Ah, the United States. What a proud, noble, vast and diverse country. On that fateful day that the Mayflower first touched down on those shores, history was changed forever. A bold new nation’s history began.
Being English, you’ll forgive me for being a little bitter about the whole thing. After all, there was a time when Britannia ruled the waves. When the British Empire stretched across as much of the world as the Roman Empire did, back in Ye Olde toga-riffic days. Those days are long gone.
Empires just aren’t feasible in the modern era. You cannot get the staff anymore. You know what we do have, though? Global superpowers. Who’s right there on the top of the pile? The United States, that’s who.
But that’s not really what we’re here for. We’re looking for something more personal than that. What brings tourists flocking to America in their droves? What do the people love so much about their land? Is it the vast, open wilds? The natural wonders? The great and powerful cities? The people themselves, and the scientific and technological breakthroughs they’ve offered the world?
It’s all of these things, and a heaping helping more. The fact is, the US offers a diverse range of experiences that are hard to match. From city to city and state to state, you’ll get an entirely unique slice of America everywhere you go. Let’s celebrate that with some awesome facts about the USA. These are sure to get visitors’ Star-Spangled Banners waving.
20 Mount Everest, Eat Your Heart Out
Now, sure. We see you there, Mount Everest, with your fame and your tallness and everything. Nobody’s knocking you. Just over 29,000ft high is, by anyone’s standards, really pretty dang high indeed.
By conventional standards, of course, mountains are measured by their height above sea level. By this scale, Everest is the tallest mountain on Earth. However, America is actually home to the tallest by total height. Hawaii’s Mauna Kea is, when measured from below sea level, 32,000ft in total.
Nice height you’ve got there, Mount Everest.
Be a shame if somebody…
Sneaked in with their below-sea-level technicalities and surpassed it.
19 The USA is SERIOUS About Pizza
Now, I like to think of myself as a bit of a pizza connoisseur. I’ve done my share of travelling around Europe, and I’ve had the pleasure of sampling genuine Italian cuisine. We’re not talking about frozen Goodfellas or plastic school dinner pizzas here, friends. This is the real, generations-old-family-recipe deal.
Quick and convenient pizza takeout can be just as enjoyable, though, and the people of America are totally committed to that.
Three billion pizzas are sold every year in the US, 100 acres of them!
I didn’t even know that acres were a valid unit of pizza measurement!
18 Lake Superior: Very, Very Lake-y
So, there it is. If those impossible pizza statistics taught us anything, it’s that the people of the United States do not do things by halves. Ever. They’re a proud people, and they’re driven to excel. To win.
Luckily, Mother Nature has obligingly provided them with some of the most incredible, record-breaking wonders. Take Lake Superior, which is about as superior a lake as you could ever hope to meet. The largest body of fresh water on Earth, Lake Superior is big enough to cover the whole landmass of North and South America in a foot of water. Let’s not do that, though.
17 So, so, so many planes
Already, we’re starting to put together a picture of how things work in the United States. What really makes the people tick. If you were to ask me for one word to describe the overriding attitude of the US, I’d say it would be spectacle. It’s all about being noticed, making a scene, and ensuring that the spotlight is right on you.
That urge to be the biggest, best and strongest. Which country has the largest air force in the world? The United States, naturally. Which country has the second largest? The United States again, in the shape of their marine corps and navy combined.
16 Know Your Roots
Another thing we’ve already touched on is the great diversity that the United States represents. The sheer scope and magnitude of the country makes this inevitable. Roaming fields, great sandy stretches of desert, heavily built-up cities, it’s all here.
Depending on the part of America you visit, it’s not just a different state, it may as well be a whole new planet.
The awe-inspiring size of the country makes this next fact all the more unbelievable: it’s estimated that one in ten of all people in the USA are distant relatives of those 102 brave pilgrims who arrived on those shores in 1620.
15 The Most Giving Nation On Earth?
As we all know, cheap stereotypes about certain people get us nowhere. This is 2018, friends, we really should have left that sort of thing way behind us by now.
You can say this or that about the people of a certain state or town, but really, it’s unfair. Let’s think positively and take a look at the World Giving Index. This is a system that ranks people around the world on criteria like Donating Money, Helping A Stranger and Volunteering Time.
It once found the people of the United States the most likely in the world to help a stranger in need.
14 I Don’t Have The Power, Captain!
All in all, this big, brash, hey world, check me out mentality is something to be applauded. There’s nothing wrong with that, when it drives us forward and pushes us to achieve.
Let’s just make sure that we’re getting that attention for the right reasons. That we’re not just fishing for metaphorical likes and little heart emojis on a metaphorical selfie.
An achievement that the US may not be so proud of is that they’re responsible for almost 20% of the world’s energy consumption.
In 2014, the world’s total was 539 quadrillion BTU (British Thermal Units), of which the US consumed 98 quadrillion (18%).
13 Money, Money, Money
With that huge and boundless energy consumption comes an economy to match.
Needless to say, with its great size, power and influence, the United States boast the largest economy in the world.
Dollar, dollar bills, y’all, as Wyclef Jean once sang. There are all kinds of factors at play here, as World Atlas reports. These include relatively low levels of employment and a young average population, higher average incomes, the allure of technological advancement and general affluence.
Consumerism is also rife in today’s culture, elsewhere as in America. It’s just the combination of this with these other factors that make the country shine in this regard.
12 The Home Of The Internet
Speaking of that all-consuming urge for attention and importance, the US certainly aren’t the only nation in the world who feels that need. It’s not even a national thing, come to think of it. it’s just the way the world seems to work these days.
This is largely the internet’s fault. The siren song of likes, retweets, shares and upvotes is an irresistible one. On that note, here’s an interesting thing: the internet was created in America. It has its origins in the fifties, when the US Department of Defence was working with contractors to develop packet network systems. ARPANET was the first notable one.
11 Rugby Isn't A USA Sport, You Say?
As any Brit or American knows dang well, the whole soccer/football issue is quite the controversial one. In England, soccer is football, while in the US, American football (which is just football there, the same way that Chinese food is simply… food in China) is the one true football.
I’m sure that paragraph made perfect sense. Anywho, as an Englishman, I’d say that American football is much more akin to rugby. The interesting thing about rugby is that it was removed as an olympic sport after America’s won in 1924.
This means that the USA were uncontested Olympic rugby champions until 2016, when rugby sevens was reinstated in Rio de Janeiro.
10 GPS: Because America Shares Its Toys
So, as we’ve seen, we have the people of America to thank for our beloved internet. In terms of its lifespan, the web’s an adorable newborn baby of innovation, but its scope and impact on our lives has been unparalleled.
As an offshoot of that, many of us would find our daily lives insufferable without GPS. This technology powers all manner of everyday tech, and it’s entirely US-owned. In fact, the government is able to switch it off whenever they fancy. This is as intriguing as it is a little alarming, and we can hope that it never comes to that.
9 It’s Closer Than You Think
Speaking as an Englishman, I can confirm that it’s totally normal to have a chequered history with your neighbours. England and Scotland haven’t always been the best of buddies, and I don’t think they’re ever going to be. There’s a whole lot of history there.
It’s just the same with the United States and Russia. The two may not actually boarder each other, technically, but they’re dang close!
The sparsely-populated Bering Strait separates the US and Russia so narrowly that they’re just 3.8km apart at the closest point.
Heck, they’re close enough to head over and ask to borrow some sugar, as suburban neighbours are known to do.
8 Feeling Hot Hot Hot At Furnace Creek
Now, already, I’m having all kinds of mixed feelings about this one. As we’ve established, I’m English, and we sure as heckola don’t take too kindly to heat around here. As I write, we’re currently experiencing a heat wave, and we’re none too amused about it.
As such, if you’re going to name a place Furnace Creek, then suffice it to say that this is no dang creek I could handle. Extreme sunseekers, on the other hand, will be thrilled to hear that this California tourist spot is (arguably) the hottest place on Earth. It claims both a highest air temperature on Earth and highest natural ground temperature on Earth record, at 134 and 201 Fahrenheit respectively.
7 Now That’s Super Spooky
So, I’ve already spoken about the perils of lazy stereotypes and characterisation. Surely, in this brave new enlightened age of 2018, we’re above all that sort of thing?
Well, the jury’s still out on that one, but polls can still give us a certain amount of interesting insight when it comes to particular countries and groups.
In 2013, a Harris Interactive poll found that a quarter of Americans believe in witches and reincarnation (26% and 24% respectively of those polled), while almost half (42%) hold a firm belief in ghosts. This will vary from region to region, naturally, but it’s interesting data nonetheless.
6 No, Wait, THIS Is Super Spooky
Now, I’m totally down with a belief in ghosts. These are the sorts of things that science has never quite been able to give a convincing answer to. One of the few things left, in that regard. As a result, it’s totally down to personal beliefs and experiences.
There are always those who take things too far, though.
In another 2013 survey, 4% of Americans alleged that they “believe shape-shifting reptilian people control our world by taking on human form and gaining power.”
Who’s just joking around for the snark’s sake, and who actually believes this? That’s the real question here.
5 An Apple (Smartphone) A Day
Needless to say, then, from everything we’ve seen so far, we know that the US is pretty well clued-in when it comes to technology. It’s, by and large, an affluent nation, with a celebrity-centric culture and more than a little disposable income floating about.
So where do they rank when it comes to smartphone ownership? Quite highly at 71% of the population, according to a Nielsen survey of 2014. The same data also tells us that Apple’s iPhone is the overwhelmingly popular choice (at 42.7%, with second-place Samsung lagging behind at 29.3%). No real surprises here, I guess, but there it is.
4 Petrolheads Through And Through
If there’s any romanticised image of America that we just can’t let go of, it’s one of those iconic, classic cars, cruising along one of those iconic, classic routes. There’s just something innately American about this (see Train’s Drive By video).
In conjunction with that wealthy reputation, it’ll be no surprise to anybody that motoring is a huge deal in the US.
In 2011, statistics reported that the country boasted 809 cars to every 1000 people. This is the highest of any large nation, and the third highest overall (the tiny San Marino came out at the tippety top, with an incredible 1263 cars per 1000 people).
3 British Music Rules The Roost
As far as I’m concerned, British and US culture just melds perfectly. For instance, I’m a huge fan of sitcoms, and a firm believer in the fact that you cannot beat a little Friends or Frasier. There’s a reason these shows are still being repeated on a loop so long after their finales. British sitcoms like Black Books and Fawlty Towers just fit perfectly with them.
The same’s true of music, it seems.
Of the ten all-time best-selling artists in the US, almost half are British.
The Beatles top the list, with Led Zeppelin, Elton John and Pink Floyd making up the rest of the British contingent.
2 Parlez-Vous Anglais?
Now, of course, the first American colonists were British. These were the Mayflower pioneers of 1620, the celebrated pioneers who are still honoured every year across the country.
Since then, they and their home country have gone their separate ways. They’ve left lifts, flats and lollipop men behind, and replaced them with elevators, apartments and crossing guards. Lifts and flats? In our new world? I think not.
Today, the people of the United States primarily speak English (albeit American English with a couple of those extra ‘U’s left out), but the curious thing is this: the country has no true official language.
1 Plugged In
So, as we’ve seen, technology plays a huge part in the average American’s life. This isn’t specific to the United States, not by a long chalk. This is the way of the world now. Children will probably be born with smartphones or tablets in their hands by 2025.
When you look at the statistics, though, you see how widespread this sort of thing has become in recent years.
As The Economic Collapse states, the average US citizen spends ten hours a day using electronic devices.
I’m not entirely sure what to do with that staggering information, but it’s certainly something to think about.
References: Reader’s Digest, ESPN, GPS.gov, Arizona State University, The Harris Poll, Live Science, Nielsen.