12 Geography Facts About The US That Change What We See From Sea To Shining Sea

List Rules
Vote up the US geography facts that have you reaching for a map.

With maps on phones, Google Earth, and all kinds of other imaging available, knowing the specifics of cities and rivers just doesn't seem pressing. Take into account just how large the world is, and geography is overwhelming.

Many of us know the basics when it comes to US geography - the 50 states, their capitals (most of them, anyway), and some waterways - but it turns out there's a lot more to learn about geography in the US that we never knew existed. From people and places, to directions and heights, take a look at these geography facts and vote up the ones that make you see the US in a whole new way. 


  • A small segment of land on Ocracoke Island, located in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, is still, technically, under lease to the British government. In 1942, the British naval vessel HMT Bedfordshire was one of several ships patrolling the eastern coast of the US looking for German U-boats (submarines).

    When HMT Bedfordshire was sunk on May 11 by a U-boat, all of the English ship's crew members lost their lives. Four cadavers later washed up on Ocracoke Island. Resident Jack Willis recalled seeing them brought to the Coast Guard station:

    When they pulled up the canvas, I recognized one of them. He had on a turtleneck and looked pretty normal. His beard was still coal black...

    Two out of the four men were identified, but they were all buried on the island rather than sent back to Britain. A monument was erected and it, along with their graves, was leased "in perpetuity" to Britain.

    • Located In: Contiguous United States, USA
    • Area (km sq.): 139390.0
    716 votes
  • It's somewhat intuitive to identify Alaska as the northernmost and westernmost state in the US. Spanning nearly 600,000 square miles, Alaska is the largest state in the country and sits at the most extreme northwest part of North America. Barrow, AK, also known as Utqiagvik, is the northernmost city, while the Aleutian Islands extend well into the Bering Sea.

    What isn't so obvious is that Alaska is also home to the easternmost point in America. The far reach of the Aleutian Islands place Alaska in the Eastern Hemisphere - making it the easternmost state. The 180 degree meridian line goes through the Aleutian Islands. Among the islands that fall into the eastern hemisphere are Semisopochnoi, home to a variety of volcanic landforms, and Attu Island, a landmass Japan invaded during WWII.

    • Located In: Western United States, USA
    • Area (km sq.): 1717854.0
    672 votes
  • 3
    479 VOTES

    Monowi, NE, (Still) Has One Resident

    Until the 2020 census, Monowi, NE, had only one resident - Elsie Eiler. Eiler had been the sole person living in Monowi since 2004 when her husband, Rudy, passed. For 16 years, Eiler was the mayor, town clerk, librarian, and all other things Monowi-an. Eiler, who runs the town tavern, even granted herself a liquor license. 

    When it was reported that Monowi's population had doubled in 2020, even Eiler was surprised. She said:

    Then someone's been hiding from me, and there's nowhere to live but my house. But if you find out who he is, let me know.

    In truth, Eiler is still the only person in Monowi, NE, and the addition of another individual was the creation of an algorithm - one designed to keep Eiler safe. According to a spokesperson from the US Census Bureau

    What you’re seeing there is the noise we add to the data so you can’t figure out who is living there... It protects the privacy of the respondent and the confidentiality of the data they provide.

    • Located In: Nebraska, USA
    • Area (km sq.): 0.52
    479 votes
  • Nevada is east of California, but because of the way California bends, parts of Nevada sit pretty far west. While the difference in longitude isn't huge, it is enough to to be counterintuitive.

    Because Reno is in the northwesternmost part of Nevada, its coordinates are 39.5296° N, 119.8138° W. Los Angeles is located at 34.052235° N, 118.243683° W. 

     

    • Located In: Nevada, USA
    • Area (km sq.): 179.49
    483 votes
  • Technically, Mount Everest isn't the tallest mountain in the world. That distinction goes to Mauna Kea in Hawaii. As an inactive volcano, Mauna Kea measures roughly 33,500 feet from the seafloor to its peak. Mount Everest, with the highest elevation on Earth, is just over 29,000 feet in height.

    As a result, Hawaii is home to a mountain taller than Mount Everest, but Mauna Kea isn't the only mountain that rivals Mount Everest. Chimborazo in Ecuador is a volcano with a summit farther from the center of the Earth than both Mount Everest and Mouna Kea. This makes Chimborazo the highest point on Earth. 

    • Located In: Hawaii, USA
    493 votes
  • If You Drive South From Detroit, You Can Get To Canada
    Photo: Rainer Lesniewski / Shutterstock.com

    Canada has been called the Great White North, but if you live in parts of Detroit, MI, you can actually drive south to get there. Michigan's unique geography - and two parts - make for unique borders and boundaries through the Great Lakes.

    Detroit, located on the southeast coast of the Lower Peninsula, is close to the southern tip of Ontario, Canada. The actual border between the US and Canada runs through Lake Erie and up through the Detroit River - the latter of which separates Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

    As a result, it's just a quick drive south through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel to get to Canada from Detroit. The tunnel is, according to its website, the "only underwater-tunnel for automobiles that cross international borders in the entire world." It's also possible to get to Windsor from Detroit via the Ambassador Bridge

    • Located In: Michigan, USA
    • Area (km sq.): 370.03
    466 votes