Geographical mile

Geographical mile

The geographical mile is a unit of length determined by 1 minute of arc along the Earth's equator, approximately equal to 1855.325 metres (6087.025 international feet). Any greater precision depends more on choice of standard than on more careful measurement: the length of the equator in the World Geodetic System WGS-84 is 40,075,016.6856 m which makes the geographical mile 1855.3248 m, while the International Astronomical Union standard IAU-2000 takes the equator to be 40,075,035.5351 m making the geographical mile 1855.3257 m, almost a millimetre longer.

The unit is not used much; it is closely related to the nautical mile, which was originally determined as 1 minute of arc along a great circle of the Earth but is nowadays an SI standard length defined as exactly 1852 metres.

The Danish and German geographical mile (mil and Meile respectively) is 4 minutes of arc, and was defined as approximately 7421.5 metres by the astronomer Ole Rømer of Denmark. In Norway and Sweden, this 4 minute geographical mile was mainly used at sea (sjømil), up to the beginning of the 20th century.

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