European Latitude Paradoxes

On August 26, 2010 · 8 Comments

There aren’t any great research efforts or revelations today, just some interesting observations about various lines of latitude in western Europe. I spend a lot of time simply looking at maps, at the patterns, and the logical contradictions that aren’t always apparent in our conventional thoughts. These are a few that have made me smile lately.

View European Latitude Paradox – in a larger map


Reference the black line on the map. No other nation has a southernmost point further north than Iceland. The other Scandinavian nations would be logical contenders but none of them comes close. Greenland, when it gains independence, will fall well short too. Iceland’s southern extreme is 63°17′ North. Interesting enough, it’s not found on the island of Iceland proper but on an offshore island called Surtsey. Even so, that’s further north than Anchorage, Alaska.

England and Sweden

Reference the two blue lines. There is a part of England that is further north than a corner of Sweden, and conversely there’s a part of Sweden further south than some of England. I’ve discussed northernmost England before. Indeed, the residents of Berwick-upon-Tweed are among the lucky few who live at a higher latitude than some Swedes. People of Sweden who live further south than England’s Berwick-upon-Tweed include the nearly 300,000 residents of Malmö.

The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

Reference the red line, where I focus on mainland Ireland. The northernmost point in Ireland is not in Northern Ireland. It seems somewhat odd but the northernmost point on the Irish mainland is actually in the Republic of Ireland. It is located in County Donegal’s Inishowen Peninsula at Banba’s Crown (although some say it’s at nearby Malin Head). It reminds me of the situation in the United States where part of Virginia is further west than any point in West Virginia. It would never have raised an eyebrow had Northern Ireland chosen a different name.

France and the Netherlands

Reference the two green lines. There are people in France who live further north than some residents of the Netherlands, and in return, some people in the Netherlands live further south than residents of France. This one seems a contradiction because Belgium sits directly between the two nations, and the Netherlands is generally considered "north of Belgium." However, France angles to the northwest and the Netherlands has an appendage hanging down from its southeastern lands. French cities in its northwest corner include Calais and Dunkirk (Dunkerque). Its Dutch counterpart includes Maastricht.

None of these observations are earth-shattering, just some fun points to ponder. Do you know of any similar situations?


On August 26, 2010 · 8 Comments

8 Responses to “European Latitude Paradoxes”

  1. Thias says:

    Well, not completely related, but while trying to see if the northernmost point of Germany was more north than what I thought was the southernmost point in Sweden (Bronholm Island, which is in fact Danish), I discovered Faro Island, in Denmark, which is hosting nothing but grass, road and a few parking lots!,-107.290284&sspn=9.419776,19.753418&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Allemagne&ll=54.955737,11.98338&spn=0,0.054932&z=15&layer=c&cbll=54.950461,11.985501&panoid=9vwYMZl9TbhHeAijkvQrKQ&cbp=12,51.76,,0,5

  2. Matt says:

    From Wikipedia’s article on Middle Island, the southernmost land point in Canada:

    “The southernmost point of Middle Island is at a latitude of 41°41’17″N. Twenty-seven U.S. states lie all or partly north of this point, as does Rome, Italy.”

    Two of those states are California and Nevada.

    Windsor, Ontario, is south of its neighbor Detroit, Michigan.

  3. Thias says:

    The southern tip of Florida is on the same latitude as the norther tip of… Mali!

  4. Ariel says:

    Parts of California are north of parts of Michigan. Parts of New Jersey are south of parts of Virginia.

  5. Reggio Calabria (the town most southern in the Italian peninsula) is at the same latitude of Athens (Greece) and of the border between North Korea and South Korea (38° N). At the same moment, Reggio Calabria is in the very centre of the Mediterranean Sea.

  6. Kevin K says:

    Similarly, portions of South Carolina are farther north than parts of North Carolina, and vice versa

  7. Thomas says:

    A brainteaser along the same paradoxical lines:
    What country (contiguous landmass) stretches North, South, East and West of Iceland?

  8. Lincoln Ho says:

    Here’s one… Japan

    More south 20°25’31” N than Thailand 20°27’N !
    More North 45°33’25.87″ E than all of North Korea 43°00’N
    More West 122°56’01” E than China 134°46’25″E !
    It extends quite east into the middle of the ocean too.

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