Did you know that there are literally millions of Mayflower descendants walking around in the US today? How about the fact that Mustangs were imported? If not, you’ve come to the right place. America’s story can be messy, even chaotic. It began with a bold idea – self-rule – and, in the process, gave us the Wild West, the Great Depression, and near-apocalypses.
Misconceptions stick to us like gum to shoes, and our leaders, real or dreamed up, can be just as strange. This land of ours ain’t always sunny, with earthquakes, floods, and the occasional tornado swirling around. But despite the craziness, it has its own charm – a wild ride but a fun one.
Here are 25 Weird Facts About America.
Apple Has More Spending Money Than The US Treasury
We all know Apple is a giant among giants. But did you know they could buy and run a country (or two) if they actually wanted to?
Apple became the world’s top public company in 2022 and then swiftly proceeded to become the most valuable company ever, with a total worth of $3 trillion in 2022. That amount came down again; they are a public company, after all, and the market is volatile.
However, to put it into perspective, Apple’s readily available cash for business operations (simply known as “operating cash”) is usually a couple of billion more than the entire US Treasury’s stockpile, which usually sits between $40 and $100 billion.
That’s not just rich; that’s Smaug’s whole horde, including the Arkenstone rich, (and then some)!
The Air Traffic Is INTENSE
While around 9,800 bald eagle pairs call the USA home, spotting them in the sky is rare. You’re more likely to see planes.
The FAA guides a whopping 45,000 flights daily, carrying millions of people (and tons of cargo) across 29 million square miles of US airspace – that’s almost a fifth of the world’s sky!
So, although eagles grace our national symbol, it’s airplanes that truly rule the American skies.
There’s No Official Language
English is America’s official language – isn’t it?
Nope. It’s a misconception.
The United States doesn’t have an official language. Although English is spoken by the vast majority of the people and dominates in many states, the federal government never designated it as such.
Nearly 239 million Americans speak English, as well as 35 million Spanish speakers, and dozens of other languages uphold the country’s cultural diversity.
The Confidential Code
Secret nuclear codes are not the only type of secret code the President of the USA has access to. With approximately 42,000 ZIP codes covering every corner of the country, the USA has one ZIP code that no one but the presidential family will ever know.
The US Postal Service gives each new President a unique secret ZIP code to shield the first family from the tons and tons of mail they receive. This keeps important and personal messages from the public’s prying eyes and adds a layer of much-needed privacy for the presidential family.
As such, while there are a disproportionate amount of ZIP codes all over the country, another unique one is hidden within the White House walls.
You Would Need A Couple Of Lifetimes To Sleep In Every Bed In Las Vegas
Forget counting sheep!
If you crave a night’s rest in Nevada, Las Vegas can and will offer you the ultimate slumber party. Boasting over 151,000 hotel rooms (at last count), this flashy city could tuck you in a different bed every night for… well, let’s just say several lifetimes!
So, if you have 400+ years available and would like to visit every room they have, you better get going.
The Prison Population Is Massive
The United States prides itself on being a world leader – in every aspect. For example, being the world leader in jailing its own citizens.
With a whopping 724 people locked up for every 100,000, it leaves countries like China in the dust (at 118 per 100,000).
This translates to a mind-boggling 2.2 million Americans behind bars, more than the whole population of Macedonia!
But the problems don’t stop there.
Prisons are bursting at the seams, operating at over 100% capacity. Even worse, over 21% haven’t even been convicted of a crime, stuck in pre-trial limbo because they can’t afford bail. That means more than 460,000 innocent people, presumed innocent until proven guilty, are locked up waiting for their day in court.
Millions Of Mayflower Descendants Exist Today
The passengers of the Mayflower made history when they embarked on a perilous journey across the Atlantic to reach The New World. Setting sail in 1620 from the port of Plymouth into the uncertain future, much of the USA owes its creation to the 102 passengers aboard that ship.
Thus, it is only fitting that approximately 10 million Americans and even 35 million people worldwide can trace their ancestry back to these daring pioneers.
Their fingerprints lay across the foundations of the USA, from presidents like John Adams to icons like Julia Child, Humphrey Bogart, and Norman Rockwell; the USA would be a very different country without their contributions.
Calling all whiskey lovers! Did you know America boasts its own unique spirit, born and bred right here?
Yup, bourbon isn’t just from Kentucky; it is Kentucky!
Boasting over 2 million more bourbon barrels than residents, this amber wonderland distills a staggering 95% of the world’s supply. It is so loved that it has been officially protected since 1964 to keep imitators at bay.
So, if you’re a fan, remember you’re not just having a drink; you’re savoring a taste of American heritage, born and bred in the heart of Kentucky.
We Grow A LOT Of Corn
America’s farmlands pulsate with the kings of the crops: corn and wheat.
Corn, the undisputed champion, takes the crown with a staggering 91.7 million acres planted in 2019 – that’s enough to carpet 69 million football fields!
This golden giant fuels everything from breakfast cereal to livestock feed, making it the backbone of American agriculture.
And our wheat isn’t far behind. First planted as a humble hobby in 1777, it now thrives in 42 states. In fact, the annual harvest of “The Wheat State” (Kansas, if you weren’t aware) could feed the world’s more than 8 billion people for two weeks straight!
Downtown Seattle Was Built Right On Top Of The Original City
Ever walked a city street and wondered what lies beneath?
In Seattle, the answer is literally another city – a forgotten slice of the 19th century, preserved 20 feet below the modern skyline.
The Great Seattle Fire of 1889 wasn’t just a disaster; it reshaped the city itself. To rebuild, streets were raised, burying the original downtown in what became known as the “Seattle Underground.”
While you can visit the underground via tours, it isn’t just a tourist trap; it’s a tangible connection to a bygone era.
From a modest 6,487 books in 1800, the Library of Congress has grown into a bibliophile’s paradise.
Today, its shelves stretch an astounding 838 miles, housing over 39 million books and 167 million other items, including manuscripts, maps, music, and even old films, offering a comprehensive window into our history, culture, and ingenuity.
Beyond the sheer numbers, however, the Library of Congress really is a unique repository of knowledge. From ancient scrolls to iconic first editions, every aisle holds the potential for discovery. And unlike the strict rules at, say, for instance, the Vatican, anyone aged 16 and older is welcome to use and peruse its collections.
The Fighting Yank
Have you ever wondered what comics were like in the heart of World War II?
During World War II’s darkest hour, our comic books were full of escapism and national unity and featured titles like “The Fighting Yank,” which put its readers directly into the conflict’s heart, pitting the star-spangled hero against Nazi spies infiltrating a vital military base.
While straightforward by modern standards, the narrative reflected the Fighting Yank’s unwavering patriotism, steely resolve, and lightning-fast reflexes. Today, it’s just one of our lesser-known historical artifacts. Aside from shedding light on wartime anxieties and comic book storytelling techniques of the Golden Age, it highlights one of the fictional heroes who kept hope alive.
You won’t believe this, but there were actually no “bear rules” in place at our national parks until the late 1960s.
Unfortunately, in Glacier National Park in 1967, two seemingly isolated grizzly encounters, miles apart on the same day, shattered the illusion of tranquility.
Overflowing campsites and trails littered with tempting candy wrappers had become unwittingly laid wildlife treasure hunts. Wildfires, displacing furry residents from their usual territory, further exacerbated the problem – and a necessary evolution was born.
Safety measures akin to Indiana Jones field guides emerged: strategic food storage (bears have a weakness for leftovers!), clever camping tactics (never pitch a tent in a grizzly condo!), and crucial wildlife encounter protocols (staring down a grizzly is decidedly not recommended!). These rules and regulations have stayed in place and have brought us a long way since then.
Mustangs Were Imported
Galloping wild across the American West, Mustangs must be one of the US’s most iconic symbols of freedom. Yet, these “wild” horses hold a surprising secret: they’re not native!
Descendants of Spanish explorers’ horses, they made their way to the US in the 1600s, forming feral herds across the vast frontiers.
Unfortunately, their habitat shrunk as our settlements grew, and the rising pet food industry endangered the remaining wild herds. Public outcry eventually led to the Mustang Heritage Foundation in 2001, which saved nearly 10,000 mustangs through adoption programs.
If you enjoyed our last fact, stick around until the end of today’s list – we’re going to touch on at least one doomsday prophet before this list is through!
Women In Space
If you think the most experienced astronaut is a man, you’d be wrong.
In 2017, while commanding the International Space Station, astronaut Peggy Whitson defied expectations and soared past the American record for time spent in space.
Clocking in at 1:27 am EDT on April 24, her cumulative orbital hours eclipsed the previous record set by Jeff Williams (534 days) four years earlier. This wasn’t Whitson’s first space rodeo either – on this, her third cosmic journey, she shattered (or extended) a total of four records, proving that women are the queens of space.
Since We’re On The Subject Of Astronauts
From the moment NASA launched in 1958, Scouts have left their mark on space exploration. Of the 320 chosen astronauts and scientists, a whopping 181 wore the Scout badge.
Of the 24 people to travel to the Moon on the Apollo missions, 20 were Scouts, including 11 of the 12 Moonwalkers. But their story isn’t one of just moonwalks and triumphs.
Former scouts have also featured in the missions marred by tragedy. Three Apollo I astronauts, four Challenger heroes, and five Columbia crew members left this world doing what they love most – their duty to God and their country.
A Civil War Cannonball Killed A Man (in 2008)
The American Civil War claimed another victim in 2008, this time in a driveway in Chester, Virginia, rather than on a battlefield. Sam White, a Civil War memorabilia collector, discovered an artillery shell and brought it home. The shell exploded in his driveway, killing him and leaving a chilling reminder that weapons of war can remain lethal long after the last drumbeat fades.
The accident is a stark reminder of the thousands of unexploded ordnance (UXO) remnants of past conflicts that are still silently waiting in fields and backyards around the world.
That Time One Man Tried To Set Up An Independent Nation In Florida
Have you ever heard of William Augustus Bowles?
In 1792, this eccentric figure was the leader of a very strange rebellion in Florida’s frontier.
The self-proclaimed “Director General of the Muskogee Nation” led a ragtag army of runaway slaves, Seminole allies, and even ex-pats against Spanish rule.
Once a British soldier, he used guerilla tactics to disrupt trade and challenge Spanish authority, attracting bounties from all sides in the process. Bowles avoided the gallows several times, even once escaping from a Spanish prison in the Philippines, until he was handed over to Spanish authorities in 1803. He died in 1805 while still locked up at the Morro Castle in Havana, Cuba.
New York, New York
Think you’re one in a million? When it comes to New York City, you’re actually one in 8 million!
More people call this crazy concrete jungle home than 40 whole states. It’s like a mini-US crammed into one jam-packed city. And it’s not just about the number of people that live there.
Over 800 languages hum through its streets, with folks from all over the world bringing their flavors, accents, and stories.
Brooklyn, alone, could be the country’s fourth biggest city, and Queens wouldn’t be far behind.
If you’ve never made the trip – put it on your bucket list. Everyone should visit New York at least once in their lifetime.
The Mobile Historical Landmarks
Move over, dusty statues. Two National Historic Landmarks in America can actually move!
Yup, among America’s nearly 2,600 National Historic Landmarks, two defy convention: they’re mobile.
San Francisco’s clanging cable cars and New Orleans’ St. Charles streetcar, the oldest in the nation, aren’t just exhibits – they’re rolling, living, breathing pieces of history.
Americans Are Generous
We Americans might be a lot of things – but there’s one thing we’re not, and that’s stingy.
According to a massive survey (1.3 million people in 123 countries) led by the Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index, America snagged the top spot in global generosity for the decade.
With nearly 60 percent of us donating last year, we also help strangers, with 72% offering a helping hand and 42% volunteering.
And it gets better: our giving spirit soared during the pandemic, pushing our donations past 2019 levels in both 2020 and 2021. Our kindness cuts across lines, ages, backgrounds, and beliefs, giving me so much hope for the future.
Ol’ Man River
“Ol’ Man River” is a well-known Show Boat song, and America, as it happens, knows a thing or two when it comes to old rivers. Although its exact age is unknown, most scientists believe the New River is the oldest in North America. In fact, it might even be older than the continent of North America.
Born in the Appalachian cradle near Blowing Rock, North Carolina, the New River is estimated to be between 10 and 360 million years old, and it holds the prestigious title of “second oldest river in the world.”
While its age is certainly something to marvel at, this ancient watercourse has another peculiarity – it dances to a different rhythm than most, flowing northward where most American rivers rush south.
The Great Disappointment
William Miller was an interesting man, though he is not best remembered for any of his achievements; instead, he was the man who tried to predict the date of the return of Jesus Christ and failed.
Based on his deep dive into the Bible, Miller had chosen October 22nd, 1844, as the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The farmer-turned-prophet’s predictions had convinced roughly 100,000 believers to gather across the Northeast, and they waited with bated breath for Jesus to descend from the Heavens as William predicted.
The crowds waited for hours, and as daylight faded and midnight drew closer, anticipation curdled into anxiety. However, as October 22 faded to October 23, nothing came by except mild Autumn weather.
Dubbed “The Great Disappointment“, it shattered Miller’s movement. Miller, shaken by his failures, stepped back from his claims and died a few years later. The believers that remained in his movement were astray without their anchor, and so fractured into smaller groups, eventually disbanding the movement.
The Hoover Dam
From The Transformers to the Rock’s San Andreas, the Hoover Dam has featured in just about every big movie over the past twenty years.
However, Hoover Dam isn’t just a big screen disaster waiting to happen. It’s also a top tourist destination, and its sheer scale actually rivals the legendary Seven Wonders of the World.
This behemoth, in fact, boasts more volume than the Great Pyramid of Giza, yet it took only a fraction of the manpower to build (one-twentieth, to be exact!).
It was also made of enough concrete to pave a two-lane highway all the way from San Francisco to New York City – 2,565.68 mi (4,129.06 km).
Being President Isn’t All That
You might think that being the most powerful person in the world is an enviable position filled with power and prestige, but the risks involved are a real concern.
Yes, I know it comes with a great annual salary, access to the best medical care, trips on Air Force One, and you get to play with the nuclear football – if that isn’t a powertrip I don’t know what is!
However, there’s one statistic that might make you reconsider.
Four out of 45 presidents – nearly 9% – were assassinated. Which makes this position one of the most dangerous leadership assignments in the country.
All in all, it might be a better bet to take over Apple and buy your own country. Who wants to be the most powerful person in the world when you can sip daiquiris on your own beach, in your own country, forever? I would sign up for that in a second!