Logo with initials

Tips to remember latitude and longitude

──── 2 mins

I like coding maps, but I would always forget how to remember latitude and longitude. I would always mix them up. I tried some mnemonic techniques (like, latitudes = ladder) but none of them ever worked.

Here are a couple of tips to remember latitude and longitude.

1. X/Y coordinates

Tip #1: The simplest, but not the easiest, is to memorise this:

Latitude is y and longitude is x.

That’s it, Latitude is the y axis and longitude is the x axis.

I tried that but would still mix them up at times. So I came up with the next tip.

2. The long side of a world map

Tip #2: If you think of a world map, usually it’s a rectangle.

The long side (the largest side) is the longitude.

Orientation

The point at 0,0 is the intersection of the Equator and the Meridian of Greenwich. The greater the distance to them, the greater the latitude/longitude. East of the meridian gives you a positive longitude value, and west gives you a negative one. Same for north/south of the Equator.

For example:
Prague has a larger longitude (14.43) than Paris (2.35) because it’s further east. Ergo for San Francisco having a larger value (-122) than Washington DC (-77) because it’s further west.

Here are the rounded coordinates (in the order latitude, longitude) of some popular cities to help you.

  • London: 51.501, -0.118. (Greenwich is in London, hence the zero longitude)
  • Sydney: -33.865, 151.210
  • Tokyo: 35.653, 139.839
  • Singapore: 1.290, 103.852
  • Los Angeles: 34.052, -118.244
  • Oslo: 59.911, 10.758

Here’s a bonus factoid for people in the UK, Edinburgh’s main train station is further west (55.95, -3.18) than Liverpool’s (53.40, -2.97).

I hope it helps, good luck!