Southern Hemisphere

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The Southern Hemisphere from above the South Pole Southern Hemisphere LamAz.png
The Southern Hemisphere from above the South Pole
The Southern Hemisphere is highlighted in yellow. The hemispheres appear to be unequal in this image because Antarctica is not shown. Global hemispheres.svg
The Southern Hemisphere is highlighted in yellow. The hemispheres appear to be unequal in this image because Antarctica is not shown.

The Southern Hemisphere is the half (hemisphere) of Earth that is south of the Equator. It contains all or parts of five continents [1] (the whole of Antarctica, the whole of Australia, about 90% of South America, about one-third of Africa, and some islands off the continental mainland of Asia) and four oceans (the whole Southern Ocean, the majority of the Indian Ocean, the South Atlantic Ocean, and the South Pacific Ocean), as well as New Zealand and most of the Pacific Islands in Oceania. Its surface is 80.9% water, compared with 60.7% water in the Northern Hemisphere, and it contains 32.7% of Earth's land. [2]


Owing to the tilt of Earth's rotation relative to the Sun and the ecliptic plane, summer is from December to February (inclusive) and winter is from June to August (inclusive). September 22 or 23 is the vernal equinox and March 20 or 21 is the autumnal equinox. The South Pole is in the centre of the southern hemispherical region.


Southern Hemisphere climates tend to be slightly milder than those at similar latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere, except in the Antarctic which is colder than the Arctic. This is because the Southern Hemisphere has significantly more ocean and much less land; water heats up and cools down more slowly than land. [3] The differences are also attributed to oceanic heat transfer and differing extents of greenhouse trapping. [4]

Aurora australis appearing in the night sky of Swifts Creek, 100 km (62 mi) north of Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia. Aurora australis panorama.jpg
Aurora australis appearing in the night sky of Swifts Creek, 100 km (62 mi) north of Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the Sun passes from east to west through the north, although north of the Tropic of Capricorn the mean Sun can be directly overhead or due south at midday. The Sun follows a right-to-left trajectory through the northern sky unlike the left-to-right motion of the Sun when seen from the Northern Hemisphere as it passes through the southern sky. Sun-cast shadows turn anticlockwise throughout the day and sundials have the hours increasing in the anticlockwise direction. During solar eclipses viewed from a point to the south of the Tropic of Capricorn, the Moon moves from left to right on the disc of the Sun (see, for example, photos with timings of the solar eclipse of November 13, 2012), while viewed from a point to the north of the Tropic of Cancer (i.e., in the Northern Hemisphere), the Moon moves from right to left during solar eclipses.

The Coriolis effect causes cyclones and tropical storms to spin clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere (as opposed to anticlockwise in the Northern Hemisphere). [5]

The southern temperate zone, a subsection of the Southern Hemisphere, is nearly all oceanic.

The Sagittarius constellation that includes the galactic centre is a southern constellation as well as both Magellanic Clouds. This, combined with clearer skies, makes for excellent viewing of the night sky from the Southern Hemisphere with brighter and more numerous stars.

Aurora australis appearing from Stewart Island/Rakiura in the south of New Zealand. AuroraAustralisDisplay.jpg
Aurora australis appearing from Stewart Island/Rakiura in the south of New Zealand.

Forests in the Southern Hemisphere have special features which set them apart from those in the Northern Hemisphere. Both Chile and Australia share, for example, unique beech species or Nothofagus , and New Zealand has members of the closely related genera Lophozonia and Fuscospora . The eucalyptus is native to Australia but is now also planted in Southern Africa and Latin America for pulp production, and increasingly, biofuel uses.

One of the most notable animals to be found almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere is the penguin. A species is found around Isabela Island on the Galápagos archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, which straddles the equator. [6] However, most of Isabela and the rest of the archipelago is located in the Southern Hemisphere, and it is deemed by the International Hydrographic Organization as being wholly within the South Pacific Ocean, rather than the North Pacific. [7]

Demographics and human geography

A photo of Earth from Apollo 17 (Blue Marble) with the south pole at the top and the continent of Africa Apollo17WorldReversed.jpg
A photo of Earth from Apollo 17 (Blue Marble) with the south pole at the top and the continent of Africa

More than 850 million people live in the Southern Hemisphere, representing around 10–12% of the total global human population. [8] [9] Of those 850 million people, more than 215 million live in Brazil, the largest country by land area in the Southern Hemisphere, while more than 150 million live in Java, the most populous island in the world. The most populous country in the Southern Hemisphere is Indonesia, with 275 million people (roughly 30 million of whom live north of the Equator on the northern portions of the islands of Sumatra, Borneo, and Sulawesi, as well as most of North Maluku, while the rest of the population lives in the Southern Hemisphere).[ citation needed ] Portuguese is the most spoken language in the Southern Hemisphere, with over 230 million speakers in six countries – mostly in Brazil, but also in Angola, Mozambique, East Timor, and small parts of Equatorial Guinea and São Tomé and Príncipe that lie south of the Equator. [10]

Among the largest metropolitan areas in the Southern Hemisphere are Jakarta (34 million people), São Paulo (22 million), Kinshasa-Brazzaville (19 million), Buenos Aires (16 million), Rio de Janeiro (12 million), Johannesburg, Lima (11 million each), Surabaya (10 million), Bandung (9 million), Luanda (8 million), Dar es Salaam, Santiago (7 million each), Belo Horizonte, Semarang (6 million each), Sydney, Melbourne and Cape Town (5 million each). Important financial and commercial centres in the Southern Hemisphere include São Paulo, where the B3 (stock exchange) is headquartered, along with Sydney, home to the Australian Securities Exchange, Jakarta, the seat of the Indonesia Stock Exchange, Johannesburg, home to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and Buenos Aires, headquarters of the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange, the oldest stock market in the Southern Hemisphere.

Common tourist destinations in the Southern Hemisphere include Bali, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Easter Island, Lima, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney and Tahiti. [11] [12] According to a 2017 report, the most popular Southern Hemisphere "bucket list" destinations among Australians were Antarctica, New Zealand, the Galápagos Islands, South Africa and Peru. [13]

Quito, Ecuador is the closest major city to the equatorial line on the planet, and Ushuaia, Argentina claims the title of world's southernmost city. Cape Town, Christchurch, Hobart, Punta Arenas and Ushuaia are officially acknowledged as the five international Antarctic gateway cities that serve as primary entry points for travel to the Antarctic region. [14] [15]

Among the most developed nations in the Southern Hemisphere is Australia, with a nominal GDP per capita of US$63,487 and a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.946, the tenth-highest in the world as of the 2024 report. New Zealand is also well developed, with a nominal GDP per capita of US$48,072 and an HDI of 0.939, putting it at number 16 in the world in 2024. The least developed nations in the Southern Hemisphere cluster in Africa and Oceania, with Mozambique and Burundi at the lowest ends of the HDI, at 0.461 (number 183 in the world) and 0.420 (number 187 in the world), respectively. The nominal GDPs per capita of these two countries do not go above US$650, a tiny fraction of the incomes enjoyed by Australians and New Zealanders.

The Southern Hemisphere has long been secondary in the global distribution of demographic, economic and political power, as it has less land than the Northern Hemisphere. [16] In recent times, however, countries such as Australia have made greater efforts to economically engage with those from their hemisphere. [16] Before the Age of Discovery, the Southern Hemisphere was largely cut off from the cultural constructs of the Western and Eastern worlds. [16] Some view both the West and the East as being Northern Hemisphere-centric concepts. [17]

The most widespread religions in the modern Southern Hemisphere are Christianity, prevalent in South America, Africa, Oceania, and East Timor, followed by Islam in East Africa and Indonesia, and Hinduism, which is mostly concentrated on/around the islands of Bali, Mauritius, and Fiji.

The oldest continuously inhabited city in the Southern Hemisphere is Bogor, in western Java, which was founded in 669. Ancient texts from the Hindu kingdoms prevalent in the area definitively record 669 CE as the year when Bogor was founded. However, some evidence shows that Zanzibar, an ancient port with around 200,000 inhabitants off the coast of Tanzania, may be older than Bogor. A Greco-Roman text written between 1 and 100 CE, the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, mentioned the island of Menuthias (Ancient Greek: Μενουθιάς) as a trading port on the east African coast, which is probably the small Tanzanian island of Unguja on which Zanzibar is located. The oldest monumental civilizations in the Southern Hemisphere are the Norte Chico civilization and Casma–Sechin culture from the northern coast of Peru. These civilizations built cities, pyramids, and plazas in the coastal river valleys of northern Peru with some ruins dating back to 3600 BCE. Easter Island, located about 3,500 kilometres from Chile and French Polynesia, is considered to be the most remote place on Earth to have been permanently inhabited by humans before the Age of Discovery. [18] It was settled by a Polynesian group known as the Rapa Nui. Areas of the Southern Hemisphere that had no contact with humans before the Age of Discovery include Christmas Island and Mauritius (in the Indian Ocean), the Galápagos Islands, Juan Fernández Islands and Lord Howe Island (in the South Pacific), the Falkland Islands and Tristan da Cunha (in the South Atlantic) and the continent of Antarctica.

Continents or submerged continents

About one-third of the continent, from south of Mogadishu in Somalia in the east to south of Libreville in Gabon in the west. From the Equator (Latitude: 0°) to Cape Agulhas (Latitude: 34°50′S).
The entire continent and its associated islands are within the Southern Hemisphere. From Prime Head, at the northern tip of the Trinity Peninsula (Latitude: 63°12′48″S) to the South Pole (Latitude: 90° S).
The entire continental mainland is within the Northern Hemisphere, only the southern portion of Maritime Southeast Asia, including East Timor and most of Indonesia, plus the British Indian Ocean Territory and two out of 26 atolls of Maldives in the Indian Ocean. From the Equator (Latitude: 0°) to Pamana Island, Indonesia (Latitude: 11°00'S).
The entire continent and most of its associated islands are within the Southern Hemisphere. From the Equator (Latitude: 0°) to Bishop and Clerk Islets, Tasmania, Australia (Latitude: 55°03′ S).
South America
Most of the continent, from south of the Amazon River mouth in Brazil in the east to north of Quito in Ecuador in the west. From the Equator (Latitude: 0°) to Águila Islet, Diego Ramírez Islands, Chile (Latitude: 56°32′16″S), or, if the South Sandwich Islands are included as part of South America, Cook Island, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (Latitude: 59°29′20″S).
The entire submerged continent, including New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, and other associated low-lying islands above sea level, is within the Southern Hemisphere. From Belep, New Caledonia, France (Latitude: 19°45′00″S) to Jacquemart Island (Latitude: 52°37′S).

Mainland countries or territories

Entirely —
Mostly —
Partly —
The entire continental mainland is wholly within the Northern Hemisphere. Only the southern portion of Maritime Southeast Asia, plus the British Indian Ocean Territory and two out of 26 atolls of Maldives in the Indian Ocean are in the Southern Hemisphere.
Entirely —
Mostly —
Partly —
Entirely —
Entirely —

Island countries or territories

Atlantic Ocean

Entirely —

Partly —

Indian Ocean

Entirely —

Partly —

Pacific Ocean

Entirely —

Mostly —

Partly —

Southern Ocean

Entirely —

See also


    Related Research Articles

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Antarctic Treaty System</span> International treaties concerning Antarctica

    The Antarctic Treaty and related agreements, collectively known as the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS), regulate international relations with respect to Antarctica, Earth's only continent without a native human population. It was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War, designating the continent as a scientific preserve, establishing freedom of scientific investigation, and banning military activity; for the purposes of the treaty system, Antarctica is defined as all the land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude. Since September 2004, the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat, which implements the treaty system, is headquartered in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Northern Hemisphere</span> Half of Earth that is north of the Equator

    The Northern Hemisphere is the half of Earth that is north of the Equator. For other planets in the Solar System, north is defined as being in the same celestial hemisphere relative to the invariable plane of the Solar System as Earth's North Pole.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Pacific Ocean</span> Ocean between Asia, Oceania, and the Americas

    The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's five oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, and is bounded by the continents of Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east.

    <i>Terra Australis</i> Hypothetical continent

    Terra Australis was a hypothetical continent first posited in antiquity and which appeared on maps between the 15th and 18th centuries. Its existence was not based on any survey or direct observation, but rather on the idea that continental land in the Northern Hemisphere should be balanced by land in the Southern Hemisphere. This theory of balancing land has been documented as early as the 5th century on maps by Macrobius, who uses the term Australis on his maps.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Antipodes</span> Diametrically opposite points on Earths surface

    In geography, the antipode of any spot on Earth is the point on Earth's surface diametrically opposite to it. A pair of points antipodal to each other are situated such that a straight line connecting the two would pass through Earth's center. Antipodal points are as far away from each other as possible. The North and South Poles are antipodes of each other.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Antarctic flora</span> Distinct community of plants which evolved on the supercontinent of Gondwana

    Antarctic flora are a distinct community of vascular plants which evolved millions of years ago on the supercontinent of Gondwana. Presently, species of Antarctica flora reside on several now separated areas of the Southern Hemisphere, including southern South America, southernmost Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and New Caledonia. Joseph Dalton Hooker was the first to notice similarities in the flora and speculated that Antarctica had served as either a source or a transitional point, and that land masses now separated might formerly have been adjacent.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Antarctic Plate</span> Major tectonic plate containing Antarctica and the surrounding ocean floor

    The Antarctic Plate is a tectonic plate containing the continent of Antarctica, the Kerguelen Plateau, and some remote islands in the Southern Ocean and other surrounding oceans. After breakup from Gondwana, the Antarctic plate began moving the continent of Antarctica south to its present isolated location, causing the continent to develop a much colder climate. The Antarctic Plate is bounded almost entirely by extensional mid-ocean ridge systems. The adjoining plates are the Nazca Plate, the South American Plate, the African Plate, the Somali Plate, the Indo-Australian Plate, the Pacific Plate, and, across a transform boundary, the Scotia Plate.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Antarctic Convergence</span> Separation of two hydrological & climatic regions

    The Antarctic Convergence or Antarctic Polar Front is a marine belt encircling Antarctica, varying in latitude seasonally, where cold, northward-flowing Antarctic waters meet the relatively warmer waters of the sub-Antarctic. Antarctic waters predominantly sink beneath the warmer subantarctic waters, while associated zones of mixing and upwelling create a zone very high in marine productivity, especially for Antarctic krill.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Subantarctic</span> Term describing the parts of the three largest oceans nearest the Southern Ocean

    The subantarctic zone is a region in the Southern Hemisphere, located immediately north of the Antarctic region. This translates roughly to a latitude of between 46° and 60° south of the Equator. The subantarctic region includes many islands in the southern parts of the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans, especially those situated north of the Antarctic Convergence. Subantarctic glaciers are, by definition, located on islands within the subantarctic region. All glaciers located on the continent of Antarctica are by definition considered to be Antarctic glaciers.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Antarctic Floristic Kingdom</span> Geographic area with a relatively uniform composition of plant species in the Antarctic

    The Antarctic Floristic Kingdom, also the Holantarctic Kingdom, is a floristic kingdom that includes most areas of the world south of 40°S latitude. It was first identified by botanist Ronald Good, and later by Armen Takhtajan. The Antarctic Floristic Kingdom is a classification in phytogeography, different from the Antarctic realm classification in biogeography, and from Antarctic flora genera/species classifications in botany.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Geology of Chile</span>

    The geology of Chile is a characterized by processes linked to subduction, such as volcanism, earthquakes, and orogeny. The building blocks of Chile's geology were assembled during the Paleozoic Era when Chile was the southwestern margin of the supercontinent Gondwana. In the Jurassic, Gondwana began to split, and the ongoing period of crustal deformation and mountain building known as the Andean orogeny began. In the Late Cenozoic, Chile definitely separated from Antarctica, and the Andes experienced a significant rise accompanied by a cooling climate and the onset of glaciations.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Boundaries between the continents</span>

    Determining the boundaries between the continents is generally a matter of geographical convention. Several slightly different conventions are in use. The number of continents is most commonly considered seven but may range as low as four when Afro-Eurasia and the Americas are both considered as single continents. An island can be considered to be associated with a given continent by either lying on the continent's adjacent continental shelf or being a part of a microcontinent on the same principal tectonic plate. An island can also be entirely oceanic while still being associated with a continent by geology or by common geopolitical convention. Another example is the grouping into Oceania of the Pacific Islands with Australia and Zealandia.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Territorial claims in Antarctica</span> Land claims of the continent

    Seven sovereign states – Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom – have made eight territorial claims in Antarctica. These countries have tended to place their Antarctic scientific observation and study facilities within their respective claimed territories; however, a number of such facilities are located outside of the area claimed by their respective countries of operation, and countries without claims such as China, India, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa (SANAE), Poland, and the United States have constructed research facilities within the areas claimed by other countries. There are overlaps among the territories claimed by Argentina, Chile, and the United Kingdom.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Gondwana</span> Neoproterozoic to Cretaceous landmass

    Gondwana was a large landmass, sometimes referred to as a supercontinent. The remnants of Gondwana make up around two-thirds of today's continental area, including South America, Africa, Antarctica, Australia, Zealandia, Arabia, and the Indian Subcontinent.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Southern Ocean</span> Ocean around Antarctica

    The Southern Ocean, also known as the Antarctic Ocean, comprises the southernmost waters of the world ocean, generally taken to be south of 60° S latitude and encircling Antarctica. With a size of 20,327,000 km2 (7,848,000 sq mi), it is regarded as the second-smallest of the five principal oceanic divisions: smaller than the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans but larger than the Arctic Ocean.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Borders of the oceans</span> Limits of Earths oceanic waters

    The borders of the oceans are the limits of Earth's oceanic waters. The definition and number of oceans can vary depending on the adopted criteria. The principal divisions of the five oceans are the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, Southern (Antarctic) Ocean, and Arctic Ocean. Smaller regions of the oceans are called seas, gulfs, bays, straits, and other terms. Geologically, an ocean is an area of oceanic crust covered by water.


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