Spinning gobe

In our introduction lesson, we learned the location of the seven continents and the five oceans.  Remember, all of the world's land is located somewhere on one of the seven continents.  The United States is located on the continent of North America.  We also learned that the five oceans cover most of the earth's surface.

Do you remember the names of the continents?  They are North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia/Oceania, and Antarctica.

Map of continents

Do you remember the names of the oceans?  They are the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, Arctic Ocean, and Southern Ocean. 

The world is a very large place!  If we want to find certain places on a map or globe, it helps to divide the world up into smaller sections. In this lesson we will learn how to locate the continents by dividing the earth up into smaller sections and by using grid lines. 

Hemispheres

We can divide the world in half, two different ways.  First, lets split the world into northern and southern halves.  The imaginary line that runs all the way around the world, dividing it into two equal halves, is called the equator. Any place above the equator is in the Northern Hemisphere. Any place below the equator is in the Southern HemisphereThe United States, on the continent of North America, is located in the Northern Hemisphere.

hemispheres

We can also divide the world in half another way, separating east from west.  The imaginary line that divides the world into equal east and west halves, is called the Prime MeridianAny place to the left of the Prime Meridian is in the Western Hemisphere, while any place to the right of the Prime Meridian is in the Eastern HemisphereThe United States, on the continent of North America, is located in the Western Hemisphere.

Prime
Meridian
Equator
Map of world with hemispheres Equator
Prime
Meridian

Two very important places on a map or globe are the poles.  The North Pole is located at the very top of the Northern Hemisphere.  The South Pole is located at the very bottom of the Southern Hemisphere.  The equator is exactly half way between the North Pole and South Pole.

Each of the seven continents is located in at least two hemispheres. Look at our continent of North America.  It lies in the Western Hemisphere and the Northern Hemisphere.

Prime
Meridian
Equator
Map of world with hemispheres Equator
Prime
Meridian

If we travel south to the continent of South America, we stay in the Western Hemisphere.  Notice that the equator runs through South America.  Therefore, South America is located in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, making the continent a part of three different hemispheres.

Even further south, across the Southern Ocean, lies the continent of Antarctica.  Antarctica is also a part of three hemispheres.  Antarctica is located entirely in the Southern Hemisphere, but the Prime Meridian runs through the continent.  Therefore, Antarctica is also located in the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.

Prime
Meridian
Equator
Map of world with hemispheres Equator
Prime
Meridian

Australia/Oceania, like North America, is located in only two hemispheres.  All of Australia is located south of the equator, and east of the Prime Meridian.  This means that Australia/Oceania is located in the Southern and Eastern Hemispheres.

North of Australia, lies the largest continent in the world, Asia.  Most of Asia is located in the Northern Hemisphere.  However, some small islands that make up the southeast part of Asia, are south of the equator.  Therefore, Asia is located in the Northern, and Southern Hemispheres. All of Asia lies east of the Prime Meridian, so it is in the Eastern Hemisphere.

Prime
Meridian
Equator
Map of world with hemispheres Equator
Prime
Meridian

All of Europe is located in the Northern Hemisphere, but the Prime Meridian runs through part of the continent.  So, Europe is also located in three hemispheres, the Eastern, Western, and Northern Hemispheres.

One continent is in all four hemispheres! Do you know which continent is left? If you guessed Africa, you are correct.  Both the equator, and Prime Meridian run through Africa.  The continent of Africa is located in the Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western Hemispheres!

Are you ready to practice
what you have learned?
Click on the spinning globe below to begin.

Spinning gobe

"Maps courtesy of www.theodora.com/maps used with permission"
Spinning globe courtesy of: http://www.bellsnwhistles.com

Definitions

equator: an imaginary line that goes all the way around the earth, dividing it into two equal halves, a northern half and a southern half
Northern Hemisphere: the half of the earth that is north of the equator
Southern Hemisphere: the half of the earth that is south of the equator
Prime Meridian: an imaginary line that goes all the way around the earth, dividing it into two equal halves, an eastern half and a western half
Eastern Hemisphere: the half of the earth that is east of the Prime Meridian
Western Hemisphere: the half of the earth that is west of the Prime Meridian
North Pole: the point which is furthest north on the earth
South Pole: the point which is furthest south on the earth
lines of latitude: imaginary parallel lines, that run east and west around the earth, also called parallels
parallels: another name for lines of latitude
lines of longitude: imaginary lines that run north and south around the earth, they are not parallel and are also called meridians
meridiansanother name for lines of longitude

 

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