Latitude and Longitude

Latitude and Longitude

The shape and the size of the earth are quite different and to measure the distance or the exact location the longitude and latitude are used. Read more to know about them.

The shape of the earth is not considered a perfect sphere, it is quite like an oblate spheroid and it is flattened at the pole. The earth has two poles, the North Pole at the top and the South Pole at the bottom. The earth bulges at the centre where the equator of the earth lies, the equator is not the centre point but a line that passes through the centre of the earth. The researchers made the observation that at the equator the earth’s radius is around 12,756 km and the distance between the two poles of the earth is 12,714km. With such a large area it is impossible to pinpoint any particular place, so the latitude and the longitude are used. 


The latitude is used to measure the distance from the south to the north of the equator, this is measured with the help of 180 imaginary lines which make the circle from the earth’s east-west region and it is parallel to the equator. The latitude is also known as the parallel as they are parallel to the equator of the earth. In the latitudes, the equator is considered as the middle point with 0-degree latitude. Each imaginary line that is parallel to the equator has 1 degree both in the north and the south of equator. These imaginary lines continue to 90 degrees in both north and south of the equator. The latitude at the North Pole is 90 degrees and the South Pole also has 90 degrees latitude. Thus total imaginary lines between the North Pole and the South Pole are 180 with each line representing 1 degree.  

Apart from poles, the different circles are named based on different latitudes like the “tropic of cancer” with “23 degrees 26 min 21 seconds North”. The twin of the tropics of cancer is known as the “tropic of Capricorn” with latitude “23 degrees 26 min 21 sec South”. These topics are geographical locations marked in the north most and south most part of the earth where sun is directly seen overhead at the solstice. Each degree of the latitude covers around 111 km or 69 miles, it is also called Arcdegree. Each degree is divided into 60 minutes and the minutes into 60 seconds. The one minute in the latitudes represents around 1.8kms or 1.1 miles, whereas one second covers around 32 meters or 105 feet.


Longitude is used to measure the east and west of the region with references to the prime meridian. In longitudes, there are imaginary lines that are vertically over earth joining the north and south poles of the earth. The imaginary lines which are used in longitudes are known as the meridian each meridian represents each degree and each degree is known as Arc degree of longitude. The overall distance measured around the earth is around 360 degrees.  The meridian which runs through Greenwich of England is known as prime meridian and is accepted as the 0 degrees of the meridians. The halfway point of meridian is known as the anti-meridian with 180 degrees and it is also known as the “international date line”. The degrees of the longitude are divided into 60 minutes and each minute is divided into 60 seconds. Each degree of the longitude represents 111kms or 69 miles of width. The widest part of the longitude is around the equator, it is the part where the earth bulges. 

Difference between latitude and longitude 

There are various differences between the latitudes and the longitudes which are very important in the measurement of distance on the earth and it also helps in recognizing the pinpoint area. 

Longitude is the measurement of distance with reference to the east and west of the earth, whereas the latitude of measuring the distance with reference to north and south of the earth

Longitude involves imaginary vertical lines known as meridians and latitude involves the imaginary horizontal lines which run around the globe 

In longitude, there are 360 imaginary lines known as meridians, whereas in latitude there are 180 imaginary lines

The centre or the 0 degrees point in the longitude is known as the prime meridian and in latitudes, the 0 degrees point is known as the equator


The shape and size of the earth are not the same in every region as the shape of the earth is not fully spherical. The brief discussion helps in making the conclusion for the shape and the size of the earth with the knowledge of latitude and longitude. The latitude represents the y axis and the longitude which represent the x-axis of the earth. The latitude and longitude make the perfect graph around the earth which can help in marking exact points in the earth. This shows the importance of latitude and longitude in the geographical study of the earth.