Daniel Richards

25 Things About America Even Its Citizens Don’t Know

The rich history of America is so full of strange and wonderful details that even people who live there can’t know them all. Here are 25 of the weirdest things about the USA that even take its residents by surprise. 

The USA Has No Official Language

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It may leave many Americans speechless to learn that English, although the most widely spoken language in the country, is not an official language. Thirty-two states have declared English the official language, but it is considered the de facto national language at the federal level. But in a country with such a diverse range of cultures and peoples, it’s no wonder that other languages are also so prevalent.

The First Olympics

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The modern Olympic Games revived the tradition of Ancient Greece, but surprisingly, the first installment of the prestigious event took place in St Louis, Missouri in 1904.

McDonald’s Nation

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One in 8 Americans have worked at the fast food chain at some point in their lives, but even they might be amazed to learn that McDonald’s employs a million US workers each year.

Schoolboy Flag Designer

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The American flag went through several designs before finally settling on the famous stars and stripes we know today. The designer was actually a high school student called Robert Heft, who came up with the idea for a school project in 1958.

So Much Pizza

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This unbelievable statistic might make someone drop their slice! Americans eat an astonishing 3 billion pizzas every year. Put another way, the average American will eat 6,000 over their lifetime. Put another other way, that’s 350 slices per second across the country. Mamma Mia!

Civil War Pensioner

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The American Civil War came to an end in 1865, and soldiers who served in the war were entitled to a pension from the Department of Veteran Affairs. But did you know that the last recipient was still collecting her pension until 2020? Irene Triplett was the daughter of a soldier who fought for both Confederacy and Union forces. She continued to collect $73.33 a month until her passing four years ago.

Kansas Wheat Country

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Kansas produces a lot of wheat. In fact, it produces enough wheat in a year to feed the entire world for two weeks.

The World’s Oldest River

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A contender for the most ironically named places in the world, the New River, which flows from the Blue Ridge Mountains into West Virginia, is thought to be the oldest river on the continent, having existed for around 65 million years.

Alaska on the Cheap

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In one of the greatest bargains in human history, the USA purchased the Land of the Midnight Sun from Russia in 1867. The price? Two cents an acre, totaling $7.2 million. In 2023, Alaska generated a GDP of over $63 billion. A pretty good investment.

Lake Superior’s Size

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Lake Superior really lives up to its name, being the largest freshwater lake in the world. It holds an unimaginable 3 quadrillion gallons of water.

Cows Rule Montana

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There are a little over 2 cows for every person living in the state of Montana. Even more astonishingly, in one county, Carter County, that number rises to 64 cows per person.

Liberty Bell Spelling Mistake

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Pennsylvanians might be all too aware of this fact, but elsewhere in the country, people are often shocked to discover that the iconic American symbol contains a glaring spelling error.

Thanksgiving Dates

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For most Americans, it is a fact of life that Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. But the truth is that different dates were chosen for the holiday over several years. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared the fourth Thursday in November the official Thanksgiving Day, only for Franklin D. Roosevelt to change it to the third Thursday in 1939. Two years later, he reverted the change after a series of complaints.

New York, New Amsterdam

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The most famous city in the country was originally called New Amsterdam until the English invaded and decided to name it after one of their own towns.

Daylight Savings Time

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Two states don’t change the clocks twice a year: Arizona and Hawaii. But while Arizona is exempt, the Navajo Nation within Arizona does observe daylight saving time.

The Secrets of Area 51

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While most Americans know about Area 51, many are in agreement that no one really knows what goes on there. This is the reason that so many fantastic conspiracy theories are centered around the comings and goings at the top-secret military base. Officially, the purpose of Area 51 is for testing experimental technology.

The Smallest Biggest State

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Rhode Island can boast the following two credentials: it is the smallest state in the USA, and it also has the longest official name of any state, the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

The World’s First Skyscraper

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New York is the city most Americans think of when it comes to impressive skylines. But the original skyscraper was erected in Chicago. The Home Insurance Building was completed in 1885, standing ten stories tall.

The Oldest Amusement Park

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In 1846, Lake Compounce in Connecticut opened its gates. It is now the longest-running amusement park in continuous operation in the country, entertaining visitors for 178 years.

The World’s Tiniest Park

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Portland, Oregon, is the home of many magnificent green spaces. But one of the state’s more interesting landmarks is Mill Ends Park. At just 2 feet in diameter, it is thought to be the smallest park in the world.

The World’s Largest Ball of Twine

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Americans are aware of their reputation for “supersizing” everything from meals to cars. The people of Cawker City in Kansas took this proud American tradition in a different direction with a giant twine ball; originally made of around 1.6 million feet of twine, the ball is growing all the time thanks to the annual “Twine-a-thon” held every August.

Most Visited National Park

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If you asked most Americans, they’d probably answer, “Yellowstone.” Some might offer up “Yosemite.” But they’d be wrong. The national park with the most visitors is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with more than 13 million visitors in 2023, more than the total number for its more famous rivals combined. 

The Home of the Hamburger

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The humble hamburger is famously named for the German city of Hamburg. But it’s reportedly an American invention. A popular myth that it was invented in New Haven, Connecticut, by Louis Lassen, a Danish immigrant, has since been debunked. However, the name first appeared in American newspapers in the 1890s.

Wheely Big Cheese

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In another example of America’s talent for excess, the biggest cheese wheel in the world can be found in Wisconsin. The chunky cheddar was reported in 2015 to weigh more than 34,000 pounds.

The Unknown History of Utah

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Before Utah joined the rest of America, it was actually briefly known as the independent State of Deseret. The state was the brainchild of the Church of Latter Day Saints (or Mormons), who wanted to set up a government that would be recognized by the USA. The dream was short lived, with Deseret being disestablished in 1850. The state’s name is derived from the word for honeybee in the Book of Mormon.

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