What Countries Are On the Equator?

Updated September 9, 2022 | Infoplease Staff

Life on the center line

Thanks to the Earth's axial tilt, we have a northern hemisphere and a southern hemisphere that experience different seasons and different amounts of sunlight. As the year progresses, different

The imaginary line that divides the two is the equator. Unlike the rest of the earth's surface, the equator has only negligible changes in the length of the day. They do have seasonal changes in how much sunlight they receive (the sun is directly overhead on the equinoxes).

The equator passes through 13 countries: Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Sao Tome & Principe, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Maldives, Indonesia and Kiribati. Despite its name and proximity, Equatorial Guinea does not actually touch the equator itself.

For more information about these places, visit our Countries of the World page.

What is it like on the equator?

The Prime Meridian, the line that divides the Eastern and Western hemispheres, is entirely arbitrary. It has no significance in terms of climate or geology. The same is not true of the equator.

The equatorial climate ranges from tropical to arid. It is usually warm due to the high levels of sunlight. This is dependent on elevation and on the currents of nearby bodies of water.

Equatorial countries are home to most of the world's tropical rainforests. For landmasses along the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean, the cooling effects of the water and the evaporation caused by the sunlight create the ideal conditions for plant growth: lots of sunlight, lots of moisture.

There are exceptions. Somalia is affected by the monsoon conditions off the Indian Ocean. Somalia is a very dry country as a result. The Cayambe volcano near Quito, Ecuador, is the highest point along the equator; it regularly experiences snowfall.

What are the Tropics?

The Tropics refers to the area located between the lines of latitude at 23.43646 degrees North (the Tropic of Cancer) and 23.43646 degrees South (the Tropic of Capricorn). The technical definition is that a tropical zone is a place where the sun will shine directly overhead at least once each year.

The other two lines of latitude are the Arctic Circle and the Antarctic Circle, which are areas that can just barely see the center of the sun on the solstices. These areas are not fixed, and grow and shrink based on the changing currents.

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