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Tips to remember latitude and longitude

──── 2 mins
Last Updated: 28 October 2023

We’re just two lost souls
swimming in a fishbowl
— Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here

I like coding maps, but I would always mix up latitude and longitude. I tried the mnemonics (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.


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. The same goes for negative values going west. San Francisco has a larger longitude (-122) than Washington, D.C. (-77) because it’s further west.

The word “parallels” is also used to describe the lines of latitude. In Canada, the expression “north of 60th” refers to the northern territories.

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

🇬🇧 A fun fact 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!

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