Gassu's Interesting Facts

Gassu's Interesting Facts, Vol. 1

1 There are zero bridges that cross the river Amazon.
2 Charlize Theron's mother tongue is Afrikaans.
3 Both Elon Musk and Roger Federer hold South African citizenship.
4 The Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard is an entirely visa-free zone. Every person on Earth can go and live on Svalbard regardless of their citizenship. If you live long enough on Svalbard, you might even become a Norwegian citizen!
5 The misconception that you aren't allowed to die on Svalbard is a myth. It is simply too cold to be buried in the town of Longyearbyen as bodies won't decompose. Thus, you can die on Svalbard but you can't be buried there.
6 Idaho is a fascinating yet unknown state. The city of Arco in Central Idaho (close to the famous Craters of the Moon NM) was the first city in the world to be lit by atomic power. The location was chosen by the government because in case of an atomic accident, there wouldn't be much damage as the region is sparsely populated. Luckily, apart from a minor incident in 1961, nothing severe happened.

Would Arco look like this in case an atomic accident were to happen?
Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho. Source
7 English is the only major European language that does not use diacritics. German (Doppelgänger), French (résumé), Italian (città), Spanish (España), and Portuguese (Português) all use them. Dear nitpickers: words adopted from other languages do not count.
8 There's a tribe in Vanuatu that believes Prince Philip is a divine being. The Duke of Edinburgh is aware of the cult, having even sent an official portrait to the villagers. To this date, however, he has not visited them.
9 Cleopatra lived closer in time to the moon landing or the invention of Snapchat than she did to the construction of the Great Pyramid.
10 Great Britain and the Netherlands were at war for 335 years without having shot a single bullet. How is that possible? During the English Civil War, the Dutch declared war on the Isles of Scilly but left without firing a shot. In 1986, historians discovered that no peace treaty exists, so the Dutch ambassador officially ended the "conflict". He joked: "It must've been horrible knowing the Dutch could attack at any moment."
11 With a duration of only 38 to 45 minutes, the shortest war in modern history - the Anglo-Zanzibar War between Zanzibar and the British Empire - was fought in 1896. Take a guess who won.
12 The name Tanzania is a portmanteau consisting of Tanganyika, Zanzibar, and Azania, a historic Sub-Saharan region.
13 In 2014, the highest points of two countries were named after U.S. presidents - Mount McKinley in the United States and Mount Obama in Antigua and Barbuda. Both names have been changed since then. Mount McKinley is now called Denali and Mount Obama got back its old name - Boggy Peak.
14 A firefox is a red panda.

Red Panda in Aachen Zoo. Source
15 If you want to write the word "Hawaii" in Hawaiian, both "Hawaii" and "Hawai'i" are incorrect. The form "Hawaiʻi" however is correct. That's because Hawaiian does not use the apostrophe but the ʻokina.

the ʻokina. Source
16 Google Street View basically covers almost every road in Western Europe except for Austria and Germany. Due to their harsh privacy laws, only major cities can be explored that way.
17 The small place of Central City, west of Denver, was once known as "The Richest Square Mile on Earth" due to a gold rush. In 1860, it was supposedly even bigger than Denver itself. Population rapidly declined after the gold rush. Today, fewer than 1,000 people live in the City of Central.
18 Saudi Arabia is home to the longest straight road in the world. Highway 10 stretches 256 kilometers (159 miles) straight through the Arabian desert.
19 The constitution of Switzerland specifically bans the construction of minarets.
20 There's a small town in New Zealand called Whangamomona (pronounced fah-ŋa-mo-mo-nah), that declared itself a republic back in 1989. So far, they had amongst others a goat and a poodle as president. Controversy arose at the last election, when the sheep candidate strangely disappeared before the Republic's barbecue, never to be seen again.

Official stamp of the Republic of Whangamomona. Source
21 When it comes to gambling, Nevadans tend to be very enthusiastic. That's probably why they built an entire casino town right on the state line to California. Thus, Californians can gamble a few feet after they've crossed the state line and people who return from Las Vegas get a last chance to gamble legally. The casino town located between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is called Primm.
22 According to the latest estimates, more than 1.4 million people live in Auckland. To compare with, the whole South Island only has 1.15 million inhabitants.
23 Boris Johnson was born in New York.
24 The name Roosevelt is of Dutch origin. It is derived from "van Rosenvelt", meaning "from a rose field".
25 Yes, there is an island in a lake on an island in a lake on an island. This geographic curiosity can be found on the Philippine island of Luzon, a few miles south of Manila. In 2007, map nerds have found another "sub-sub-sub-island" in the countless lakes of Victoria Island.

the Taal volcano lake on Luzon. Source
26 In the Australia Constitution Act of 1900, lawmakers explain what a "state" is. "The States shall mean such of the colonies of New South Wales, New Zealand, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia, [...]."
27 Australians seem to have an obsession of owning New Zealand. In 2006, a Brisbanite tried to sell New Zealand on eBay for 1 Australian cent. The auction got removed shortly after.
28 Speaking of Brisbane, the city is pronounced BRIS-bin, not Bris-BANE.
On a similar note, Canberra is pronounced CAN-bra and Melbourne MEL-bin.
29 If you ever plan to visit Bhutan, be prepared to pay a hefty bill. Bhutanese authorities charge visitors $200 per day in taxes. Spending one month in Bhutan therefore will cost you $6,000 in taxes alone. Depending on the season and number of fellow travelers, charges per day might even be higher.

Visiting Tiger's Nest is a lifetime experience, but at what cost? Source
30 The founding name of Los Angeles is El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles.
31 Franz Josef Glacier on the West Coast of New Zealand is unique as its outflows flow through lush rainforest for about 20 kilometers until they reach the sea. Furthermore, until about 10 years ago, the glacier was one of the few that kept growing. This fact has changed and now the glacier is melting faster than ever before.
32 Fort Ross in California, about 100 miles north of San Francisco, is the only place in the Contiguous United States that was colonized by the Russians. The fort remained in Russian hands until 1842 - 8 years before California got admitted to the Union.
33 You can fit the Mediterranean Sea entirely into the North American continent - including the Black Sea! If you place Gibraltar next to San Francisco, Rome will be in Western Nebraska, Cairo in Georgia and Istanbul in Lower Michigan. This mind game, however, should not be confused with the actual American Mediterranean Sea.
34 Be prepared for the 197th country! In December, the citizens of Bougainville Island, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea previously known as the "North Solomons", will be given their say on independence. Notwithstanding its population of around 250,000, it is expected that a majority will vote for complete independence.

Bougainville. Volcanoes and beaches - what else do you need? Sources (I) (II)
35 According to, 90 of the 100 most valuable football players represent either Europe or South America, two continents that account for only 15.3% of the world's population.
36 Oceanian countries have some interesting pronounciations. Kiribati is pronounced KI-ri-bas (Gilbertese for "Gilberts") whereas Samoa is pronounced SAAH-mo-ah, not Sa-MO-ah.
37 The entire state of Wyoming only has two escalators, both located in banks in Casper. Thus, there's 0.000003467 escalators per capita in Wyoming.
38 The Baltics aren't in the news that often. You might be surprised, however, that they're home to the world's most punctual airline. airBaltic flights, a Latvian-based company, have a punctuality rate (<15 mins) of 90.01%. To compare with, British Airways has got a punctuality rate of 78.55%. In the United States, Spirit Airlines surprisingly has a higher on-time performance than American or United.
39 During Roman times, the Colosseum could be flooded so that naval battles (so-called naumachiae) could take place in the amphitheatre. They were as popular as gladiator fights. Nearly all of the combatants and some of the spectators perished.
40 In hot periods of time, the Roman Colosseum had an awning. 240 ropes and more than 1,000 men were used to assemble it, a process which took several days.
41~~ The awning of the Colosseum is visible in Jean-Léon Gérôme's painting "Ave Caesar, morituri te salutant". The painting is however historically inaccurate. It shows moribunded combatants saluting Emperor Vitellius. But Vitellius died in 69 AD. The Colosseum wasn't finished until 80 AD. Neither Julius Caesar († 44 BC), nor Augustus († 14 AD), nor Nero († 68 AD) have ever been in the Colosseum.

Gérôme's Ave Caesar Morituri te Salutant. Source
42 Excluding Brazil, the 10 most populous nations on this planet combined have one footballer in the Top 100 - American Christian Pulisic. Those nations are home to a mere 4.3 billion people. On the other hand, Belgium has four players on that list.
43 Kākāpō are a type of flightless parrot native to New Zealand. The bird is unique as it only breeds every two to four years - when the Rimu tree blossoms.
44 In August 2008, one U.S. dollar was worth 1,780 Zimbabwean dollars. Three months later, the exchange rate for an American dollar had risen to 669,000,000,000 Z$. The currency was subsequently abolished by the government, focusing on using internationally strong currencies such as the Euro. In 2019, the Zimbabwe-Dollar got reintroduced. As of now, the inflation rate has (again) reached 300%.
45 Geographically speaking, Aruba is located on the South American continent.
46 The Pareto principle states that 80% of the effects comes from 20% of the causes. Doing something relatively small will have a bigger effect than you might think!
47 New Bern, North Carolina, is known as the birthplace of Pepsi. The city was founded in 1710 by Bernese emigrants who brought their culture into the New World. They even adopted the flag of Bern - with a small, but not inconsiderable inconsistency. Let's see if you can find it.

Flag of Bern, Switzerland (left) next to the flag of New Bern, NC. Source
48 Switzerland can't pride itself when it comes to women's suffrage. Women's suffrage got introduced after the male population voted for it in 1971. Only Portugal (1976) and Liechtenstein (1984) granted rights later in time. One Swiss canton, however, did not execute the suffrage until 1991, when the Federal Supreme Court forced them to accept women's votes.
49 In 2012, Liechtensteiners voted on whether to abolish the Prince's right to veto any popular initiative. In a landslide victory, the citizens voted to keep the status quo. They really seem to have confidence in their monarch.
50 In a 2007 night, Swiss troops accidentally marched into Liechtenstein's territory. The "invaders" returned without being noticed by authorities. When Switzerland informed Liechtenstein about the incident, a spokesman said: "It's not like they invaded with attack helicopters. No problem, these things happen."

What are those Liechtensteiners up to? Source
as of November, 2019
Level 56
Dec 2, 2019
More interesting than QM's facts!
Level 61
Dec 3, 2019
My new lifelong goal is to build a bridge across the Amazon River, but longways, so the bridge goes from a source to the delta and accomplishes nothing. I feel like Brazil would support this.
Level ∞
Mar 20, 2020
Wow! Nice work. I added a few of these to our list of interesting facts.
Level 62
Mar 20, 2020
Red pandas are SOO cute oh my gosh!
Level 43
Mar 21, 2020
aren't their bodies containing the Spanish flu buried in the town of Longyearbyen or am I just wrong
Level 60
Mar 21, 2020
Yay what a great blog Gassu!
Level 82
Mar 21, 2020
Interesting stuff. I think fact 25 (about the matryoshka-esque island lakes) is my favorite. I also found the difference between the flags in fact 47. :)
Level 35
Apr 21, 2020
Level 48
Jul 15, 2020
In 1946, the inflation rate in Czech Republic was 41,900,000,000,000,000%.