Elvis Presley, Hollywood, McDonald’s, Obesity, Meth, The Grand Canyon, JFK, New York City, The White House, Las Vegas, Prohibition, Gun Crime, Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches and more. A country so incredibly young in years, yet it is actually one of the most powerful nations in the world. But how? Well, with size certainly having something to do with it, it is no surprise to see a country, that is the fourth largest in the world, be so successful. Plus the isolation from the rest of the world doesn’t hurt, with the USA so far from other major parts of the globe it makes it super safe from its enemies, of which there have been many.
And what of its people? Americans are loved and loathed worldwide with stereotype upon stereotype reinforcing an image that actually isn’t that accurate. Americans are not stupid, they are not obnoxious, loud and incredibly patriotic… well, some of them are, but then name a country that also doesn’t have these people. Patriotism is key to what America is really about, however, it does sometimes lead to some questionable decisions that unfortunately make the USA one of the most backward thinking Western countries that we have today. Which is a shame because this is the same country that gave us the Oreo.
Yet, with America being a country that has mostly been built on immigration, it can be surprising to see such hatred towards those that now want to do the same. With the likes of Donald Trump and Sarah Palin blurring the lines between freedom and plain old oppression, it does force the rest of the world to stop, look and really try to figure out just what the hell is going on over there in the good ol’ United States of America? And the answer? Many things! So here are 15 shocking facts about the USA.
15. Prison Population = 9 Million
With the world’s prison population peaking at around nine million, over a quarter of them are currently residing in the good ol’ USA. Taking the number one spot for population per 100,000, Uncle Sam beats other large countries such as Russia, China and Brazil by a long shot. With America famous for spawning the goriest of serial killers and the death penalty still active in over half of its 50 states, the USA is actually now surprisingly at an all time low with regard to its crime rate. Therefore the number of prisoners will soon start to dwindle but remain massive.
14. Questionable Cops
More people are killed by the police in the USA than in most other countries throughout the whole world. For example, in 2014 cops in the USA shot and killed over 1,000 people, while in Canada, China and the UK the figure was less than 20. With more and more videos being released depicting ruthless cops and an increase in the number of black people, in particular black youths, being shot, the US has been subject to a number of protests regarding the situation. However, arguments have suggested that the fact that guns are easier to acquire in the States than in the rest of the world make the job of the American police force all that more difficult. Buy it?
13. Prohibition Poisoners
From 1920 to 1933 a nationwide ban on the production, transportation and importation of alcohol was devised. Intended to clean up the act of many and promote a healthy and ‘dry’ lifestyle well away from the sins of the devil, the ban unfortunately had the complete opposite effect. With Christmas coming early for gangsters, a whole ton of money was made in the seedy underworld with speakeasies and counterfeit booze. To try and control the situation the US government created a plan to poison the smuggled alcohol to try and refrain people from drinking. However, failing dramatically, the ruse had deadly consequences, which resulted in the deaths of more than 10,000 people.
12. In The Red
With a staggering 80% of Americans claiming to be in debt, it is often said that if you had 10 dollars in your pocket and no outstanding dues you would actually be richer than 25% of all American citizens. But why all the bills? With loans, credit cards and mortgages tending to be the root of all problems, the idea of being ‘in debt’ is seen more as a necessity rather than that of an embarrassment or worry that people often suffer in other countries. So don’t fret next time your account shows you the minus sign, everyone is doing it.
11. They Keep Their Enemies Close
When Tina Fey famously spoofed Sarah Palin by exclaiming ‘I can see Russia from my house’ Fey wasn’t far off. Just a measly 4 kilometers apart at their nearest point, Russia and America are a lot closer than they would care to admit, in distance anyway. Long term enemies, especially during the Cold War, which nearly ended in full-on fisticuffs, Russia and the USA seem to be trying to make a go of things of late. With talks of a bridge connecting the two and both using forces to stop the growth of ISIS, there may be hope yet for the two powerhouses. Although don’t get your hopes up just yet.
10. Ecological Damage
With Americans well known for consuming more natural resources than any other nationality on the planet, it has been suggested that the statistics are actually far worse than originally thought. It’s been recently discovered that one child born in the USA will, in fact, cause more ecological damage throughout their life than that of a child born in Brazil. It really makes you wonder just what on earth is going on over there? To reinforce the idea of momentous consumption it has also been said that the average American consumes as many resources as 32 Kenyans put together.
9. Obesity: A $100 Billion Problem
Speaking of consumption… We all know the stereotype – big fat overeating Americans, feasting on McDonald’s and whatever other fast food joint they can get their hands on. However a stereotype it may be, it does actually have some truth. With 1 in 3 Americans reported to be overweight, obesity has become an underlying problem throughout the United States, especially with young children. Contributing to around 400,000 deaths a year, obesity costs the country way over $100 billion dollars annually.
8. They Are Watching You
We all know that the American government likes to keep an eye on you but the extent of how much sometimes goes beyond the extreme. The Library of Congress, which is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, was assigned the task of collecting all public tweets ever tweeted. Why you ask? With the objective being to learn about social media and human development through the course of 140 characters, and most definitely not to spy on you….So next time you tweet what you had for dinner or what your personal opinions might be on Beyoncé’s latest album, think twice.
7. America Has No Official Language
Starting life with no official language, it was originally thought that doing so would break the objective of the First Amendment, with the constitution stating that by abridging the freedom of speech by forcing the English language upon those that wish not to speak it, it would be like breaking the ideology of a democratic country. America has so many different languages going on at once that even the first president born in the USA spoke Dutch as his first language. For example, although English is clearly ‘the first language,’ many other forms of communication can also often be heard with Spanish dominating many regions and States. Yet still no authorized language actually exists.
6. Innocent Until Proven Guilty
When the fascinating yet daunting Making a Murderer hit screens everywhere on Netflix, the whole world began to take a closer look at the American judiciary system. With a new study claiming that 1 in every 25 people are actually innocent when sentenced to death, it can be an extremely worrying statistic to comprehend. In fact, since 1973 a whopping 144 people have been acquitted from death row, reinforcing the notion for those that haven’t been as lucky.
5. R@pists Have Rights
When a study showed that 97% of rapists in the USA never even spend a night in jail, the whole world was aghast, however that was just the beginning when it was later revealed that in 31 States rapists were also given legal parental rights. Shocked? Well, it’s true. With over half of the country enabling rapists to sue for custody if their victim falls pregnant, women are often subjected to years of torment after their already traumatic ordeal. Therefore with abortion also still a major taboo it is clear that the subject of gender equality still has a long way to go.
4. America’s Not So Secret Service
With the FBI and the CIA a fascination to most, it is unlikely that we will ever truly know what goes on behind closed doors. Keeping an eye on anyone and everyone, it was recently revealed that even Nelson Mandela was still on the US Terror list as late as 2008. With names such as John Lennon, Steve Jobs, Whitney Houston and Marilyn Monroe all on the books of America’s most secretive law enforcement organizations, we can only imagine what other dark and shrouded material they have locked up under the shackles and chains of American government organizations.
3. Bubonic Plague
Often associated with flea-ridden rats during the middle ages, it was Europe that was caught in the cross fire and America that looked to have gotten off lightly. However, with the plague firmly setting up shop in the USA, it has now become something of a common occurrence. But don’t fear! The “Black Death,” as it was once known, which is caused by rodent flea bites, is treatable with modern antibiotics and is in no way harmful or dangerous. Thank the lord!
2. Suicidal Soldiers
When a recent report stated that more and more American soldiers were committing suicide than being killed in combat, the whole world was stunned. Shockingly the statistics showed that in 2012 almost one suicide was committed every other day in comparison to 176 soldiers killed in action. Yet war isn’t the only case of self-slaughter with suicide rates, in particular among young people, on the constant rise and especially by those that identify in the LGBT spectrum.
1. Interracial Marriage
Banned for most of America’s lifespan, interracial marriage was only made legal in 1967, when the supreme court changed the laws regarding who could marry whom. These were named the Anti-Miscegenation laws, which restricted marriages on the basis of race, and came from the Latin wording of ‘Miserere’, which means ‘to mix’. Although the passing of the law happened only a measly 50 years ago, it is even more shocking that gay marriage was only eventually made legal in 2015.