Geography Facts That Will Blow Your Mind
Whether you've just completed school or you graduated decades ago, there are likely many things you don't know about the extraordinary planet on which we live.
For instance: Were you aware that the Pacific Ocean is shrinking every year? Or that the world includes a sea without coasts? Or that Alaska isn't just the westernmost state in the U.S., but the easternmost as well?
The third rock from the sun is much more complex than you may think — as evidenced by these alternative facts about geography.
Alaska Is the Westernmost and Easternmost State in the U.S.
You may think of Alaska as the westernmost state in the United States, especially when looking at a map, but it's also the easternmost state.
Due to the fact that it stretches so far from the west that it falls into the eastern hemisphere. In fact, Semisopochnoi Island, part of Alaska's Aleutian Islands, is technically the easternmost spot in all of North America.
How well do you know the world? Test your knowledge with this world's largest cities quiz from Huge Quiz.
There’s a Lake Within an Island on a Lake Within an Island
Ready to follow along closely?
In the Philippines, you'll find Vulcan Point, an island within Main Crater Lake.
Main Crater Lake is located on Volcano Island.
Volcano Island is located in Lake Taal.
Lake Taal is located on the island of Luzon.
And there you have a lake within an island on a lake within an island.
Mauna Kea Is Taller Than Everest
Mount Everest may be the tallest mountain above sea level, but when it comes to the tallest mountain on earth, that honor goes to Mauna Kea.
Above the sea, Mauna Kea only stands 13,796 feet in height. But when you follow the mountain to its base at the bottom of the Pacific, it's 32,808 feet — more than 3,000 feet taller than Everest.
Mt. Everest Isn't as Close to the Moon as Mt. Chimborazo
Poor Mt. Everest — not only is it not actually the tallest mountain in the world, but it's also not the closest to outer space, even though it boasts the highest elevation above sea level. That distinction goes, instead, to Ecuador's Mt. Chimborazo.
Earth isn't actually round, but oval, with an inflated middle.
Although Ecuador's Mt. Chimborazo is only 20,564 feet in height, its equator location pushes it closer to the stars than Mt. Everest, at 29,035 feet.
Iceland Is Growing 5 Centimeters Per Year
Iceland, divided by the North American and European tectonic plates, is growing by nearly 5 centimeters per year as the plates grow wider apart.
The Pacific Ocean Is Shrinking
As North America and South America are move more westward, the Pacific Ocean is shrinking. Every year, Asia and North America get closer and closer as the Pacific is reduced by two to three centimeters.
A Good Morning Is a Good Night in Parts of Russia
Russia has 11 times zones (of just 24 total in the world!). So when a Russian on one side of the country is awaking at 7 a.m., another on the other side may be sitting down to dinner.
Another fun fact? France actually uses more time zones — 12 — than Russia or anywhere else in the world, due to its overseas territories.
Los Angeles Is East of Reno, Nevada
Sure, California is west of Nevada, but check the map closely and you'll see the City of Angels is actually 86 miles east of Reno.
This is particularly mind-boggling when you consider Nevada is close to 300 miles from the Pacific Ocean.
Mexico City Is Sinking
Originally built on a lake in 1325 A.D., Mexico City is currently sinking by about 3.2 feet per year.
The Aztecs filled in Lago de Texcoco to create an artificial island, and the Spaniards created a second location atop the ruins in 1521. Because the majority of locals rely on water extracted from the aquifer below the city, it's dropped a total of 32 feet over the last 60 years!
Los Angeles and San Francisco Will Be Neighboring Cities
The San Andreas fault in California is "consuming" nearly 2 inches of land each year.
If humans are still around in 15 million years, those living in Las Angeles and San Francisco can be neighbors.
There Are 7,100+ Islands in the Philippines
The Archipelago of the Philippines is made up of 7,641 islands — several hundred more than the 7,107 islands scientists previously believed the country contained.
New mapping research revealed the additional land masses a couple years ago, prompting "The Inquirer" to note, "The change is a reminder of how knowledge, even scientific knowledge, is a matter of faith...It’s good for our critical thinking to be reminded of the contingency of 'expert knowledge.'"
The southern Pacific islands were named for King Philip II of Spain. The country's largest island is Luzon, spanning 42,458 square miles.
Russia and China Touch 14 Countries Each
Looking at a map, it may seem Russia can swallow China whole. However, both countries border 14 countries.
Russia (including the region of Kaliningrad) borders Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, North Korea, Norway, Poland and the Ukraine.
China borders Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Myanmar, Mongolia, Nepal. North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Vietnam.
Three Countries Are Landlocked by Just One Country
Lesotho, San Marino and Vatican City are the only three countries that are completely landlocked by another country. Lesotho is located entirely within South Africa, while San Marino and Vatican City are both situated within Italy.
The Sargasso Sea Has No Coasts
The only sea in the world without any coasts, the Sargasso Sea is found in the Atlantic Ocean. Located in the North, it is surrounded by four ocean currents, with no land coastline to speak of. It is named for the floating seaweed that covers it: Sargassum.
Yellowstone National Park Is Home to a Supervolcano
Beneath Yellowstone National Park lies an active "supervolcano" — a distinction bestowed upon volcanoes that have seen at least one explosion release more than 240 cubic miles of material (a bit more than twice the volume of Lake Erie, according to National Geographic).
The Yellowstone volcano has actually experienced three very large eruptions, two of which qualified as "super" — though fortunately for park-goers, the most recent one was 640,000 years ago.
Today, the park's volcanic roots are evident in its hot springs, mud pots and world-famous geysers.
Sudan Has More Ancient Pyramids Than Egypt
Egypt's Pyramids of Giza may be considered one of the wonders of the world, but Sudan has nearly twice the number of pyramids. Sudan touts 200-255 known pyramids, built for the Kushite kingdoms of Nubia, compared to Egypt's relatively paltry 138 pyramids.
Within the Sahara, you can still visit the ancient and reconstructed pyramids of Meroe.
The Largest Rock on the Planet Is in Australia
Despite its name, Mount Augustus is not a mountain, but one very large rock. Located in the Australian Outback, the rock stands more than 2,300 feet tall and can be seen from nearly 100 miles.
The rock is almost twice the size of Ayers Rock, which is the Outback's more famous granite rock. It's also 1,650 million years old.
Damascus is the Oldest Continuously Inhabited City in the World
You may have thought Jerusalem or Athens was the oldest city in the world, but that honor goes to Damascus, Syria. Continuously inhabited since at least 11,000 years ago, it was named the Arab Capital of Culture in 2008.
Damascus has more than 125 monuments showcasing its different periods of history since the 3rd millennium B.C., including the Great Mosque of the Umayyads, built in the 8th century. Today, the city is home to 1.7 million people.
Africa Spans All Four Hemispheres
The only continent in the world to sit in all four hemispheres — north, south, east and west — Africa covers nearly 12 million square miles and 6 percent of the earth's total surface.
Africa is made up of 54 countries, the largest of which is Algeria.
Kentucky Has More Caves Than Any Other Place on Earth
Kentucky's cave system, Mammoth Cave, is nearly 400 miles in length — and that's just what's been explored! Scientists think there are 200 more miles of unexplored caves, making the cave system the largest on Earth.
You can visit portions of the caves at Mammoth Cave National Park.
Istanbul Is the Only Major City Resting on Two Continents
Istanbul is located in both Europe and Asia, with the Bosphorus Strait running through its middle. You can cross the Bosporus Bridge between the two sides, with the more populated European side serving as the commercial and historical center.
The largest city in Turkey—and largest city on two continents with 14 million people—has a 2,000-year-old history that includes serving as the capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.
Other cities resting in two continents include:
- Suez (El Qantara), Egypt (Africa and Asia)
- Orenburg, Magnitogorsk, Pervouralsk and Yekaterinburg, Russia (Europe and Asia)
- Atyrau and Oral, Kazakhstan (Europe and Asia)
- Çanakkale, Turkey (Europe and Asia)
- Panama City (North and South America)
Alaska Is Home to the Largest Cities in America
Yes, New York and Los Angeles may be more populated than any town in Alaska, but based on land mass, Alaska is home to some of the largest cities in the United States.
Sitka, Alaska, may only have little more than 10,000 residents, but the city spans more than 2,800 square miles (New York City, as a point of comparison, is just 302 square miles). Juneau, with more than 31,000 people, sits on 2,700 square miles. Tiny Wrangell, Alaska, with just over 2,300 residents, spreads across more than 2,500 square miles. And Anchorage, at 1,704 square miles, has 301,000 inhabitants.
The Vast Majority of the Earth's Population Is in the North
The Northern Hemisphere is home to 90 percent of the Earth's total population. The Earth is home to 7.3 billion people, yet 6.57 billion live north of the equator in North America, Europe, most of Africa and Asia and even some parts of South America.
The Deepest Place on Earth Is in the Pacific Ocean
The Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean is the deepest place on the surface of Earth, with a small depression called the Challenger Deep the deepest part of the trench. The depression reaches depths of nearly 35,814 feet.
Russia's Transsiberian Railway Crosses 3,901 Bridges
If you want to take the train across Russia, you'll need to set aside seven days for a direct route that doesn't stop, crossing through all 11 time zones.
The railway crosses Russia's 16 largest rivers, including the Volga, as well as an astonishing 3,901 bridges along 62 miles of bridgework.
It Snows in the Sahara Desert
With temperatures reaching up to 136 degrees Fahrenheit, Northern Africa's Sahara Desert rarely gets cold enough for snow. But it is not unheard of!
The Sahara's temp averages 86 degrees, but in the evenings, chill sets in, averaging 55 degrees. In January 2018, the Sahara received its third snow in 40 years— before that, snowfall was recorded in 2016 and 1979.
Fly Over the Great Barrier Reef and You'll See a Heart
The Great Barrier Reef, which spans 1,429 miles along the coastline of Australia, is home to a reef in the shape of a heart — and it's very visible from above!
In fact, a pilot first spotted the heart when he flew overhead in 1975. Just 55 feet in diameter, the reef is a part of Hardy Reef in Whitsundays. Alas, you cannot visit by boat, as the reef is highly protected.
Bangkok's Full Name is 163 Letters
The city with the longest name is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit. Rather than going by this 21-word name, the city goes by its widely known nickname: Bangkok.
This true name is the longest name of any place on earth. (And indeed, it's hard to fathom something longer...)
The Largest Concentration of Lakes Is in Canada
Nine percent of Canada is a freshwater lake, and with 31,752 lakes, the country has more lakes than anywhere else in the world.
These lakes are impressive in scope, too; 561 of Canada's lakes measure more than 62 square miles.
42 Buildings in New York Have Their Own Zip Codes
New York City is known for its staggering skyscrapers — and some are so epic, they have their own zip codes!
The Empire State Building, MetLife Building, the Woolworth Building and the Chrysler Building are some of the buildings to boast this distinction.
Interestingly, size isn't necessarily the deciding factor in this (the tallest building in the city, One World Trade Center, doesn't have its own zip code). Instead, the volume of mail is a primary determinant; the Empire State Building, for instance, has 150 businesses that receive mail, enough to warrant the structure a zip code of its own.
Two Islands 2.4 Miles Apart Are 20 Hours Apart
Between the United States and Russia are the Diomede Islands. The two countries divide the islands, with Bio Diomede located in Russia and Little Diomede in America, separated by the International Border and Date Line.
Because of this, although the islands are just 2.4 miles apart, there's a 20-hour time difference between them. This unique trait is why Big Diomede is called Tomorrow Island and Little Diomede is called Yesterday Island.
You Can Hit Canada When You Drive South From Detroit
Canada is above North America, except where it wraps into Lake Erie. If you drive south from some areas of Detroit, you could need your passport, as you would cross into Canada.
Earth Has Enough Gold to Cover Itself in It
The Gold Rush is over, but perhaps it shouldn't be. There is enough gold in the core of the planet to cover the whole of Earth with a 1.5-foot layer of the mineral.
Santa Claus Lives on an Island
The North Pole is not made of land. Instead, it is made up of polar ice caps — floating icebergs. If Santa is real, his home is floating.
Because the ice caps are constantly moving, the North Pole moves, as well.
Water Covers the Majority of the Planet, but Most of It Can't Be Used by Humans
Seventy-one percent of the Earth is made up of water, yet only .007 percent of it can be used by humans.
How is this so?
For one thing, only 2.5 percent is freshwater; the rest is saline and ocean-based. Moreover, of this freshwater, only 1 percent is readily accessible, with the rest trapped in glaciers and snowfields.
The Most Remote Place on Earth Is Point Nemo
Officially called the "oceanic pole of inaccessibility," Point Nemo is 1,000 miles from any land in any direction.
Literally, Point Nemo is in the middle of nowhere. ("Nemo" in Latin means, fittingly, "no one. ")
The closest people to Point Nemo are astronauts on the International Space Station whenever they pass above the point — 258 miles away.
Most of the U.S. Coastline Is in Alaska
California may have a long coastline, but it doesn't come close to Alaska's; in fact, more than half of the entire country's coastline is located in Alaska.
The state's coastline, including its islands, is 47,300 miles.
20% of Oxygen Is Produced by the Amazon
Just how important is the Amazon Rainforest in South America? Consider this: More than 20 percent of Earth's oxygen supply is produced by the forest.
It Takes 90 Days for One Drop of Water to Travel the Mississippi River
It takes a drop of water three months to travel the Mississippi River, the longest in the United States at 2,348 miles. Drop the water at its northernmost source in Minnesota and it won't reach the end, the Gulf of Mexico, for 90 days.
North Carolina Has a Piece of Land That Belongs to England
Along North Carolina's Outer Banks, in the small town of Ocracoke, is land officially leased forever to England. Actually a cemetery and memorial, the site honors the "HMT Bedfordshire," an English naval ship that patrolled the coastal waters during WWII.
When the "Bedforshire" was sunk by a German U-boat torpedo, all 37 sailors on board died, most never to be recovered. Four bodies did wash ashore, though, and are buried in a cemetery leased in perpetuity to the British so the men can remain on their home soil.
Continents Move Faster Under Stress
Continents move about 1 inch per year, but when the tectonic plates are under stress, scientists discovered they can move 20 times more quickly!
As tectonic plates begin to split, they move apart as fast as your fingernails grow.
California Is Bigger Than Canada (By Population)
Canada's population as of 2019? 37.5 million.
California's population in 2019? 39.75 million.
California is 163,696 square miles while Canada is 9,984,670 square miles. You do the math.
Australia's Red Rock Is Bigger Than You Think
Uluru, the famous red rock of central Australia, stands 1,142 feet above the desert, measuring 2.2 miles in length by 1.5 miles in width.
But, it also extends another 1.5 miles below the surface, making its actual height 2,831 feet.
Mount Everest Can Fit Inside the Mariana Trench
Mount Everest may boast the highest elevation above sea level, at 29,029 feet, but it dwarves in comparison to the Mariana Trench. The Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the ocean, extends about 36,070 feet.
The Dead Sea Is Sinking
Already 1,388 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea has the lowest on-land elevation — and it's sinking!
Researchers have found the salty sea's surface level is dropping more than 3 feet per year.
But You Won't Sink in the Dead Sea
The Dead Sea has 8 to 9 times more salt than the oceans and seas of the world, which creates a buoyancy that causes you to float.
Step into the Dead Sea and lean back — your feet will pop right up to the surface!
You Could Walk to Russia From Alaska
Sarah Palin may have been able to see Russia from her house, but you can actually walk from Alaska to Russia. A 2.5-mile stretch divides Russia's Big Diomede island from Alaska's Little Diomede island. In the winter, the water separating the two islands freezes, allowing you to trek from one destination to the other.
The Shortest Town Names Have One Letter
The word "river" in Scandinavian is "Å," and both Norway and Sweden have villages with this as their name.
Sweden also has a village named Ö, which means "island."
France has a village called Y.
A Town in Nebraska Has a Single Resident
The only incorporated town in the U.S. with a population of one person can be found in Monowi, Nebraska. As the BBC put it, Elsie Eiler pays taxes to herself and grants her own liquor license!
The Country With the Longest Name Has 56 Characters
The U.K.'s official name is United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which is the most characters in a country's full name.
Libya used to hold the honor at 63 characters when it was called Al Jumahiriyah al Arabiyah al Libiyah ash Shabiyah al Ishtirakiyah al Uzma. The name was changed in 2013 to the State of Libya.
Greece Has More Than 200 Inhabited Islands
Greece is also notorious for its breathtakingly beautiful islands. In total, the number of islands in the country is between 1,200 and 6,000, depending on your definition of what an island is.
But when talking about the ones that are inhabited, the estimates are between 166 and 227. That means you have an excuse to go back to Greece over and over again.
The World's Largest War Memorial Is a Road
When soldiers returned from World War One, they were offered jobs to build a road along Australia's coast. By the time of completion in 1932, Great Ocean Road stretched 150 miles.
The road was dedicated to the soldiers lost in the war, making it the world's largest war memorial.
You'll Hit New York in All Directions From Stamford, Connecticut
Drive, walk, bike, scooter or crawl out of Stamford, Connecticut, and you'll hit New York state to the north, south, east and west.
Want to stay in Connecticut? Your only option is to go northeast.
One Country Has 840 Languages
Think learning a second language is difficult? Try 840. That is the number of languages currently spoken in Papua New Guinea.
Only 2 Countries in South America Do Not Border Brazil
Brazil is so large that it takes up 3,287,956 square miles of South America. Only Ecuador and Chile, both on the west coast, are separated from Brazil by other nations.
The Coldest Temperature Ever Recorded Was -128.6 Degrees
In 1983, the Soviet Vostok Station recorded a ground temperature of −128.6 °F (−89.2 °C) in Antarctica.
The Hottest Temperature Was 134 Degrees
In 1913, the World Meteorological Organisation recorded a ground temperature of 134°F (56.7°C) in California's Death Valley.
It Snows in Hawaii
Hawaii's volcanoes are tall enough that although the coastlines are filled with palm trees and tropical temps, the mountaintops can see snow in the winter.
Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa on the Big Island and Haleakala on Maui are above 10,000 feet and receive snowfall in the winter months. In fact, "Mauna Kea" means "White Mountain" due to its capping of snow.
Brazil Has More Than 300 Indigenous Tribes
Thirteen percent of Brazil is home to its indigenous people. Brazil records 690 territories as tribal, with about 305 tribes totaling nearly 900,000 people.
Lions Are Extinct in 26 Countries in Africa
The king of the jungle once roamed across all countries of Africa. Today, it is estimated that 23,000 to 39,000 lions remain on the continent, and 26 countries in Africa no longer have lions at all.
This is a tragedy, considering how fascinating lions are.
Australia's Alps Get More Snow Than the Swiss Alps
Think Australia is just beaches and desert? Wrong! Along the border of New South Wales and Victoria are the Australian Alps, giving Aussie ski bunnies a place to enjoy the powder during the winter months of June through September.
Because of the proximity to the coast, the Australian Alps get more snowfall each year than land-locked Switzerland.
The Largest Sand Island in the World Is Also in Australia
Created by sand blowing off the land for thousands of years, Fraser Island is the world's largest island made of sand. The island off the east coast of Australia measures 76.4 miles long by 13.6 miles wide.
The island's length is the reason for the name of its beach: 75-Mile Beach.
Germany Is Home to the World's Highest Rock Museum
At the top of Munich's Olympic Tower is a museum dedicated to the rock musicians of Germany. While the tower is 956 feet tall, the viewing platform and museum rests at 620 feet and is touted as the world's highest rock museum.
India Is Home to the World's Highest Cricket Ground
Cricket is extremely popular in India. To ensure its students had a field dedicated to the sport, the Chail Military School built the Chail Cricket Ground, the world's highest.
Established in 1893, Chail Cricket Ground is 8,019 feet above the sea in Himachal Pradesh.
Peru Has Floating Islands on a Lake
High above Peru in Lake Titicaca is a tribe of people who live on islands made of floating reeds. Stacking reeds upon reeds, the tribes people live in homes built upon the reeds, made of reeds. They even have a soccer field built on reeds!
The floating city of Puno was originally built on reeds so it could easily move away from any danger. Today, tourists flock to see the floating islands of the lake.
The Shortest Flight in the World Takes 57 Seconds
You can ride the world's shortest commercial flight when you travel between Westray and Papa Westray in Scotland. The 1.7-mile flight on Loganair connects the islands in just 57 seconds (if the weather holds).
The World's Longest Flight Takes 19 Hours
Conversely, the world's longest commercial flight connects Newark, New Jersey, to Singapore in — yikes! — 19 hours. The flight travels more than 9,500 miles.
Russia Is Home to Europe's Tallest Mountain
The Alps may be more famous, but the highest peak in Europe is actually in Russia. Its height? 18,510 feet above sea level.
Russia Is Also Home to the Coldest Inhabited Place on Earth
Russia is home to the coldest permanently inhabited place on earth, too. (Antarctica's residents are not living in permanent towns, in case you were wondering.)
In 1924, Oymyakon, Russia, reached a record low of -96.16 degrees Fahrenheit.
But it's not always this cold. Normal winter temperatures average a relatively balmy -58.
Ethiopia Has the Hottest Place on Earth
On the opposite end of the weather spectrum is Dallol, Ethiopia, the hottest inhabited place on the planet.
Average temps reach 106 degrees Fahrenheit.
You'll Need an Umbrella in Mawsynram
India's Mawsynram is the wettest place on earth. The northeastern village receives, on average, 724 inches of rain each year.
The Aptly Named Dry Valleys Are Entirely Rain-Free
At the bottom of the globe, Dry Valleys in Antarctica has not had a single drop of rain or snow in nearly 2 million years! Scientists attribute this to the earth's gravitational pull.
Bring a Pair of Warm Boots to Taomori
For the most snow, head to Japan's Aomori. The Sea of Japan contributes to its winter precipitation, giving the mountain city an annual snowfall of more than 312 inches.
Don't Forget the Ray-Bans in Yuma
When it comes to the sunniest place to be, the United States gets the honor. Yuma, Arizona averages more than 4,000 sunlight hours per year — 11 hours a day during the winter, and 13 hours on summer days.
Portugal Occupies Three Continents
Portugal, located in western Europe, has two collections of land that place it on three different continents.
The Madeira archipelago is closer to Africa than to Europe, while the Azores archipelago is closer to North America. This makes Portugal a tri-continental country.
The Middle East Imports Sand From Australia
There may be plenty of sand in the Middle East, but not the type of sand needed for building. This is why countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates import sand from Australia.
The Caribbean Is the Deepest of the 7 Seas
Of the seven seas in the world, the Caribbean Sea is the deepest. Dropping more than 25,000 feet, the Cayman Trough, is found between the Cayman Islands and Jamaica.
Hurricanes Hit China More Than Any Other Nation
Hurricanes don't just hit the Caribbean or Oceania (where they are known as typhoons). China has been hit by more than 172 hurricanes on its mainland since 1970. The biggest typhoon to strike was Rammasun in 2014 — winds reached 160 miles per hour.
The World's Smallest Museum Is 36 Square Feet
Located at 4 Cortlandt Alley in New York City is a 36-square-foot elevator shaft that has been converted into a museum "exploring modern humanity." The Mmuseumm is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fridays through Sundays, and even has a "Rest Stop" elevator shaft two doors up that sells food and beverages.
Australia's Deadliest Animals Are Horses
Yes, Australia does have terrifying animals that could kill you — spiders, sharks and poisonous snakes among them. However, more deaths in Australia are caused by horses (ponies and donkeys included), followed by cows and dogs.
Between 2000 and 2010, 254 deaths were caused by animals. Seventy-seven resulted (mostly) from falls off of horses, 33 from cattle (including from people crushing, piercing and crashing into the animals while in a car), and 27 by dog attacks.
It is estimated there are 20 deaths per year due to horse-related injuries in Australia.
14 Countries Have Less Than 1% Forest (3 Have None)
The World Bank reviewed, in 2013, the land mass each country has that is dedicated to forests. Sadly, 14 countries have less than 1 percent of land devoted to trees — and 25 have less than 3 percent.
Qatar, Greenland and San Marino were recorded as having 0.
Mexican Soccer Fans Caused an Earthquake
During 2018's World Cup play, seismologists in Mexico City noticed small earthquakes taking place when Mexico's soccer team scored a goal against Germany, the defending World Cup champions.
With 75,000 fans mobbing the city after the win, it's easy to see how a universal leap to their feet would shake the ground.
North Korea Has the Largest Stadium in the World
North Korea's Rungrado 1st of May Stadium, so called because it opened on May 1, 1989, can hold 114,000 soccer fans for its national football team. (Although the team mainly plays at neighboring Kim Il-sung Stadium.)
The stadium's first event was the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students, and it often hosts the Arirang Festival games gymnastics event.
Over 3,100 Animal Species Are Found in Brazil
Of the known species of animals, Brazil is home to 3,172 of them, making it the country with the most animals. Of those species, 383 of them are endangered.
But More Birds Can Be Found in Colombia
North of Brazil, Colombia has (slightly) more species of birds than its larger neighbor. Brazil has 1,813 species, while Colombia has 1,878.
Of those, 126 are threatened in Colombia, and 175 are threatened in Brazil.
As Well As the Most Orchid Species in the World
As the national flower of Colombia, orchids are a source of pride for the country, which has more species than any other place on Earth.
There are about 4,000 orchid species in the world, and you'll find more than 1,500 of them in Colombia.
South Africa's Mountains Are the OG of Mountains
The world's oldest mountains are the Barberton Greenstone Belt in South Africa. These old girls are said to date back 3.5 billion years. The highest peak stands 5,900 feet tall in the Makhonjwa Mountains.
The World's Tallest Tree Is Hidden
Standing just over 379 feet in height, a California redwood is believed to be the world's tallest tree. Named Hyperion and estimated to be between 700 and 800 years old, its location is a secret so people will not destroy it.
You Can Skip the Bug Spray in Iceland
Iceland is the only country in the world where you are safe from mosquitos: They don't live on the European island!
Don't Look Down in China
China is home to the tallest bridge. The 4,400-foot-long Duge Beipanjiang Bridge goes across a 1,854-foot valley.
Indonesia Is Full of Coconuts
The global leader in coconut production is Indonesia, which generates 201.7 million tons annually. That's a lot of coconuts!
The Smallest River Runs Through Montana
At just 67 yards, the Roe River in Montana is the world's shortest river. (That's just 201 feet!)
Illinois Housed a Giant
The world's record-holding tallest man lived and died in America. Robert Wadlow of Illinois was 8 feet 11.1 inches tall.
His growth continued right up to his death at the age of 22 in 1940. He weighed 439 pounds.
Nepal's Flag Is Mountainous
Nepal's flag is the only flag in the world that is not a rectangle. Its two triangles are a combination of pennants to showcase the country's Himalayan Mountains.
Brazil's Trees Bleed
Brazil's national tree is filled with inner layers that appear to run like red blood when cut.
The tree is actually what led to Brazil's name. The Portuguese discovered this tree and named it Pau-brasil, with "brasa" for "flame." The red has been used as a dye since the 1500s, as well as in medicines.
But China's Bridge Is Even Longer
The longest bridge and tunnel collaboration is the 34.2-mile Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge. Opening in 2018, the bridge features a 4.2-mile tunnel in a channel filled with cargo ships.
The bridge, which cost $17 billion, shortened the 4-hour drive between Hong Kong and Zhuhai to just 45 minutes.
Speaking of Long...
The Panama Canal may be the most famous of locks to help ships cross between the Atlantic and the Pacific, but the world's longest lock is actually in Belgium.
The Port of Antwerp's Kieldrecht Lock, completed in 2016, is 1,600 feet long.
The World's Littlest Skyscraper Is 4-Stories High
Constructed in Wichita Falls, Texas, in 1919, the Newby-McMahon Building stands 40-feet tall and goes by the nickname "the world's littlest skyscraper."
While the Tallest Is 163 Stories
Across the world stands the world's tallest skyscraper (officially!). The Burj Khalifa, built in 2008, towers above the city at 2,717 feet.
You Can Swim in the Sky in Singapore
Visit the Sands Marina Bay Hotel in Singapore, and you'll find an open-air swimming pool on the 57th floor.
With glass windows and an infinity edge, you'll feel like you're swimming in the sky in what is the world's highest swimming pool — 1,115 feet.
50 Percent of Canadians Live in a Small Portion of Land
If you look at the 49th parallel, which roughly divides the U.S. and Canada, you'll get a very small portion of the latter below the line. Still, about half of Canadians live in this small part of the territory.
Both of the country's largest cities, Toronto and Montreal (neither of which is the capital) sit below the 49th parallel. While this explains why so much of the population is concentrated here, it's still shocking to see.
The Oldest Olive Tree in the World Is 4,000 to 5,000 Years Old
It is called al-Badawi, and you can find it in Bethlehem, Palestine. Yes, the Bethlehem where Jesus was said to be born.
The tree stood tall thousands of years before Jesus was born and is still alive and well. Olive oil making in the region is thought to go back to about 8,000 years ago.
Pygmy Elephants Only Exist in Borneo
The island of Borneo is divided between Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia, though the latter claims most of it. While there are several important species like orangutans, Sumatran tigers and Sumatran rhinos, they also reside in the nearby island of Sumatra. One species, however, exclusively resides in Borneo, and it's one of the cutest in the world: pygmy elephants.
Elephants are already cuddly and adorable. Now shrink them down to 8- or 9-feet tall (2.4 to 2.7 meters) and imagine the cuteness overload. Baby pygmy elephants are even smaller!
Egypt Is Located in Both Africa and Asia
Though Egypt is counted as an African country, it has a peninsula in Asia. The peninsula is separated from Africa only by the small Suez canal.
This makes Egypt a transcontinental country.
The Largest Desert in the World Isn't Where You Think
If you had to guess what the largest desert in the world is, you'd probably go for the Sahara or the Gobi desert. But, in fact, the honor goes to the gigantic continent of Antarctica.
Since a desert is defined as a dry area with low vegetation, Antarctica fits the bill — even if it looks different from what we usually imagine as a desert.
The Continental U.S. Is Smaller Than Brazil
Brazil is the fifth largest in the world. That's one place lower than the U.S.
However, if you took away Hawaii and Alaska, Brazil would actually come out on top, covering a large part of Canada as well.
Canada and Australia Are Still Formally Part of England
Have you ever wondered why Queen Elizabeth appears on Canadian and Australian money? Despite what most people think, the Queen is still head of state in both countries.
That's right: the Queen, in name, reigns over Canada. And these two countries aren't the only ones who haven't ridden themselves off of British rule. There are 14 other commonwealth realms, including New Zealand and Jamaica, who still have the Queen as their sovereign.
The Shortest River in the World Is in Montana
Montana is a state full of wide spaces and tall mountains. But despite the colossal size of much of its nature, it also has the shortest river in the world.
Roe River is a mere 201-feet long. It's so short that we have to use feet instead of miles to talk about it.
Only Five Countries Have Polar Bears
The cuddly-looking but very aggressive species resides within the Arctic Circle. This means that you'll find them only in five countries: Norway, Russia, Canada, Denmark and the U.S.
In Denmark, polar bears can be seen in Greenland. In the U.S., only Alaska has the honor.
And You Can Only See Narwhals in Four Countries
Few people in this world will ever get to see the almost mythical narwhal. The unique whale species cannot be held in captivity (thankfully), does not migrate long distances and needs extremely cold temperatures to survive.
You will only find them in the wild in Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway and Russia.
Peru Has Native Penguins
Though most penguin species live farther south, Humboldt penguins can be found fairly north along the coast of Peru. They also reside in Chile.
Sadly, the beautiful species is considered vulnerable to extinction.
Alaska Has More Earthquakes Than California
California is famous for its earthquakes, but Alaska is actually the U.S. state that suffers the most from the natural disaster.
Given that the state has about 130 volcanoes, it shouldn't come as a surprise. In November 2018, Alaska suffered a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that shook Anchorage to the core.
Pineapples Aren't Native to Hawaii
Many people associate pineapples with Hawaii, thinking that the product is native to the state. This is because, for much of the late 19th and 20th centuries, Hawaii produced a large number of pineapples.
However, this production was one of the results of Hawaii becoming a colony of the U.S., with companies from the mainland establishing pineapple farms in islands like Lanai and basically forcing native Hawaiians to work in them.
Even though production has slowed down in the island, due to companies outsourcing to cheaper markets, pineapples are still associated with Hawaii.
And Iguanas Are an Invasive Species in Florida
Despite what tourists may think, iguanas are not one of Florida's native reptiles. The species actually causes huge environmental issues within the fragile Florida ecosystem.
The situation is so bad that you are allowed to kill iguanas without a license or any other form of permission from the state. This is in hope that the species will be eradicated from the state and its environmental damage contained. However, most people don't have a reason to kill an iguana, so we don't see that plan working out.
The Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Larger Than the U.S.
The Antarctic ice sheet is the giant chunk of ice that makes up the continent of Antarctica.
The sheet is so large that it exceeds the size of the United States — by a lot. In numbers, the ice sheet is 5.4 million square miles, while the U.S. is 3.78 million square miles.
Underwater Lakes and Rivers Exist
A lake inside the ocean? While strange, this natural phenomenon actually occurs. It happens when salt water concentrates in dense amounts on the ocean floor, causing areas to corrode and collapse.
When this happens, water fills up the new holes, acting differently than it does outside of them. Underwater rivers and lakes, usually called brine pools, can have different currents than the water around them.
Turns out, there are lots of fascinating facts about the ocean.
And So Do Submarine Volcanoes
We all know volcanoes come out of the ocean, but most of us don't think about what happens when they aren't tall enough to break the surface.
Submarine volcanoes continue to be active and even erupt like they do above water. Lava spills into the ocean when they do so. The volcanic activity that happens underwater creates unique ecosystems for marine species.
The Tallest Waterfall in the World Is in the Ocean
Venezuela's Angel Falls is the tallest waterfall ... on land. The actual tallest waterfall in the world is not well known, probably because it's within the ocean, and you can't visit it.
The Denmark Strait Cataract is, well, in the Denmark Strait. It is formed from the meeting of two currents of different temperatures going in different directions. To give you an idea of how gigantic the waterfall is, Angel Falls measures 3,212 feet. The Denmark Strait Cataract measures 11,500 feet.
You Can Go Inside a Volcanic Magma Chamber in Iceland
Not too far from the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik is the Thrihnukagigur Volcano. This dormant volcano is the only place on the planet where you can go into a magma chamber.
How cool would it be to be in the belly of an actual volcano?
Peru Is Much Larger Than Sweden
Thanks to the Mercator Map's distortion of country sizes, most people think Sweden is far larger than Peru. This is wrong. Very wrong.
At 173,860 square miles, Sweden places at No.55 in size. Peru is 496,225 square miles, making it the 19th largest country in the world. It's much, much larger than Sweden.
Russia Has 1/8th of the Earth's Landmass
We all know that Russia is gigantic. In fact, it's the largest country in the world.
Still, it's shocking to learn just how big it is. The humongous country holds 1/8th of the total landmass of the planet. You could fit almost two entire Canadas within it.
Australia Has a Wider Diameter Than the Moon
Though it seems impossible, the moon is not as big as one would think. In fact, when measuring diameters, Australia is bigger than our beloved satellite.
The moon's diameter is 2,112.662 miles, while Australia's measures 2,485.485. The difference isn't huge, but it's still mind-blowing.
Australia and New Zealand Are Not Actually That Close
Though on the map, Australia and New Zealand seem like they're cozy neighbors, the countries aren't actually that close.
The distance between the middle of Australia and the middle of New Zealand is 2,583.3 miles. This is longer than the distance from London, England, to Rabat, Morocco (which is 1,253.59 miles).