Equator: Definition & Overview

Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Read this lesson to learn about the location of the equator, climate near the equator, and daylight at the equator for planet Earth. In addition, learn that other objects in the universe have equators too.

What is an Equator?

Here is the planet Earth.

Planet Earth

You know that the planet Earth has a North Pole and a South Pole. Planet Earth also has a northern hemisphere and a southern hemisphere. Well, the imaginary line where the northern and southern hemispheres meet is the equator. You can also say that the equator is the line that separates the northern and southern hemispheres.

It's not just planet Earth that has an equator. All planets have an equator, so does the sun and other stars in the universe. Any astronomical object that rotates on an axis will have an equator that goes around the object right in the middle when its spinning axis is vertical.

Imagine that you want to visit the equator, perhaps you are thinking of visiting Quito, Ecuador. What do you think you'll find?

Where is the Equator on Earth?

While planning for your trip to Ecuador you do some research. You learn that maps show the location of the equator, and that the equator has latitude of 0 degrees. On globes, you see the equator as a big line going around the Earth's middle when its axis of rotation is held vertically.

The red line represents the equator on this globe.

On planet Earth the equator passes through these 13 countries.

  • Indonesia
  • Kenya
  • Uganda
  • Brazil
  • Ecuador
  • Colombia
  • Republic of Congo
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Gabon
  • Kiribati
  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • Maldives
  • Somalia

Actually, only 20% of the equator crosses land. The rest simply passes over the oceans.

When you visit the equator in some of these countries, the line for the equator is marked on the ground. In one area, the equator passes over a road where the equator is marked with a line of red brick. Some visitors take pictures of themselves straddling this line of red brick. This line may also be marked as latitude 0. Interestingly, in Brazil a stadium was built where the half-way line is the equator. The way they did it was by building one half of the stadium on one side of the equator and the other half of the stadium on the other.

Looking at your map, you see that Quito, Ecuador is located just a little bit south of the equator. But it's definitely a short easy trip out of Quito to get there. Let's see what kind of weather to expect.

Climate at the Equator

The climate at the equator has a special name called the equatorial climate. Temperatures in most places are generally warm with high humidity for the whole year. Many areas near the equator also have a rainy season. Many tropical forests thrive around the equator.

The equator is the area of the Earth that receives the most direct sunlight throughout the year. This is why it going to be quite a bit warmer in Quito, Ecuador than let's say, Canada.

So, this means that for travel to Quito, Ecuador, you'll probably want to pack some short sleeves and perhaps some cool pants or shorts. Oh, and sunscreen and an umbrella.

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