Latitude and Longitude

Latitude and longitude are imaginary (unreal) lines drawn on maps to easily locate places on the Earth. Latitude is distance north or south of the equator (an imaginary circle around the Earth halfway between the North Pole and the South Pole) and longitude is distance east or west of the prime meridian (an imaginary line running from north to south through Greenwich, England). Both are measured in terms of the 360 degrees (symbolized by °) of a circle.


The Equator is the line of 0° latitude, the starting point for measuring latitude. The latitude of the North Pole is 90° N, and that of the South Pole is 90° S. The latitude of every point in between must be some degree north or south, from 0° to 90°. One degree of latitude covers about 69 miles (111 kilometers).

Longitude is measured in degrees east or west of the prime meridian. This means one half of the world is measured in degrees of east longitude up to 180°, and the other half in degrees of west longitude up to 180°.  See the diagrams below to understand latitudes and longitudes better.