Latitude and longitude
Lines of latitude and longitude are used to locate places accurately on the Earth's surface.
Lines of latitude circle the Earth in an east-west direction. They are parallel.
They are different lengths, eg:
- the equator is 40,075 km long
- the Antarctic circle is 17,662 km long
- the South Pole is 0 km long
Important lines of latitude:
- the equator (0°)
- the Tropic of Cancer (23.5° north)
- the Tropic of Capricorn (23.5° south)
- the Arctic circle (66.5° north)
- the Antarctic circle (66.5° south)
- the North Pole (90° north)
- the South Pole (90° south)
Lines of longitude run from the top of the Earth to the bottom. They are not parallel as lines of latitude are - they meet at a point at the north and south poles and are called meridians.
They divide the Earth into segments, like an orange. Some important details about these lines include:
- The line which runs through Greenwich in London is called the Greenwich Meridian or Prime Meridian. The Prime Meridian is 0° longitude.
- The Earth is then divided into 180° east and 180° west.
- The International Date Line lies at 180° east/west.
The index of an atlas gives shows where places can be found, eg Birmingham, UK - 52° north 1° west. This means that Birmingham is located at approximately latitude 52 north and longitude 1 west.