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What are geographical coordinates and how to work with them

Geographic coordinates help travelers find their way to the oceans, seas, deserts, and forests. Geographic coordinates are digital values that determine the position of a city, lake, building, any place on the Earth, in the sky and even on other planets. Coordinates are needed to find the desired object on a map or globe.

The Earth is divided into hemispheres: North and South (separated by the equator), as well as East and West (the border between them - it is also called the Zero Meridian - passes through Greenwich, an area in east London).

Geographic coordinates are written in the form of numbers and include geographical latitude, longitude, and absolute height. Numbers indicate how much a particular place is far from the equator and the Greenwich meridian. Longitude and latitude are indicated by the first letter of the English word: N (North - Northern Hemisphere), S (South - Southern Hemisphere), E (East - East Longitude), W (West - West Longitude).


The latitude indicates in degrees the distance of the desired place from the equator (0 °). Everything located north of the equator is indicated by northern latitude, everything located south of the equator has southern latitude. Previously, to find the geographical latitude of a place, it was necessary to know its parallel, which is written on a globe or map along the Greenwich meridian or near the frame. Now all coordinates can be found in the Internet. For example, Moscow is located above the equator, so it lies in the northern hemisphere. In the map we will see the capital between 40 ° and 60 ° north latitude, or more precisely, Moscow is 55 ° N.


Geographical longitude is the distance from the Zero Meridian to the point of the Earth you need. It is indicated in degrees. Greenwich, or the Zero Meridian, passes through an observatory near London. On the map and the globe, the Greenwich Meridian is indicated by a thick line, and where it crosses the equator is 0 ° (zero degrees). For example, St. Petersburg is located in the Eastern Hemisphere on the 30th meridian. It means that the longitude of the northern capital of Russia is 30 ° E.

Degrees and minutes

The circumference of the Earth is divided into 360 degrees, one degree is divided into 60 minutes, a minute into 60 seconds. In the designation of coordinates, degrees are written first, then minutes, then seconds. Example: we found that St. Petersburg is located at the meridian 30.19 °.

60 minutes × 0.19 = 11.4 minutes

Therefore, the coordinates of St. Petersburg are about 30 degrees 11 minutes east longitude.


The absolute Latitude is the Latitude of the desired point above sea level, which is determined using a special device - a levelling unit, or a smartphone application. In Russia, the CIS countries and Ukraine, the absolute height is measured by the level of the Baltic Sea

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