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Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 07/ 4/2010

Fun July 4 facts: Food, flags, fireworks, etc.

By Valerie Strauss

Here are some facts about the country and how it celebrates its birthday, a present from the U.S. Census.


2.5 million In July 1776, the estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation.

309.6 million
The nation’s estimated population on this July Fourth.


$3 million In 2009, the dollar value of U.S. imports of American flags. The vast majority of this amount ($2.5 million) was for U.S. flags made in China.

Dollar value of U.S. flags exported in 2009. Mexico was the leading customer, purchasing $333,882 worth.


$209 million The value of fireworks imported from China in 2009, representing the bulk of all U.S. fireworks imported ($217 million). U.S. exports of fireworks, by comparison, came to $42.9 million in 2009, with the United Arab Emirates purchasing the most ($14.5 million).

Patriotic-sounding place names

31 Number of places nationwide with “liberty” in their name. The most populous as of July 1, 2008, was Liberty, Mo. (30,568). Iowa, with four, has more than any other state: Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty and West Liberty.

  • 30 places have “eagle” -- after the majestic bird that serves as our national symbol -- in their name. (Places include cities, towns, villages and census-designated locations.) The most populous site is Eagle Pass, Tex., with 26,668 residents.

  • 11 places feature “independence.” The most populous is Independence, Mo., with 110,440 residents.

  • 5 places adopted “freedom”: Freedom, Calif., with 6,000 residents, has the largest population as of the 2000 Census.

  • There is one place named Patriot -- in Indiana, with a population of 189.

  • And what could be more fitting than spending the Fourth of July in one of five places called "America”? The most populous is American Fork, Utah, with 27,064 residents.

  • Presidential last names

    138 Ranking of the frequency of the surname of our first president, George Washington, among all last names tabulated in the 2000 Census.

    Other early-presidential names that appear on the list, along with their ranking: Adams (39), Jefferson (594), Madison (1,209) and Monroe (567).

    The British are coming!

    $93.2 billion Dollar value of trade last year between the United States and Britain, making our adversary in 1776 our sixth-leading trading partner today.

    Fourth of July cookouts

    More than 1 in 4 The chance that the hot dogs and pork sausages consumed on the Fourth of July originated in Iowa. The Hawkeye State was home to 18.9 million hogs and pigs on March 1, 2010. This represents more than one-fourth of the nation’s total. North Carolina (9.1 million) and Minnesota (7.2 million) were the runners-up.

    6.5 billion pounds
    Total production of cattle and calves in Texas in 2008. Chances are good that the beef hot dogs, steaks and burgers on your grill came from the Lone Star State, which accounted for about one-sixth of the nation’s total production. And if the beef did not come from Texas, it very well may have come from Nebraska (4.6 billion pounds) or Kansas (3.9 billion pounds).

    Number of states in which the value of broiler chicken production was $1 billion or greater between December 2007 and November 2008. There is a good chance that one of these states — Georgia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi or Texas — is the source of your barbecued chicken.

    About 1 in 3
    The odds that your side dish of baked beans originated from North Dakota, which produced 34 percent of the nation’s dry, edible beans in 2009. Another popular Fourth of July side dish is corn on the cob. Florida, California, Georgia, Washington and New York together accounted for 66 percent of the fresh-market sweet corn produced nationally in 2009.

    Please pass the sides

    Potato salad and potato chips are popular foods at Fourth of July barbecues. Half of the nation’s spuds were produced in Idaho or Washington state in 2009.

    More than three-quarters
    Amount of the nation’s head lettuce production in 2009 that came from California. The greens may end up in your salad or on your burger.

    7 in 10
    The chances that the fresh tomatoes in your salad came from Florida or California, which combined accounted for 70 percent of U.S. fresh-market tomato production last year. The ketchup on your burger or hot dog probably came from California, which accounted for 95 percent of processed tomato production in 2009.

    The state that led the nation in watermelon production last year (818 million pounds). Other leading producers of this popular fruit included California, Georgia and Texas, each with more than 500 million pounds.

    76 million
    Number of Americans who said they have taken part in a barbecue during the previous year. It’s probably safe to assume a lot of these events were on Independence Day.

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    By Valerie Strauss  | July 4, 2010; 5:00 AM ET
    Categories:  History  | Tags:  barbecue, facts about july 4, fireworks, fireworks and china, fireworks and experts, flag imports, fun facts and july 4, independence day facts, july 4 barbecue, potatoes and idaho, potatoes and washington state, u.s. population, u.s. population in 1776, watermelon production  
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