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100 Strange, Intriguing & Obscure Travel Facts

The beauty of travel is that it constantly teaches you new things. Once you start traveling, it is hard to stop. And hard to go without. For all those who cannot travel internationally right now, here is a curated collection of the top 100 strange, intriguing and obscure travel facts. Guaranteed to teach you a few new things and perhaps even inspire you to add some new destinations to your bucket list 😉

If travel does not teach you new things, you are doing it wrong.

First up, and perhaps the most important…

Top 10 Travel Facts Of All Time

#1 Studies show that money spent on travel makes you happier than money spent on material goods, proving once and for all travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.

#2 During flights the pilot enjoys a first class meal while the copilot eats economy ― just in case one causes food poisoning.

#3 In 1987 American Airlines removed one olive from each salad served in first class and saved $40,000.

#4 Only 3 countries in the world currently protect more than 50% of their land in national parks, nature reserves, and wildlife refuges: New Caledonia (54.4%), Venezuela (54.1%) and Slovenia (53.6%).

The little town that could…

#5 There is was a town named Fucking in Austria. Locals did not realize the English meaning of Fucking until World War II, however it was only with the invention of social media that tourists began flocking to this small town of 106 people for photos with the Fucking signs. (So many people used to steal these signs that the city had to replace them with theft-proof Fucking signs.) On January 1st, 2021, the town name officially changed its named to Fugging — which is actually how you pronounce Fucking in the local dialect in the first place 😉

#6 The tiny Pacific Ocean nation of Tuvalu makes a large chunk of its income by leasing out its .tv domain.

#7 The Pan-American highway, the world’s longest motorable road, has a length of 30,000 miles. It stretches from Canada all the way down to South America.

#8 Bulgarians shake their heads from side to side to mean ‘yes’ and nod up and down to say ‘no’.

#9 Norway is home to not just one village named Å — as is often cited in travel/geographic travel — but a total of five!

#10 Travel has been proven to increase creativity. Seriously.

Airplane & Airline Travel Facts

The Cessna 172 is the single most produced aircraft in history. Over 44,000 have been produced since 1956 ― that’s an average of 2 per day for 64 years and counting!

The world’s shortest commercial flight is just over one minute long ― or as short as 47 seconds if the wind is on your side. It is between two Scottish islands and first-time fliers receive a Guinness World Records certificate with their name on it. See Photos

The world’s shortest international commercial flight is the 10-minute from Sint Maarten (Dutch Caribbean) to Anguilla (British Overseas Territory)…

…and the second-shortest international commercial flight is the 15-minute from Sint Maarten (Dutch Caribbean) to St Barths (French Overseas Collectivity).

The world’s longest flight is the 18-hour 16,600km (9,000 nmi) flight from Singapore to Newark, New Jersey. Singapore Airlines flights #21 and #22 first began in 2004 but were suspended March 24th, 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is uncertain when (or even if) they will resume.

Qantas was testing out a record-breaking new 19-hour flight from Sydney to New York and London before the pandemic began. It is unlikely that this will become a regularly scheduled route anytime soon.

The rear section of an airplane has bumpiest ride because that is where turbulence has greatest effect. However, in the unlikely event of a crash, passengers in the rear section have greatest chance of surviving.

Jet lag feels worse when you travel from west to east. This is because it is easier for the body to adjust to longer days (e.g. flying east to west) than it is for shorter days, according to recent research.

Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, Panama, has the least number of canceled flights of any airport in the world, with a cancellation rate of just 0.07% (before Covid-19).

Marmite was the #1 most confiscated food brand at airports in the United Kingdom. To overcome this issue, British Airways and Marmite teamed up to made smaller 70g jars of Marmite for travelers that are only sold to passengers onboard flights.

During a normal flight, the temperature outside the airplane is around -60ºF (-51ºC). That is colder than almost anywhere on Earth at any given moment of the year! Scientific explanation.

Aerial view of Atlanta airport — click to enlarge

The world’s busiest airport for 22 straight years was Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, USA– until now. According to official numbers released by the Airports Council International (ACI) in late April 2021, the world’s busiest airport for 2020 was Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in China.

During 2020 Guangzhou had 43.8 million passengers, down 40% from 2019. Meanwhile Atlanta had 42.9 million passengers, a staggering 61% drop from 2019. (Atlanta is unquestionably expected to resume its #1 slot.)

There are roughly 61,000 people in the air over the United States at any given time on any given point in the day.

(That’s probably because 1/3 of the world’s airports are located in the USA.)

Architectural Travel Facts

At 16 million square feet (1.5 million m²) Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport is the largest building on earth in terms of floor space.

In 1631 a competition was held to determine the design of Santa Maria della Salute Church. 50 years later, in 1681, the architect completed it — just one year before his death.

Santa Maria della Salute Church in Venice, Italy, rests on 1,156,627 wooden pilings that remain intact after more than 300 years!

The three tallest statues in the world are of Buddha — or rather were until 2018 when a 597ft (182m) tall statue of a politician was erected in Gujarat, India, becoming the new world’s tallest statue. Even so, 30 of the 100 tallest statues around the world are of Buddha, more than any other one individual.

Venice has a grand total of 435 bridges crossing its famous canals.

The world's largest swimming pool holds 66 million gallons of water and is 115 feet deep (35m) in some places
The world’s largest swimming pool is over 1km in length!

The world’s largest swimming pool holds 66 million gallons of water and is 115 feet deep (35m) in some places. It cost $2,000,000,000 to build and opened in 2006 at San Alfonso del Mar Resort in Chile.

This record-setting pool measures 1,013 meters (3,324 ft) in length with a total area of 8 hectares (19.77 acres). It even contains what is quite possibly the world’s only pool within a pool.

Big Ben (Elizabeth Tower) in London is leaning over so much it can now be seen with the naked eye. In 4,000 years it will be at the same angle as the tower in Pisa is now.

The 4 minarets of the Taj Mahal lean outwards slightly so that if they ever collapse the minarets will fall away from the central tomb and not destroy it.

Ganvie, Benin, the Venice of Africa

Ganvie is the largest city in Africa built entirely on stilts. This village in Benin dates back to the 16th century and has been on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List since 1996. Population: 20,000.

The world’s most expensive hotel room costs $100,000/night and comes with a two-night minimum.

Lover's Deep Submarine

The world’s most expensive submarine hotel room — and let’s be honest, probably the world’s only submarine hotel — is the Lover’s Deep Submarine. Lurking at great depths somewhere off the coast of St. Lucia, this baby will reportedly set you back between $175,000-$300,000 per night (depending upon news article). It most likely has a minimum stay of at least two nights. On the plus side, the extravagant food menu even includes a special aphrodisiac menu and the crew cabins for the three staff (captain, chef and butler) are on the opposite side of the submarine from the guest cabins 😉

Historical Travel Facts

The streets of Trinidad, Cuba, were purposely designed to be confusing in order to aid the original settlers in skirmishes against marauding pirates.

In 1928 American industrialist Henry Ford established a town in the Amazon Rainforest named Fordlândia. It was intended to be home to 10,000 people and a source of rubber for the Ford factories, however the project failed. Fordlândia was abandoned in 1934 but still exists today, albeit with a very small population.

Geographic Travel Facts

The northern hemisphere is home to 90% of the world’s population.

Singapore is a city-state — both a city and a country — and the second-most-densely populated country in the world after Monaco

Singapore is the largest country on earth with no farmland.

The total length of all the world’s coastline is roughly the same distance as the earth to the moon: 217,490 miles (350,016km).

Nauru and Tokelau are the only countries in the world without official capital cities. Nauru does not have any cities at all (just districts) and Tokelau rotates the capital annually among the atolls.

Alaska is both the westernmost and easternmost state in the USA. The Aleutian Islands are actually located west of the 180th Meridian (the line that divides the eastern and western hemisphere) making it the only US state to be partly located in the eastern hemisphere.

The United States has 173 volcanoes, more than any other nation. Only 5 are in Hawaii. Most are in Alaska, where at least 1-2 eruptions have occurred every year since 1900.

Mount Kilauea in Hawaii holds the record for the world’s longest volcano eruption: 25 years continuously from 1983-2018, adding nearly 700 acres to Hawaii’s Big Island.

Iceland has a volcano eruption an average of once every five years. Over the last 500 years ⅓ of all the lava to hit Earth’s surface did so here. (Iceland is also home to elves and the world’s only museum of mammal penises.)

The Maldives is the lowest nation on earth with an average height of less than 5 ft (1.5m) above sea level and its highest point a mere 17 ft (5m). Sadly, this makes the archipelago the first victim of rising oceans ― better to visit sooner rather than later.

Obscure travel facts about Saudi Arabia: it is the only country with no rivers, probably because it is 95% desert.
Al Nefud Desert in Ha’il, Saudi Arabia, where the desert meets the mountains

17 countries around the world do not have any rivers but Saudi Arabia is the only one that is not an island nation. The country is 95% desert and in certain places sand dunes often exceed a height of 100 ft (30m).

Bermuda has more islands than roads ― 181 islands but only 155 miles (250km) of paved roads connecting them.

Greenland is the largest island in the world because Australia is classified as a continent with 8,222 islands, including Tasmania and New Guinea. (By definition an island is a mass of land that is both “entirely surrounded by water” and also “smaller than a continent.” As such, Australia cannot be an island because it is already a continent.)

Indonesia spans over 3,200 miles (5,100km) from east to west, 300 miles more than the USA, and has 17,508 islands. If you visited one Indonesian island per day it would take 48 years to visit them all.

Canada has more lakes than every other country on earth. Combined. How many? Over three million lakes, 60% of the world’s total. A whopping 9% of the country is fresh water.

The Archipelago Sea in Finland has more than 40,000 islands and islets, making it the largest archipelago in the world by the number of islands (although many of the islands are very small and tightly clustered).

Australia has more than 28 times the land area of New Zealand but its coastline is not even twice as long.

Isolated beach in southern Australia

Australia has over 10,000 beaches! If you visit one beach every day it would take 27 years to see them all.

Istanbul is the only metropolis in the world bridging two continents. It’s the only place in the world where you can breakfast in Asia and go for a short walk followed by lunch in Europe. The city has been the capital of many empires throughout history and Napoleon Bonaparte famously said: “If the earth was a single state, Istanbul would be its capital.”

With its sprawling size you might think Russia has the most time zones of any country in the world but it comes in third with 9. The United States is second with 11. Surprisingly, France covers more time zones than any country on the planet, with a total of 12 thanks to its various overseas territories.

The whole of China operates on Beijing time, even though the country covers five time zones. The same is true with India, where sunrise times vary several hours from east to west.

Travel Facts About Animals

Elephants make friends, bury their dead, travel for ‘funerals’, speak to each other, and show extreme intelligence.

My favorite obscure travel fact is in Antarctica almost 3% of the ice is made up of penguin urine

Almost 3% of the ice in Antarctica is made up of penguin urine. Maybe think twice before eating it.

The hippopotamus kills more people per year in Africa than crocodiles, lions, etc.

Emus and kangaroos cannot walk backwards, and are on the Australian coat of arms for exactly that reason. No going backwards.

Dogs have been banned from Antarctica since 1994 out of concern that they could spread diseases to the locals seals.

As of 2019, India is home to almost 200 million cows.

In Morocco there are goats that regularly climb trees to eat the fruit ― but only Argan trees.

Argan trees produce fruit that is apparently so delicious it’s worth climbing for

They can live for up to 200 years ― the trees, no the goats ― however the fruit only ripens once per year, during June and July. Although inedible to humans, the goats absolutely love it.

Although Australia is home to the largest number of venomous snakes in the world, it averages only one fatal snake bite per year.

There are more known reptile species in Australia than in all other listed countries combined.

Out of the estimated 4.4 million alpacas in the world, around 87% of them are in Peru. Reportedly they can even be house-trained.

Bahamas pig swimming near the beach
Bahamas pig swimming near the beach

Pigs don’t swim everywhere in the Bahamas, just on Exumas Island, home to the famous swimming pigs.

If you ever go on safari in Africa, remember this: a group of Rhinos is called a “crash” and fast-moving crashes have been known to live up to their name. Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park, South Africa

The Goliath Frog is the world’s largest frog. It can weigh up to 3.25 kilograms (7.2 lb) and is only found in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea 🐸

Ōkunoshima is a small island in Japan populated entirely by wild rabbits. It was the site of Japan’s poison gas production operations until being abandoned after World War II. Between the bunnies, old forts and gas factory, the island has become an offbeat tourist attraction.

Police on Marajó island in Brazil use buffalo instead of vehicles
Police on Marajó island in Brazil use buffalo instead of vehicles

Marajó island in Brazil is the only place on earth where police patrol on buffaloes. Located at the mouth of the Amazon River, the island is subject to frequent flooding ― and buffalo are more reliable than vehicles 😂

Travel Facts About Nature

At 808.8 million hectares the unspoiled forests of Russia (primarily Siberia) account for over 25% of the world’s total forested area.

Altai Mountains, Mongolia
Altai mountains, Mongolia

Mongolia is overflowing with natural, open terrain. After all, it is the least densely populated country in the world — there are only 2 people per km² (5 people per mi²). Nearly half of the 3.2 million population live in the sprawling capital city of Ulaanbaatar.

There is actually no land on the North Pole, only ice on top of the sea.

On the island of Yap, a state of Micronesia, rocks are used as currency. Each rock’s worth is based on its size and its history (where it came from). Though US dollars have now started to be used for everyday purchases on the island, rocks are still used for ceremonial transactions (during weddings, for example). Yap also uses turmeric, shells and cloth as official currency.

Sweden is home to more than 250,000 islands! More than any country on earth. Of the 267,570 islands, less than 1,000 are populated.

One-of-a-Kind Travel Facts

If you die in Amsterdam with no next of kin, and no friends or family to prepare the funeral or mourn your passing, a poet will write a poem for you and recite it at your funeral. “We are not responsible for how they lived, but we are responsible for them in death, and if they died in Amsterdam then they are one of us.” The project is called “The Lonely Funeral” (De Eenzame Uitvaart) and the idea originated from the city of Groningen. Several other towns in the Netherlands and Belgium have followed this example.

The small town of Caldari di Ortona in Italy has a free wine fountain that offers locally made wine and is open to anyone.

Japan currently has a shortage of ninjas. The city of Iga, located in central Japan about 280 miles from Tokyo, claims to be the birthplace of the ninja. Its annual ninja festival attracts 30,000+ tourists to this city of only 100,000. Unfortunately, even with salaries as high as $85,000, trained ninjas are increasingly hard to find.

Nepal is the only country on earth to worship a living Goddess, known as Kumari. The Royal Kumari of Kathmandu lives a privileged life in a palace at the center of the city…until she hits puberty, loses her deity status, and goes back to a normal life in obscurity.

In Thingvellir, Iceland, you can not only see two tectonic plates meeting above the surface of the earth, you can even go scuba diving between them!   Iceland Off The Beaten Path

Don’t let the closed gates fool you — ʻIolani Palace is open to the public now

ʻIolani Palace in Hawaii is the only royal palace in the USA. Built between 1879-83, the palace is now open to the public as a museum in Honolulu.

San Marino is the only country that has more cars than people.

Interesting Language Facts

At least 840 different languages spoken in Papua New Guinea, more than any other country. Together they comprise 12% of the total world languages.

The Hawaiian alphabet has 13 letters and locals have been known to tell visitors that it is the smallest alphabet in the world, but it’s not. The Rotokas alphabet of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, only has 12 letters: AEGIKOPRSTUV. Rotokas is officially the world’s smallest alphabet.

And the Khmer alphabet of Cambodia is the largest alphabet in the world with 74 characters.

Only 4% of all the world’s languages are spoken by 96% of its population.

Spanish is ranked as the happiest language in the world due to its abundance of happy words. By this standard, the other happiest languages in the world are Portuguese, English, Indonesian and last but not least French rounding out the top five.

Everything Else

South Korea has multiple emergency phone numbers for different types of crises, including a dedicated number for reporting spies: 113.

In Molokai, Hawaii you can write a message on a coconut and mail it anywhere in the world. It’s called Post-A-Nut and you can either decorate a naked coconut yourself or buy one that has already been painted and add stamps.

Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, Orbitz, Travelocity, and Trivago are all owned by the same company, Expedia Inc.

Nepal‘s flag isn’t square or rectangular, it is a double triangle. The only one in the world like that.

Every penny thrown into Rome’s Trevi Fountain is collected daily and donated to a number of charities.

The United States is the only developed country in the world without a single legally required paid vacation day or holiday. (Oops, this is probably more of an anti-travel fact.)

According to the World Economic Forum, Iceland is the friendliest nation on earth.

Introvert personalities are more likely to pick mountainous locations for a holiday while extroverts prefer the beach, according to numerous studies.

India is the most diverse country in the world in almost every way – culturally, economically, geographically, racially, linguistically, ethnically, and religiously.

There is enough fuel in a Boeing 747 plane to power a car around the entire planet 4 times.

Have any unique travel facts to share?

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About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel."   Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

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