You might think you know a thing or two about beautiful Los Angeles, California, but let us tell you: for every thing you know about the city, there’s a lot more that you don’t.

If you’re planning a visit to LA, and you want to wow your fellow travelers with your knowledge of the city, we’ve got you covered.

Without further ado, here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about the City of Angels.


1. Its Name Used to be a Little Longer

Los Angeles wasn’t always called Los Angeles. When the city was first founded, its full name was “El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora Reina de los Angeles Sobre el Rio Porciuncula.” That’s Spanish for “The Town of our Lady Queen of the Angels on the Porciuncula River.” It’s a pretty name, but it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

2. The Hollywood Sign Used to Have Four Extra Letters

Just like the city’s name, Los Angeles’ famous Hollywood sign used to be a little longer, too. When it was first built, the sign had four extra letters, reading “HOLLYWOODLAND.”

3. It’s a Cultural Melting Pot

The Los Angeles area is home to more than 13 million people— and those people represent a massive range of cultures and heritages. Within the city, you’ll find people from 140 countries speaking a whopping 220 different languages. Needless to say, it’s a melting pot in the truest sense of the term.

4. It’s a Massive City

Los Angeles is one of the biggest cities in the United States in terms of population, and in terms of geographical area, it takes the top spot outright. The city covers a whopping 5019 square miles (13,000 square kilometers)—making it the largest city in the country.

5. It’s a Prehistoric Graveyard

Walk down the streets of Los Angeles, and you might well be strolling over the bones of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. The city is home to a wealth of fossils— many of which were found in the famed La Brea tarpits, where hundreds of ancient creatures unfortunately met their ends. In 2006, another tar pit was also discovered, this one containing the well-preserved remains of saber-toothed cats, giant sloths, American lions, and a mammoth.

6. It Has a Bigger Economy Than Most Countries

The Los Angeles economy is thriving. In fact, if the Los Angeles metropolitan area were a country rather than a city, it would clock in among the 20 biggest economies in the world.

7. Business is Booming

Los Angeles’ strong economy means that business is booming in the city. The latest count indicates that it’s home to almost 250,000 businesses. It’s also worth noting that a significant portion of those businesses are owned by women. In fact, LA has more woman-owned businesses than any other city in the United States.

8. It’s the Birthplace of Many Important Inventions

Los Angeles is the birth place of a long list of crucial creations. Chief among the city’s many inventions are the electric guitar, the skateboard, the hula hoop, Barbie dolls, the laser, the first space shuttle, the nicotine patch, and the Internet. Suffice it to say that the world would not be the place it is today where it not for the contributions made by the people of Los Angeles.

9. The City Has Some Strange Laws

Most cities have their fair share of bizarre local laws, and Los Angeles is no different. For example, you’ll want to avoid licking toads while you’re in the city— that’s illegal. You’ll also want to refrain from throwing a frisbee without a lifeguard’s permission, as that is also illegal. And as for your plans to drive 2,000 sheep down Hollywood Boulevard? You’ll want to skip that too. 1999 sheep is fine, though.

10. It’s Famous Palm Trees Aren’t Native to the Area

Los Angeles is known for the beautiful palm trees that line its boulevards and coastlines. What you might not know is that most of those palm trees are not native to the area. The majority of LA’s palms came from India and South Africa. In fact, only one species of palm is local to the area: Washingtonia filifera, commonly known as the California palm or the California fan palm.

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