What Is Longitude and Latitude?


Latitude is the measure, in degrees, of the distance of a location from the equator, which divides the Earth into Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Longitude is the measure, in degrees, of a location from the prime meridian, the starting point from which the time zones are calculated.

Since the Earth is spherical in shape, both latitude and longitude are divided into 360 degrees. Lines of latitude measure from north to south, while lines of longitude measure from east to west. The lines of longitude, however, grow closer together as they approach the poles. Each degree of longitude is the equivalent of 60 minutes, and each degree of latitude is equal to just under 70 miles.