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Travelling Tips

Did you Know?

Jonathan van Bilsen



December 6, 2020

Did you Know?

For those of us who love to (or live to) travel, this year has been a disaster. I have had a lengthy trip to South Korea booked for exactly a year and have postponed it twice. Now, sadly, I will not leave for the Asian Peninsula until September of next year. As sad as it is, being safe is the priority.

During my many travels I have come across and noted several interesting facts about our planet and thought they may be of interest to you during this time of sequestration. 

When travelling, pronouncing place names can be a challenge, especially if you are in New Zealand, home of the longest place name in the world, the town of Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, is a perfect example. Try and find that on your GPS.

Speaking of languages, there are 1.15 billion people in the world who speak Mandarin, making it the most popular language on the planet.

One of the most popular soft drinks anywhere, is of course, Coca Cola. There are two countries where it is impossible to purchase this popular drink, Cuba and North Korea. Of course, like anywhere, if you have enough money, and are willing to take a risk, I am sure you will be able to find some.

Did you know, if all 7.5 billion people on the planet stood shoulder to shoulder, they could fit in the 500 square mile limit of Los Angeles. I’m not sure how comfortable they would be, but it would certainly make me want to wear a mask, even if there was no pandemic.

Everyone has a favourite destination, but have you ever wondered which countries have the largest number of tourist visits? If your guess was France, you would have been correct. With over 87 million visitors in 2017, it is ranked number one. Spain was a close second, followed by the US, China and Italy.

If you have ever been to the Canary Islands you have to wonder where all the canaries are? It seems the place was not named for the small, chirpy, yellow birds, but instead is named after dogs. Because the archipelago is actually part of Spain, the Spanish name is Islas Canarias, which comes from a Latin phrase for ‘island of dogs’. Go figure!

I have come across short people and tall people everywhere I have been, but surprisingly, Indonesia is home to some of the shortest people in the world. When taking both genders into account, the average adult is around 157 centimetres (5 feet, 1.8 inches) tall. People in Bolivia don't tend to be much taller, with an average adult height of 158.5 cm or 5 feet, 2.4 inches. The tallest people among us live in the Netherlands, where the average adult height is 182 cm (6 feet), which at 5 feet 9 inches makes me a pretty short Dutchman.

Canada switched to the metric system in 1970 (wow, that’s 50 years ago). This was of course done to make international trade and business much easier. Today, out of 200 countries, there are only three in the world that don't use the metric system. They are Liberia, Myanmar, and the United States. Soon that number will be down to two, as Liberia plans to adopt the metric system in the very near future.

Ever wonder why there are so many kids? Well, four new babies are born every second? Do a little math and you'll find out there are approximately 250 births each minute, 15,000 each hour, and 360,000 each day. In a full year, there are around 131.4 million babies born on Earth. Maybe I should invest in a diaper manufacturer?

Here's another world fact to keep in the back of your mind: according to the Population Reference Bureau, since the time Homo Sapiens first hit the scene 50,000 years ago, more than 108 billion members of our species have been born. A large chunk of that number is alive right now. According to the bureau, the number of people alive today represents a whopping seven percent of the total number of humans who have ever lived.

Although the majority of the human population is currently under 30 years old, there are still plenty of older folks among us. In fact, 12.3 percent of people on Earth are 60 years old and older. That number is expected to reach 22 percent by 2050.

The British royal family may be the most famous royal family on the planet, but there are still plenty of other nobles out there. In total, there are 28 royal families who rule over a total of 43 countries around the world, including Japan, Spain, Swaziland, Bhutan, Thailand, Monaco, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Liechtenstein.

Did you know Canada has more forests than anywhere in the world. We have 396.9-million hectares (980 million acres) of forests, or nine percent of all of the forest area in the entire world, according to Natural Resources Canada.

Tokyo is a booming city - not only by Japanese standards, but also compared to cities around the world. With around 37 million people living in Tokyo, it is the world's largest city when it comes to population size, according to Reuters. The next largest city is Delhi, India, (population 29 million) and Shanghai, China with 26 million).

And lastly, are you a Facebook user? If not, you're among a number that gets increasingly smaller every day. In fact, 2 billion active users have an account on the social media platform, which is more than the population of the United States, China, and Brazil combined. Facebook's co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted about the milestone, saying, "We're making progress connecting the world, and now let's bring the world closer together."

And there you have it, lots of information for your next trivia night, albeit virtual.

Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel TV show can be watched on RogersTV and YouTube. To follow Jonathan’s travel adventures visit

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