Teaching Students About the Equator


The Earth’s Equator is the imaginary line that runs around the globe’s center at 0 degrees latitude, at an equal distance between the North and South Poles. Like the other lines of latitude, it’s based on the Earth’s axis of rotation and its orbit around the sun. It is the longest of Earth’s five circles of latitude, the others being polar and tropical circles. This is because of how the Earth bulges around its center.

The Equator is just under 25,000 miles long, wrapping around the entire Earth. The Equator divides the Earth into northern and southern hemispheres, with both experiencing different amounts of daylight at other times. This weather, climate, and the seasons we experience result from the Earth’s tilt on its axis and its orbit around the sun. The northern and southern hemispheres are either turned toward or away from the sun depending on the Earth’s position while it’s orbiting the sun.

When the Sun is directly above the Earth’s Equator, sunlight shines perpendicular to the Earth’s axis, and all latitudes have a 12-hour day and 12-hour night. The Sun passes directly over the equator twice a year, on the March and September equinoxes.

Countries Near the Equator and Their Weather

Why is it So Hot Near the Equator?

On and near the equator, sunlight comes from almost directly above every day all year round; the equator, therefore, has a stable daytime temperature the whole year. In addition, due to the Earth’s natural bulge where the equator is located, the equator is closer to the Sun than any other place; this also results in higher temperatures all year round.

Countries on the equator experience the shortest sunrises and sunsets as the Sun’s daily path is perpendicular to the horizon. In countries on or near the equator, the sunrise and sunset take only minutes.

What Countries Does The Equator Pass Through?

The equator passes through 11 countries:

  • Indonesia
  • Gabon
  • São Tomé and Príncipe
  • Republic of the Congo
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Uganda
  • Kenya
  • Somalia
  • Ecuador
  • Colombia
  • Brazil

Countries, The Equator, and Weather

What Type of Weather do They Have in Countries Near the Equator?

Countries on or near the equator don’t experience the same weather. While the temperatures remain high, some countries experience wet and dry seasons. Countries on or near the equator have high temperatures all year round due to Earth’s axis tilt. The average temperature in these countries is around 31 degrees Celsius.

There is very little temperature change. However, certain types of weather do change. For example, countries on or near the equator experience changes in humidity and rainfall. At one point on the equator, you’ll find snow. This is on the high slopes of Volcan Cayambe in Ecuador. This high humidity means that places on the equator are not the hottest in the world, despite being closest to the sun. This is because the water in the air cools the temperature.

Do Countries Near the Equator Have Seasons?

Countries near the equator don’t experience the four seasons like other places on Earth. As a result, countries on or near have the same amount of daylight and darkness throughout the year.

Generally, there are two seasons in equatorial countries, wet and dry. The wet season lasts most of the year. Along with the warmth, this creates tropical rainforests.

Lowland countries near the equator have a tropical rainforest climate. Depending on their distance from colder oceans, some countries near the equator have tropical monsoon climates.

Due to its hot, wet weather and climate, almost half of the world’s rainforests are located on the equator. These rainforests are located in Brazil, Congo, and Indonesia. Because of the equatorial countries’ weather and climate, many plant and animal species also thrive here. As a result, it’s a place of rich biodiversity.

While other countries experience changing daylight hours during the different seasons, the 12-hour day and night never vary in length in the countries on or near the equator.

If you live on or near the equator, you’ll experience the shortest sunrise and sunset in the world, as they take only minutes.

Facts About The Equator

  • The name ‘equator’ comes from the Latin word ‘equator’ meaning ‘circle equalizing day and night
  • The highest point on the equator is Volcan Cayambe in Ecuador, at 4,690 meters.
  • Since it is located at the point where the Earth bulges its center, the gravitational pull is weaker as the distance from the center of the Earth is greater. This makes places on the equator ideal places for space launches.
  • Space launching locations near the equator include the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Maldives, Shaba North, and Gan Island.
  • Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, is located close to the equator and experiences cool, dry weather and even has glaciers. This is because of its height.
  • Sailors have many rituals and celebrations for crossing the Equator. This is known as ‘crossing the line. Pollywog is often a name given to a sailor who has never crossed the Equator.
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