What Is Longer: a Mile or a Kilometer?

By Staff WriterLast Updated May 27, 2020 7:35:02 PM ET
Open Road

Though a mile and a kilometer are both units of length that measure distance, they aren’t the same in terms of their respective lengths. A mile is longer than a kilometer and is equivalent to approximately 1.609 kilometers.

Converting Miles to Kilometers

The mile is a unit of measurement in the US standard system of measurement, while the kilometer is a unit used in the metric system of measurement. To better compare miles and kilometers, it helps to understand how to convert between the two units of measurement. As previously stated, 1 mile is equal to 1.609 kilometers. To convert from miles to kilometers, you need to multiply the number of miles by 1.609.

Assume that you have 5 miles and want to convert the distance to kilometers. When you multiply five by 1.609, you learn that 5 miles is equal to 8.045 kilometers. 

Converting Kilometers to Miles

You should also understand how the length of a kilometer compares to the length of a mile. A single kilometer is equivalent to 0.621 miles. To calculate how many miles a specific number of kilometers is equal to, you must multiply the number of kilometers by 0.621. 

Imagine you’re running a race with a distance of 10 kilometers, but you want to know the length of the race in miles. Multiply the 10 by 0.621 to learn that the race length is equivalent to 6.21 miles. 

Number of Feet in a Mile Versus Number of Feet in a Kilometer

The foot is a standard unit of measurement that many people are familiar with. If you’re having trouble visualizing the length of a mile compared to that of a kilometer, it might help to think about the measurements in terms of feet. A standard mile is equal to 5,280 feet, while a kilometer is equivalent to 3280.84 feet. 

Number of Meters in a Kilometer Versus a Mile 

In the metric system, the meter is another unit of measurement frequently used for shorter lengths. It’s also useful for comprehending the difference in the length of a mile versus a kilometer.

A kilometer is 1,000 meters. One mile is 1,609.344 meters.

Number of Yards in a Kilometer Versus a Mile

The yard is a unit of measurement from the US standard system that’s most comparable to a meter. One yard is equal to 0.9144 meters or 3 feet. 

For individuals more familiar with the US standard system, yards are useful for visualizing differences in lengths. A mile consists of 1,760 yards, while a kilometer is 1093.613 yards.

A standard football field measures 100 yards from goal line to goal line. One kilometer is equivalent to almost 11 football fields, while a mile is equivalent to approximately 17.5 football fields. 

Deciding When to Use Miles Versus Kilometers

Since miles and kilometers are prevalent measurements used for measuring long distances, knowing which unit to use is tricky. Though the mile is much more commonly used in the US for measuring long distances, the rest of the world typically uses the kilometer for measuring and specifying distances. 

One area in the US where you may see the kilometer used instead of the mile is in running events. Many shorter events (like the 5k and 10k) provide the length of the course using the kilometer rather than the mile. Running is a worldwide sport, and since most of the world uses the metric system, it makes sense to use metric measurements for race lengths.