Americans are accustomed to this stereotype, a longstanding one of which many are reluctant to let go. This is partly due to the majority of young American students backpacking or studying abroad who have helped to perpetuate the reputation (just about everyone has been that too-drunk, too-loud traveler at least once). But when it comes to day-to-day conversations, Americans aren’t a particularly loud group of people.
It’s easy to assume that all Americans are racist, especially taking into account the recent election and uprising of white nationalist groups post-election. But since the 1980s, interracial marriage rates have increased, with 87 percent of men and 85 percent of women approving of marriage between Caucasians and African Americans. That means every four in five people agree with interracial marriage today, a wild improvement since the 1960s. MLK would be proud.
The world is full of selfish people. But when it comes to helping others, Americans are usually one of the first to come to the rescue, especially during a natural disaster, when other countries are in need. In 2015, the US was the largest donor of foreign aid, spending $31.08 billion.
While there’s a misconceived notion that all Americans are unintelligent, the stats show otherwise. In 2015, 88 percent of adults had at least a high school diploma (or GED), while nearly 33 percent held a bachelor’s or higher degree. There’s also been an increase in the number of postsecondary degrees in the past few decades: certificates have increased by 49 percent, associate’s degrees by 59 percent, bachelor’s degrees by 36 percent, master’s degrees by 45 percent, and doctorate degrees by 44 percent. Also, 83 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds, 78 percent of ages 30-49, 81 percent of ages 50-64, and 80 percent of people over 65 years of age read for pleasure.
According to the WDPA, the US currently has 34,070 protected areas covering a total of more than 1.8 million square miles of land and sea. That’s 13 percent of the land area and 41.1 percent of the total marine area in the US. And in the last year, President Obama has established the largest protected place on the planet (at a whopping 582,578 square miles) alongside the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean.
An increase in violence this year has helped to bolster misguided perceptions on this facet of America. But according to a recent survey, only 36 percent of adults own a firearm or live with someone who does, which brings the gun rate to a near 40-year low. It’s down ten percentage points since its peak in 1993 and 20 points since 1978. That’s the lowest rate of gun ownership since the mid-1970s.
This stereotype has likely stemmed from open-mouth laughing or public nose blowing, the product of culturally unaware American travelers. But while these actions seem ‘rude’ to foreigners, Americans are in fact quite polite. They are more likely to smile at, help, or acknowledge a stranger; they don’t wait for introductions and will happily chat with someone in the elevator.
While it’s true that obesity and weight gain is a major issue in the States – two out of three adults are considered overweight or obese – the US has made several efforts to battle this growing epidemic. Schools are cutting calories, improving nutritional content, and reducing portion sizes, providing healthier choices to kids; employers receive a return on investment in health care savings when they promote wellness, and four states have passed laws requiring restaurants to include calorie counts on menus. Plus, in cities along the coast – Los Angeles, New York, Miami – clean eating and exercise have become a way of life.
Oh, the great American passport myth. A rumor once circulated that only ten percent of the American population holds a valid passport. This led to a widespread idea that Americans don’t travel and that they’re an ignorant nation with no knowledge of the outside world. But according to the State Department, 46 percent of the 324 million-large population has a valid passport. And in 2016, 18.5 million new passports were issued. That’s over three million more than last year, an increase of 21 percent. Let’s also keep in mind that the States are bound by a wealth of geological diversity, so many Americans simply opt to travel within their own borders.