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Western Hemisphere

For the reference to Western culture, please see Western culture

The Western Hemisphere contains The Americas and nearby islands. The terminology is meant to serve as an analogy with the natural geographic division of the world into a Northern and Southern Hemisphere. However, it is more a geopolitical rather than a geographical term, and refers mostly to the governments and nations that are located in the region; there is no physically-based boundary on the planet that actually separates the Western Hemisphere from the rest of the world, such as the equator which is defined by the rotation of the earth and which thus separates the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Neither is there a way to determine which of two hemispheres (wherever one draws the line between them) is the western one, since western is a relative direction. The area commonly called Western Hemisphere is western only relative to an observer in Europe or Africa, and so the term is considered eurocentric.

The term Eastern Hemisphere tends to be used much less often than Western Hemisphere.

See also: Prime meridian, International date line.

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45