Our world is full of myths, legends, and ridiculous stories that touch every nation.
Each state carries its own stereotypes, and people, no matter where they are from, are often asked questions that can have their eyebrows raising. The majority of preconceptions and misconceptions can seem completely logical to those from afar, yet completely absurd to those at home.
Regardless of where you are from, you are almost guaranteed to be asked a question about your home, thinking ‘how could anyone believe that!?’ Whether it’s movie character representations or popular musicians, sometimes a select few famous people form the stereotype the rest of the world holds of that country. Ideas surface, such as all people from Sweden looking like Agnetha from Abba, of example.
It can be a past tradition that people can’t seem to forget, such as Greece being full of people smashing plates or maybe it’s just the fact we shouldn’t believe everything on TV to be fact when it is, in fact, fiction. There are times, images of certain countries portrayed in the media are entirely different to the reality when we see when we step foot into that country. For example, when we see images of Australia we see outback, desert and kangaroos. Questions arrive such as, ‘if Australia has so many kangaroos they must be kept as pets, right?’ Wrong.
Sometimes we are caught believing certain stereotypes. Some are for valid reasons, some are just absurd, and some are really worth knowing if they are true or false before we start asking around.
We’re guessing that you’ve believed some things about other countries that are totally untrue and it time we set it straight once and for all.
25 False: Australians Ride Kangaroos To School
We hate to break this one to you because we really wanted to believe it too, but no, Australians do not go to work or school on the back of a Kangaroo.
Contrary to popular belief, Australians do not have kangaroos as pets, and kangaroos do not work in replacement of things like buses, or bikes, or even horses. In fact, is it very illegal to own a kangaroo with most living either in the wild or in an animal sanctuary. Trying to tame a kangaroo in order to ride on it’s back would be quite an affair and most Aussies don’t even see Kangaroo’s unless they live out of the city.
24 False: Everyone In France Is Rude
France is the always one of the most visited countries in the world, so let us just say the French are very used to tourists and even bombarded by them. Many people think the more abrupt way of service in France comes across as rude, and therefore, assume that all French people are rude.
The thing is, tipping isn’t huge in France and therefore people don’t need to go over and above in order to impress customers. They are just there to do their job and it is as simple as that. This comes across as a huge shock for people who are used to servers being extremely polite, and for the French, this ‘smiley’ way of service feels fake and unnatural.
23 False: Kids in France behave perfectly and do exactly what they are told
Many books have been written telling giving an idea that all French children do as they're told. With titles such as 'French Children Don't Throw Food' we are to assume French children eat what they are given, sleep when it’s bedtime, and any other demand they are given by their parents.
Whilst parenting in France commonly has more of a no-nonsense notion, French kids are still kids, like anywhere else in the world. They are not perfectly behaved as we may read in books written by non-French people. Some even don’t finish their plate, or stay up past their bedtime would you believe? Whilst there is a lot we can learn from French parenting, not even the French have the recipe for raising a child who does everything they are told.
22 False: South Africa is one huge zoo and animals roam the streets
Although there are areas of free-roaming animals that still exist in South Africa, is it safe to say you will not see wildlife animals just hanging out in the middle of Cape Town, although you might like to.
The majority of animals in South Africa are held in sanctuaries. Although the images of amazing wildlife like lions, elephants, and giraffes are commonly shared through people's travels within the country, the animals were most likely found in nature reserves and not just roaming the city streets, as exciting as that would be!
21 False: Burritos, Margaritas, Hard Shell Tacos, are all Mexican
If when I say Mexico, you think of margarita cocktails, big burritos and a Corona with lime, we're here to sadly break to you that your idea of Mexican food has all been a lie!
Although you will find almost all these foods in the popular touristic parts of Mexico, these popular ‘Mexican’ foods were actually created in the USA with a Mexican influence of flavour and idea, yet adapted for a USA palate. Since this food became so popular in America's restaurants, with high amounts of restaurants adopting such foods onto their menus like big burritos and tacos with cheese. However, branching out of the popular tourist destinations of Mexico you won’t find such foods anywhere.
20 False: Russia is always cold and so are the people
Although Russia is one of the coldest countries on earth it is not cold all year round as you may have thought. Parts of Russia experience quite warm summers and periods of mild spring and autumn too. Another misconception about Russia is that the people are quite cold too. However, this is far from true.
In Russia, being too loud or making large gestures are rude, so people may seem quite impolite but the truth is that Russian people are very warm, just not in public.
19 False: All Swedish people are tall, blonde, and have blue eyes
When you’ve thought about Swedish people in the past, have images of tall, blonde hair and blue eyed people come to mind? If yes, you would be surprised to know that not all Swedish people fit into this stereotype and carry the same genetic features.
Although Swedish people are generally tall, countries like The Netherlands take the title of the world's tallest people. Blonde hair and blue eyes are common in Sweden however probably most common as a stereotype originating from famous Swedish movie stars and musicians rather than the country's population itself.
With higher amounts of immigration and expats living in Sweden, there is now a wider range of ethnicities and not all people look identical.
18 False: Morocco isn't a safe country to visit
Granting that when you travel to Morocco there are certain customs you must respect, Morocco is an extremely welcoming country. Moroccan people are known for being both friendly and open and not only will your travels to Morocco be safe, but very enjoyable too.
Keeping in mind to dress respectively to Moroccan customs and being aware of your surroundings, you should find yourself in no trouble at all when visiting this wonderful country.
An open mind, big smile and readiness to bargain for some beautiful Moroccan gems are all you’ll need to worry about when travelling to this country.
17 False: That Greenland is green and Iceland is Icey
Despite the confusion in names, Greenland and Iceland are the exact opposite of what you’d initially think. You may have seen the numerous memes depicting the confusion around the countries and how they seemly swapped names or at least should swap names!
Looking into Greenland from above, you would see that more than half of the country is covered in ice. And although Iceland isn’t entirely green, it is home to many green hills and luscious green terrain.
So don’t be fooled by the name, you will not find much green in Greenland or ice in Iceland.
16 False: Ireland is part of the United Kingdom
The independence of Ireland is very important to its people and although it may seem a little confusing at first, it is safe to say, the Republic of Ireland is not a part of the United Kingdom.
This one might start off a little confusing. When we are talking about Ireland, as in the island which is the country of Ireland, then no, it is not a part of the United Kingdom.
However, Northern Island is a part of the United Kingdom. Although situated at the north of Ireland itself, it is a separate region and state to Ireland. Therefore, this one may seem confusing to some.
15 False: And New Zealand is part of Australia
Let’s make this one very clear: New Zealand is not part of Australia!
Although Australia has a reputation of claiming famous talents from New Zealand such as actor Russell Crowe and singer Lorde, they are two entirely different countries that aren't even attached!
Getting to Australia from New Zealand will take a 3-hour flight at its shortest. Australia and New Zealand are great friends and are both parts of Oceania, they have never been two parts of the one country.
14 False: Africa is a country
People often mistakenly refer to Africa as one single country. Africa is, however, the second largest continent in the world, comprising of 54 individual countries. Each country in Africa has its own individual identity.
All 54 countries in Africa are largely diverse in structures, economics and policies. There is also no such language as ‘African’ and in fact, there are thousands of languages spoken in Africa.
Although a very common misconception, Africa is not a country, is it a continent along with the Americas, Asia, Oceania, Antarctica and Europe.
13 False: Germany has no speed limits
When people think of Germany as a country they tend to associate it with fast cars zooming down the famous Autobahn or highway system. It is true that the Autobahn in Germany has no general speed limit and for part of the highway, you can go as fast as your heart desires.
The one limit consistent throughout the Autobahn is, however, not to go too slow, with 60km/h being the minimum speed. Despite the general ‘no speed limit’, you cannot drive as fast as you like for the entirety of the highway. There are in fact many sections of the Autobahn that will require you to slow down. So the conception that 'Germany has no speed limit' myth is officially busted.
12 False: people in greece throw plates a lot
The image of smashing plates accompanying musicians is a common perception of people when thinking about Greece. For those who have actually visited Greece, they may have thought, ‘where are all the broken plates?’ And although it is still a Greek tradition at some celebratory events, it is more a typical foreigner stereotype rather than a popular and common sight to see when visiting Greece today.
Nowadays, a license is required for any establishment that allows plate throwing and a lot of the time plaster plates are used for safety.
11 False: All Indian marriages are arranged
Being a custom throughout history in India, arranged marriages are not as common today as many may think.
Although arranged marriages are still the most popular way for two to become married, some people can still choose the partner of their choice. Some people find it a tradition hard to part with however arranged marriages have had some modern changes. For example, even within an arranged marriage couples now have a long period of time to get to know each other and have plenty of contact before the wedding is decided.
10 False: In Brazil, people speak Spanish
Unlike the majority of countries within South America, Brazil does not actually speak Spanish! Brazilians speak Portuguese. In fact, Brazil is the largest country in the world that speaks Portuguese as a first language and they are very proud of their home tongue.
Portuguese spoken in Brazil differs from that of Portugal in terms of pronunciation and some vocabulary. It is very common for people to assume Spanish is the national language of Brazil due to their location, but now you know, Brazilians speak Portuguese.
9 False: Japan is actually real-life anime
Anime is becoming more popular in the west and with a larger number of people tuning in than ever before. For those who have never been to Japan themselves, might assume life in Japan is similar to the life they see represented on the popular Japanese anime. However, this is far from true.
Japanese anime school characters often have coloured hair which is actually not allowed in Japanese schools. School uniforms are also different from what's represented in anime and if you’ve seen Anime characters hanging out on top of a school roof, you would certainly not see school students do that in Japan.
8 False: The Great Wall of China can be seen from space
Can you believe it! All this time we have believed that the Great Wall of China can be seen from space but NASA has confirmed it to be a myth, at least with the human eye that is. According to ripleys.com “after numerous missions to space, by astronauts from countries all over the world, nobody could see the wall.”
The wall has however been photographed from space, with a camera lens of 180mm which no naked eye would ever be possible to see. So there we have it, no human-made constructions can be seen from space, not even the Great Wall.
7 False: Toronto is the capital city of Canada
When you think about the Capital city of a country you would usually head towards to most visited city or the biggest. In Canada however, that is not the case. Neither Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver or Quebec is the capital, it is actually Ottawa.
The decision to make Ottawa the capital seemed to be more of a logistical one rather than anything due to popularity. As there were so many cities in the run-up for capital it was Victoria who made the final call. According to the Parliament of Canada, she "chose Ottawa because it was centrally located between the cities of Montreal and Toronto... and was also far from the US border, making it safer..."
So the next time someone asks, contrary to popular belief, the capital of Canada is not Toronto but in fact Ottawa.
6 False: Pizza is Pizza, whether you are in Italy or not
Pizza is becoming popular all over the world and may have people assuming it tastes the same no matter where it comes from. Wrong! Traditional Italian Pizza in Italy is always woodfired and has very few ingredients, usually around 3 or 4. Many international Pizzas have a lot of bizarre ingredients like pineapple with ham in Australia or a Thanksgiving pizza in the United States that has turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing, just to name a couple.
These ingredients would never be found on an Italian pizza! For anyone who has travelled to Italy and tried a pizza, especially in Naples, I am sure they would say the pizzas around the world couldn't compare.
5 True: There are more kangaroos than people in Australia
This one is 100% true. In fact, it is so true that there are almost double the amount of Kangaroos than humans in Australia! The Australian population is under 25 million, yet there are a staggering 50 million Kangaroos. According to The Independent, the kangaroo population has skyrocketed by 5 million in the last 2 years. This is believed to be due to environmental factors and higher rainfall resulting in more food for the kangaroos.
Although you still won't see kangaroos running around Australian cities, there are now more chances of spotting these animals in the bush as their population is steadily growing.
4 True: The Netherlands is sinking, but they aren’t too stressed about it
You might read this and be worried about the future of Holland, but we are to be assured the rising water issue is completely under control. About one-third of the Netherlands lies below sea level which means that about two-thirds of the country is vulnerable to flooding. Flood control is a very important issue for the Netherlands and the people say there is to be no cause for alarm.
With impressive draining systems and implemented river dykes, the Netherlands is able to keep the low-lying parts of the country dry and reduce the possibility of future floods.
3 True: Zurich has the most expensive coffee in the world
If you are travelling to Switzerland you might want to be warned that Zurich has the most expensive coffee in the world! Depending on your budget, your coffee spot bill could hit you with quite a surprise as the price of a coffee in Zurich will be the highest you've ever paid.
Costing around 3.21 Euros for a coffee, it's a price that is almost double some places in the world. According to 2016 Coffee Price Index which looked at 75 cities in 30 different countries, Zurich comes out as the most expensive. The cheapest coffee can be found in Brazil.
2 True: Cyprus doesn't have a national anthem
Yes, it's true. Cyprus is the only country that doesn't have an official national anthem. This comes down to the fact that Cyprus being a mix of both Greek and Turkish nationalities, could never quite agree on one exact anthem. The people instead choose to adopt either the Greek or the Turkish national anthem depending on their cultural background and choice.
For now, as the majority of the population are of Greek nationality, most will choose to sing the Greek anthem at sporting events or whenever necessary. But as far as an anthem unique to Cyprus itself, the country doesn't have one!
1 True: There are two ATM’s in Antarctica, yes only two
The fact there is even one ATM in Antarctica may come as a surprise to you due to the fact Antarctica has a very small permanent population. Despite the months of darkness and freezing temperatures, for those who do pass through McMurdo Station near the South Pole, there will be the convenience of an ATM for whenever they need cash for the 2 bars, a hamburger stand and coffee shop that are also in the area.
The most fascinating part about these 2 ATMs is the training staff go through in order to fix the machines in bad weather conditions. A Wells Fargo spokesperson mentioned how “Every two years, both machines are serviced and brought up to speed on the latest technology.”
So there we have it. The world's loneliest and coldest ATM is found in Antarctica!
References: mentalfloss, ripleys.com, economist, quora, independent.co.uk