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05-16-1999, 07:34 PM
I'm probably setting myself up for a big one here, but where are the dividing lines between the East and West hemispheres? The orbit of the earth and the path of the sun have conveniently provided us with a division between North and South, but I've just looked at several maps and couldn't find a cartographic boundary that jibes in any way with my idea of what is East and What is West. I am going abroad this summer and it's imperative that I know whether I'll be leaving this hemisphere. Thanks.

05-16-1999, 08:20 PM
Check your globe and look for the arbitrary meridian lines marked 0 and 180. The 0 meridian, aka the Prime Meridian, or the Greenwich Meridian, goes through the UK. The 180th meridian isn't nearly as alluring as most of it is in the Pacific Ocean.
It does pass through Russia and gets pretty darn close to Fiji.
Most of it is the International Date Line, but it veers in certain places.

05-16-1999, 08:42 PM
I'd say, arbitrarily, that if you're in Eurasia, Africa, or Australia, you're in the Eastern hemisphere. If you're in the Americas, you're in the Western hemisphere. Doesn't jibe with the dictionary definition I know, but that's how I think most Americans use the term.

05-16-1999, 09:01 PM
Seems to be consensus here of sorts.
As an American, my natural concept is that California is West, Colorado is Mid-West, Ohio is the Middle East, and DC is the East. (Wrong, yes, I know. But it makes more sense to think of it that way.)

I don't really have a concept of how the US fits in globally. The most heated debates I've encountered over East vs West are centered on Russia. Everything to the 'Left' of St. Petersburg is West and everything to the 'right' is East.

I read Somewhere, though, that, technically the Easternmost and Westernmost points in the Word are part of the US. (Alaska). As if all of the above weren't enough to confuse me already. . .

05-16-1999, 09:18 PM
Ohio is never the middle east, as far as I know. I believe that is reserved exclusively for Beirut and surrounding areas.

05-16-1999, 09:30 PM
Northern, southern, eastern and wersternmost States in the U.S.? Alaska, Florida, Alaska and Alaska respectively. But you knew that...

05-16-1999, 10:31 PM
Au contraire, Omniscientnot, Hawaii is further south than the southernmost point of Florida.

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"Equal Opportunity means everybody has the same chance at being incompetent." --Dr. Lawrence J. Peter

05-17-1999, 11:03 AM
For all practical puposes the Americas, or as Europeans used to call them; the New World is the Western Hemesphere. Eurasia and Africa (the Old World) is the Eastern Hemisphere. Oceana, Australia, Antarctica and the rest are just "other stuff".

Using the prime meridian and the International date line creates some real peculiarities. Who really thinks that Ireland is in the Western Hemeshere?

05-17-1999, 10:18 PM
I stand humbly corrected, Thuccotash

05-17-1999, 10:32 PM
BobT
I looked at my globe and had the same initial response, but could think of no controlling authority that deems it so.

Regards

05-17-1999, 11:23 PM
Well, as I think I wrote somewhere in this topic, I have a wierd conception of East-West on the Global Scene because my perspective is in Moscow. (My mental perspective, the is. I don't think anyone develops a perspective on the Global Scene from the POV of Ohio.) Urban Russians have a very set concept of East vs. West, to a degree that most NAmericans never approach.

Which is to say, I've never really discussed or considered East/West (Hemisphere or not) from this point. All my ideas about West and East were put tere by Russians. So I have always considered Europe Western. And, umm, Ireland, too.

Of course, I had NO idea how the world is officially quartered. Ergo, this topic. Now that I think about it, isn't it kind of chauvanistic to claim AN ENTIRE HEMISPHERE just for the Americas?

05-18-1999, 08:58 AM
For most purposes, I've always thought of Europe as Western too. As in "Western civilization." Here at Hendrix College (no, it's not named after Jimi) we have a mandatory freshman class called Western Intellectual Traditions--covers everything from ancient Greece on.

For me the dividing line has probably been the Ural Mountains, tho now that I think about it, Africa is'nt really Western or Eastern. Not even Middle Eastern. It's just Third World. I guess it is pretty chauvenistic.

BTW, what's the diff between the Middle East and the Near East, and how come we never hear the latter anymore?

05-18-1999, 09:51 AM
All these things are from a Western-European perspective, since, culturally, the USA is an extension of Western Europe.

Practically speaking, the "Western" and "Eastern" Hemispheres are just another way of saying the Old World and the New World. (You sail west to get to America from England.)

But although Europe is in the "Eastern Hemisphere", it is not "the East". "The East is what is east of Europe. (Or else the USA, east of the Mississippi, or even east of the Appalacians.)

A quick check shows that the "Near East" and "Middle East" have never been clearly distinguised from each other, except that the Balkans have sometimes been accounted part of the "Near East", but never part of the "Middle East". In the USA, at least, "Near East" is effectively a dead locution.

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John W. Kennedy
"Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays."
-- Charles Williams

05-18-1999, 10:52 AM
To expand on what JWK said, "Hemishere" is a geographical term, as opposed to reference to "Western Civ. or "The West" which infer culture.

The "Western World" was the polite way the English and French refered to "the civilized world" as opposed to the "East", which was where all the barbaric Slavs and Gypsys lived. The "Middle East" was the land of the "heathen" Mussleman (Muslim) and the "Far East" was the land of the "wise but backward" Indians and Chinese.

The belief that the only valid civilization was the one that developed out of Greek and Roman culture and then infused with Christianity and the "Enlightenment" is one that still hasn't disappeared. How many of you now in college are required to take two semesters of "Eastern Civilization"?

Now that the Iron Curtain has fallen, the use of such terms serve no useful purpose in describing a geographical region. Australia and New Zealand have, for a long time, been considered part of "the West". Are Poland or Hungary still in "the East"? I don't think so.

05-18-1999, 09:23 PM
PB
I think that's why I had reservations about arbitrarily using the Greenwich Meridian as a fence line. Unlike the northern and southern hemispheres, whose boundary is the quantifiable equator, the eastern and western hemispheres are cleaved by a cultural divide.

05-18-1999, 11:02 PM
And I quote, sans any fancy code:
"Unlike the northern and southern hemispheres, whose boundary is the quantifiable equator, the eastern and western hemispheres are cleaved by a cultural divide."

I knew there was something I liked about the equator.

05-19-1999, 08:49 AM
The Greenwich line was not for the purpose of dividing, but an arbitrary zero for the purpose of sailing, where you used your watch to tell where you were.There's whole books about that.

05-19-1999, 02:33 PM
Correcting myself,
According to "Glossary of Geographical Terms" edited by the redoubtable Sir Dudley Stamp, he defines "hemisphere" as "Half a sphere. It is common practice to divide the earth into the Eastern Hemisphere (the Old World) and the Western Hemisphere (the New World) using the meridians of 20 degrees W and 160 degrees E."

05-19-1999, 05:28 PM
Wow, Bob, thanks.
I was wondering when someone would check a dictionary. (I'm way to lazy for that, myself.)

05-19-1999, 10:05 PM
BobT,
That does help one avoid putting parts of England in two different Hemispheres, although it still wacks a bit of Africa in two -- I suspect there is a bit of cultural influence. Funny, as well, because it seems to carry less import that a country might be in both the Northern & Southern Hemispheres.

Regards

RM Mentock
02-07-2000, 10:30 PM
Originally posted by <font color=#FF30c0>beatle</font>:
That does help one avoid putting parts of England in two different Hemispheres, although it still wacks a bit of Africa in two -- I suspect there is a bit of cultural influence. Funny, as well, because it seems to carry less import that a country might be in both the Northern & Southern Hemispheres.


Sorry to dig so deep in the archives, but how does it wack a bit of Africa in two? Are we talking about small islands?
<font color=#DCDCDC>----------------
rocks</font>

Melatonin
02-07-2000, 11:02 PM
Well, Mr. Mentock. . .
I don't really have the answer to your question but I had to pop in here and congratulate you on confusing the hell out of me.

Ursa Major
02-07-2000, 11:19 PM
RM Mentock has a point. Senegal, the western most part of Africa is still a couple of degrees east of 20W.

I hope you don't go digging up any of my long forgotten errors.

Ringo
02-07-2000, 11:45 PM
Yes, kids, what you put up on the 'net just might live forever (and just yesterday I considered responding to a march post with a bit more accurate info and thought,...nah).

RM, I think I probably flipped east and west in my mind when I responded to that post of Bob's (it took this board 9 months to catch it!?!). Yeah, the line proposed in that post puts all of England and Africa (islands? - I don't know) well within the Eastern Hemisphere.

That being said, (oh heck, I'm going to have to go reread this thread before I comment)...

OK, Cold War era considerations undoubtedly color the perceptions of many, myself included. The Soviet Union (remember them?) was definitely 'east' although portions of it are both east and west of the unquestionably 'west' Japan.

Unlike the northern and southern hemispheres, whose boundary is the quantifiable equator, the eastern and western hemispheres are cleaved by a cultural divide.

Ahhh, what a wordsmith! Anybody get his name?

The line proposed in BobT's post is a geometrical line and I think does not really address the cultural divisions of "East" v. "West" in the sense most people consider such. Does anybody know from whence it dates?

It may have been a viable distinction at one time; we have seen earlier in this thread mention of the New World v. the Old World, cleavages that took not into account a large part of the earth as we know it now.

Jinx
02-08-2000, 08:28 AM
Originally posted by omniscientnot:
Northern, southern, eastern and wersternmost States in the U.S.? Alaska, Florida, Alaska and Alaska respectively. But you knew that...

Wait a second? Alaska is easternmost? Maybe I'm missing something here, but people from Lubec, Maine would have a bone to pick with you on that one! Lubec is home of West Quoddy Point lighthouse, the easternmost point of the US. (FYI: East Quoddy Point is in New Brunswick.) This is known as the point where daylight first touches US soil. Therefore, based on the earth's rotation, I fail to understand how Alaska can claim to be the easternmost?

Ursa Major
02-08-2000, 09:09 AM
This is known as the point where daylight first touches US soil.

Actually this distinction is claimed by Guam. I think their motto is something like "Where America starts her day". I think "Alaska as the easternmost state" is probably true if any of the Aleutian Islands are west of the International dateline. (sorry, I don't have a map handy.).

Johnny L.A.
02-08-2000, 09:16 AM
I don't have a globe handy, but I'm pretty sure the Aleutians extend beyond the 180 meridian. That would make Alaska the eastern-most point in the U.S. On the other hand, I think the International Date Line "zigs" up there, so if you're defining east and west along political lines instead of geographic lines, then the above assumption is wrong.

Incidentally, if we were to divide Alaska into two equal-area states, Texas would be the THIRD largest state!

FWIW: Reno, Nevada is farther west than Los Angeles, California.

Jinx
02-08-2000, 09:28 AM
Originally posted by Ursa Major:
Actually this distinction is claimed by Guam. I think their motto is something like "Where America starts her day".

I'll grant you that, but I think Maine's boastful claim refers to the 50 states.

AWB
02-08-2000, 09:46 AM
Ursa Major:[b] Actually this distinction is claimed by Guam. I think their motto is something like "Where America starts her day". I think "Alaska as the easternmost state" is probably true if any of the Aleutian Islands are west of the International dateline. (sorry, I don't have a map handy.).

Some of the Aleutian islands are in the Eastern Hemisphere, i.e., west of the 180o meridian. This is [b]not the International Date Line.

By its definition, the IDL is west of all the Aleutian islands. It zig-zags to keep all of them in the same date.

Similarly, some of Russia is in the Western Hemisphere, but completely east of the IDL, which goes east to include this tip of Siberia.

The IDL also jags east so that the Chatham Islands, territory of New Zealand, have the same date as NZ.


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Wrong thinking is punished, right thinking is just as swiftly rewarded. You'll find it an effective combination.

AWB
02-08-2000, 09:48 AM
<small>Dang, didn't mean to make that all bold :rolleyes:</small>

kunilou
02-08-2000, 10:18 AM
We're making this way too complicated. The line between Eastern and Western hemispheres dates back to battles between Spain and Portugal to colonize the New World. It has to do with spheres of influence, not longitude.

In the Pacific Ocean, follow the International Dateline. That will do for most purposes.

In the Atlantic ocean, draw a zig-zag between Greenland and Iceland. Iceland is historically considered to be tied more to Europe; Greenland to North America.

Then, continue the line south making sure the Azores and Cape Verde are in the Eastern Hemisphere. The map I'm using isn't very detailed, but I believe you zig zag one last time to put the Falklands in the Western Hemisphere, and South Georgia Island in the Eastern.

AWB
02-08-2000, 12:57 PM
After re-reading the OP, I'm kind of confused as to what is being asked.

At first it looks like Melatonin is asking for the mathematical definition ("The orbit of the earth and the path of the sun have conveniently provided us with a division between North and South"), but then seems to ask for the political definition ("but I've just looked at several maps and couldn't find a cartographic boundary that jibes in any way with my idea of what is East and What is West.").

The mathematical division between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, the equator, doesn't necessarily jibe with what is North and what is South politically. A good 15-20% of South America is in the Northern Hemisphere. And Africa is mostly in the Northern, but I usually think of it as a Southern continent.

Of course, on a purely mathematical note, it's simple to tell what hemisphere you're in, as stated above.

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Wrong thinking is punished, right thinking is just as swiftly rewarded. You'll find it an effective combination.

Irishman
02-08-2000, 03:18 PM
If I understand the OP, it is dealing not with political or historical type boundaries and distinctions, but with physical ones.

The Earth spins about it's poles. The equator relates to the line equidistant from the poles. This gives the good geographic distinction for North vs. South. There is no corresponding line for East/West division, because of the inherent nature of the spin. Any boundary is thus arbitrary.

My personal devisor for East vs Western hemispheres are the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Americas are West, Eurasia, Africa, Australia are all East. In know, that is not halving, but it works for me. If those lines aren't exactly straight, well it's like time zone lines - make them work. Don't worry about the odd island or two.