Difference Between Longitude and Latitude (With Table)

While looking at a map or a globe, one can notice the lines going around the world in vertical and horizontal direction. People may be familiar with the terminology longitude and latitude but not everyone is clear with the geographical concepts around these words. There are several differences between them, apart from the directions.

Longitude vs Latitude

The difference between longitude and latitude is that the longitude runs towards the northern and southern poles, while latitude runs between west and east. The longitudes and latitudes are a set of imaginary lines which are used to point out locations. They are used to find out the coordinates of any particular place in the globe.

The term Longitude refers to the lines which run between the two poles of the world. These longitudes are not physical lines but rather abstract or imaginary lines. The prime meridian is considered to be the longitude of zero degree. Both the east and west directions are measured with the help of this prime meridian longitude.

Latitude is used to denote the horizontal lines which run between the east and west directions of the globe. The latitudes are also not physical lines, but a set of imaginary lines. The zero-degree latitude which surrounds the globe is the Equator. It divides the globe into the northern and southern poles.

Comparison Table Between Longitude and Latitude

Parameters of ComparisonLongitudeLatitude
DirectionThe longitude line runs between the northern and southern poles.It runs between the west and east surrounding the earth.
Zero degreeThe Prime Meridian is the zero-degree line that divides the western and eastern hemispheres.The Equator is the line of zero degrees that divides the northern and southern hemispheres.
LinesThere are a total of 360 lines.There are a total of 180 lines.
UsesUsed to classify time zones around the globe.Used to classify temperature or heat zones.
RangeThe range is between 0 to 180 degrees in the east and west.The range is between 0 to 90 degrees in the north and south.

What is Longitude?

The concept of longitude is very commonly used in geographical studies of the world. More than a set of mere imaginary lines that run between the northern and southern poles, longitudes are crucial and serve a lot of purposes. These lines are useful to clarify the easter and western parts of the globe.

The longitudes run between the two poles around the world in 360 degrees. The center of the longitudes is the Prime Meridian. The prime meridian is a longitude that is located at the zero-degree space. This line divides the globe into the Western Hemisphere and Eastern Hemisphere. Both the hemispheres are located up to 180 degrees in both west and east.

Even though the longitude lines might seem differing in length on a globe, all the imaginary longitudes are of equal length. These longitudes tend to make a right angle while crossing the zero-degree latitude line, the Equator. These lines are commonly used in differentiating the time zones for all the countries.

The distance between these imaginary vertical lines tend to differ at different locations. While the distance is broadest at the Equator, it narrow downs as further it is away from the Equator. At the northern and southern poles, these longitudes converge together and the distance between these lines becomes zero.

What is Latitude?

The word Latitude derives its origin from the Latin word Latitudo which means breadth. The concept of Latitude along with Longitude is a famous concept in the geographical studies and is used for a lot of purposes. These imaginary horizontal lines are used to starkly differentiate the northern and southern hemispheres of the globe.

These latitude lines run between the eastern and western ends surrounding the globe. The latitude line angle with a zero degree is the line of Equator. It is located at the center of the globe and divides the world into north and south. This zero-degree line that surrounds the earth is the greatest latitude circle in size.

Starting at zero degrees from the equator, the latitude lines go up to 90 degrees at both the north and south poles. This makes the latitude lines with an overall of 180 degrees. The circles with highest degrees are closest to either of the poles, and are the smallest in size.  

There are a total of 180 imaginary latitude lines surrounding the globe. The distance between these imaginary horizontal lines is calculated to be approximately 69 miles or 110km. Apart from the Equator there are few other important parallels of latitudes like the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn.

Main Differences Between Longitude and Latitude        

  1. Longitudes are imaginary vertical lines that run between the northern and southern poles. Latitudes are imaginary horizontal lines that run between the western and eastern hemispheres surrounding the globe.
  2. The longitude lines are known as meridians. The latitude lines are also called as parallels.
  3. Prime Meridian is the zero-degree longitude that divides the west and eastern hemispheres. The Equator is the zero-degree latitude that divides the northern and southern hemispheres.
  4. The length of all the longitude lines is equal in size. The length of the latitude lines differs in size.
  5. The longitude lines range from 0 to 180 degrees. The latitude lines range from 0 to 90 degrees.

Conclusion

The terms Longitude and Latitude are some of the frequently used terms in geography and in our daily lives too. More than just mere abstract concepts, these different lines play a major role in classifying and locating the globe with accuracy. It is indeed necessary to be aware of all the differences between these two concepts, longitude and latitude.

Longitude is the vertical imaginary lines that run between both the poles. The Prime Meridian is at the center with zero degree and divides the west and east zones. The Latitude is the horizontal lines that surround the world between east to west. The Equator is the zero-degree line that separates the northern and southern zones.

References

  1. https://doi.org/10.1029/TR026i002p00197
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