“Everything is Bigger in America…” so the saying goes, but that’s not true for these ten European countries that the USA has reduced to small town size. Many of these towns were colonized by immigrants from their namesake country, and keep a little of their old world culture, even if it’s been disneyed half to death. Some are just completely random choices by some long-dead small town bigwig. The beauty of this list is that if you hate those red-eye transatlantic flights, you can comfortably take your European Tour without ever leaving the country. Yeah for America! Home of everything… and everywhere.
10. Poland, Maine
Think you’ve never heard of this town? We’d bet a dollar you’ve seen Poland Spring water in your supermarket, maybe even drunk one. With zero connection to the ‘real’ Poland, this country was named after one of the founder’s favorite songs. I guess back in the 1700s there were loads of towns to name and they just went for the first thing that came to mind. Imagine if we named towns after songs now… Uptown Funk, USA? That kinda works. Let’s do it!
9. Norway, Iowa
Norway: Population 5.08 million. Norway, Iowa: Population 545 people, 546 hogs. Okay, we don’t really know that, but we do know that Norway the town has a wild love affair with baseball. Over the years, four major-leaguers have called this tiny town home, and the must see attraction is the tongue-twistingly named Iowa Baseball Museum of Norway. Interesting fact: There is also a Norway, Illinois, which was founded and named by the same Norwegian immigrant who named Norway, Iowa. In fact, there are Norway’s all over the USA, from Norway, NY, to Little Norway, CA.
8. Italy, Texas
The unremarkable road sign is easy to miss, but drivers heading north to Dallas always know when they’re in Italy thanks to multi-colored, multi-segment, monolithic dome structure Bruco the Caterpillar. Harder to spot is the Starship Pegasus, a single silver dome at the interstate exit that has super-realistic booster rockets and regularly fools unsuspecting passersby into thinking the Starfleet has landed. “Beam me to Italy, Texas, Scotty!”
7. Finland, Minnesota
A trip to Finland, Minnesota probably almost does count as a trip back to the old country. The weather’s the same, there are moose and reindeer… there’s even a Heritage Sauna. No word on if there are any Angry Birds tho’…
6. Ireland, West Virginia
“Hot summer nights and ice cold beer… that’s Ireland.” Ireland, West Virginia that is, or at least according to the town’s Facebook page. With Irish road bowling, equinoctial egg standing contest, and it’s very own Blarney Rock, this mountain town is keeping homeland traditions alive. We’ll raise a pint o’ the Gat to that!
5. Denmark, Wisconsin
“Velkommen!” to this Wisconsin village, home of Steve’s Cheeses who broke records at the 1964 World’s Fair with their 17 1/4 ton colossal cheddar! After the fair the celebrity cheese retired to its quiet home town, where according to unconfirmed rumor, it soon became blue. (Groan!) Other notable attractions in this landlocked metropolis include the local water tower, and the 20th Century Bar and Bowl which received the accolade of “Best Dive Bar ever!”
4. Switzerland, South Carolina
A neutral zone in the oft-fought over South Carolina – Georgia state line, Switzerland is not a town, nor even a village… it is a hamlet. Makes me want to break into a chorus of Edelweiss! Unfortunately mountains are scarce in this tiny coastal community. I wonder if they have goats?
3. Russia, Ohio
Bet you read this town’s sign as ‘Rush –sha’ right? Wrong! This town is ‘Roo-shee.’ That’s the correct way to say it. In Oh-HI-oh, any-hoo. Eligible young women take note: Town statistics show an unusually high percentage of the population are ‘well-paid single men.’ Oh, Russia, OH!
2. Vatican, Louisiana
If you’re going to randomly name your town, you might as well go for something with cache. Forget song titles – let’s go big time and call ourselves Vatican. And Vatican, LA is the only town in our top ten that really is BIGGER than the actual country it is named after! This bayou backwater may be more Cajun in culture than Italian, but they sure are Catholic. Head into town on Vatican Road, and check out the renaissance architecture on Vatican Square Drive, Pope Drive, and Bishop Street. (Not!) Wonder if they’ve ever sent a care package of alligators and crawdaddies to the real Vatican? That might liven up the Pontificate a little…
1. Belgium, Wisconsin
We know Americans are bad at world geography, and we admit that when we first saw this sign we rolled our eyes and were heard to mutter: “Belgium is not the same as Luxembourg, people!” Or did you wonder if this town was home to some weirdly named burger joint? But give Belgium, WI a break – they really were founded by immigrants from Luxembourg. Boring history lesson commences: The city of Luxembourg was under Belgian rule from 1830 – 1839, and when the Duchy of Luxembourg was granted independent status the French speaking part became a permanent province of Belgium. So there! At least they don’t make giant cheeses.