The United States is a geographically vast, consumer-driven country with a mixed economy that allows for highly diverse industries, manufacturing, skill sets, tourism, cuisine, and commerce—and a wide-reaching culture, to boot. This country holds many things, from trees and national parks to suburban sprawl and crime. This is the land of plenty (127.59 million households in 2018), and of the few (just 321 drive-in movie theaters nationwide). In its short legacy, the country has also accrued a number of failed experiments and abandoned endeavors: including more than 3,800 ghost towns, in excess of 300 demolished or abandoned amusement parks, and a whopping 450,000 brownfield sites.
The U.S. accounts for just 4.4% of the global population yet contains 22% of the world’s prisoners and is responsible for more than 30% of the planet’s waste. But what other numbers make up this country?
To find out, Stacker scoured statistics, tourism boards, national parks service websites, and various datasets to bring examples of just how many of 50 different things exist in the U.S. From guns and movie theaters to parks and Starbucks, nothing was off limits. The research spans all 3.797 million square miles of the U.S. and looks at topics including industry, business, personal finance, entertainment, and more. Can you take a guess as to how many public schools are in the U.S.? Do you have any clue as to how many billionaires might be residing there? Read on to find out—and learn a thing or two about each of these selection’s cultural significance and legacy along the way.
Hedges & Company projects that there are 281.3 million registered cars in 2019, up from 276.1 million in 2018. 2016 marked the first time more than 70 million cars were manufactured globally in a year (72,105,435 to be exact). That same year, 17.5 million vehicles were sold in the U.S. An astonishing 65% of those were also produced here.
While there isn't an organization that tracks up-to-date figures on the number of U.S. congregations, a 2012 report by the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion estimated the number of “churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship” to be around 384,000. The number has been vacillating up and down over the years, increasing and decreasing rather than showing any overarching trend one way or another.
There are 59 national parks in the United States, some of the most famous of which include Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Zion, Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Joshua Tree. In 2017, three parks—Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park—each enjoyed in excess of 10 million recreation visits. California and Alaska are the states with the most parks—nine and eight, respectively.
According to the Small Arms Survey report, which analyzes gun data from 230 countries worldwide, there are 393 million civilian-owned firearms in America. Analysis by the Washington Post concluded that the number represents a cache large enough for “every man, woman and child to own one and still have 67 million guns left over.” At roughly 120.5 guns per every 100 residents, the United States has double the ratio of Yemen, the next-highest country on the list (where there are an estimated 52.8 guns for every 100 residents).
Although the Department of Agriculture licenses more than 2,000 “animal exhibitors,” a much smaller number are considered true zoos and accredited as such. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums reported 215 accredited facilities in the U.S. as of October 2018. The figure includes zoos, aquariums, nature centers, aviaries, butterfly houses, safaris, and theme parks. Of those, 54% are non-profits, 35% are public zoos, and 11% operate for-profit enterprises.
There are nearly 42,000 zip codes spread across in America, each of which routes mail to its appropriate destination. The numbers range from 00501 (the lowest one for the Internal Revenue Service in Holtsville, N.Y.) to the 99950 (the highest one in Ketchikan, Alaska). Perhaps the easiest zip code to remember, according to USPS, is 12345 which belongs to General Electric in Schenectady, N.Y.
As of 2017, there were 14,027 McDonald's restaurants in the United States. Arkansas carries the distinction of having the highest density per population of the fast-food chain, with 5.8 stores per 100,000 residents. After that, the next most McDonald's-populated states include West Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio. On the opposite end, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York, and California have the fewest McDonald's per capita.
If you tally up all of the elementary, secondary, and combined schools throughout the United States, there was a total of 98,176 public schools in operation during the 2014-15 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The number gradually increased between the ‘80s and late aughts, going from 85,982 schools in the 1980-81 school year to 98,916 in 2007-08. The total peaked that year and has gradually declined since.
Despite all of the lawyer jokes, Americans actually love lawyers—or at least they produce a lot of them. There were 1,338,678 licensed and active attorneys in the United States in 2018. The figure represents a small increase of 0.2% from last year and a 15.2% rise in the last 10 years.
Known as “14ers” among mountain climbers and outdoor enthusiasts, the United States is home to 96 mountains that clock 14,000 feet or more in elevation. Of those, 53 are found in Colorado and 29 are found in Alaska. Alaska holds the 16 highest peaks with Mt. Denali being the tallest at 20,320 (and the only one to surpass 20,000 feet). The other mountains are all found in Washington and California.
According to Forbes 2016 list of the world's richest people, the United States is home to 540 billionaires whose net worth totals 2.399 trillion. The state with the greatest number of wealthy citizens is California, which houses a whopping 124 billionaires totaling $532.4 billion—most of whom are in the technology sector. New York is second with 93 billionaires totaling $429.7 billion, mostly in the finance and investments industries. Behind them are Texas and Florida with 48 and 44 billionaires, respectively.
There are thousands of unsolved mysteries throughout America every year, many of which are homicides. Although it's impossible to arrive at an exact number of serial killers on the loose, officials at the Murder Accountability Project (MAP) estimate there are as many as 2,000 at large. “There are more than 220,000 unsolved murders since 1980, so when you put that in perspective, how shocking is it that there are at least 2,000 unrecognized series of homicides?" MAP's Thomas Hargrove asked Live Science. A serial killer is defined as anyone who has murdered two or more people.
In 2018, the United States was comprised of approximately 127.59 million households, defined as a group of people living in a single housing unit. The housing unit could be a house, apartment, or even a room as long as that room is meant to be a separate residence. The figure has doubled since 1970 when there were only 63 million households in the country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average household size is now 2.53 people.
There were 460 commercial casinos in operation in the United States in 2017. In Nevada alone, there are 138 casinos that generate $6.52 million or more in annual revenue. Yet even with institutions numbering in the mere hundreds, gambling is a huge industry. In 2017, for instance, commercial gaming raked in more than $40 billion in revenue.
About 554,000 people were homeless in the United States in 2017, according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The agency's Annual Homeless Assessment Report indicated that roughly 0.17% of the population was homeless on any given night. The figure represents the first increase since 2010, with Los Angeles and New York City being among the cities most affected.
In 2018, the National Association of Theater Owners reported that there were 5,803 movie theaters open for viewings in the United States. Of those, 5,482 were regular indoor cinemas while 321 were drive-ins. Among the largest chains include Regal Cinemas, Century Theatres, Cinemark USA, and Clearview Cinemas.
There are 14,606 company and licensed Starbucks stores sprinkled across the United States. Globally, that number is only slightly higher at 14,676. Of those in the U.S., 8,575 of the Starbucks shops are company-owned while the other 6,031 stores are licensed.
Although times have changed and the age of cell phones has all but obliterated pay phones from existence, there are still a few lone booths hiding out in random nooks and crannies of America. According to the Federal Communications Commission, there are still about 100,000 pay phones in operation in the United States. New York is home to roughly one-fifth of those phones, which brought in $286 million in revenue in 2015.
Americans love to read, and there's no shortage of places to do it given the 116,867 libraries sprinkled throughout the country. The vast majority of these institutions—or 98,460 of them to be exact—are school libraries, found in public and private schools, according to the American Libraries Association. The remainder includes public libraries (9,057), academic libraries (3,094), special libraries (5,150), armed forces libraries (239), and government libraries (867).
The Pew Research Center defines nine key religious groups or identifications in the United States: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist, Agnostic, Other World Religion, and Other Faith (Unitarian, New Age, and Native American religions). Within each main group, there are dozens of families and denominations. Christians make up 70.6% of the denominations while non-Christian faiths constitute 5.9%.
The United States is currently home to 10 cities with populations of more than 1 million people. At the top of the list is New York with 8.6 million people, followed by Los Angeles (3.9 million) and Chicago (2.7 million). The other cities on the one-million-plus list include Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, and San Jose.
With more than 25,800 locations in the United States, Subway is now the largest restaurant chain in America. The number dwarfs McDonald's, which hovers just over 14,000 restaurants. However, the number doesn't necessarily mean the sandwich chain is experiencing total success—it planned to close 500 of its U.S. locations in 2018 and some sources have reported that up to one-third of the restaurants may not be profitable.
From coast to coast, there are currently 70,760 bars serving drinks in America. The industry, which includes establishments that serve distilled spirits, wine, and beer, grew by 3.4% in terms of revenue over the past five years, according to research firm IBISWorld. During the same period of time, the number of establishments grew by 0.8% and the volume of employees increased by 1.9%.
America's wild and scenic rivers are famous worldwide for their beauty. Although the exact number is unknown, there are at least 250,000 rivers flowing throughout the United States. They total more than 3.5 million miles—enough to stretch to the moon and back seven times. The longest river in the country is the Missouri River at 2,540 miles in length, although the volume of the Mississippi River is greater due to its depth.
Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that in 2016 there were more than 12,000 police departments in operation throughout the United States. The number includes tribal police but does not include sheriffs' offices, which are typically run by counties or other state subdivisions rather than local governments. The average number of full-time sworn officers per 1,000 residents decreased by 11% between 1997 and 2016, dropping from 2.42 to 2.17.
America prides itself on its higher education rates, a fact that is reflected in the 5,300 universities throughout the country. Roughly 19.9 million students were forecast to attend colleges and universities in the United States in the fall of 2018. Female students were expected to make up the majority at about 11.2 million, while approximately 8.7 million male students were anticipated.
According to a report filed by the NAACP's Legal Defense and Educational Fund, there were 2,738 inmates on Death Row in 2018. Of those, 42.03% were Caucasian, 41.38% were African American, 13,42% were Latino, 1.93% were Asian, and 1.02% were Native American. The race of one person, or 0.04%, was unknown at the time of the report. A huge majority of inmates awaiting death were men—97.99% (or 2,683 people)—while just 2.01% (or 55 people) were women.
Although they once roamed in giant herds numbering in the 20 to 30 million range, today there are only about 500,000 bison in America. It's still a number that impresses many citizens, though, given that they only reside in national parks and refuges in Wyoming, Montana, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Iowa. The animals, which are the largest land animal in North America, are called bison in the Americas and Europe and buffalo in Africa and Asia.
The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that there are approximately 18.2 million veterans living in America. The Department of Veterans Affairs, which has 1,250 health care facilities throughout the country, serves roughly 9 million veterans each day. The agency offers services such as mental health treatment, physical therapy, prosthetics, dental exams, urology, and vision care.
Linguistically speaking, America is a strikingly diverse place where hundreds of languages converge. A 2015 report by the U.S. Census Bureau concluded that at least 350 languages are spoken in the United States. After English, the Spanish language is the next-most common language in the U.S. with about 40.5 million speakers as of 2016.
Nowhere is it more true that dogs are man's best friend than in the United States, where more than 43 million households have at least one dog. The figure means that 36.5% of all homes have one or more canine companion. When tallied up, the total number of dogs as companion pets in the United States is an impressive 69.9 million dogs.
Even more prevalent in the U.S. than dogs are their feline counterparts which number more than 74 million. Interestingly, although there are more cats than dogs in the U.S., fewer households own cats. For example, there are 36,117,000 households in the United States that have one or more cats, representing just 30.4% of the population. The discrepancy indicates that while fewer people own cats, the ones who do own them do so in greater numbers.
There are six time zones in the United States which, running from west to east, include Hawaii Standard Time, Alaska Standard Time, Pacific Standard Time, Mountain Standard Time, Central Standard Time, and Eastern Standard Time. Each time zone is one hour apart from the next, beginning in Hawaii and getting later as you move west. Daylight saving time in 2019 kicks off at 2 a.m. March 9 and ends at 2 a.m. Nov. 3.
What would the U.S. do without Walmart? The retail giant has 5,355 stores in operation that employ more than 1.5 million people. Of those stores,3,570 are considered “supercenters” while the rest are broken down into discount stores, neighborhood markets, small format stores, and Sam's Clubs. In 2017, Walmart's global net sales totaled more than $481 billion.
According to the National Center For Education Statistics, there were 3.6 million full-time-equivalent elementary and secondary school teachers “engaged in classroom instruction in fall 2016.” Of those teachers, 3.2 million were public school teachers while 0.4 million were teaching in private schools. During the 2011 to 2012 school year, approximately 76% of public school teachers were female and 44% were younger than 40 years old.
Smith is one of the oldest surnames in the U.S. so perhaps it's no surprise that it's the nation's most common last name. In the 2010 Census, there were 2.4 million instances of the surname recorded in the United States. After Smith, the next-most common names included Johnson (1.93 million), Williams (1.62 million), Brown (1.43 million), and Jones (1.42 million)
Americans love eating out, a fact that's evidenced by the 647,288 restaurants open for business in the United States in 2017. The number of restaurant chains grew that year while the number of independent restaurants decreased by about 11,000 operations, according to the NPD Group, a data-tracking firm. The number represented a 3% drop from the year before.
The U.S. is covered in trees which adorn its open space from coast to coast. A 2015 study in Nature reported there are an estimated 228 billion trees growing throughout the country. The number makes it fourth on the list worldwide after Russia (642 billion), Canada (318 billion), and Brazil (302 billion). The more common species in the U.S. include oak trees, maples, Douglas firs, balsam firs, aspens, and dogwoods.
Ghost towns in the U.S. vary in nature but typically date back to the Wild West era from roughly 1880 to 1940 when frontiersmen went in search of gold, silver, oil, and other valuable resources. The exact number is unknown, but one report by Geotab estimates there are at least 3,800 ghost towns spread across the United States. “Americans know them as vivid reminders of the country's compressed, dynamic and turbulent past,” Peter Ling, Professor of American Studies at the University of Nottingham, said of ghost towns.
With a criminal justice system holding more than 2.3 million people, the U.S. has 6,125 correctional facilities spread across all 50 states. The facilities are divided into state prisons (1,719), federal prisons (102), juvenile correctional facilities (942), local jails (3,283), and Indian Country jails (79). Beyond this number, there are additional sites where people are detained such as military prisons, immigration detention facilities, and civil commitment centers.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) plays an important role in daily American life, a fact that's highlighted by the 31,324 USPS-managed retail post offices that exist throughout the country. The U.S. postal service is one of the largest and most complex in the world, handling 46% of the world's mail volume. In 2018, the agency's operating revenue was $70.6 billion.
In 2016, there were roughly 111,100 gas stations in the U.S. ranging from small, family-owned pumps to major chain operations like ARCO and Exxon Mobil. In January 2019, approximately 948,000 people were employed in the gas station workforce including service station attendants, cashiers, food preparation workers, and station managers.
The U.S. is blessed with stunning coastlines, many of which are decorated with old, historical lighthouses. There are approximately 700 lighthouses decorating the United States, the first of which was the Boston Light, built on Little Brewster Island in 1716. It was reconstructed in 1784 after being destroyed by the British. The oldest lighthouse in existence that's never been rebuilt is the Sandy Hook Lighthouse which was constructed in 1764 and still stands.
When a commercial site gets contaminated by some sort of chemical, pollutant, or other hazardous substance, the Environmental Protection Agency labels it a “brownfield” (nicknamed after the agency's Brownfields Program which helps clean up or mitigate the situation). In the United States, there are currently more than 450,000 brownfield sites. Common contaminants at the sites include pesticides, asbestos, lead, and other hazardous materials.
Although nuns once proliferated in the United States, numbering an impressive 181,421 at their peak in 1965, their population has been shrinking ever since. In 2016, statistics from the National Religious Retirement Office indicated that there were only 47,160 remaining. Of those, about 77% of them were women over 70. “The Church of just a few decades ago, staffed by an army of nuns and religious brothers, is now a thing of the past,” wrote Alexander Lucie-Smith for the Christian Herald.
The number of American jobs hit a record high in August 2018, when the Labor Department announced there were 7.14 million job openings. The figure has been gradually rising in recent years, hitting the 7 million mark in July 2018. In March of that same year, job opening exceeded the number of unemployed people for the first time since 2000.
There are 6,210 hospitals in the United States, according to 2017 data from the American Hospital Association. Within that system, there are 931,203 beds which receive 36.5 million admissions each year. The total expenses for all of those hospitals run a sizeable $1.06 trillion.
As the national emblem of the country, the bald eagle was chosen to represent the U.S. due to its ”association with authority and statehood.” (President John F. Kennedy later said that the “fierce beauty and proud independence of this great bird aptly symbolizes the strength and freedom of America.") Over the years, however, the real-life bird—which once numbered over 100,000— struggled to survive. It was placed on the Endangered Species List in 1967 and another updated version in 1973 but was removed in 2007 after officials said it was no longer needed. Recent counts suggest there are now at least 9,789 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 states.