Absolute location

From wiki.gis.com
Jump to: navigation, search

Absolute location is a way of describing the position of an object or place, perhaps (but not limited to) on the surface of the earth.

An example would be the longitude and latitude of a place. For instance, the position of Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela, can be expressed approximately in the WGS84 coordinate system as the location 10.65°N (latitude), 71.6°W (longitude). It is, however, important to remember that this is just one way to describe its position; a small number of the alternative ways can be seen here.

Location can be expressed in a variety of ways; the most useful method should be chosen depending upon the situation. For example, an object's location within a city can be described using street intersections; for instance, one can describe the position of Radio City Music Hall, NYC, as the intersection of 6th and 50th; unless one is carrying a GPS Receiver, this location is significantly more useful than knowing its latitude and longitude.

Fallacy of Absolute Location

Definition: Absolute Location: A point on earth's surface expressed by coordinate system such as latitude and longitude. Absolute Location is a term which has no real meaning, since all locations must be expressed relative to something else. For example, longitude is the number of degrees east or west of the Prime Meridian, a line which has arbitrarily been chosen to pass through Greenwich, London. Similarly, latitude is the number of degrees north or south of the Equator. Because latitude and longitude are expressed relative to other lines, a position expressed in latitude and longitude is a relative location[1].


  1. Gersmehl, P., 2008, Teaching Geography, Second Edition, page 60