The internet is a fountain of knowledge that we trust way too often. But when it comes to these popular facts about famous places, they don’t always get it right. So, here’s a list of the most common misconceptions that people need to stop believing and sharing online.
Stonehenge Hasn’t Change in 4,000 Years
According to New Scientist, most people who pay Stonehenge a visit believe that the stones haven’t been touched in 4,000 years. But nearly every stone had to be re-erected, embedded in concrete or straightened between 1901 and 1964. So, yeah! They were so touched.
Norway Is the World’s Northernmost Country
People assume Norway is the northernmost country because it’s been dubbed “the land of the midnight sun.” But that’s not true, at all. In fact, it’s not even one of the top 3 northernmost countries. That honor falls to Russia, Greenland, and Canada.
Florida Is the Southernmost State in the US
Florida dangles off the end of the United States, which gives people the wrong idea that the Florida Keys is where the North American territory ends. From a continental perspective, that’s very true. But Hawaii is actually the southernmost state in the United States.
Florida Has the US’s Longest Coastline
Flat maps lie. So, it seems like Florida has the longest coastline of any other state. But its coastline is only 1,350 miles long whereas Alaska’s coastline is 6,640 miles long. For a lot of folks, Florida is more appealing because it has lots of sun and warm beaches while Alaska has chilly weather and hungry bears.
The Grand Canyon Is the World’s Largest Canyon
The Grand Canyon of Western America is enormous and impressive, too. But it’s not the largest canyon in the world. That honor falls to the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, also known as the Brahmaputra Canyon, which is 2.6 miles deeper and 37 miles longer than the Grand Canyon.
All Middle Easterners Are Muslims
There are a ton of Muslims living in the Middle East. But there are also plenty of Jews, Zoroastrians, Baha’is, and different types of Christians such as Assyrian Christians and Coptic Christians. So, it’s kind of a bummer that people assume that Muslims are the only people living in the Middle East.
Arizona Doesn’t Use Daylight Savings Time
Daylight savings time is annoying for a lot of people because they lose an hour when they spring forward, except for the state of Arizona, right? Wrong. The state does actually recognize the time change exception for the territory owned by the Navajo Nations.
Alaska Has the Smallest Population in the US
Alaska’s coastline is definitely the longest, but many people assume that the state has the smallest population in the country. However, according to the 2016 United States census, it has the third smallest population. Wyoming is the least populated state, and Vermont is the runner up.
Greenland Is Bigger Than Africa
Mercator projects, which is the way map makers flatten out maps, inflate the size of land masses away from the equator. So, world regions like Greenland and Antarctica appear larger than they are to countries closer to the equator. But Africa is 11,730,000 square miles and Greenland, which appears bigger on a map is only 836,000 square feet.
New York Is Among the Most Dangerous US Cities
New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are known as the most dangerous cites in the United States. But they aren’t even in the top 5 list of most dangerous cities. The cities with the most violent crimes are Saint Louis, Missouri, Detroit, Michigan, and Baltimore, Maryland.
The Statue of Liberty Is in New York City
People assume the Statue of Liberty is in New York City. But according to the National Parks Service, Ellis Island, where the statue is located, is within the territorial jurisdiction of New York and New Jersey. So, it really just depends where you happen to be standing on.
Georgia Produces the Most Peaches
Georgia is known as the peach state because locals claim they produce some of the best peaches in the country. But California produces approximately 20 times more peaches than Georgia. But California is already known as the Golden State, so it can’t be golden and peachy, too.
The Capital of Switzerland Is Geneva
Geneva is home to the Headquarters of Europe’s United Nations and the Red Cross. It’s also the banking world’s global nexus. So naturally, people assume that it’s the capital of Switzerland. But the capital city is actually Bern, not Geneva.
Seattle Is the Rainiest City in the US
Seattle, Washington, is not the rainiest city in the United States. It’s actually Mobile, Alabama. And according to NOAA, Miami and Jacksonville, Florida, ranked second and fifth as the cities with the most rain. But the cities with the most rain and snow days include Rochester and Buffalo, New York.
Roswell Is a UFO Hot Spot
Roswell, New Mexico, has been on UFO enthusiasts’ radars ever since the alleged 1947 UFO crash. But it’s not where the most UFOs are spotted. The places with the most sightings in the United States are Washington State, Montana and Vermont.
Route 66 Is the US’s Longest Highway
Route 66 was the nation’s first highway that linked Chicago to Los Angeles, which is a pretty long route when you think about it. But the longest route in the United States is Route 20, and it runs from Boston all the way to Newport, Oregon.
The Matterhorn Is the Highest European Mountain
The Matterhorn is one of the most popular peaks in the Alps. But it’s only about 15,000 feet high, which doesn’t make it the tallest. However, Russia’s Mount Elbrus is 18,510 feet tall, which does in fact make it the tallest mountain in Europe.
Mount Whitney Is the US’s Highest Peak
Some people believe that California’s Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in the country. But when Alaska became a state in 1959, the Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley Mountain, took the lead as the highest peak in the United States.
The Nile is the World’s Longest River
A lot of people make the assumption that the Nile is the longest river in the world because it’s pretty popular in ancient history and referenced in films and television. But the Nile River is only 4,258 miles and the Amazon River is actually 4,345 miles.
The Lincoln Bedroom Was Where Lincoln Slept
Although there’s a room in the White House called the “Lincoln bedroom,” it was actually his office and cabinet room where he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The room was never his. In fact, his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln turned it into a guest room.
The Constitution Was Signed in Connecticut
Connecticut was nicknamed the Constitution State because its Fundamental Orders were adopted in 1649 and they dictated how it had to be governed. But the Constitution was written and signed in Philadelphia’s Assembly Room of the Pennsylvania State House on September 17, 1787.
Hoover Dam Is Full of Corpses
96 workers died during the construction of the Hoover Dam and some people believe that some of the men fell into the concrete and ended up being permanent parts of the dam. But a body would have affected the integrity of the dam. So, all the bodies were recovered.
The Mississippi River Is the Longest US River
The United States’ Mississippi River is pretty famous, which is why people assume it’s also the country’s longest river. In fact, it would take a drop of water 90 days to travel the river’s entire length. But the Missouri River is pretty big nonetheless. It’s actually 139 miles longer.
Canada Is Frozen Solid in the Winter
Although Canada gets very cold in the winter, it’s hardly the arctic ice box that everyone makes it out to be. Areas like Winnipeg can get very chilly. But other cities like Vancouver have milder winter weather. In fact, New York is colder than Vancouver.
Africa Is a Country
Despite what you’ve heard, Africa is not a country at all. It’s a massive continent with 54 countries. Africa borders the Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean, and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s also the world’s second largest continent.
Mount Everest Is the World’s Tallest Mountain
Mount Everest does have the highest summit above sea level. But it’s not exactly the world’s tallest mountain either. If you were to measure mountains from their base to their summit, then Hawaii’s Mauna Kea would beat out Everest.
Canada Is the Largest Country in the World
Canada is pretty big, which is why so many people assume right off the bat that it’s the largest country on the planet. But it actually comes second to Russia, which is over 17,000 square kilometers bigger. But being the second largest country on the planet is nothing to be ashamed of.
The Chernobyl Disaster Shut Down the Entire Plant
In 1986, the Chernobyl power plant had a meltdown. But the entire facility wasn’t shut down. Reactor 4 blew up but the other three reactors were working just fine. People continued working there because it was vital to Ukraine’s power supply. In fact, Unit 2 was shut down in 1991. Unit 1 was shut down in 1996, and unit 3 wasn’t shut down until 2000.
Iceland Is Covered in Ice
Is it cold in Iceland? Sure. Is there snow? You bet. But that’s only in the winter. In general, though, the weather is a lot mild and greener than Greenland. In fact, Greenland is a lot colder and icier than Iceland.
Alcatraz Was the Most Dangerous US Prison
Hollywood might have you convinced that Alcatraz was the most terrifying prison in the United States. Admittedly, it did have some pretty scary bad guys locked up inside their walls. But the legend that was created around this place for being the most dangerous is definitely not true.
Krakatoa Is East of Java
Krakatoa was the site of a major volcanic eruption in 1883. They even made a movie about it in 1969 called “Krakatoa, East of Java.” But Krakatoa isn’t east. It’s just an island in the Sunda Strait west of Java. You can still go east from Java to get to Krakatoa but you’ll have to go around the entire globe.
Holland Is a Country
Holland isn’t a country. It’s a former province of the Netherlands and currently just a region. And here’s another tidbit you might not be familiar with. There’s a North Holland and a South Holland. But Holland and the Netherlands are used interchangeably.
Immigrants on Ellis Island Were Americanized
People claim that immigrants who arrived on Ellis Island had their last names Americanized. But it turns out that officials never recorded the names. They simply cross-checked their given names against the ship’s manifests. But they did give the immigrants the option to correct any spelling mistakes to their names.
Puerto Rico Is a Country
Puerto Rico isn’t a country. It’s a Caribbean island and United States territory. The island was colonized by Spain in 1493 and handed to the United States in 1898 after the Spanish-American War under the Treaty of Paris. But although Puerto Ricans are United States citizens, they are ineligible to vote.
There’s Only One South Pole in the World
The South Pole is the southernmost point on the planet. But scientists use two other poles when they measure the researching location. There’s the Magnetic South Pole and Geomagnetic South Pole, which is constantly fluctuating because of Earth’s magnetic field. Then there’s the South Pole of Inaccessibility that’s measured with the coastlines.
Maine Is the Easternmost State
Maine is not the easternmost state. It’s actually Alaska that is the easternmost point of the contiguous United States because the Aleutian Islands stretch across the 180º longitude, which makes it the easternmost state, but also the westernmost state.
The First Gold Nugget Was Found in California
The gold found at Sutter’s Mill in 1848 led to the famous California Gold Rush. But fifty years earlier, the first golden nugget was found at Little Meadow Creek, North Carolina. But the man who found the gold was tricked into selling the 17-pound nugget for approximately 1,000 times less than its actual value.
Boston, Philadelphia and Jamestown Are the Oldest US Cities
Boston, Philadelphia and Jamestown are some of the oldest cities in the United States, but they are definitely not the oldest cities. That honor goes to the city of St. Augustine, Florida. That’s where the first permanent European settlement was founded in 1565.
The UK and England Are the Same
For the moment, the United Kingdom consists of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Great Britain is the island of England, Scotland, and Wales. So, you see, there is a difference because Northern Ireland isn’t part of Great Britain.