Welcome to America! We're a nation of innovators -- except when it's time to name our cities, towns and small, unincorporated townships. Then we borrow. A lot.
In America's earliest days, colonial settlers named towns after the places in the British Isles they'd left behind. The most famous, of course, is "New York," named after the English city of York. Or, because some of them were devoutly religious, they took geographic names from the Bible. Out West, you'll find a variety of places with the names of saints in Spanish, like Santa Maria. Most of those names are shared with cities throughout Latin America.
Do you know, for example, the name of the Washington town that Kurt Cobain was born in? It's named for a Scottish fishing port. Or which American city was named after an Egyptian one, which, in turn, was named for a famous conqueror and was home to a vast library of the ancient world? Do you know which California city shares a name with a Central American capital?
Our place names tell us a great deal about our ancestors: Where they came from, what they valued, and the parts of history they chose to honor. So if you're a geography buff or a student of history, you're likely to enjoy this quiz on American place names. Settle in and take a peek into the pages of history!