The Western Hemisphere

The Western Hemisphere is the half of the planet Earth that lies west of the Prime Meridian—which crosses Greenwich, London, England—and east of the 180th meridian.[1][2] The other half is called the Eastern Hemisphere. Geo-politically, the term Western Hemisphere is often used as a metonym for the Americas or the "New World", even though geographically the hemisphere also includes parts of other continents.[12]


The Western Hemisphere consists of the Americas, excluding some of the Aleutian Islands to the southwest of the Alaskan mainland; the westernmost portions of Europe and Africa, both mainland and islands; the extreme eastern tip of the Russian mainland and islands (North Asia); numerous territories in Oceania; and a large portion of Antarctica.

The center of the Western Hemisphere is located in the Pacific Ocean at the intersection of the 90th meridian west and the Equator, among the Galápagos Islands. The nearest land is Genovesa Island at 0°19′N 89°57′W / 0.317°N 89.950°W / 0.317; -89.950.

The highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere is Aconcagua in the Andes of Argentina at 6,960.8 m (22,837 ft).[13]

The tallest freestanding structure in the Western Hemisphere is the CN Tower in Toronto at 553.3 m (1,815 ft) and the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere is One World Trade Center in New York City at 541.3 m (1,776 ft).

Alternative definitions

In an attempt to match the Western Hemisphere more closely with the Americas, some sources use the 20th meridian west and the diametrically opposed 160th meridian east to define the hemisphere.[1][3] This definition excludes all of the European and African mainlands, but still includes some islands associated with these continents, more of eastern Russia and Oceania, and part of Antarctica. It includes all islands of Alaska, but excludes a small portion of northeast Greenland. There is no hemisphere that includes all of the Americas while excluding all land outside of it, regardless of the meridians or points chosen to define it.

Sovereign states in both hemispheres

Below is a list of the sovereign states in both the Western and Eastern hemispheres on the IERS Reference Meridian, in order from north to south:

Below is a list of additional sovereign states which are in both the Western and Eastern hemispheres along the 180th meridian, in order from north to south. (France is not listed below due to its inclusion above, though the meridian does pass Wallis and Futuna.) With the exception of the United States (due to Wake Island, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands), all of them are located on just one side of the International Date Line, which curves around them.

Countries, dependencies and other territories in the Western Hemisphere but not in the Americas

The following countries and territories lie outside the Americas yet are entirely, mostly, or partially within the Western Hemisphere:




See also


  1. ^ a b Olson, Judy M (1997), "Projecting the hemisphere", in Robinson, Arthur H; Snyder, John P (eds.), Matching the map projection to the need, Bethesda, MD: Cartography and Geographic Information Society, American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, archived from the original on 2016-03-14, retrieved 2020-03-03.
    - "Western Hemisphere", Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary (3rd ed.), Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2001, p. 1294.
  2. ^ Oxford Dictionary of English (2nd ed.), London, UK: Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 2001
    - "Western Hemisphere", Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary (based on Collegiate vol., 11th ed.), Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 2006
  3. ^ a b "Western Hemisphere | Definition". Britannica. Archived from the original on 2020-06-08. Retrieved 2021-11-21.
  4. ^ Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Archived 2020-05-28 at the Wayback Machine, United States Department of State.
  5. ^ Western Hemisphere Archived 2020-10-03 at the Wayback Machine, United States Department of the Treasury.
  6. ^ Western Hemisphere Archived 2020-05-27 at the Wayback Machine, Office of the United States Trade Representative.
  7. ^ Joe Biden: The Western Hemisphere Needs U.S. Leadership Archived 2019-12-25 at the Wayback Machine, Americas Quarterly, 17 December 2018.
  8. ^ Western Hemisphere Archived 2020-05-10 at the Wayback Machine, United States Department of Justice.
  9. ^ Western Hemisphere Archived 2020-05-06 at the Wayback Machine, United States Department of Agriculture.
  10. ^ Western Hemisphere Archived 2020-06-21 at the Wayback Machine, United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
  11. ^ Western Hemisphere Archived 2020-04-05 at the Wayback Machine, Fulbright Program.
  12. ^ References[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11]
  13. ^ "Informe científico que estudia el Aconcagua, el Coloso de América mide 6960,8 metros" [Scientific Report on Aconcagua, the Colossus of America measures 6960,8m] (in Spanish). Universidad Nacional de Cuyo. 2012. Archived from the original on September 8, 2012. Retrieved September 3, 2012.