Geographers can define the ar of a ar in one of two ways: absolute and also relative. Both space descriptives of wherein a geographic location is.

Let’s learn around the difference in between absolute and also relative location.

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What is pure Location?

Absolute location describes the location of a place based on a fixed allude on earth. The many common way is to identify the place using works with such together latitude and also longitude or through the usage of a street address when available.

Absolute location can also be the name of the city or an ar or postal password a point is situated in back this is less an accurate than using collaborates or one address.

Latitude is offered to note the north-south position of a ar on the earth surface and also ranges from 0 degrees at the equator to 90 degrees at the North and South Poles. There are 180 levels of latitude and the distance between each degree of latitude is approximately 69 mile (111 km).

Longitude lines operation north-south and indicate the location of a suggest east-west. Latitude is therefore the angular distance east or west the the element Meridian. There room 360 degrees of longitude (+180° eastward and also −180° westward.).


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Latitude and Longitude. Image: Djexplo, WikiMedia Commons, windy domain

Lines that longitude and also latitude crisscross the Earth. A location that is being described using latitude and longitude will have a collection of coordinates. Latitude is always written very first andlatitude and longitude are composed of degrees, minutes, and seconds (DMS). Latitude and longitude coordinates can additionally be created as decimal degrees.


(Watch an extended version of this video about absolute and relative location).

An instance of absolute Location


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A cropped map mirroring the ar of the U.S. Capitol. Map: U.S. Government, public domain.

Absolute ar can likewise refer come an address, the street deal with of the us State Capitol isFirst St SE in Washington, DC 20004. In both instances, absolute place refers come a fixed suggest based ~ above an abstract network of imagine locations.

(You might likewise be interested in reading about:Relative Direction versus Compass Direction)

What is family member Location?

Relative ar refers to the position of a place or entity based on its location with respect to various other locations. Loved one location, unlike absolute place is not a resolved reference. Relative ar will therefore readjust based ~ above the second location.

For example, the United states is located south of Canada. If the location of the United says is described based on its relative location to Venezuela, then it would certainly be defined as gift north of that country.

In the map below, a human would describe the relative ar of wide River, i m sorry flows through North Caroline and also South Carolina, differently.

A human living in Hickory, phibìc Carolina would describe the ar of broad river as flowing south and also slightly west that them. A person in Charlotte, north Carolina would describe the river together flowing west of them. A human being living in Spartanburg, southern Carolina would describe the river together being situated north and east that them.


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Map mirroring the relative ar of large River. Map: Caitlin Dempsey.

Relative ar can also be to express in regards to distance, travel time, or cost.

An instance of relative Location

We deserve to again look at this map the the area about the U.S. Capitol. The north arrowhead in the upper ideal hand corner lets the user understand the cardinal directions. As a loved one location, the U.S. Capitol deserve to be explained as gift due west that the U.S. Supreme Court or southwest from the Russell Senate Office Building.


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Map reflecting the area in Washington D.C. Approximately the U.S. Capitol. Map: U.S. Government, public domain.

What is family member Distance and also Absolute Distance?

The place could additionally be wanted in state of exactly how long that would take to travel to the U.S. Capitol building along certain routes. Because that example, the U.S. Capital building is a around six minute to walk southwest from the Russell Senate Office structure using structure Avenue.

As v absolute location, absolute distance requires describing the street from one suggest to one more using devices of measurements. Because that example, the U.S. Capitol is 0.3 mile from the The location could additionally be wanted in terms of just how long that would require to travel come the U.S. Capitol Building. For example, the U.S. Capital building is a approximately six minute go southwest from the Russel Senate Office structure walking follow me NE structure Avenue.

What room Locator Maps?

Relative place can likewise be provided to carry out geographic context. Because that example, synopsis or locator maps present the relative ar of a ar or entity based on a larger geographic view. Because that example, the inset map below, shows the relative place of the state that Texas within the joined States.


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Locator map because that Texas. Map: RuhrfischandAppraiser, GNU cost-free Documentation License

Examples the Absolute and also Relative Location

Moreexamples that absolute and relative location have the right to be discovered here.

See more: Domain And Range Of Y=Tanx, Period And Amplitude Of Basic Trig Functions

Video: Absolute and also Relative Location

This short article was very first written in 2016 and also has since been updated.

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