidential candidates, Clinton, Dole and Perot, were left-handed.
The dome on Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, conceals a billiards room. In Jefferson’s day, billiards was illegal in Virginia.
The United States outlawed alcohol in 1919 with the 18th amendment. It was legalized again in 1933 with the 21st amendment.
Women got the right to vote in the United States in 1920.
In America, you can drive a car when you are 16, vote and own a gun when you are 18, buy alcohol when you are 21.
The United States is a republic with three branches of government: legislature, executive, and judicial.
Louisa Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams, was the first (and only) foreign-born first lady.
Ohio is listed as the 17th state in the U.S., but technically it is number 47. Until 1953, Congress forgot to vote on a resolution admitting Ohio to the union.
The population of the United States is 307 million.
40% of Americans don’t believe in Evolution.
18% of Americans believe the sun revolves around the Earth.
63% of young Americans can’t find Iraq on a map.
The top 1% of Americans own 33% of the wealth in America, more than the bottom 50% combined.
The bottom 50% of Americans control 2.5% of the nation’s wealth.
Nine out of 10 Americans can’t find Afghanistan on a map, even if you give them the advantage of a map limited to Asia.
Gerald Ford was the only man to be both President and Vice-President but who was not elected to either post.
When Harry Truman left office in 1952, he got in his own car and drove himself back to Missouri.
Andrew Jackson was the only U.S. President to believe that the world is flat.
President Taft got stuck in his bathtub on his Inauguration Day and had to be pried out by his attendants.
George Washington’s false teeth were made of whale bone.
George Washington had to borrow money to go to his own inauguration.
Ronald Reagan was the oldest President elected to office.
The Baby Ruth candy bar was actually named after Grover Cleveland’s baby daughter, Ruth.
The Pentagon is the largest office building in the world by area.
32% of all land in the US is owned by the federal government.
The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.