Think you know everything there is to know about the United States? With an area stretching over 9 million km², a population of over 328 million people and hundreds of years of history, there are plenty of interesting facts about America to discover. From a typo on the Liberty Bell to enough concrete in Hoover Dam to span the country, here are 21 fascinating things you may not know about America – even if you are American.
1. There’s enough concrete in Hoover Dam to stretch across the country
If you’re looking for concrete, you’ll have some luck at Hoover Dam. It has 3.25 million cubic yards, or enough concrete to build a two-lane highway all the way from New York City to San Francisco. It also weighs more than 600,000 tons!
2. The US has the world’s longest land border
The United States is known for being super-sized, and it also has the longest land border in the world. Stretching for over 8850 kilometres, the US shares the border with its northern neighbour Canada.
3. Lake Superior could cover all the land in the Western Hemisphere
Taking out the title of the world’s largest freshwater lake, you’d expect Lake Superior to be big. But it’s truly massive, with a surface area of 82,100 square kilometres – about the size of Maine. It also holds 3 quadrillion gallons or 10 per cent of all the fresh water in the world. That’s enough to cover both North and South America under 30 centimetres of water.
4. Liberty Bell has a typo on it
The Liberty Bell is one of the most iconic artefacts from the American independence and if you look closely, you’ll spot a spelling mistake! The world ‘Pennsylvania’ is spelled incorrectly by today’s standards, but it was actually an accepted form of spelling at the time the bell was engraved.
There are plenty of other interesting facts about America’s Liberty Bell. The strike note is in E-flat, it weighs a massive 943 kilograms, and it was made in the same place as Big Ben in London!
5. The US has a lot of different climates
You already know the US is big, but one of the things you may not know about America is that it’s the only country in the world that has all of the Earth’s five climate zones. Travel around the US and you could encounter dry, tropical, temperate, continental, and polar climates!
6. You don’t need a driver’s licence to race in NASCAR
Of all the things you may not know about America, this one is quite surprising. Technically, you don’t need a driver’s licence to compete in NASCAR. Even if you’ve had your driver’s licence suspended for breaking road rules in your daily life, you can still go for gold in NASCAR.
7. The tallest president was Abraham Lincoln
Standing at 193 centimetres, Abraham Lincoln is the tallest president in US history. The country’s 16th president is also in the Wrestling Hall of Fame. He was a talented wrestler before he took on the top job and won 299 out of his 300 matches.
8. There are more bourbon barrels than people in Kentucky
As the birthplace of bourbon and the makers of 95 per cent of the world’s bourbon supply, it makes sense that Kentucky has more bourbon barrels than people. But it’s still crazy to think that the bourbon barrels outnumber the population by more than two million!
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9. The Pentagon has some serious office space
Thinking about upgrading your office? You’d probably find some room in the Pentagon. The headquarters of the US Department of Defense is the largest office building in the world by floor area.
10. More people live in New York City than in 40 out of 50 states
New York is one Big Apple, home to 8.5 million people. That’s more people crammed into one city than 40 other states in the United States. This fact about America is especially shocking, considering that the area of New York City is just under 780 square kilometres.
11. Kansas produces enough wheat in one year to feed everyone in the world for two weeks
According to the National Association of Wheat Growers, the state of Kansas produces enough wheat to feed around 9,000 wheat in one day and to bake 36 billion loaves of bread each year. That’s enough to make sure no one in the world would go hungry for two weeks. If only there was a way to transport and distribute the wheat around the world.
12. Americans eat around 100 acres of pizza every day
Americans love their pizza – so much so, that they collectively eat 100 acres of pizza every day. That’s around 300 billion pizzas a year. The most popular time to order pizza is around the Super Bowl. Now that’s American!
13. The US has a lot of tornadoes and hurricanes
A staggering three out of four tornadoes in the world wreak havoc in the United States. The country has had more hurricanes since 1851 than any other country – close to 300!
14. Independence Day didn’t happen on July 4th
You probably love celebrating the Fourth of July but one of the things you may not know about America is that it was actually July 2nd when Congress voted to free the US from British rule. We celebrate on the Fourth of July because that is when John Hancock wrote the first signature on the Declaration of Independence. Following his famous signature, 56 men then signed the document to announce their intended independence.
15. George Washington wasn’t the first president to live in the White House
You might have thought that it was the first president of the United States, George Washington, who lived in the White House first. It was actually John Adams and his wife Abigail.
John Adams was the Vice President under President George Washington and served as the second President of the United States from 1797 to 1801. While Washington did oversee construction of the White House, he never got to live in it, since it wasn’t completed until 1800.
Washington also wasn’t the first person to appear on the first $1 bill! Salmon P. Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury at the time, got that honour when the first bill was issued during the Civil War in 1862. He was also the designer of the country’s first banknotes.
16. The Empire State Building has its own zip code
The Empire State Building is so big, it got its own zip code in 1980. So if you ever find yourself needing to go to an address with the zip code 10188 – you’re headed to the Empire State Building!
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17. Idaho has a lot of rivers
Big fan of rivers? Head to Idaho! The total length of the state’s river could stretch across the United States around 40 times! The longest river in Idaho is Snake River, which covers over 1,730 kilometres and is one of the main tributaries of the mighty Columbia River.
18. There are hundreds of kilometres of bookshelves in the Library of Congress
Book lovers, welcome to utopia. The Library of Congress has around 1,348 kilometres of bookshelves, with more than 39 million books. That’s long enough to stretch all the way from Chicago to Houston.
19. Atlantic City has the world’s longest boardwalk
You can stroll down the world’s longest boardwalk in Atlantic City in New Jersey. Built in 1870, it also claims the title of being the first boardwalk in the country. Stretching for over seven kilometres, it was originally built to limit the amount of sand that people took with them from the beach into hotels and trains. You can now find a bunch of hotels, restaurants, casinos, shops and more along the boardwalk.
20. Crater Lake is very deep
Crater Lake takes out the title of the deepest lake in the United States, as well as the ninth deepest lake on earth. The lake is 592 metres deep – that’s enough to cover six Statues of Liberty, stacked on top of each other. If you want to go for a swim, there’s only one safe spot to swim in Crater Lake, and it only opens from mid to late June each year.
21. New York was once New Amsterdam
One of the things you may not know about America is that New York wasn’t always New York. Before the city got its now iconic name, it was called New Amsterdam. It was named that by the Dutch who settled in Amsterdam, and it was only changed to New York when the English captured in the 17th century. The new name paid tribute to the Duke of York who helped capture the city. You can still see plaques of where New Amsterdam’s ‘wall’ was built in 1653 – on Wall Street itself.
Did anything surprise you on this list of things you may not know about America? Let us know in the comments below!