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Last updated date: 14th Jul 2024
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Meaning of Parallel and Non Parallel in Geography

If you check out a World globe or map, you will notice some lines running across North-South and East-West. The lines running East-West are Latitude lines, and the ones running North-South are Longitude lines. The latitudes are also called parallel lines. There are other famous parallel words, like parallel lives and World, but they are not related to Geography.

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Parallel universe meaning in Quantum Mechanics refers to a Universe existing alongside our own in the theories, which stays undetectable. In contrast, as mentioned in various literature, Parallel Lives meaning is the collection of biographies of famous Greeks and Romans that Plutarch wrote and Shakespeare used.


Latitude lines run across East-West and are paralleled. These lines indicate a point's North-South position on the Earth. The parallel lines start at 0 degrees at the Equator and end at 90 degrees at the North and the South poles. Therefore, as the degree of the latitude increases, it goes closer to the poles. The North of the Equator in the Northern hemisphere and towards the South is the Southern Hemisphere.

Distance Between the Latitude Lines 

The latitude lines are called parallels, and in total, there are 180 degrees of latitude. The distance between each of the latitude degrees is around 69 miles (110 kilometers).

A Parallel 

A parallel is a line that connects all the points along the same latitude line.

Major Parallel Lines 

There are five significant parallel latitudes running across North-South: Equator, Arctic Circle, Antarctic Circle, Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn. Latitude (parallel lines) appear as the horizontal lines whenever the map or the globe's orientation is due North-South.

Here is a Brief on All 5 of Them:

1. The Equator 

It divides the Earth into Northern and Southern hemispheres and marks a 0-degree latitude location. The locations existing on the Equator are at equal distance from the North and the South pole. It crosses 21.3% of the land and 78.7% of the water and runs around 24,901 miles (40,075 Km) long.

2. Tropic of Cancer  

This parallel meaning is described as the line that marks the location where the Sun reaches Zenith. It does not represent a fixed point, and its measurement as of 2014 is 23° 26' 14.675". Every year on June 20th or 21st, Summer Solstice occurs, and that day marks the Sun shining vertically over this parallel.

3. Tropic of Capricorn 

Tropic of Capricorn is also a parallel line that moves every year and is currently located at 23° 26' 14.440". Every year on December 21st or 22nd, Winter Solstice occurs, and it marks the day when Sun shines vertically above this line.

4. Arctic Circle  

It is parallel to latitude, roughly lying at 66.5 degrees (66° 33' 44"). The region lying above it includes the North pole, also famous as the Arctic.

5. Antarctic Circle 

It is parallel to latitude, roughly lying at 66.5 degrees (66° 33' 44"). The region lying below it includes the South pole, also famous as the Antarctic.


Horse Latitudes 

It is located at around 30 degrees North and South of the Equators. It represents the area in the subtropical regions. In these regions, the winds diverge and flow towards the poles, known as the westerlies, or the Equator, known as the trade winds.


Longitude lines run across North-South and mark the positions East-West for any point. Latitude is thus referred to as the angular distance east or West of Prime Meridian. Longitude lines run across the poles crossing equators at the right angles. All the longitude lines are equal in length, and each of them is also half of a great circle.

There is an availability of 360 degrees of longitude, and a 0-degree longitude line is famous as Prime Meridian. It divides the World into Western and Eastern hemispheres.


As the latitude lines are popular as the parallel lines, the longitude lines are known as the Meridians. Distances towards the west of Prime Meridian are mentioned with a '-' in front of them (as negative numbers). The distances towards the East of Prime Meridian are the positive numbers.

FAQs on Parallel

Q1: What is a Prime Meridian and an International Date Line?

Ans: The longitudinal line where the degree is zero is popularly known as the Prime Meridian. This line passes through the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, England, and thus it is also famous as the Greenwich Meridian. This line divides the Earth into two equal parts known as the Eastern and the Western Meridians

In contrast, the Earth's Line, where one Calendar day becomes the next, is popularly known as the International Date Line. It is found 180-degrees from Prime Meridian, but it evades some regions and Islands for avoiding the contiguous regions and Countries getting split into two different days. There are 23 slices of one day and two of 30 minutes, dividing the entire World into different time zones. While traveling from East to West, over the International Dateline, the calendar advances by one day.

Q2: How Do We Display Different Geographical Locations as Latitude and Longitude Coordinates?

Ans: For representing a geographical location using Latitude and Longitude, we use some pair of numbers, popular as the Coordinates. Coordinates contain degrees, minutes, and seconds and are abbreviated as DMS. We always write the Latitudes first while providing the coordinates.

For example, we will write the location of the US Capitol building using the latitude and longitude as follows:

  • 38° 53' 35" N

  • 77° 00' 32" W.

Decimal degrees convert the minutes and seconds portions of any coordinate, which is another way of writing the coordinates. Instead of mentioning the cardinal directions (N, S, E, or W) in the decimal degrees, points towards the west of Prime Meridian and the South of the Equator are preceded by a negative sign '-'. Thus, we can mention the exact coordinates of the US Capitol as follows:

  • 38.889733°

  • -77.008889°