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50 unbelievable facts about the world

50

Have you ever sat around the table with friends or family, enjoying a perfectly acceptable lunch or dinner, and listened – powerless – as the conversation slowly turns to the topic of “culture” or “art” or “the world”?

Don’t panic – instead arm yourself with some unbelievable fact nuggets about the world that will make you seem thoroughly cultured. Facts that will leave everyone jaw-on-the-floor amazed.

Do you want to pull off this exquisite dinner-table trick?

Then read on.

First, you need to build ‘presence’. Let me explain what I mean by this.

You have to make yourself look cultured, like you really know what you’re talking about. Then you’re ready to recite any of the 50 facts below and leave your company reeling in shock.

Master the body language of a seasoned academic with this simple 4 step technique:

  1. Purse your lips (pout)
  2. Raise an eyebrow (creating an aura of intrigue)
  3. Lift your coca cola and swill it round the glass for a moment (showing your sophistication)
  4. Finally, lean back slightly in your chair (indicating you are at ease with yourself)

Now you’re ready for the facts.

Category 1: Nature

  1. The deepest place on Earth is the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. It’s 36,201 feet (11,034m) deep. That’s almost seven miles!
  2. The longest river in the world is the River Nile, clocking 6,853km in length. Its water resources are shared by 11 different countries, too.
  3. Lobsters are not ‘biologically immortal’, but they do produce an enzyme that repairs their cells and helps their DNA to replicate indefinitely. That’s where the myth comes from.
  4. The deepest freshwater lake in the world is Lake Baikal, located in Siberia. It plunges to a whopping depth of 5,315 feet (1,620m). Woah!
  5. Pineapples take two years to grow.
  6. Acacia trees in Africa communicate with each other. They emit gasses to alert other trees to produce the toxin tannin, which protects them from hungry animals.
  7. Armadillos are bulletproof. (This is NOT an invitation to test the fact.)
  8. Niagara Falls never freezes.
  9. Each limestone/granite block that makes up the Great Pyramid of Giza weighs 2.5 tons. And there are 2.3 million of them. Yes, you read that correctly.
  10. It would take you approximately 18 months to walk all the way along The Great Wall of China. (It’s over 5,000 miles long).

Category 2: History

  1. The national flag with the most colors in it is Belize (1981), with 12.
  2. The first hand-held mobile phone call was made on April 3rd, 1973, in NYC.
  3. Buzz Aldrin (the second man to ever step on the Moon, in 1969) actually peed himself while walking on the surface, apparently.
  4. In Ancient Egypt, the word for ‘cat’ was actually pronounced ‘mew’, or ‘meow’.
  5. The American Revolution (1765-1783) came before the French Revolution (1789-1799).
  6. The Anglo-Zanzibar War (1896) was the shortest war ever – lasting just 38 minutes!
  7. The printing press, which revolutionized the sharing of information, was invented by Gutenberg around the year 1440.
  8. The largest contiguous land empire in history is The Mongol Empire (13th & 14th centuries).
  9. Egypt is classified as the oldest country in the world, dating back to 3100 BCE.
  10. Tim Berners-Lee created the first ever web browser (World Wide Web), in 1990.

Category 3: Art & Culture

  1. In 2019, scientists discovered the world’s oldest known work of art on an Indonesian Island called Sulawesi. It was created 44,000 years ago.
  2. The name “sandwich” comes from an 18th-century aristocrat called the 4th Earl of Sandwich.
  3. 9310 Tweets are sent out every second.
  4. “Salvator Mundi” by Leonardo da Vinci is the most expensive painting in the world, valued at $450.3M.
  5. The most-visited country on the planet is France, with 90M visitors, according to figures from the UNWTO in 2018. Who’s at number two? Spain.
  6. 92% of the world’s currency is digital.
  7. “Avengers: Endgame” is the top-grossing film of all time, making over $2.7B!
  8. The wealthiest company in the world in 2020 was Saudi Aramco.
  9. The Statue of Unity in China’s Henan province is the tallest in the world, standing at a whopping 579 feet (182m). Note: The Statue of Liberty is 93m by comparison!
  10. Brazil boasts the most biodiversity of any country on the planet, with more than 50,000 species of plants and trees.

Category 4: People & Countries

  1. Scientists say tears tell you the reason for someone crying. If the first drop comes from the right eye, it’s tears of joy. Otherwise, it’s because of pain.
  2. In the UK in 2019, renewable energy generated more electricity than fossil fuels for the first time ever. Also, did you know Norway gets 0% electricity from coal? And Germany has installed 1 kW of renewable capacity per person in the last decade?
    a) (Climate change is the biggest global issue of our time, but there are some things to feel positive about!)
  3. The longest reigning monarch ever was Louis XIV of France. He ruled for 72 years, 110 days. Exhausting.
  4. Marie Curie was the first person ever to win TWO Nobel Prizes – one for physics in 1903, the other for chemistry in 1911 for her work on radioactivity.
  5. King Henry VIII of England had servants called “Grooms of Stool”, who wiped him clean after he visited the toilet. Gross.
  6. 0.5% of the male population are descended from Genghis Khan. (Scientists did a study in 2003 showing that about 16 million dudes share a Y chromosome with the famous Emperor.)
  7. Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and the Isle of Man all have claims to having the oldest parliament in history, all of which were founded in the 9th and 10th centuries.
  8. Russia is the most forested country in the world, with 815 million hectares.
  9. China is the world’s most populous country, with around 1.4 billion people living there.
  10. The youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize is Malala Yousafzai (aged just 17 in 2014), for her work as a child rights activist and champion of girls’ right to education.

Category 5: “No way! Really?”

  1. Sunsets only exist because Earth’s atmosphere acts as a prism for light. In scientific terms, it’s called “scattering”.
    a) Molecules and particles in the atmosphere (which are more numerous at sunset) scatter short-wavelength violet and blue light away from your eyes, so we can see the other colors on the spectrum, like yellow and orange.
  2. The most remote place in the world is the Tristan da Cunha islands in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. They’re 2,434km from Saint Helena, the nearest inhabited place. Imagine Mum sends you out for groceries but the local supermarket is closed? That’s a long trip.
  3. When you do a Google query, 1000 computers are used to find the answer in 0.2 seconds.
  4. There are almost 5 billion internet users in the world.
  5. The median age of the world’s population is around 30 years, as of 2019.
  6. We actually produce enough food to feed everyone on the planet; the problem is distribution.
  7. In 2010, Google tried to find out how many books there were in the world. They reckon there are about 130,000,000 of them. (Let’s call this one a semi-fact, though, ok?)
  8. A tiger’s roar can be heard up to two miles away.
  9. The Earth is 147.2 million kilometers away from the Sun, and it’s about 4.5 billion years old. That’s some serious heritage.
  10. Owls don’t have eyeballs.

There we go, that’s 50 for you! Thanks for reading. Hopefully now you’re able to arm yourself with some “fact nuggets” to boost your next chat on ‘culture’ and ‘the world’. Good luck.

Below, you’ll find a list of sources for some of the more specific facts listed above.

Sources:

Category 1

Category 2

Category 3

Category 4

Category 5

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