What Are the Four Cardinal Directions?

The four cardinal directions are north, south, east and west. These are the four main directions on the compass rose, which is a depiction of all the directions seen on a map. They are usually marked with the initials N, S, E and W.

The compass rose has 32 points, the largest of which are the four cardinal directions, located in a 360-degree configuration. North is at the top, east is 90 degrees to the right, south is directly opposite north and west is directly opposite east. The four primary intercardinal directions are made up of two cardinal directions each: northwest, northeast, southwest and southeast. Others, called secondary intercardinal directions, are made up of two or more cardinal and intercardinal directions combined. An example of a secondary intercardinal direction is north-northeast.