The Tropic of Capricorn, or Southern tropic, is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. It lies 23° 26′ 22″ south of the Equator, and marks the most southerly latitude at which the sun can appear directly overhead at noon. This event occurs at the December solstice, when the southern hemisphere is tilted towards the sun to its maximum extent.
The northern hemisphere equivalent of the Tropic of Capricorn is the Tropic of Cancer. Latitudes south of the Tropic of Capricorn are in the Southern Temperate Zone. The region north of the Tropic of Capricorn and south of the Tropic of Cancer is known as the Tropics.
The Tropic of Capricorn is so named because about 2,000 years ago the sun was entering the constellation Capricornus (capricorn is Latin for goat horn) at the December solstice. In modern times the sun appears in the constellation Sagittarius during this time. The change is due to precession of the equinoxes. 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 Capricorn 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 Capricorn passes through:
|Country, territory or sea||Notes|
|Indian Ocean||Mozambique Channel|
| Western Australia|
|Pacific Ocean||Coral Sea, passing just south of Cato Reef in 's Coral Sea Islands Territory|
|Pacific Ocean||Passing just north of the Minerva Reefs and just south of Tubuai ()|
| Mato Grosso do Sul|
The following places are some of the landmarks near the Tropic of Capricorn:
New Caledonia, French island territory
Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
Great Dividing Range, Queensland, Australia
Gibson Desert, Western Australia, Australia
Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia
Lake Disappointment, Western Australia, Australia
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Kalahari Desert, Botswana/Namibia
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
São Paulo, Brazil
Atacama Desert, Chile
Andes Mountains, Chile/Argentina
Easter Island, Chilean territory
Pitcairn, British island territory
French Polynesia, French archipelago territory
Cook Islands, New Zealand territory
Niue, New Zealand island territory
This list is incomplete. There are many other cities that are located along the Tropic of Capricorn