Are French air traffic controllers really responsible for a third of all European flight delays? Does breathing in New Delhi’s noxious air equate to smoking 7.7 cigarettes a day, or an emphysema-inducing 45? And who knows exactly how many sheep there are for every New Zealander. Not Google, that’s for sure. Travel trivia is a mix of fact, fiction and guesswork, although the following snippets of wisdom are definitely true – I found them on the internet.
Europe’s smallest country, Monaco, is about the same size as Cheung Chau – but 6,209 Hong Kongs would fit inside Russia.
Eight of the world’s 10 fattest populations live in South Pacific island nations.
The highest point in the Maldives, the world’s flattest country, is a man-made 5.1 metre mound located at the eighth hole of Villingili Golf Course.
Saint Lucia is the only country named after a woman and Burkina Faso means “Land of Honest People”. The capital of the African nation, Ouagadougou, translates as “You are welcome here at home with us”.
Ten per cent of all photographs ever taken were snapped in the past 12 months – and more people die as a result of taking selfies than from shark attacks.
In 2017, a Japanese rail company apologised after one of its trains departed 20 seconds early – which would be enough time to get a third of the way into the world’s shortest passenger flight, between Westray and Papa Westray, in Scotland. The record for the fastest trip between the two Orkney Islands, a 2.7km hop, is 53 seconds.
In 1987, American Airlines saved US$40,000 by removing one olive from each first class food tray – and paint adds between 273kg and 544kg to an aircraft; that’s the equivalent of four to eight adults.
The Statue of Liberty was originally a lighthouse.
Eighty-five per cent of bikinis never get wet.
On a Friday afternoon (GMT) in July or August, more than 16,000 aeroplanes are in the air.
When Montenegro became independent from Yugoslavia, its internet domain suffix changed from .yu to .me.
Tuvalu is the least-visited country in the world (it received only 2,000 tourists in 2017) but the South Pacific nation has a lucrative sideline leasing the internet domain suffix .tv.
Venezuela means “Little Venice” in Spanish.
The country of Liechtenstein, which is about the size of Lantau Island, is the world’s largest exporter of false teeth – and San Marino, which is slightly smaller than Hong Kong Island, has more cars than people.
There is a city, town or village called Rome (or Roma) on every continent except Antarctica – and an estimated €4,000 (HK$35,600) is collected from the Trevi Fountain in the Rome every day. The coins are donated to charity.
The wingspan of an Airbus is double the length of the Wright Brothers’ original flight – and the Boeing 747-8 has about six million parts manufactured by more than 550 suppliers in almost 30 countries.
The US state of Nebraska’s new tourism slogan is, “Honestly, it’s not for everyone” – whereas Central Park, in New York City, apparently is for everyone; the park is the world’s most popular film and television set location.
The world’s continents shift at about the same rate as your fingernails grow.
The name Canary Islands derives from the Latin for “isle of dogs”.
Kazakhstan is the world’s largest landlocked country – and Liechtenstein and Uzbekistan are the only two “double landlocked” countries (surrounded by other landlocked states).
Nearly 90 per cent of the world’s population lives in the northern hemisphere.
Australia is slightly wider than the moon and its kangaroo population is about 50 million – or two Skippys for every human Aussie.
In Bhutan, all citizens officially become one year older on New Year’s Day.
Bangui, in the Central African Republic, lies on the Ubangi River, making it the only capital located on a river whose name is an anagram of its own.
Panmunjom, in North Korea, is the only tourist destination where visitors are required to sign a release asking them to accept responsibility for injury or death as a direct result of enemy action.
Hodophobia is not the fear of enemy action, but the fear of travel itself.
The dome of the Taj Mahal is held together with sugar, fruit juice and egg whites while the Great Wall of China is reinforced with sticky rice.
The number of people counted as tourists who visited Hong Kong in 2018 is equivalent to the population of England, while Croatia receives more tourists, per head of population, than any other country.
The Mall of America, in Minnesota, in the US, attracts more visitors annually than Walt Disney World, Graceland and the Grand Canyon combined – and 15,000 pillowcases are washed daily at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.
Nepal is the only country that doesn’t have a rectangular national flag.
Córdoba, Spain, has more Unesco World Heritage Sites than any other city.
At one time, Melbourne was called Batmania. Unfortunately, Sydney has never been called Robinia.
Table Mountain, which overlooks Cape Town, in South Africa, is home to more plant species than the entire United Kingdom.
Belarus is the only country in Europe that retains the death penalty.
Japan has the most powerful passport in the world. Its citizens enjoy visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 190 destinations. The Singaporean passport comes a close second, with 189 destinations.
Dubai has more tower cranes than any other city in the world.
The record for the most countries visited in a single day is 19.
Somewhere in the world, a language dies every 14 days, but more than 820 languages are listed as being spoken in Papua New Guinea, and Nepal has more distinct and individual languages than the whole of the European Union. Meanwhile, the Balinese language has no word for “art”.
Peruvians eat an estimated 65 million guinea pigs each year.
More people go to church on Sunday in China than in the whole of Europe.
Grotte Chauvet cave, in southern France, is the only Unesco World Heritage Site not open to the general public.
The world’s longest bus route connects Rio de Janeiro and Lima, covering a distance of 6,300km in 100 hours – if you’re lucky.