# Difference Between Latitude and Longitude

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: May 28, 2023

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## Introduction

You must have seen maps, globes, and other geographical equipment since childhood. All of them signifies that where a particular place is situated. If you have ever noticed that there are multiple lines in a map or a globe, all have some importance. Few people might not understand what the following lines signify on the map.

Geographers used these lines in the map to understand the map. Lines have been printed to understand a particular point. Two parameters have been used by geographers for a long time, and it is also common in geography textbooks. These two parameters are Latitude and Longitude. In this article, we will discuss these two parameters and their differences in detail.

## Latitude vs Longitude

Both latitudes and longitudes are parameters or coordinates that help to determine the location of any place on the planet. Both uniquely define points on the sphere of the Earth. They constitute a coordinate scheme to locate or find geographic positions anywhere on the Earth's surface.

The horizontal lines that estimate the distance from north to south of the Earth's Equator are known as Latitudes. Whereas, vertical lines measure east or west of the meridian in Greenwich, England are known as longitudes. In short, both latitudes and longitudes enable cartographers, geographers, and others to locate points or places around the globe. To determine the angular distance between a location and the Earth's surface, you can use its latitude and longitude coordinates.

## What is Latitude?

Latitude is often defined concerning the equatorial reference plane. This plane passes through the centre of the earth and has a greater circle which represents the Equator. The lines of the latitude are imaginary circles that extend horizontally above or below the Equator. These lines also run laterally, starting from left to right, often called parallels of latitude or circles of latitude, which are mostly parallel to the equator.

The angle of the latitude is created by connecting lines, the line connecting the latitude and the centre of the earth and the line which connects it to the Equator with the centre the Earth. The pinpoints show the north-south position of a particular location happens when these two lines meet and form an angle. The arc equator makes with each of the poles is 90 degrees. This refers to one-fourth the circumference of the earth. That is why the greatest possible latitude is most probably 90 degrees to the north and 90 degrees to the south.

The most important circles of latitude are;

• Tropic of Cancer
• Tropic of Capricorn
• The Arctic Circle
• The Equator
• The Antarctic Circle

The Tropic of Cancer is on the northernmost side of the earth, the complete direct sun rays fall in the month of June, which is known as the June solstice. The June solstice is known as the longest day of the year because the northern hemisphere directly faces the sun. On the other hand, it is the shortest day in the southern hemisphere because this hemisphere is tilted away from the sun. Similarly, The Tropic of Capricorn is on the southernmost side of the earth, the complete direct sun rays fall in the month of December, which is known as the December solstice. The December solstice is known as the longest day of the year because the southern hemisphere directly faces the sun. On the contrary, the Northern Hemisphere has the shortest day of the year as it is tilted away from the sun.

A place in the Northern Hemisphere is often identified by its northern latitude and is also assigned a suffix of N for the north. The Tropic of Cancer is the horizontal imaginary circle above the equator, which has a latitude of 23 degrees 26 minutes north, or we can say 230 26’ N. Similarly, the Artic circle which is also often a horizontal imaginary circle above the equator and nearer to the north pole having a latitude measure of 66 degrees 34 minutes north.

A place in the Southern Hemisphere is often identified by its southern latitude and is also assigned a suffix of S for the south. Thus, The Tropic of Capricorn is also the horizontal imaginary circle below the equator having a latitude of 23 degrees 26 minutes south. Whereas the Antarctic Circle is horizontal further below the Equator and is found nearer to the south pole having a latitude measure of 66 degrees 34 minutes south.

Latitudes have positive and negative signs depending on whether a particular latitude of north or south of the equator. Latitudes belonging to the north of the equator are denoted by positive values, while those in the south are assigned negative values. Latitude angles have a range of +90 degrees to -90 degrees. 90 degrees North means +90 degrees and 90 degrees South means -90 degrees. Latitudes with a positive value of the degree and negative value of the degree corresponding to the north and south poles respectively. A fact to know is that the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn have the same latitude measure. It is because they are both horizontally equidistant from the equator. The Tropic of Cancer is in the Northern Hemisphere, therefore, the Latitude is expressed as 23 degrees 26 minutes north, while the Tropic of Capricorn is in the Southern Hemisphere, therefore, the latitude is expressed at 23 degrees 26 minutes south, which is same for both the Artic Circle and the Antarctic Circle.

## What are Longitudes?

Longitudes are half circles which run from north to south. 360 degrees form a circle and Earth is spherical in shape, therefore, it has 360 longitudes. Longitudes run parallel to the equator. Imaginary longitudinal lines move in a north-south direction and sometimes intersect with the Equator. Half of the longitudinal circle is also known as a meridian, which is perpendicular to the equator and every latitude. Moreover, all longitudes are the same in length and lie in planes that pass through the Earth’s axis, where they meet at the poles.

The prime meridian forms a reference point through which longitudes are defined, which makes it possible to measure the position of a location on Earth based on longitude. On the earth, the prime meridian like all other latitudes and longitude is an imaginary line which passes through Greenwich, England. It is the imaginary north-south line that passes through both poles as well as Greenwich. It also has a longitude of 0 degrees. On the other way around, the antemeridian is the opposite of the prime meridian and is on the other side of the Earth and has a longitude of 180 degrees.

Both Longitudes and the prime meridian are used to define time zones. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is also known as Coordinated Universal Time. It is the standard time through which all other time zones are expressed.

Like, latitude divides the Earth into the northern and southern hemispheres, the prime meridian also plays the same by dividing the Earth into its eastern and western hemispheres. Here longitudes provide the location of a place measured in degrees, minutes, and seconds, to the east of the prime meridian or west of the prime meridian. A longitudinal angle is created by drawing

• A line that originates from the centre and goes to the intersection point of the equator and prime meridian of the earth.
• A line that originates from the centre to meet at any point elsewhere over the equator of the Earth.

Overall, we take all the measurements of longitudes from the centre based on the intersection of the equator and the prime meridian of the Earth. Longitudes take the measure of an angle maximum up to 180 degrees, whether east or west of the prime meridian.

## Difference between Latitudes and Longitudes in points

• Latitudes take the distance from north or south of the equator and longitude take the distance east or west of the prime meridian. And both are imaginary lines.
• For latitudes equator is the measuring line, whereas for longitudes prime meridian is the measuring line.
• We measure latitudes and longitudes in degrees, minutes, and seconds.
• Both Latitude and longitude provide a precise description of a point on the earth’s surface, which makes it easy for people to navigate that point.
• Latitudes measure the north-south position on the Earth’s surface, whereas Longitudes measure the east-west position on the Earth’s surface.
• Longitudes are denoted by lambda (λ) and longitude is denoted by phi (φ).
• Latitudes are defined with respect to the Equator, Tropic of Cancer, and Tropic of Capricorn. Whereas Longitudes are defined with respect to Greenwich Meridian.
• The number of lines in the case of Latitude is 180, whereas in the case of Longitude is 360.
• Latitudes are known as parallels, as the lines are parallel. Whereas Longitudes are known as meridians and they are not parallel.
• The Latitude ranges from 0-90 degrees, whereas the longitude ranges from 0-180 degrees.

## Conclusion

Both latitude and longitude are often used together as a pair of coordinates that pinpoints the specific location on the surface of the earth. The well-settled combination of latitude and longitude provides a precise and accurate location that is used for navigation, exploring, and studying different parts of the world.

Latitudes and longitudes are measured in degrees, minutes, and seconds. Latitudes range from the Equator (0 degrees) to the poles (90 degrees), whereas longitudes range from 0 degrees at the prime meridian and 180 at the international date line.

In addition to navigation and cartography, both latitude and longitude have played important applications in a variety of fields including metrology, geology, and environmental science. These coordinates are also used to track weather patterns, map geological features, and study the distribution of flora and fauna across the regions of the planet. In recent years of advancement, technology has made it quite easier than ever to determine a precise location using latitude and longitude. GPS devices and many smartphone apps use these coordinates to provide accurate navigation. Furthermore, satellite view has also revolutionized the way we view the Earth, allowing us to explore different regions of the planet in an unprecedented way.

Overall, latitude and longitude are essential for determining the geographic coordinates that have countless practical applications and are quite critical to our understanding of the earth and its place in the universe.

## References

• Latitude and longitude | Definition, Examples, Diagrams, & Facts | Britannica
• Latitude and Longitude - Explanation and Differences (vedantu.com)

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"Difference Between Latitude and Longitude." Diffzy.com, 2024. Fri. 09 Aug. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-latitude-and-longitude>.

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