Geography Facts About the United States

Cool and Unusual Facts About Our Fair Nation

Wizard's reflection
A view of Wizard's Island and the reflection of the north rim of Crater Lake, Ore. www.bazpics.com / Getty Images

The United States of America is one of the largest countries in the world based on both population and land area. It has a relatively short history compared to other world nations and has one of the world's largest economies and one of the world's most diverse populations. As such, the United States is highly influential internationally.

Fast Facts: United States

  • Official Name: United States of America
  • Capital: Washington, D.C.
  • Population: 329,256,465 (2018)
  • Official Language: None, but most of the country is English speaking
  • Currency: US dollar (USD)
  • Form of Government: Constitutional federal republic
  • Climate: Mostly temperate, but tropical in Hawaii and Florida, arctic in Alaska, semiarid in the great plains west of the Mississippi River, and arid in the Great Basin of the southwest; low winter temperatures in the northwest are ameliorated occasionally in January and February by warm chinook winds from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains
  • Total Area: 3,796,725 square miles (9,833,517 square kilometers)
  • Highest Point: Denali at 20,308 feet (6,190 meters) 
  • Lowest Point: Death Valley at -282 feet (-86 meters)

Ten Unusual and Interesting Facts

  1. The United States is divided into 50 states. However, state each varies in size considerably. The smallest state is Rhode Island with an area of just 1,545 square miles (4,002 sq km). By contrast, the largest state by area is Alaska with 663,268 square miles (1,717,854 sq km).
  2. Alaska has the longest coastline in the United States at 6,640 miles (10,686 km).
  3. Bristlecone pine trees, believed to be some of the world's oldest living things, are found in the western United States in California, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. The oldest of these trees is in California. The oldest living tree itself is found in Sweden.
  4. The only royal palace used by a monarch in the U.S. is located in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is the Iolani Palace and belonged to the monarchs King Kalakaua and Queen Lili'uokalani until the monarchy was overthrown in 1893. The building then served as the capitol building until Hawaii became a state in 1959. Today, the Iolani Palace is a museum.
  5. Because the major mountain ranges in the United States run in a north-south direction, they have a large impact on the climate of the country's various regions. The west coast, for example, has a milder climate than the interior because it is moderated by its proximity to the ocean, whereas places like Arizona and Nevada are very hot and dry because they are on the leeward side of mountain ranges.
  6. Although English is the most commonly spoken language used in the U.S. and is the language used in government, the country has no official language.
  7. The tallest mountain in the world is located in the United States. Mauna Kea, located in Hawaii, is only 13,796 feet (4,205 m) in altitude above sea level. However, when measured from the seafloor it is over 32,000 feet (10,000 meters) high, making it taller than Mount Everest (Earth's tallest mountain above sea level at 29,028 feet or 8,848 meters).
  8. The lowest temperature ever recorded in the United States was at Prospect Creek, Alaska on January 23, 1971. The temperature was -80 degrees (-62°C). The coldest temperature in the contiguous 48 states was at Rogers Pass, Montana on January 20, 1954. The temperature there was -70 degrees (-56°C).
  9. The hottest temperature recorded in the United States (and in North America) was in Death Valley, California on July 10, 1913. The temperature that day measured 134 degrees (56°C).
  10. The deepest lake in the U.S. is Oregon's Crater Lake. At 1,932 feet (589 m) it is the world's seventh deepest lake. Crater Lake was formed via snowmelt and precipitation that gathered in a crater created when an ancient volcano, Mount Mazama, erupted about 8,000 years ago.

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