Using Parallels and Meridians

Objective: to use parallels and meridians to find places on a world map

Lines of Latitude (Parallels)


Lines of Longitude (Meridians)


Sextant, also used by navigators to help find ship's location.

South Pole



Geographers have a system for pinpointing locations everywhere on Earth. They use a grid made up of two sets of lines that cross each other, like the lines on graph paper. You can identify any place on Earth by saying which two grid lines cross there.


Latitude One set of lines is called parallels of latitude. These lines are called parallels because they stay the same distance apart all the way around the world.

Look at the globe diagram showing parallels. Halfway between the North Pole and the South Pole, runs a special latitude line. What is it called?


The equator is the starting point for measuring latitude. It is numbered 0 latitude. Latitude lines are labeled with an N or S showing they lie either north or south of the equator. Latitude and longitude are measured in degrees. The North Pole the farthest spot north of the equator. It has a

latitude of 90N. What is the farthest spot south of the equator?


3. What is its latitude?

South Pole

Longitude The other set of lines is called meridians of longitude. They are not parallel because they all meet at the North Pole and the South Pole.

The starting place for measuring longitude is a line that runs near London in the United Kingdom. It is numbered 0 longitude. What is it called?


Every meridian east of the Prime Meridian is east longitude, from 1 East to 179 East. Every meridian west of the Prime Meridian is west longitude, from 1 West to 179 West. Exactly halfway around the world from the Prime Meridian is the meridian 180. It is just as far east as west from the Prime Meridian. Because of this, it is marked only with a number, and has no east or west label.

Coordinates To pinpoint a location on a map, you name a pair of numbers called coordinates. The coordinates are the number of degrees latitude and degrees longitude of a place. The first coordinate you name is the latitude of a place. The second coordinate you name is the longitude.



Northern Hemisphere Western Hemisphere Eastern Hemisphere


North Pole

Hemispheres As you know, Earth is a sphere. If you cut Earth exactly in half at the equator, you would have two half-spheres, or hemispheres. What two hemispheres are formed by dividing Earth at the equator?


What two hemispheres are formed by dividing Earth at the Prime Meridian?



Use the map on page 11 to answer the following questions about latitude and longitude.

This map does not show a line for each degree of longitude or latitude. To find degrees between the ones shown, you must estimate.


7. In what ocean does the Prime Meridian cross the equator?

a. Atlantic b. Pacific c. Indian d. Arctic
8. What two continents does the equator cross?

a. North America and South America

b. Africa and Europe

c. Africa and South America

d. South America and Asia

9. Which one of these continents lies completely in the Southern Hemisphere?

a. North America c. Asia

b. South America d. Australia

10. What ocean lies completely in the Eastern Hemisphere?

a. Atlantic b. Indian c. Pacific d. Arctic

11. What continent lies completely north of the
equator and east of the Prime Meridian?

a. Europe c. Africa

b. Asia d. North America

12. On what continent would you find the place with latitude of 20 N and a longitude of 0'?

a. South America c. Asia

b. Africa d. Europe

13. On what continent would you find each of the following locations?

a. 60 N, 100 W

b. 60 N, 100 E

c. 20 S, 60 W

d. 20 N, 20 E

e. 20 S, 140 E