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Longitude vs. Latitude: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Longitude measures the east-west position on Earth's surface, while latitude measures the north-south position.
Longitude vs. Latitude

Key Differences

Latitude and longitude are two fundamental concepts used in cartography and geography to determine precise locations on the Earth's surface. Latitude lines are imaginary lines that run horizontally around the globe, parallel to the equator, and are used to measure distances north and south of the equator. Longitude lines, or meridians, run vertically from the North Pole to the South Pole and are used to measure distances east and west of the Prime Meridian.
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Latitude is measured in degrees, from 0° at the equator up to 90° at the poles. Each degree of latitude is approximately 69 miles (111 kilometers) apart. Longitude, also measured in degrees, ranges from 0° at the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, England, to 180° east or west. Unlike latitude, the distance between degrees of longitude varies, becoming smaller as one moves towards the poles.
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The system of latitude and longitude allows for the precise pinpointing of any location on Earth. Latitude provides a reference for the angular distance north or south, offering a climate-related understanding of a location (since areas closer to the equator are typically warmer). Longitude, by contrast, helps in determining the time zones and the exact time at a particular location, as Earth rotates approximately 15° of longitude per hour.
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When combined, latitude and longitude coordinates provide a unique geographical identification for every place on the planet. For example, while latitude lines, like the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, are significant for understanding the Earth's climatic zones, longitude lines are crucial in navigation and global communication systems, helping in synchronizing time across different regions.
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In summary, both latitude and longitude are essential for geographic orientation, but they serve different purposes. Latitude lines, running horizontally, divide the Earth into the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and are key in climate studies. Longitude lines, running vertically, divide the Earth into Eastern and Western Hemispheres and are integral to timekeeping and navigation. Together, they form the geographical grid that enables precise mapping and navigation on Earth.
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Comparison Chart

Direction

North to South, measures east-west
Parallel to Equator, measures north-south
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Measurement

Degrees east or west of the Prime Meridian
Degrees north or south of the Equator
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Reference Line

Prime Meridian
Equator
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Role in Timekeeping

Determines time zones
Does not affect time zones
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Impact on Climate

No direct impact
Influences climate patterns
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Longitude and Latitude Definitions

Longitude

A geographic coordinate specifying east-west position.
GPS devices use longitude to provide precise location information.
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Latitude

The angular distance north or south of the Earth's Equator.
The latitude of Paris is about 48 degrees north.
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Longitude

A factor in determining local time and time zones.
Changes in longitude affect the local time experienced by travelers.
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Latitude

A measurement in degrees from the Equator.
Tropical climates are found at low latitudes.
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Longitude

A measurement in degrees east or west of the Prime Meridian.
The city is located at 45 degrees east longitude.
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Latitude

A geographic coordinate that specifies north-south position.
Bird migration patterns are often studied in relation to latitude.
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Longitude

The angular distance east or west on the Earth's surface.
The ship's longitude was calculated to be 20 degrees west.
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Latitude

The lines parallel to the Equator on a map or globe.
Latitude lines are essential for accurate cartography.
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Longitude

The lines running from pole to pole on a globe.
Longitude lines help in navigating the high seas.
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Latitude

A determinant of climate and environmental conditions.
High latitudes are associated with colder climates.
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Longitude

Angular distance on the earth's surface, measured east or west from the Prime Meridian at Greenwich, England, to the meridian passing through a position, expressed in degrees (or hours), minutes, and seconds.
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Latitude

The angular distance north or south of the earth's equator, measured in degrees along a meridian, as on a map or globe.
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Longitude

Celestial longitude.
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Latitude

A region of the earth considered in relation to its distance from the equator:temperate latitudes.
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Longitude

(geography) Angular distance measured west or east of the prime meridian.
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Latitude

(Astronomy)The angular distance of a celestial body north or south of the ecliptic.
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Longitude

Any imaginary line perpendicular to the equator and part of a great circle passing through the North Pole and South Pole.
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Latitude

Freedom from normal restraints, limitations, or regulations.
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Longitude

(archaic) Length.
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Latitude

A range of values or conditions, especially the range of exposures over which a photographic film yields usable images.
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Longitude

Length; measure or distance along the longest line; - distinguished from breadth or thickness; as, the longitude of a room; rare now, except in a humorous sense.
The longitude of their cloaks.
Mine [shadow] spindling into longitude immense.
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Latitude

(Archaic)Width; breadth.
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Longitude

The arc or portion of the equator intersected between the meridian of a given place and the meridian of some other place from which longitude is reckoned, as from Greenwich, England, or sometimes from the capital of a country, as from Washington or Paris. The longitude of a place is expressed either in degrees or in time; as, that of New York is 74° or 4 h. 56 min. west of Greenwich.
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Latitude

The angular distance north or south from a planet's equator, measured along the meridian of that particular point.
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Longitude

The distance in degrees, reckoned from the vernal equinox, on the ecliptic, to a circle at right angles to the ecliptic passing through the heavenly body whose longitude is designated; as, the longitude of Capella is 79°.
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Latitude

(geography) An imaginary line (in fact a circumference) around a planet running parallel to the planet's equator.
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Longitude

An imaginary great circle on the surface of the earth passing through the north and south poles at right angles to the equator;
All points on the same meridian have the same longitude
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Latitude

(figurative) The relative freedom from restrictions; scope to do something.
His parents gave him a great deal of latitude.
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Latitude

(astronomy) The angular distance of a heavenly body from the ecliptic.
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Latitude

(photography) The extent to which a light-sensitive material can be over- or underexposed and still achieve an acceptable result.
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Latitude

Extent or scope; e.g. breadth, width or amplitude.
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Latitude

Extent from side to side, or distance sidewise from a given point or line; breadth; width.
Provided the length do not exceed the latitude above one third part.
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Latitude

Room; space; freedom from confinement or restraint; hence, looseness; laxity; independence.
In human actions there are no degrees and precise natural limits described, but a latitude is indulged.
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Latitude

Extent or breadth of signification, application, etc.; extent of deviation from a standard, as truth, style, etc.
No discreet man will believe Augustine's miracles, in the latitude of monkish relations.
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Latitude

Extent; size; amplitude; scope.
I pretend not to treat of them in their full latitude.
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Latitude

Distance north or south of the equator, measured on a meridian.
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Latitude

The angular distance of a heavenly body from the ecliptic.
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Latitude

The angular distance between an imaginary line around a heavenly body parallel to its equator and the equator itself
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Latitude

Freedom from normal restraints in conduct;
The new freedom in movies and novels
Allowed his children considerable latitude in how they spent their money
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Latitude

An imaginary line around the Earth parallel to the equator
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Latitude

Scope for freedom of e.g. action or thought; freedom from restriction
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What does latitude measure?

Latitude measures north-south position.
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How do longitude and latitude work together?

They provide a precise global positioning system.
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Does latitude affect climate?

Yes, latitude greatly influences climate.
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Are longitude lines parallel?

No, they converge at the poles.
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Are latitude lines equal in length?

No, they become shorter towards the poles.
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What does longitude measure?

Longitude measures east-west position on Earth.
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Where is the 0-degree longitude?

It's at the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, England.
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Can longitude determine time zones?

Yes, longitude is key in determining time zones.
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What is the maximum degree of longitude?

Maximum is 180 degrees east or west.
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What is the maximum degree of latitude?

Maximum is 90 degrees north or south.
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What is the significance of the Equator in latitude?

The Equator is the 0-degree latitude line.
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Can longitude be used for climate study?

Not directly, but it helps in geographical location.
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How many degrees of longitude are there?

There are 360 degrees in total.
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How does latitude affect day length?

Day length varies with latitude due to Earth's tilt.
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Does latitude change with seasons?

No, latitude remains constant regardless of season.
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Is there a longitude equivalent to the Equator?

No, there's no single central longitude line.
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Is there an international standard for longitude and latitude?

Yes, the World Geodetic System defines these standards.
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How is longitude related to GPS?

GPS uses longitude for east-west positioning.
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How many degrees of latitude are there?

There are 180 degrees in total.
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Can latitude and longitude be negative?

Yes, depending on the direction from the Equator or Prime Meridian.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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