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Four Hemispheres of the World: Definition & Map Video

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  • 0:04 What Are Hemispheres?
  • 0:40 Northern & Southern…
  • 2:08 Eastern & Western Hemispheres
  • 3:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Betsy Chesnutt

Betsy teaches college physics, biology, and engineering and has a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering

The Earth can be divided into four hemispheres: Northern, Southern, Eastern, and Western. In this lesson, learn about the continents and people that are located in each of the hemispheres.

What Are Hemispheres?

Imagine that you have a solid rubber ball. If you cut it in half, you now have two pieces, right? No matter where you cut it, each half is exactly half of a sphere, a shape known as a hemisphere.

Just like your ball, the Earth is also roughly spherical in shape. It's not quite a sphere because it is a little thicker in the middle, but it's pretty close. Of course, you can't really cut the Earth in half as easily as you can a rubber ball, but we can divide the Earth into regions called hemispheres that each contain exactly half of the Earth's surface.

Northern and Southern Hemispheres

There are many different ways that the Earth could be divided into hemispheres, but it is usually only divided in two ways. First, the Earth can be separated into Northern and Southern hemispheres by dividing it along the Equator, an imaginary line which runs horizontally around the middle of the Earth. Everything above the Equator is in the Northern hemisphere, while everything below the Equator is in the Southern hemisphere.

Three continents, North America, Europe, and Asia, lie entirely within the Northern hemisphere. The equator cuts across both Africa and South America as well, so parts of those continents also lie in the Northern hemisphere. This is a lot of land. In fact, 68% of the total land in the entire Earth is in the Northern hemisphere. Most of Earth's people, over six billion, also live in the Northern hemisphere. So about 90% of the total global population lives in the Northern hemisphere, with only 10% living in the Southern hemisphere.

Only about 32% of the Earth's land mass is located in the Southern hemisphere, which includes the continents of Australia and Antarctica, as well as part of South America and Africa. Since there is less land in the Southern hemisphere, there is a lot more ocean than in the North. About 80% of the Southern hemisphere is covered with water, while water covers only about 60% of the Northern hemisphere.

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