What is Latitude and how is it measured?

  1. Lines of latitude are imaginary lines that run completely around the globe - full circle. If you travel along any of these lines you are going east or west.
  2. The equator is numbered 0. The equator divides the world into two halves or hemispheres: the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere. All places that are north of the equator are said to have north latitude. All places south of the equator are said to have south latitude. So, place A on the diagram below is on the 10 north latitude line or 10N. Place C is on the 10 south latitude line, or 10S. What is the latitude of place B? _____________________
    What is the latitude of place D? __________________

  3. All lines of latitude are parallel. This means that no matter how far two lines of latitude are extended they would never meet. So, on the diagram above you can see that the equator, the 10N line of latitude and the 10S line of latitude are parallel. In fact, sometimes lines of latitude are called parallels.
  4. To prevent maps from becoming too cluttered with lines, map makers show only a few lines of latitude, generally 10 or 20 apart. The next diagram shows lines of latitude that are 10 degrees apart. Starting from 0, the equator, the lines of latitude are numbered north and south to 90. The North Pole is 90N and the South Pole is 90S.
  5. Practice finding the latitudes of a number of places. Place A has been given its latitude to help you get started.

    A _____80N______

    B _______________

    C _______________

    D _______________

    E _______________

    F _______________

    G _______________

    H _______________

    I _______________

    J _______________

    K _______________

    L _______________

  6. You can easily determine how many degrees separate one place from another place. For example, B is on the 60N line of latitude; C is on the 40N line of latitude. By subtracting we find that B is 20 further north than C.

    How many degrees of latitude separate:

    C from D? __________________________________

    E from F? __________________________________

    G from K? __________________________________

    C from I? __________________________________

    L from A? __________________________________

    B from G? __________________________________