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A time zone is a region of the globe that observes a uniform standard time for legal, commercial and social purposes. Time zones tend to follow the boundaries of countries and their subdivisions instead of strictly following longitude because it is convenient for areas in close commercial or other communication to keep the same time. France, including its overseas territories, has the most time zones of any country, with a total of 12.
Most of the time zones on land are offset from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) by a whole number of hours (UTC−12:00 to UTC+14:00), but a few zones are offset by 30 or 45 minutes (e.g. Newfoundland Standard Time is UTC−03:30, Nepal Standard Time is UTC+05:45, Indian Standard Time is UTC+05:30 and Myanmar Standard Time is UTC+06:30).
Some higher latitude and temperate zone countries use daylight saving time for part of the year, typically by adjusting local clock time by an hour. Many land time zones are skewed toward the west of the corresponding nautical time zones. This also creates permanent daylight saving time effect.
When well-regulated mechanical clocks became widespread in the early 19th century,each city began to use local mean solar time. Apparent and mean solar time can differ by up to around 15 minutes (as described by the equation of time) because of the elliptical shape of the Earth's orbit around the Sun (eccentricity) and the tilt of the Earth's axis (obliquity). Mean solar time has days of equal length, and the accumulated difference between the two sums to zero after a year.
Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) was established in 1675, when the Royal Observatory was built, as an aid to mariners to determine longitude at sea, providing a standard reference time while each city in England kept a different local time.
Local solar time became increasingly inconvenient as rail transport and telecommunications improved, because clocks differed between places by amounts corresponding to the differences in their geographical longitudes, which varied by four minutes of time for every degree of longitude. For example, Bristol, England is about 2.5 degrees west of Greenwich (East London), so when it is solar noon in Bristol, it is about 10 minutes past solar noon in London.The use of time zones accumulates these differences into longer units, usually hours, so that nearby places can share a common standard for timekeeping.
The first adoption of a standard time was in November 1840, in Great Britain by railway companies using GMT kept by portable chronometers. The first of these companies to adopt standard time was the Great Western Railway (GWR) in November 1840. This quickly became known as Railway Time. About August 23, 1852, time signals were first transmitted by telegraph from the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Even though 98% of Great Britain's public clocks were using GMT by 1855, it was not made Britain's legal time until August 2, 1880. Some British clocks from this period have two minute hands—one for the local time, one for GMT.
Improvements in worldwide communication further increased the need for interacting parties to communicate mutually comprehensible time references to one another. The problem of differing local times could be solved across larger areas by synchronizing clocks worldwide, but in many places that adopted time would then differ markedly from the solar time to which people were accustomed.
On November 2, 1868, the then British colony of New Zealand officially adopted a standard time to be observed throughout the colony, and was the first country to do so. 172°30′ East of Greenwich, that is 11 hours 30 minutes ahead of GMT. This standard was known as New Zealand Mean Time.It was based on the longitude
Timekeeping on the American railroads in the mid-19th century was somewhat confused. 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.
Charles F. Dowd proposed a system of one-hour standard time zones for American railroads about 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 the meridian 75° W of Greenwich, with geographic borders (for example, sections of the Appalachian Mountains). Dowd's system was never accepted by 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. November 18, 1883, also called "The Day of Two Noons", when each railroad station clock was reset as standard-time noon was reached within each time zone.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,
The 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.A notable exception was Detroit (which is about halfway between the meridians of eastern time and central time) which kept local time until 1900, then tried Central Standard Time, local mean time, and Eastern Standard Time 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 zone time was formally adopted by the U.S. Congress in the Standard Time Act of March 19, 1918.
The first known person to conceive of a worldwide system of time zones was the Italian mathematician Quirico Filopanti. He introduced the idea 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. But his book attracted no attention until long after his death.
Scottish-born Canadian Sir Sandford Fleming proposed a worldwide system of time zones in 1879. He advocated his system at several international conferences, and is credited with "the initial effort that led to the adoption of the present time meridians".In 1876, his first proposal was for a global 24-hour clock, conceptually located at the centre of the Earth and not linked to any surface meridian. In 1879 he specified that his universal day would begin at the anti-meridian of Greenwich (180th meridian), while conceding that hourly time zones might have some limited local use. He also proposed his system at the International Meridian Conference in October 1884, but it did not adopt his time zones because they were not within its purview. The conference did adopt a universal day of 24 hours beginning at Greenwich midnight, but specified that it "shall not interfere with the use of local or standard time where desirable".
By about 1900, almost all inhabited places on Earth had adopted one or other standard time zone; but only some of these 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/UTC. By 1929, the majority of countries had adopted hourly time zones, though a number of countries from Iran to Australia had time zones with a 30-minute offset. Nepal was the last country to adopt a standard offset, shifting slightly to UTC+5:45 in 1956.
Today, all nations use standard time zones for secular purposes, but they do not all apply the concept as originally conceived. Newfoundland, India, Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, the Marquesas, as well as parts of Australia use half-hour deviations from standard time, and some nations, such as Nepal, and some provinces, such as the Chatham Islands of New Zealand, use quarter-hour deviations. Some countries, such as China and India, use a single time zone even though the extent of their territory far exceeds 15° of longitude, which causes problems as some places in China, like Xinjiang (westernmost province of China), uses local time and when planning to meet with the Chinese living in Beijing, a very eastern city, they will have trouble understanding each other as they are two hours apart.Russia is traditionally divided into 11 time zones, but in 2010 the number was reduced to nine. Then-President Dmitry Medvedev said at the time that he would like to see even fewer in place. In 2014, the two removed time zones were reinstated, making the number of time zones 11 again.
ISO 8601 is an international standard that defines methods of representing dates and times in textual form, including specifications for representing time zones.
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".
UTC time is also known as "Zulu" time, since "Zulu" is a phonetic alphabet code word for the letter "Z".
Offsets from UTC are written in the format ±[hh]:[mm], ±[hh] [mm], 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 Berlin 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).
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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 and their use as sole designator for a time zone is discouraged. Such designations can be ambiguous; for example (from List of time zone abbreviations), "CST" can mean China Standard Time (UTC+8), Cuba Standard Time (UTC−5) and (North American) Central Standard Time (UTC−6). It is also a widely used variant of ACST (Australian Central Standard Time, UTC+9:30).
XX = ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code, XX- = parts of the country, N = North, S = South, UTC = Universal Coordinated Time, DST = Daylight Saving Time
|Oceania / North America / Antarctica||North and South America / Antarctica||Europe / Africa / Asia / Antarctica||Asia / Antarctica||Asia / Oceania / Antarctica|
|No DST in summer||DST in summer||No DST in summer||DST in summer||No DST in summer||DST in summer||No DST in summer||DST in summer||No DST in summer||DST in summer|
|−12:00|| −12:00/−11:00 |
|−06:00|| −06:00/−05:00 |
N: US-, MX-
| ±00:00 |
| ±00:00/+01:00 |
N: GB, IE, PT-
| +06:00 |
|+06:00/+07:00|| +12:00 |
| +12:00/+13:00 |
| +06:30 |
|+12:45|| +12:45/+13:45 |
| −11:00 |
|−11:00/−10:00|| −05:00 |
BO, CO, PA, PE
| −05:00/−04:00 |
N: CA-, CU, US-
| +01:00 |
TN, CG, CD-, DZ, NE, NG
| +01:00/+02:00 |
N: AT, BA, BE, CH, CZ, DE, DK, ES-, FR, HR, HU, IT, LI, LU, MK, NL, NO, PL, SE, SI, SK
| +07:00 |
RU-, VN, LA, TH, KH, ID-, MN-
| +07:00/+08:00 || +13:00 |
| −10:00 |
| −10:00/−09:00 |
|−04:00|| −04:00/−03:00 |
| +02:00 |
Africa: BI, BW, CD-, EG, LY, MW, MZ, RW, ZA, ZM, ZW
| +02:00/+03:00 |
N: FI, EE, LV, LT, UA, BG, GR, MD, RO
| +08:00 |
AU-, CN, HK, ID, MY, RU-, PH, SG, TW, MN-
| +08:00/+09:00 || +14:00 |
|−03:30|| −03:30/−02:30 |
|−09:00|| −09:00/−08:00 |
| −03:00 |
| −03:00/−02:00 |
| +03:00 |
Europe: BY, RU-, TR, Africa: KE, SD, SO, SS, ER, Asia: IQ, SA
|+03:00/+04:00|| +09:00 |
RU-, JP, KR, ID-
|+03:30|| +03:30/+04:30 |
|+09:30|| +09:30/+10:30 |
|−08:00|| −08:00/−07:00 |
N: CA-, US-, MX-
| −02:00 |
|−02:00/−01:00|| +04:00 |
|+04:00/+05:00|| +10:00 |
| +04:30 |
| −07:00 |
| −07:00/−06:00 |
N: CA-, US-, MX-
|−01:00|| −01:00/±00:00 |
| +05:00 |
|+05:00/+06:00|| +11:00 |
| +05:30 |
| +11:30 |
| +05:45 |
These examples give the local time at various locations around the world when daylight saving time is not in effect:
|Time offset||Example time|
(ISO 8601 notation)
|Example locations that do not use DST||Example locations that use DST in summer|
Where the adjustment for time zones results in a time at the other side of midnight from UTC, then the date at the location is one day later or earlier.
Some examples when UTC is 23:00 on Monday when or where daylight saving time is not in effect:
Some examples when UTC is 02:00 on Tuesday when or where daylight saving time is not in effect:
The time-zone adjustment for a specific location may vary because of daylight saving time. For example, New Zealand, which is usually UTC+12, observes a one-hour daylight saving time adjustment during the Southern Hemisphere summer, resulting in a local time of UTC+13.
|Time of day by zone|
|Baker Island , Howland Island||AoE||180||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0|
|San Francisco, Los Angeles||PST||120||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4|
|Winnipeg, Chicago, Mexico City||CST||90||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6|
|Ottawa, New York, Miami, Bogotá, Lima||EST||75||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7|
|Caracas, La Paz, Santiago||CLT||60||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8|
|Greenland , Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires||ART||45||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9|
|London, Lisbon, Algiers, Monrovia||UTC||0||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12|
|Paris, Rome, Lagos, Kinshasa||CET||15||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13|
|Helsinki, Moscow, Cairo, Cape Town||EET||30||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14|
|Archangelsk, Ankara, Addis Abeba||AST||45||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15|
|Magnitogorsk, Mauritius , Réunion||GST||60||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16|
|Salekhard, Bishkek, Kerguelen||PKT||75||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17|
|Irkutsk, Bangkok, Jakarta||ICT||105||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19|
|Yakutsk, Beijing, Manila, Perth||CST||120||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20|
|Magadan, Sydney, Melbourne||AEST||150||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22|
|Fiji , Wellington||NZST||180||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||20||21||22||23||0|