The main difference between Equator and Prime Meridian is that Equator is the line circling the Earth halfway between the North and South poles while Prime Meridian is the line that runs through Greenwich, England.
Geographers and cartographers trace imaginary horizontal and vertical lines across Earth’s surface to locate points on the globe. The lines that run horizontal (east to west) are latitudes while the lines that run vertical are longitudes. The Equator is at 0° latitude while the Prime Meridian is at 0° longitude. Both are lines that circle the Earth and divide the Earth into hemispheres.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Equator
– Definition, Features
2. What is Prime Meridian
– Definition, Features
3. What is the Difference Between Equator and Prime Meridian
– Comparison of Key Differences
Equator, Equitorial, Greenwich, Prime Meridian
What is Equator
The Equator is the imaginary line around the middle of the Earth. The term ‘equator’ generally refers to a line (not a real one) drawn around a sphere or planet. The Earth’s Equator is halfway between the North Pole and the South Pole, at 0° latitude. Moreover, the Equator divides the Earth into Northern hemisphere and Southern hemisphere.
As you can see from the above image, Earth is widest at its Equator. In fact, the distance around the Earth at the Equator, i.e., its circumference, is 40,075km. Moreover, at the Equator, the day and night have the same length around the year. Unlike the countries around the Northern and Southern hemisphere, countries around the Equator do not experience four seasons. Equatorial regions (regions near the Equator) typically have two seasons: dry season and wet season. In addition to that, their climate is very humid. Some of the most extensive rainforests in the world are in equatorial regions: the Amazon rainforest, the Congo rainforest of Central Africa, the Harpan rainforest, the Daintree Rainforest, etc.
What is Prime Meridian
The Prime Meridian is the imaginary line drawn north to south at 0° longitude. It is the starting point for measuring distance both west and east around the Earth. Prime Meridian goes through the Royal Observatory, Greenwich in London. This is why we sometimes call it the Greenwich line. However, the Prime Meridian also passes through England, France, Spain, Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ghana and Antarctica.
It’s important to know that Prime Meridian is arbitrary – this means, any meridian (line of longitude) can serve as the 0 longitude line. However, the meridian that runs through Greenwich has been chosen as the official prime meridian, with an international agreement.
The Prime Meridian helps to set the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and international dateline. Moreover, it divides the Earth into the eastern and western hemispheres, similar to the way the Equator divides the Earth into the northern and southern hemispheres.
Difference Between Equator and Prime Meridian
The Equator is the line circling the Earth midway between the North and South poles while Prime Meridian is the line that runs through Greenwich, England.
Longitude vs Latitude
Precisely, the Equator is at 0° latitude while Prime Meridian is at 0° longitude.
While the Equator divides the Earth into Southern and Northern hemispheres, Prime Meridian divides the Earth into Eastern and Western hemispheres.
The Equator is not arbitrary while Prime Meridian is arbitrary (it could be any meridian, but is considered to be Greenwich meridian by international agreement).
In brief, Equator is the imaginary horizontal line circling the Earth midway between the North and South poles while Prime Meridian is the imaginary vertical line that runs through Greenwich, England. Moreover, Equator is at 0° latitude while Prime Meridian and is at 0° longitude. This is the difference between Equator and prime meridian.
1. “World map with equator” By User:Cburnett – Image:World-map-2004-cia-factbook-large-2m.jpg (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Primemeridian” By Created by Kmf164 on October 29, 2005 (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia