Tips for travelers, the time difference between countries and the 24 time zones.


Whoever has traveled abroad has done it!! What???  Making adjustments
 of course, on the his/her watch to change the time, based on the time zone that the country that he/she visits, belongs. Its something necessary, because imagine to have to catch your flight and still have the local time on your watch. Of course one might ask how come we don’t have a common time for all countries and on the contrary we have different, depending the time zone?? Lets start from the beginning! The sunrise and the sunset doesn’t occur at the same time in every country and that’s because of the earth’s rotation. When the sun rises in, lets say, Athens, Greece in an other part of the earth, the sun sets! The time in every place was calculated based on this movement of the sun. This difference in the time between two distant locations wasn’t playing significant role in the past due to the long distances, the time consuming travels and the lack of distant communications. With the development of transport and telecommunications, the need for the existence of a unified, time counting, standard  was created and it led to the introduction of the time zones. All countries that belong to a time zome have the same time. Now, how did this happen?In geography, if you remember correctly, we used to say that the earth is divided with imaginary circles. The imaginary circle that is located in an equal distance from the poles and divides earth in two hemispheres is call Equator!

Meridians and parallels

Above and underneath it, the rest of the imaginary circles are called parallels. Perpendicular to the equator, imaginary lines connect the poles and are called meridians. With the parallels and the meridians we define the geographical latitude and longitude of a location. Lets see now how the time zones are defined and therefore the local time in every country. The earth’s equator is 360° and one day is 24 hours! If we divide 360 by 24 gives us 15! So the earth rotates in one hour 15°. Therefore 24 time zones were made, based on the 24 meridians that lie in a 15° distance with its other. The countries and places that lie 7,5° western or eastern of each meridian, belong to the specific time zone. In practice and in most occasions, the limits of the time zones follow the geographical borders of the countries. The meridian that crosses the observatory of Greenwich in London, was appointed as the prime meridian.

Greenwich observatory

Every timezone is defined by the time in Greenwich, which is used with the international term UTC ( Universal Time Coordinated ) and forms the standard in time counting. 15° eastern of the prime meridian the countries have UTC +1, 30° eastern UTC+ 2 …… 180° UTC+12 and western are counted as UTC- 1, UTC-2, ……UTC-11, UTC-12. For instance Greece has UTC +2 which means it is 2 hours ahead of the time in London, while Mexico has UTC -6 , 6 hours behind the time in England.

Time zones

Of course there are some interesting facts.

  • There are countries that don’t use UTC which interval is one hour, instead its 30 or 45 minutes. Some of those are India which has UTC+5:30, New Zealand UTC +12:30, Nepal UTC + 5:45, Venezuela UTC -4:30 and Burma UTC +6:30.
  • Although most of the countries have one time zone, Russia and the USA have more than one due to their size. Russia has 11 time zones and the USA have 9. This means that if for instance a citizen in Kaliningrad goes to sleep in 22:00, an other one in Kamchatka wakes up, since the time there is 08:00. In you can see what time it is in different places of the vast Russia.

Russian time zones

  • China and India are 2 of the biggest countries that have only one local time, since the belong to one time zone, although geographically belong to several. China has UTC+8, 8 hours ahead of London. As a result of the use of only one local time for all the country ( Beijing time ), in many areas the sunset  take place during midnight.
  • In Antarctica and the North pole as the meridians meet there, there is no formal time zone! The researchers that are located in the various stations use either their respective country’s local time or the time of the country from where they travel to the pole! In Antarctica some researchers use the local time of New Zealand while others the time in Chile.


The next time you travel in a distant destination, check previously the timezone where it belongs. During your journey probably you might have to change many time zones. Adjust your watches properly and enjoy your travel. After all, as Einstein said, time is relevant…..


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