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Last updated date: 22nd Mar 2024
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Globe with Latitude and Longitude

What is Latitude?

In the subject geography, the latitude is the distance on the earth’s surface, north or south of the Equator. It is expressed in an angular measurement from 0° at the Equator to 90°, North or South. 


The Southern latitudes can be expressed as a negative number where -90° is at the South Pole. Lines of the latitude run parallel to the Equator. Latitude, as well as longitude, can be used together to specify the precise location on the Earth.


What is Longitude?

Longitude is the measurement of the location of east or the west of the prime meridian at Greenwich. It is measured also in degrees, minutes, as well as seconds. The Prime Meridian and then another line from Earth’s centre to any point elsewhere on the Equator. 

Longitude is measured 180°  from both east as well as west of the prime meridian. Meridians are plotted and also drawn from one pole to another pole where they meet. 


How many latitudes and longitudes are there

  • There are a total of 181 latitudes, ninety north, ninety south, and one is the equator.

  • There is a total of 360 longitudes. The Prime meridian, 179 east, the longitude of 180 degrees, and also the 179 west.

  • The western longitude is at 180W and the eastern longitude is at 180E.  Both the longitudes are identical.

  • It is referred to as the 180th meridian as well as the international dateline.

  • The total number of latitudes is also 180 and the total number of longitudes is 360.

Why are Latitudes and Longitudes Drawn on the Globe?

In order to locate every place accurately on the globe, a network of lines is drawn on the globe. The horizontal lines are called the lines of the latitudes and the vertical lines are called the lines of the longitudes.  

These latitudes and the longitudes intersect each other at the right angles and create a network called a grid or a graticule. The latitude is an angle that ranges from zero degrees at the equator to ninety degrees from the north to the south at the poles. 

The lines of constant latitude or the parallels run from east to west as circles parallelly to the equator. The latitudes are used together with the longitudes to specify the exact location of the features on the surface of the earth.

Important Latitudes and Longitudes

Important latitudes

  • Tropic of Cancer-  At a position of 23° 26' N. Passes through countries like Mexico, The Bahamas, Mauritania, Mali, Algeria, Niger, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, and Taiwan

  • Tropic of Capricorn- At a position of 23° 26' S. Passes through countries like Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, Australia, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Fiji, and the Cook Islands

  • Arctic Circle- At a position of 66° 33' N. Passes through countries like Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, USA (Alaska), Canada, Denmark (Greenland), and Iceland

  • Antarctic Circle- At a position of 66° 33' S.  Passes through countries like Territories on the Antarctic claimed by Australia, France, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, and the UK

  • The Equator- At a position of 0°. Passes through countries like Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Sao Tome e Príncipe, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, and Indonesia

Important Longitudes 

  • Prime Meridian- At a position of 0° longitude.  Passes through countries like UK, France, Spain, Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Tongo, and Ghana

  • International Date Line- At a position of 180° E/W longitude.  Passes through countries like the Mid-Pacific Ocean

Continental Drift 

The theory that all the continents of the earth at one time were once part of a single landmass. It is highly believed that all the continents have spread out due to plate tectonics.

FAQs on Longitudes

1. Write a Short Note on the Hemisphere. Also, Explain in Brief What is the Equator.



A hemisphere is half the surface of the Earth. The hemispheres are the Northern and Southern hemispheres, which are divided by the equator (0° latitude), and the Eastern as well as the Western hemispheres, which are further divided by the prime meridian (0° longitude) and also the International Date Line (180°).

The Equator

The Equator is the Zero degrees latitude. The Sun is directly overhead the equator at noon on the two equinoxes that are in March and on  Sept. 20 or 21. 

The equator divides the globe into the Northern as well as the Southern hemispheres. The equator appears halfway between the North pole and the South pole, at the widest circumference of the globe which is 24,901.55 miles or 40,075.16 km long.

2. What is Prime Meridian? Explain in Brief about International Dateline.


Prime Meridian

The prime meridian is the Zero degrees longitude (0°) which runs through the Royal Greenwich Observatory in Greenwich, England. 

The Earth's time zones are always measured from the prime meridian and the time at 0° is called Universal Time (UT) or can be called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). With the Greenwich meridian the starting point, each at 15° east, and west mark a new time zone. 

The 24 time zones extend from east and west around the globe for 180° to the International Date Line and when it is noon along the prime meridian, it is midnight along the International Date Line.

International Dateline

Located at 180° longitude, 180° E and 180° W is the same meridian. Regions to the east of the International Date Line are always counted as being one calendar day earlier than the regions to the west. 

The International Date Line follows the 180° meridian and it does diverge in places. Because 180° runs through several countries, it would divide those countries that too not into two different time zones but into two different calendar days. 

Therefore, to avoid unnecessary confusion, the dateline dips and bends around all the countries to permit them to share the same time.