Nick Offerman, who plays Ron Swanson, has a woodworking hobby as does his counterpart in the show. He has released an instructional DVD in canoe building and runs a fine woodworking business on the side.
The series was originally planned as a direct spin-off of The Office (2005). It was later re-designed to be an original workplace story that would keep the "mockumentary" format used for the other series, which P&R executive producers Greg Daniels and Michael Schur had both worked on (Daniels as creator, Schur as a writer and producer).
Ron Swanson's staunchly anti-government government official was based on a city planner who the show's producers met and interviewed when doing research. The planner was a Libertarian who admitted to them "I don't believe in the mission of my job."
The character Tom Haverford changed his name from Darwish Sabir Ismael Gani. The actor who plays Tom, Aziz Ansari, chose that as Tom's original name because it is his cousin's name. Ansari also shares with Tom the biographical fact that although his parents were originally from India, he was born and raised in a small town in South Carolina.
The two statues featured in the opening credits are two landmarks on Highway 18 in Montpelier, Indiana, a town located in the East-Central region of the state. The first is the Ice Cream Giant at Tin Lizzy, an ice cream shop just outside the town, and the second is the Muffler Man Indian in the center of town.