What Is Relative Location?


Quick Answer

Relative location is identifying where a place is in relation to other landmarks. The other way to describe location is by absolute location, which involves giving the coordinates, such as latitude and longitude, for a particular place or landmark. Relative location is the most common and most easily understood of the two.

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Full Answer

Relative location easily applies to countries, states, cities and landmarks. For instance, Mexico is south of the United States, and Georgia is west of the Atlantic Ocean and north of Florida. Another example is the hospital is located two miles south of the shopping center. In each of these examples, the location of one place is given with regard to its relationship to another location. Relative location also applies to much smaller areas.

For instance, the book is under the bed or the barn is behind the house. In describing where the book and the barn are, the speaker uses other locations. Absolute location uses one of several coordinate systems to pinpoint a particular site. Along with latitude and longitude, other systems are a Cartesian coordinate grid and an ellipsoid-based system. Using absolute location is more accurate because it gives an exact position, whereas relative location is a bit more general.

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