Geographical coordinates

Surfaces that are located in different regions of the Earth’s surface can be measured using a number of different geographic coordinates . In itself, a coordinate is a group of one or more numbers that have the ability to determine the exact place where a certain region is located.

What are geographic coordinates?

Geographic coordinates are a type of reference system by means of which different places can be located on Earth, which are measured by a plane defined by the Equator and by the meridian of Greenwich .

  • Definition
  • Types of geographic coordinates
  • Components (edit)
  • What are geographic coordinates for?
  • How they read
  • Importance
  • Examples


In order to locate or locate a certain point on Earth, it is necessary to make use of geographic coordinates . This type of coordinate is actually a whole network formed by meridians and parallels which are used in the cartography area to be able to establish a geographic coordinate system that facilitates and allows obtaining a geo-mathematical position of any point on the earth’s surface. . In this regard, it is important to remember that meridians and parallels are a series of imaginary lines that are drawn on the earth’s surface.

Types of geographic coordinates

There are several types of geographic coordinates that can be used to obtain the precise address of a place. These coordinates, in turn, have been grouped to avoid confusion in a coordinate system which uses a series of different types of horizontal and vertical lines in order to make an exact measurement. The types of coordinates that can provide important information are as follows:


The meridians are shaped like a semicircle and are located perpendicular to the Equator . They cross the poles and their main meridian is known by the name of Greenwich or zero meridian which has the function of dividing the Earth in two, in the Eastern Hemisphere and the Western Hemisphere. These lines also serve to calculate the time zones of the earth and measure the geographical longitude of places.


Parallels are also imaginary lines that change their size getting smaller as they get closer to the poles. The main parallel of the Earth is known as the Equator or parallel zero. It divides the earth into two different hemispheres , the north and the south. There are also other important types of parallels such as the Tropic of Cancer , Capricorn, the Arctic Circle and the Antarctic Polar.

According to the geographic coordinate system and using the parallels and meridians, latitude and longitude are formed . Latitude is responsible for measuring the distance from the Equator to the poles and longitude for its part has the function of measuring the meridians. The longitude can be east or west.

Components (edit)

The components that make up the geographic coordinates are basically the same, cataloged as types. In this way you can find the latitude , longitude , meridians , hemispheres and parallels . The points on the earth that need to be located, the equatorial plane and the antimeridians, which are the meridians that are located opposite to any type of reference, can also be included in this category .

What are geographic coordinates for?

The main use of geographic coordinates is to be able to define a location of a specific place on the earth’s surface through the use of numbers related to the geographic position of the place. With them you can locate places on a map or on a globe , calculate different distances between two or more places, an important aspect especially in the field of navigation and maritime or land transport .

How they read

In order to properly read the coordinates of the Earth, it must first be divided into equal parts, these parts are known by the name of degrees . A grading system may also be used in some countries . A circle of imaginary lines will have a measure of 360 ° and each degree is subdivided at the same time into 60 minutes, each minute in addition, it will be composed of 60 seconds.

Latitude and longitude must also be used to refer to a certain distance and in this case it is important to remember that the lines that correspond to longitude will always go north and will be responsible for providing information about the east or west direction, measuring between -80 ° and + 180 °.

On the other hand, the lines that are used to measure latitude will go from east to west and will be in charge of making the measurement on the degrees located north or south of the Equator. Its values ​​in this case will range from + 90 ° to -90 °.

It is important to know that geographic coordinates can be given using different systems or types of formats. In this way it is common to find coordinates in the following way:

  • Degrees, minutes and seconds.
  • Degrees and minutes together with decimals.
  • Degrees with decimals.
  • Using positive values ​​to set the North and East coordinates and negative values ​​to refer to the South and West.


The main importance of geographic coordinates is that through them it is possible to locate different points on the planet. These coordinates are even necessary for many means of transport to function correctly such as airplanes , trains and ships , so it also has an important influence on the transport of merchandise .


Some examples of coordinates that can be located and given in the cartography are the following:

  • Geographic coordinates of Buenos Aires : its coordinates are the following, 34 ° 36 ’47’ ‘S; 58 ° 22 ’38’ ‘W.
  • Geographic coordinates of Madrid, Spain : 40 ° 24 ’59’ ‘N; 03 ° 42 ’09’ ‘
  • Geographic coordinates of Paris : its coordinates are 48 ° 51’12.3 »N; 2 ° 20’55.7 »E
  • Geographic coordinates of Lima : the coordinates of Lima are 12 ° 2’35.4 »S; 77 ° 1’41.7 »W
  • Geographic coordinates of Mexico City : this country is located with the following coordinates 23 ° 38’4.2 »N; 102 ° 33’10 »W

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *