Time zone

Last updated

Time zones of the world World Time Zones Map.png
Time zones of the world

A time zone is an area which observes a uniform standard time for legal, commercial and social purposes. Time zones tend to follow the boundaries between countries and their subdivisions instead of strictly following longitude, because it is convenient for areas in frequent communication to keep the same time.


All time zones are defined as offsets from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), ranging from UTC−12:00 to UTC+14:00. The offsets are usually a whole number of hours, but a few zones are offset by an additional 30 or 45 minutes, such as in India, South Australia and Nepal.

Some areas of higher latitude use daylight saving time for about half of the year, typically by adding one hour to local time during spring and summer.

List of UTC offsets

Time zones of the world World time zones.svg
Time zones of the world

In the table below, the locations that use daylight saving time (DST) are listed in their UTC offset when DST is not in effect. When DST is in effect, approximately during spring and summer, their UTC offset is increased by one hour (except for Lord Howe Island, where it is increased by 30 minutes). For example, during the DST period California observes UTC−07:00 and the United Kingdom observes UTC+01:00.

UTC offsetLocations that do not use DSTLocations that use DST
UTC−12:00 Flag of the United States.svg  Baker Island Flag of the United States.svg  Howland Island
UTC−11:00 Flag of American Samoa.svg  American Samoa
Flag of the United States.svg  Jarvis Island
Flag of the United States.svg  Kingman Reef
Flag of the United States.svg  Midway Atoll
Flag of Niue.svg  Niue
Flag of the United States.svg  Palmyra Atoll
UTC−10:00 Flag of the Cook Islands.svg  Cook Islands
Flag of French Polynesia.svg  French Polynesia (most)
Flag of the United States.svg  Johnston Atoll
Flag of the United States.svg  United States: Hawaii
Flag of the United States.svg  United States: Andreanof Islands, Islands of Four Mountains, Near Islands, Rat Islands (Aleutian Islands, Alaska)
UTC−09:30 Flag of French Polynesia.svg  French Polynesia: Marquesas Islands
UTC−09:00 Flag of French Polynesia.svg  French Polynesia: Gambier Islands Flag of the United States.svg  United States: Alaska (most)
UTC−08:00 Flag of France.svg  Clipperton Island
Flag of the Pitcairn Islands.svg  Pitcairn Islands
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada: British Columbia (most)
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico: Baja California
Flag of the United States.svg  United States: California, Idaho (north), Nevada (most), Oregon (most), Washington
UTC−07:00 Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada: British Columbia (northeast), Yukon
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico: Baja California Sur, Nayarit (most), Sinaloa, Sonora
Flag of the United States.svg  United States: Arizona (most)
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada: Alberta, British Columbia (southeast), Northwest Territories, Nunavut (west)
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico: Chihuahua (northwest border)
Flag of the United States.svg  United States: Colorado, Idaho (most), Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming
UTC−06:00 Flag of Belize.svg  Belize
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada: Saskatchewan (most)
Flag of Costa Rica.svg  Costa Rica
Flag of Ecuador.svg  Ecuador: Galápagos
Flag of El Salvador.svg  El Salvador
Flag of Guatemala.svg  Guatemala
Flag of Honduras.svg  Honduras
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico (most)
Flag of Nicaragua.svg  Nicaragua
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada: Manitoba, Nunavut (central), Ontario (west)
Flag of Chile.svg  Chile: Easter Island
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico (northeast border)
Flag of the United States.svg  United States: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas (most), Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska (most), North Dakota (most), Oklahoma, South Dakota (most), Tennessee (most), Texas (most), Wisconsin
UTC−05:00 Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil: Acre
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada: Atikokan, Mishkeegogamang, Southampton Island
Flag of the Cayman Islands.svg  Cayman Islands
Flag of Colombia.svg  Colombia
Flag of Ecuador.svg  Ecuador (most)
Flag of Jamaica.svg  Jamaica
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico: Quintana Roo
Flag of the United States.svg  Navassa Island
Flag of Panama.svg  Panama
Flag of Peru.svg  Peru
Flag of the Bahamas.svg  Bahamas
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada: Nunavut (east), Ontario (most), Quebec (most)
Flag of Cuba.svg  Cuba
Flag of Haiti.svg  Haiti
Flag of the Turks and Caicos Islands.svg  Turks and Caicos Islands
Flag of the United States.svg  United States: Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida (most), Georgia, Indiana (most), Kentucky (most), Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan (most), New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia
UTC−04:00 Flag of Anguilla.svg  Anguilla
Flag of Antigua and Barbuda.svg  Antigua and Barbuda
Flag of Aruba.svg  Aruba
Flag of Barbados.svg  Barbados
Bandera de Bolivia (Estado).svg  Bolivia
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil: Amazonas (most), Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Rondônia, Roraima
Flag of the British Virgin Islands.svg  British Virgin Islands
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada: Quebec (east)
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Caribbean Netherlands
Flag of Curacao.svg  Curaçao
Flag of Dominica.svg  Dominica
Flag of the Dominican Republic.svg  Dominican Republic
Flag of Grenada.svg  Grenada
Flag of France.svg  Guadeloupe
Flag of Guyana.svg  Guyana
Flag of France.svg  Martinique
Flag of Montserrat.svg  Montserrat
Flag of Puerto Rico.svg  Puerto Rico
Flag of France.svg  Saint Barthélemy
Flag of Saint Kitts and Nevis.svg  Saint Kitts and Nevis
Flag of Saint Lucia.svg  Saint Lucia
Flag of France.svg  Saint Martin
Flag of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.svg  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Flag of Sint Maarten.svg  Sint Maarten
Flag of Trinidad and Tobago.svg  Trinidad and Tobago
Flag of the United States Virgin Islands.svg  U.S. Virgin Islands
Flag of Venezuela.svg  Venezuela
Flag of Bermuda.svg  Bermuda
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada: Labrador (most), New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island
Flag of Chile.svg  Chile (most)
Flag of Greenland.svg  Greenland: Thule Air Base
Flag of Paraguay.svg  Paraguay
UTC−03:30 Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada: Newfoundland, Labrador (southeast)
UTC−03:00 Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil (most)
Flag of Chile.svg  Chile: Magallanes
Flag of the Falkland Islands.svg  Falkland Islands
Flag of France.svg  French Guiana
Flag of Suriname.svg  Suriname
Flag of Uruguay.svg  Uruguay
Flag of Greenland.svg  Greenland (most)
Flag of France.svg  Saint Pierre and Miquelon
UTC−02:00 Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil: Fernando de Noronha
Flag of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.svg  South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
UTC−01:00 Flag of Cape Verde.svg  Cape Verde Flag of Greenland.svg  Greenland: Ittoqqortoormiit
Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal: Azores
UTC±00:00 Flag of Burkina Faso.svg  Burkina Faso
Flag of The Gambia.svg  Gambia
Flag of Ghana.svg  Ghana
Flag of Greenland.svg  Greenland: Danmarkshavn
Flag of Guinea.svg  Guinea
Flag of Guinea-Bissau.svg  Guinea-Bissau
Flag of Iceland.svg  Iceland
Flag of Cote d'Ivoire.svg  Ivory Coast
Flag of Liberia.svg  Liberia
Flag of Mali.svg  Mali
Flag of Mauritania.svg  Mauritania
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
Flag of Senegal.svg  Senegal
Flag of Sierra Leone.svg  Sierra Leone
Flag of Sao Tome and Principe.svg  São Tomé and Príncipe
Flag of Togo.svg  Togo
Flag of the Faroe Islands.svg  Faroe Islands
Flag of Guernsey.svg  Guernsey
Flag of Ireland.svg  Ireland
Flag of the Isle of Man.svg  Isle of Man
Flag of Jersey.svg  Jersey
Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal (most)
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain: Canary Islands
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
UTC+01:00 Flag of Algeria.svg  Algeria
Flag of Angola.svg  Angola
Flag of Benin.svg  Benin
Flag of Cameroon.svg  Cameroon
Flag of the Central African Republic.svg  Central African Republic
Flag of Chad.svg  Chad
Flag of the Republic of the Congo.svg  Congo
Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg  Democratic Republic of the Congo: Équateur, Kinshasa, Kongo Central, Kwango, Kwilu, Mai-Ndombe, Mongala, Nord-Ubangi, Sud-Ubangi, Tshuapa
Flag of Equatorial Guinea.svg  Equatorial Guinea
Flag of Gabon.svg  Gabon
Flag of Morocco.svg  Morocco [lower-alpha 1]
Flag of Niger.svg  Niger
Flag of Nigeria.svg  Nigeria
Flag of Tunisia.svg  Tunisia
Flag of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.svg  Western Sahara [lower-alpha 1]
Flag of Albania.svg  Albania
Flag of Andorra.svg  Andorra
Flag of Austria.svg  Austria
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg  Bosnia and Herzegovina
Flag of Croatia.svg  Croatia
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg  Czech Republic
Flag of Denmark.svg  Denmark
Flag of France.svg  France (metropolitan)
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany
Flag of Gibraltar.svg  Gibraltar
Flag of Hungary.svg  Hungary
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy
Flag of Kosovo.svg  Kosovo
Flag of Liechtenstein.svg  Liechtenstein
Flag of Luxembourg.svg  Luxembourg
Flag of Malta.svg  Malta
Flag of Monaco.svg  Monaco
Flag of Montenegro.svg  Montenegro
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands (European)
Flag of North Macedonia.svg  North Macedonia
Flag of Norway.svg  Norway
Flag of Poland.svg  Poland
Flag of San Marino.svg  San Marino
Flag of Serbia.svg  Serbia
Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia
Flag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain (most)
Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden
Flag of Switzerland (Pantone).svg  Switzerland
Flag of the Vatican City.svg   Vatican City
UTC+02:00 Flag of Botswana.svg  Botswana
Flag of Burundi.svg  Burundi
Flag of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.svg  Democratic Republic of the Congo (most)
Flag of Egypt.svg  Egypt
Flag of Eswatini.svg  Eswatini
Flag of Lesotho.svg  Lesotho
Flag of Libya.svg  Libya
Flag of Malawi.svg  Malawi
Flag of Mozambique.svg  Mozambique
Flag of Namibia.svg  Namibia
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia: Kaliningrad
Flag of Rwanda.svg  Rwanda
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa (most)
Flag of South Sudan.svg  South Sudan
Flag of Sudan.svg  Sudan
Flag of Zambia.svg  Zambia
Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  Akrotiri and Dhekelia
Flag of Bulgaria.svg  Bulgaria
Flag of Cyprus.svg  Cyprus
Flag of Estonia.svg  Estonia
Flag of Finland.svg  Finland
Flag of Greece.svg  Greece
Flag of Israel.svg  Israel
Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia
Flag of Lebanon.svg  Lebanon
Flag of Lithuania.svg  Lithuania
Flag of Moldova.svg  Moldova
Flag of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.svg  Northern Cyprus
Flag of Palestine.svg  Palestine
Flag of Romania.svg  Romania
Flag of Transnistria (state).svg  Transnistria
Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine (most)
UTC+03:00 Flag of the Republic of Abkhazia.svg  Abkhazia
Flag of Bahrain.svg  Bahrain
Flag of Belarus.svg  Belarus
Flag of the Comoros.svg  Comoros
Flag of Djibouti.svg  Djibouti
Flag of Eritrea.svg  Eritrea
Flag of Ethiopia.svg  Ethiopia
Flag of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.svg  French Southern and Antarctic Lands: Scattered Islands [4]
Flag of Iraq.svg  Iraq
Flag of Jordan.svg  Jordan
Flag of Kenya.svg  Kenya
Flag of Kuwait.svg  Kuwait
Flag of Madagascar.svg  Madagascar
Flag of France.svg  Mayotte
Flag of Qatar.svg  Qatar
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia (most of European part)
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia
Flag of Somalia.svg  Somalia
Flag of Somaliland.svg  Somaliland
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa: Prince Edward Islands
Flag of South Ossetia.svg  South Ossetia
Flag of Syria.svg  Syria
Flag of Tanzania.svg  Tanzania
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey
Flag of Uganda.svg  Uganda
Flag of Ukraine.svg  Ukraine: occupied territories
Flag of Yemen.svg  Yemen
UTC+03:30 Flag of Iran.svg  Iran
UTC+04:00 Flag of Armenia.svg  Armenia
Flag of Azerbaijan.svg  Azerbaijan
Flag of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.svg  French Southern and Antarctic Lands: Crozet Islands [4]
Flag of Georgia.svg  Georgia
Flag of Mauritius.svg  Mauritius
Flag of Oman.svg  Oman
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia: Astrakhan, Samara, Saratov, Udmurtia, Ulyanovsk
Flag of France.svg  Réunion
Flag of Seychelles.svg  Seychelles
Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg  United Arab Emirates
UTC+04:30 Flag of the Taliban.svg  Afghanistan
UTC+05:00 Flag of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.svg  French Southern and Antarctic Lands: Kerguelen Islands, Saint Paul Island, Amsterdam Island
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Heard Island and McDonald Islands
Flag of Kazakhstan.svg  Kazakhstan: Aktobe, Atyrau, Baikonur, Kyzylorda, Mangystau, West Kazakhstan
Flag of Maldives.svg  Maldives
Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia: Bashkortostan, Chelyabinsk, Khanty-Mansi, Kurgan, Orenburg, Perm, Sverdlovsk, Tyumen, Yamalia
Flag of Tajikistan.svg  Tajikistan
Flag of Turkmenistan.svg  Turkmenistan
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg  Uzbekistan
UTC+05:30 Flag of India.svg  India
Flag of Sri Lanka.svg  Sri Lanka
UTC+05:45 Flag of Nepal.svg  Nepal
UTC+06:00 Flag of Bangladesh.svg  Bangladesh
Flag of Bhutan.svg  Bhutan
Flag of the Commissioner of the British Indian Ocean Territory.svg  British Indian Ocean Territory
Flag of Kazakhstan.svg  Kazakhstan (most)
Flag of Kyrgyzstan.svg  Kyrgyzstan
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia: Omsk
UTC+06:30 Flag of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.svg  Cocos Islands
Flag of Myanmar.svg  Myanmar
UTC+07:00 Flag of Cambodia.svg  Cambodia
Flag of Christmas Island.svg  Christmas Island
Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia: Sumatra, Java, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan
Flag of Laos.svg  Laos
Flag of Mongolia.svg  Mongolia: Bayan-Ölgii, Khovd, Uvs
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia: Altai Krai, Altai Republic, Kemerovo, Khakassia, Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Tuva
Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand
Flag of Vietnam.svg  Vietnam
UTC+08:00 Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia: Western Australia (most)
Flag of Brunei.svg  Brunei
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China
Flag of Hong Kong.svg  Hong Kong
Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia: South Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, North Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Bali, West Nusa Tenggara, East Nusa Tenggara
Flag of Macau.svg  Macau
Flag of Malaysia.svg  Malaysia
Flag of Mongolia.svg  Mongolia (most)
Flag of the Philippines.svg  Philippines
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia: Buryatia, Irkutsk
Flag of Singapore.svg  Singapore
Flag of the Republic of China.svg  Taiwan
UTC+08:45 Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia: Eucla
UTC+09:00 Flag of East Timor.svg  East Timor
Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia: Maluku, North Maluku, Papua, West Papua
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan
Flag of North Korea.svg  North Korea
Flag of Palau.svg  Palau
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia: Amur, Sakha (most), Zabaykalsky
Flag of South Korea.svg  South Korea
UTC+09:30 Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia: Northern Territory Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia: South Australia
UTC+10:00 Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia: Queensland
Flag of Guam.svg  Guam
Flag of Federated States of Micronesia.svg  Micronesia: Chuuk, Yap
Flag of the Northern Mariana Islands.svg  Northern Mariana Islands
Flag of Papua New Guinea.svg  Papua New Guinea (most)
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia: Jewish, Khabarovsk, Primorsky, Sakha (central-east)
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Jervis Bay Territory, New South Wales (most), Tasmania, Victoria
UTC+10:30 Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia: Lord Howe Island
UTC+11:00 Flag of Federated States of Micronesia.svg  Micronesia: Kosrae, Pohnpei
Flags of New Caledonia.svg  New Caledonia
Flag of Papua New Guinea.svg  Papua New Guinea: Bougainville
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia: Magadan, Sakha (east), Sakhalin
Flag of the Solomon Islands.svg  Solomon Islands
Flag of Vanuatu.svg  Vanuatu
Flag of Norfolk Island.svg  Norfolk Island
UTC+12:00 Flag of Fiji.svg  Fiji
Flag of Kiribati.svg  Kiribati: Gilbert Islands
Flag of the Marshall Islands.svg  Marshall Islands
Flag of Nauru.svg  Nauru
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia: Chukotka, Kamchatka
Flag of Tuvalu.svg  Tuvalu
Flag of the United States.svg  Wake Island
Flag of France.svg  Wallis and Futuna
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand (most)
UTC+12:45 Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand: Chatham Islands
UTC+13:00 Flag of Kiribati.svg  Kiribati: Phoenix Islands
Flag of Samoa.svg  Samoa
Flag of Tokelau.svg  Tokelau
Flag of Tonga.svg  Tonga
UTC+14:00 Flag of Kiribati.svg  Kiribati: Line Islands
  1. 1 2 Observes UTC±00:00 around Ramadan. [1] [2] [3]


The apparent position of the Sun in the sky, and thus solar time, varies by location due to the spherical shape of the Earth. This variation corresponds to four minutes of time for every degree of longitude, so for example when it is solar noon in London, it is about 10 minutes before solar noon in Bristol, which is about 2.5 degrees to the west. [5]

The Royal Observatory, Greenwich, founded in 1675, established Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), the mean solar time at that location, as an aid to mariners to determine longitude at sea, providing a standard reference time while each location in England kept a different time.

Railway time

Plaque commemorating the Railway General Time Convention of 1883 in North America Time zone chicago.jpg
Plaque commemorating the Railway General Time Convention of 1883 in North America
The control panel of the Time Zone Clock in front of Coventry Transport Museum Coventry Time Zone Clock.jpg
The control panel of the Time Zone Clock in front of Coventry Transport Museum

In the 19th century, as transportation and telecommunications improved, it became increasingly inconvenient for each location to observe its own solar time. In November 1840, the Great Western Railway started using GMT kept by portable chronometers. [6] This practice was soon followed by other railway companies in Great Britain and became known as Railway Time.

Around August 23, 1852, time signals were first transmitted by telegraph from the Royal Observatory. By 1855, 98% of Great Britain's public clocks were using GMT, but it was not made the island's legal time until August 2, 1880. Some British clocks from this period have two minute hands, one for the local time and one for GMT. [7]

On November 2, 1868, the then British Colony of New Zealand officially adopted a standard time to be observed throughout the colony. [8] It was based on longitude 172°30′ east of Greenwich, that is 11 hours 30 minutes ahead of GMT. This standard was known as New Zealand Mean Time. [9]

Timekeeping on North American railroads in the 19th century was complex. Each railroad used its own standard time, usually based on the local time of its headquarters or most important terminus, and the railroad's train schedules were published using its own time. Some junctions served by several railroads had a clock for each railroad, each showing a different time. [10]

1913 time zone map of the United States, showing boundaries very different from today Time zone map of the United States 1913 (colorized).png
1913 time zone map of the United States, showing boundaries very different from today

Charles F. Dowd proposed a system of hourly standard time zones for North American railroads around 1863, although he published nothing on the matter at that time and did not consult railroad officials until 1869. In 1870 he proposed four ideal time zones having north–south borders, the first centered on Washington, D.C., but by 1872 the first was centered on meridian 75° west of Greenwich, with natural borders such as sections of the Appalachian Mountains. Dowd's system was never accepted by North American railroads. Instead, U.S. and Canadian railroads implemented a version proposed by William F. Allen, the editor of the Traveler's Official Railway Guide. [11] The borders of its time zones ran through railroad stations, often in major cities. For example, the border between its Eastern and Central time zones ran through Detroit, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Charleston. It was inaugurated on Sunday, November 18, 1883, also called "The Day of Two Noons", [12] when each railroad station clock was reset as standard-time noon was reached within each time zone.

The North American zones were named Intercolonial, Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific. Within a year 85% of all cities with populations over 10,000 (about 200 cities) were using standard time. [13] A notable exception was Detroit (located about halfway between the meridians of Eastern and Central time), which kept local time until 1900, then tried Central Standard Time, local mean time, and Eastern Standard Time (EST) before a May 1915 ordinance settled on EST and was ratified by popular vote in August 1916. The confusion of times came to an end when standard time zones were formally adopted by the U.S. Congress in the Standard Time Act of March 19, 1918.

Worldwide time zones

Italian mathematician Quirico Filopanti introduced the idea of a worldwide system of time zones in his book Miranda!, published in 1858. He proposed 24 hourly time zones, which he called "longitudinal days", the first centred on the meridian of Rome. He also proposed a universal time to be used in astronomy and telegraphy. However, his book attracted no attention until long after his death. [14] [15]

Scottish-born Canadian Sir Sandford Fleming proposed a worldwide system of time zones in 1876 - see Sandford Fleming § Inventor of worldwide standard time. The proposal divided the world into twenty-four time zones labeled A-Y (skipping J), each one covering 15 degrees of longitude. All clocks within each zone would be set to the same time as the others, but differed by one hour from those in the neighboring zones. [16] He advocated his system at several international conferences, including the International Meridian Conference, where it received some consideration. The system has not been directly adopted, but some maps divide the world into 24 time zones and assign letters to them, similarly to Fleming's system. [17]

World map of time zones in 1928 World Time Zone Chart 1942.jpg
World map of time zones in 1928

By about 1900, almost all inhabited places on Earth had adopted a standard time zone, but only some of them used an hourly offset from GMT. Many applied the time at a local astronomical observatory to an entire country, without any reference to GMT. It took many decades before all time zones were based on some standard offset from GMT or Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). By 1929, the majority of countries had adopted hourly time zones, though some countries such as Iran, India, Myanmar and parts of Australia had time zones with a 30-minute offset. Nepal was the last country to adopt a standard offset, shifting slightly to UTC+05:45 in 1986. [18]

All nations currently use standard time zones for secular purposes, but not all of them apply the concept as originally conceived. Several countries and subdivisions use half-hour or quarter-hour deviations from standard time. Some countries, such as China and India, use a single time zone even though the extent of their territory far exceeds the ideal 15° of longitude for one hour; other countries, such as Spain and Argentina, use standard hour-based offsets, but not necessarily those that would be determined by their geographical location. The consequences, in some areas, can affect the lives of local citizens, and in extreme cases contribute to larger political issues, such as in the western reaches of China. [19] In Russia, which has 11 time zones, two time zones were removed in 2010 [20] [21] and reinstated in 2014. [22]


ISO 8601

ISO 8601 is a standard established by the International Organization for Standardization defining methods of representing dates and times in textual form, including specifications for representing time zones. [23]

If a time is in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), a "Z" is added directly after the time without a separating space. "Z" is the zone designator for the zero UTC offset. "09:30 UTC" is therefore represented as "09:30Z" or "0930Z". Likewise, "14:45:15 UTC" is written as "14:45:15Z" or "144515Z". [24] UTC time is also known as "Zulu" time, since "Zulu" is a phonetic alphabet code word for the letter "Z". [24]

Offsets from UTC are written in the format ±hh:mm, ±hhmm, or ±hh (either hours ahead or behind UTC). For example, if the time being described is one hour ahead of UTC (such as the time in Germany during the winter), the zone designator would be "+01:00", "+0100", or simply "+01". This numeric representation of time zones is appended to local times in the same way that alphabetic time zone abbreviations (or "Z", as above) are appended. The offset from UTC changes with daylight saving time, e.g. a time offset in Chicago, which is in the North American Central Time Zone, is "−06:00" for the winter (Central Standard Time) and "−05:00" for the summer (Central Daylight Time). [25]


Time zones are often represented by alphabetic abbreviations such as "EST", "WST", and "CST", but these are not part of the international time and date standard ISO 8601. Such designations can be ambiguous; for example, "CST" can mean (North American) Central Standard Time (UTC−06:00), Cuba Standard Time (UTC−05:00) and China Standard Time (UTC+08:00), and it is also a widely used variant of ACST (Australian Central Standard Time, UTC+09:30). [26]


Conversion between time zones obeys the relationship

"time in zone A" − "UTC offset for zone A" = "time in zone B" − "UTC offset for zone B",

in which each side of the equation is equivalent to UTC.

The conversion equation can be rearranged to

"time in zone B" = "time in zone A" − "UTC offset for zone A" + "UTC offset for zone B".

For example, the New York Stock Exchange opens at 09:30 (EST, UTC offset= −05:00). In California (PST, UTC offset= −08:00) and India (IST, UTC offset= +05:30), the New York Stock Exchange opens at

time in California = 09:30 − (−05:00) + (−08:00) = 06:30;
time in India = 09:30 − (−05:00) + (+05:30) = 20:00.

These calculations become more complicated near the time switch to or from daylight saving time, as the UTC offset for the area becomes a function of UTC time.

The time differences may also result in different dates. For example, when it is 22:00 on Monday in Egypt (UTC+02:00), it is 01:00 on Tuesday in Pakistan (UTC+05:00).

The table "Time of day by zone" gives an overview on the time relations between different zones.

Nautical time zones

Since the 1920s, a nautical standard time system has been in operation for ships on the high seas. As an ideal form of the terrestrial time zone system, nautical time zones consist of gores of 15° offset from GMT by a whole number of hours. A nautical date line follows the 180th meridian, bisecting one 15° gore into two 7.5° gores that differ from GMT by ±12 hours. [27] [28] [29]

However, in practice each ship may choose what time to observe at each location. Ships may decide to adjust their clocks at a convenient time, usually at night, not exactly when they cross a certain longitude. [30] Some ships simply remain on the time of the departing port during the whole trip. [31]

Skewing of time zones

Difference between sun time and clock time during daylight saving time:
1h +- 30 min behind
0h +- 30m
1h +- 30 m ahead
2h +- 30 m ahead
3h +- 30 m ahead Tzdiff-Europe-summer.png
Difference between sun time and clock time during daylight saving time:
1h ± 30 min behind
0h ± 30m
1h ± 30 m ahead
2h ± 30 m ahead
3h ± 30 m ahead
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DST observed
DST formerly observed
DST never observed DaylightSaving-World-Subdivisions.png
  DST observed
  DST formerly observed
  DST never observed

Ideal time zones, such as nautical time zones, are based on the mean solar time of a particular meridian located in the middle of that zone with boundaries located 7.5 degrees east and west of the meridian. In practice, however, many time zone boundaries are drawn much farther to the west, and some countries are located entirely outside their ideal time zones.

For example, even though the Prime Meridian (0°) passes through Spain and France, they use the mean solar time of 15 degrees east (Central European Time) rather than 0 degrees (Greenwich Mean Time). France previously used GMT, but was switched to CET (Central European Time) during the German occupation of the country during World War II and did not switch back after the war. [32] Similarly, prior to World War II, the Netherlands observed "Amsterdam Time", which was twenty minutes ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. They were obliged to follow German time during the war, and kept it thereafter. In the mid-1970s the Netherlands, as other European states, began observing daylight saving (summer) time.

One reason to draw time zone boundaries far to the west of their ideal meridians is to allow the more efficient use of afternoon sunlight. [33] Some of these locations also use daylight saving time (DST), further increasing the difference to local solar time. As a result, in summer, solar noon in the Spanish city of Vigo occurs at 14:41 clock time. This westernmost area of continental Spain never experiences sunset before 18:00 clock time, even in winter, despite lying 42 degrees north of the equator. [34] Near the summer solstice, Vigo has sunset times after 22:00, similar to those of Stockholm, which is in the same time zone and 17 degrees farther north. Stockholm has much earlier sunrises, though. [35]

A more extreme example is Nome, Alaska, which is at 165°24′W longitude just west of center of the idealized Samoa Time Zone (165°W). Nevertheless, Nome observes Alaska Time (135°W) with DST so it is slightly more than two hours ahead of the sun in winter and over three in summer. [36] Kotzebue, Alaska, also near the same meridian but north of the Arctic Circle, has two sunsets on the same day in early August, one shortly after midnight at the start of the day, and the other shortly before midnight at the end of the day. [37]

China extends as far west as 73°E, but all parts of it use UTC+08:00 (120°E), so solar "noon" can occur as late as 15:00 in western portions of China such as Xinjiang. [38] The Afghanistan-China border marks the greatest terrestrial time zone difference on Earth, with a 3.5 hour difference between Afghanistan's UTC+4:30 and China's UTC+08:00.

Solar time vs standard time.png
A visualization of the mismatch between clock time and solar time in different locations. In blue areas, clock time lags behind solar time; in red areas, the reverse is true. The two are synchronized in the white areas.

Daylight saving time

Many countries, and sometimes just certain regions of countries, adopt daylight saving time (DST), also known as summer time, during part of the year. This typically involves advancing clocks by an hour near the start of spring and adjusting back in autumn ("spring forward", "fall back"). Modern DST was first proposed in 1907 and was in widespread use in 1916 as a wartime measure aimed at conserving coal. Despite controversy, many countries have used it off and on since then; details vary by location and change occasionally. Countries around the equator usually do not observe daylight saving time, since the seasonal difference in sunlight there is minimal.

Computer systems

Many computer operating systems include the necessary support for working with all (or almost all) possible local times based on the various time zones. Internally, operating systems typically use UTC as their basic time-keeping standard, while providing services for converting local times to and from UTC, and also the ability to automatically change local time conversions at the start and end of daylight saving time in the various time zones. (See the article on daylight saving time for more details on this aspect).

Web servers presenting web pages primarily for an audience in a single time zone or a limited range of time zones typically show times as a local time, perhaps with UTC time in brackets. More internationally oriented websites may show times in UTC only or using an arbitrary time zone. For example, the international English-language version of CNN includes GMT and Hong Kong Time, [39] whereas the US version shows Eastern Time. [40] US Eastern Time and Pacific Time are also used fairly commonly on many US-based English-language websites with global readership. The format is typically based in the W3C Note "datetime".

Email systems and other messaging systems (IRC chat, etc.) [41] time-stamp messages using UTC, or else include the sender's time zone as part of the message, allowing the receiving program to display the message's date and time of sending in the recipient's local time.

Database records that include a time stamp typically use UTC, especially when the database is part of a system that spans multiple time zones. The use of local time for time-stamping records is not recommended for time zones that implement daylight saving time because once a year there is a one-hour period when local times are ambiguous.

Calendar systems nowadays usually tie their time stamps to UTC, and show them differently on computers that are in different time zones. That works when having telephone or internet meetings. It works less well when travelling, because the calendar events are assumed to take place in the time zone the computer or smartphone was on when creating the event. The event can be shown at the wrong time. For example, if a New Yorker plans to meet someone in Los Angeles at 9 AM, and makes a calendar entry at 9 AM (which the computer assumes is New York time), the calendar entry will be at 6 AM if taking the computer's time zone. There is also an option in newer versions of Microsoft Outlook to enter the time zone in which an event will happen, but often not in other calendar systems. Calendaring software must also deal with daylight saving time (DST). If, for political reasons, the begin and end dates of daylight saving time are changed, calendar entries should stay the same in local time, even though they may shift in UTC time. In Microsoft Outlook, time stamps are therefore stored and communicated without DST offsets. [42] Hence, an appointment in London at noon in the summer will be represented as 12:00 (UTC+00:00) even though the event will actually take place at 13:00 UTC. In Google Calendar, calendar events are stored in UTC (although shown in local time) and might be changed by a time-zone changes, [43] although normal daylight saving start and end are compensated for (similar to much other calendar software).

Operating systems


Most Unix-like systems, including Linux and Mac OS X, keep system time in time_t format, representing the number of seconds (excluding leap seconds) that have elapsed since 00:00:00 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on Thursday, January 1, 1970. [44] By default the external representation is as UTC (Coordinated Universal Time), though individual processes can specify time zones using the TZ environment variable. [45] This allows users in multiple time zones to use the same computer, with their respective local times displayed correctly to each user. Time zone information most commonly comes from the IANA time zone database. In fact, many systems, including anything using the GNU C Library, can make use of this database.

Microsoft Windows

Windows-based computer systems prior to Windows 2000 used local time, but Windows 2000 and later can use UTC as the basic system time. [46] The system registry contains time zone information that includes the offset from UTC and rules that indicate the start and end dates for daylight saving in each zone. Interaction with the user normally uses local time, and application software is able to calculate the time in various zones. Terminal Servers allow remote computers to redirect their time zone settings to the Terminal Server so that users see the correct time for their time zone in their desktop/application sessions. Terminal Services uses the server base time on the Terminal Server and the client time zone information to calculate the time in the session.

Programming languages


While most application software will use the underlying operating system for time zone information, the Java Platform, from version 1.3.1, has maintained its own time zone database. This database is updated whenever time zone rules change. Oracle provides an updater tool for this purpose. [47]

As an alternative to the time zone information bundled with the Java Platform, programmers may choose to use the Joda-Time library. [48] This library includes its own time zone data based on the IANA time zone database. [49]

As of Java 8 there is a new date and time API that can help with converting time zones. Java 8 Date Time


Traditionally, there was very little in the way of time zone support for JavaScript. Essentially the programmer had to extract the UTC offset by instantiating a time object, getting a GMT time from it, and differencing the two. This does not provide a solution for more complex daylight saving variations, such as divergent DST directions between northern and southern hemispheres.

ECMA-402, the standard on Internationalization API for JavaScript, provides ways of formatting Time Zones. [50] However, due to size constraint, some implementations or distributions do not include it. [51]


The DateTime object in Perl supports all time zones in the Olson DB and includes the ability to get, set and convert between time zones. [52]


The DateTime objects and related functions have been compiled into the PHP core since 5.2. This includes the ability to get and set the default script time zone, and DateTime is aware of its own time zone internally. PHP.net provides extensive documentation on this. [53] As noted there, the most current time zone database can be implemented via the PECL timezonedb.


The standard module datetime included with Python stores and operates on the time zone information class tzinfo. The third party pytz module provides access to the full IANA time zone database. [54] Negated time zone offset in seconds is stored time.timezone and time.altzone attributes. From Python 3.9, the zoneinfo module introduces timezone management without need for third party module. [55]


Each Smalltalk dialect comes with its own built-in classes for dates, times and timestamps, only a few of which implement the DateAndTime and Duration classes as specified by the ANSI Smalltalk Standard. VisualWorks provides a TimeZone class that supports up to two annually recurring offset transitions, which are assumed to apply to all years (same behavior as Windows time zones). Squeak provides a Timezone class that does not support any offset transitions. Dolphin Smalltalk does not support time zones at all.

For full support of the tz database (zoneinfo) in a Smalltalk application (including support for any number of annually recurring offset transitions, and support for different intra-year offset transition rules in different years) the third-party, open-source, ANSI-Smalltalk-compliant Chronos Date/Time Library is available for use with any of the following Smalltalk dialects: VisualWorks, Squeak, Gemstone, or Dolphin. [56]

Time in outer space

Orbiting spacecraft may experience many sunrises and sunsets, or none, in a 24-hour period. Therefore, it is not possible to calibrate the time with respect to the Sun and still respect a 24-hour sleep/wake cycle. A common practice for space exploration is to use the Earth-based time of the launch site or mission control, synchronizing the sleeping cycles of the crew and controllers. The International Space Station normally uses Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). [57] [58]

Timekeeping on Mars can be more complex, since the planet has a solar day of approximately 24 hours and 40 minutes, known as a sol. Earth controllers for some Mars missions have synchronized their sleep/wake cycles with the Martian day, because solar-powered rover activity on the surface was tied to periods of light and dark. [59]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Greenwich Mean Time</span> Time zone of western Europe, same as WET

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is the mean solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, counted from midnight. At different times in the past, it has been calculated in different ways, including being calculated from noon; as a consequence, it cannot be used to specify a particular time unless a context is given. The term 'GMT' is also used as one of the names for the time zone UTC+00:00 and, in UK law, is the basis for civil time in the United Kingdom.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Japan Standard Time</span> Standard time zone in Japan

Japan Standard Time, or Japan Central Standard Time, is the standard time zone in Japan, 9 hours ahead of UTC (UTC+09:00). Japan does not observe daylight saving time, though its introduction has been debated on several occasions. During World War II, the time zone was often referred to as Tokyo Standard Time.

Indian Standard Time (IST), sometimes also called India Standard Time, is the time zone observed throughout India, with a time offset of UTC+05:30. India does not observe daylight saving time or other seasonal adjustments. In military and aviation time, IST is designated E* ("Echo-Star"). It is indicated as Asia/Kolkata in the IANA time zone database.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hawaii–Aleutian Time Zone</span> UTC−10:00 during standard time; UTC−09:00 during daylight saving

The Hawaii–Aleutian Time Zone observes Hawaii–Aleutian Standard Time (HST) by subtracting ten hours from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC−10:00). The clock time in this zone is based on the mean solar time of the 150th meridian west of the Greenwich Observatory.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Central European Time</span> Standard time (UTC+01:00)

Central European Time (CET) is a standard time which is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The time offset from UTC can be written as UTC+01:00. It is used in most parts of Europe and in a few North African countries. CET is also known as Middle European Time and by colloquial names such as Amsterdam Time, Berlin Time, Brussels Time, Madrid Time, Paris Time, Rome Time, Warsaw Time or even Romance Standard Time (RST).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Time in the United States</span> U.S. time zones

Time in the United States, by law, is divided into nine standard time zones covering the states, territories and other US possessions, with most of the United States observing daylight saving time (DST) for approximately the spring, summer, and fall months. The time zone boundaries and DST observance are regulated by the Department of Transportation, but no single map of those existed until the agency announced intentions to make one in September 2022. Official and highly precise timekeeping services (clocks) are provided by two federal agencies: the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) ; and the United States Naval Observatory (USNO). The clocks run by these services are kept synchronized with each other as well as with those of other international timekeeping organizations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Standard time</span> Synchronization of clocks within a geographical region

Standard time is the synchronisation of clocks within a geographical region to a single time standard, rather than a local mean time standard. Generally, standard time agrees with the local mean time at some meridian that passes through the region, often near the centre of the region. Historically, standard time was established during the 19th century to aid weather forecasting and train travel. Applied globally in the 20th century, the geographical regions became time zones. The standard time in each time zone has come to be defined as an offset from Universal Time. A further offset is applied for part of the year in regions with daylight saving time.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Atlantic Time Zone</span> Time zone (UTC−04:00)

The Atlantic Time Zone is a geographical region that keeps standard time—called Atlantic Standard Time (AST)—by subtracting four hours from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), resulting in UTC−04:00. AST is observed in parts of North America and some Caribbean islands. During part of the year, some portions of the zone observe daylight saving time, referred to as Atlantic Daylight Time (ADT), by moving their clocks forward one hour to result in UTC−03:00. The clock time in this zone is based on the mean solar time of the 60th meridian west of the Greenwich Observatory.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Moscow Time</span> Time zone in western Russia (UTC+3)

Moscow Time is the time zone for the city of Moscow, Russia, and most of western Russia, including Saint Petersburg. It is the second-westernmost of the eleven time zones of Russia. It has been set to UTC+03:00 without DST since 26 October 2014; before that date it had been set to UTC+04:00 year-round on 27 March 2011.

The time in China follows a single standard time offset of UTC+08:00, even though China spans almost five geographical time zones. The official national standard time is called Beijing Time domestically and China Standard Time (CST) internationally. Daylight saving time has not been observed since 1991.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Time in Russia</span> About the 11 time zones of Russia

There are eleven time zones in Russia, which currently observe times ranging from UTC+02:00 to UTC+12:00. Daylight saving time (DST) has not been used in Russia since 26 October 2014. From 27 March 2011 to 26 October 2014, permanent DST was used.

Time in Chile is divided into three time zones. Most of Continental Chile uses the time offset UTC−04:00 in winter time and UTC−03:00 in summer time, while the Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica region uses the time offset UTC-03:00 the whole year. Additionally, Easter Island uses the time offset UTC−06:00 in winter time and UTC−05:00 in summer time.

The UTC offset is the difference in hours and minutes between Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and local solar time, at a particular place. This difference is expressed with respect to UTC and is generally shown in the format ±[hh]:[mm], ±[hh][mm], or ±[hh]. So if the time being described is two hours ahead of UTC, the UTC offset would be "+02:00", "+0200", or simply "+02".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Iran Standard Time</span> Identifier for a time offset from UTC of +03:30

Iran Standard Time (IRST) or Iran Time (IT) is the time zone used in Iran. Iran uses a UTC offset UTC+03:30. IRST is defined by the 52.5 degrees east meridian, the same meridian which defines the Iranian calendar and is the official meridian of Iran.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">UTC+00:00</span> Identifier for the UTC +0 offset

UTC+00:00 is an identifier for a time offset from UTC of +00:00. In ISO 8601, an example of the associated time would be written as 2019-02-07T23:28:34+00:00. It is also known by the following geographical or historical names:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bangladesh Standard Time</span> Time zone used in Bangladesh

Bangladesh Standard Time (BST) is the time zone of Bangladesh. It is offset six hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time, and observed as a national standard throughout the country. Bangladesh briefly observed daylight saving time (DST) in 2009 to cope with the ongoing electricity crisis, but in 2010 the decision was cancelled by the government of Bangladesh.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Time in Europe</span> Time zones in Europe

Europe spans seven primary time zones, excluding summer time offsets. Most European countries use summer time and harmonise their summer time adjustments; see Summer time in Europe for details.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Daylight saving time in Morocco</span>

As of 2018, daylight saving time (DST) is permanently observed in Morocco. Previously, time was advanced to UTC+01:00 at 02:00 on the last Sunday of March, and reverted to UTC±00:00, defined as Greenwich Mean Time locally, at 03:00 on the last Sunday of October. This practice was continued through October 2018, after which clocks were permanently advanced. An exception was made during the month of Ramadan during which clocks reverted to UTC+00:00.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Daylight saving time by country</span>

Daylight saving time (DST), also known as summer time, is the practice of advancing clocks during part of the year, typically by one hour around spring and summer, so that daylight ends at a later time of the day. As of 2022, DST is observed in most of Europe, most of North America and parts of Asia around the Northern Hemisphere summer, and in parts of South America and Oceania around the Southern Hemisphere summer. It was also formerly observed in other areas.

Alaska is officially covered by two time zones - the Alaska Time Zone and the Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone. The Hawaii-Aleutian Time Zone is used for the Aleutian Islands west of 169°30′W, and the rest of the state uses the Alaska Time Zone. The entirety of Alaska observes Daylight Savings Time.


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Further reading