The Tropic of Cancer, or Northern tropic, is one of five major degree measures or major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. It is the northernmost latitude at which the Sun can appear directly overhead at noon. This event occurs at the June solstice, when the northern hemisphere is tilted towards the sun to its maximum extent.
The Tropic of Cancer currently lies 23° 26′ 22″ north of the Equator. North of this latitude are the subtropics and Northern Temperate Zone. The equivalent line of latitude'' south of the Equator is called the Tropic of Capricorn, and the region between the two, centered on the Equator, is known as the Tropics.
The invisible line is called tropic of cancer, because when it was named the sun was in the direction of the constellation Cancer (Latin for crab) at the June solstice. However, this is no longer true due to the precession of the equinoxes. According to IAU boundaries, the sun now is in Taurus at the June solstice, and according to sidereal astrology, which divides the zodiac into twelve equal parts, the sun is in Gemini at that time. The word "tropic" itself comes from the Greek tropos, meaning turn, referring to the fact that the sun appears to "turn back" at the solstices.
The position of the Tropic of Cancer is not fixed, but varies in a complex manner over time; see under circles of latitude for information.
Starting at the Prime Meridian and heading eastwards, the Tropic of Cancer passes through:
|Country, territory or sea||Notes|
|The Tropic touches on the northernmost point of|
|Abu Dhabi emirate only|
|Indian Ocean||Arabian Sea|
|Taiwan, claimed by|
|Hawaii — sea area only, misses every island, passing between Nihoa and Necker Island|
|Baja California peninsula|
|Gulf of California|
|Gulf of Mexico|
|Straits of Florida|
|Exuma Islands and Long Island|
|Western Sahara||Claimed by|
For an ordinary circumnavigation the rules are somewhat relaxed and the distance is set to a rounded value of 37000 kilometres.