World Facts

What Does Absolute Location Mean?

The absolute location of a place refers to its exact location on the Earth.

A location is a particular place on the surface of the earth where a feature or object exists. There are different means that can be used to locate an object. When we say an absolute location of a place, we refer to the location of a place in relation to its latitudinal and longitudinal positions. It is the description of a place or the location of a feature or an object using the coordinates. To effectively describe a location using the absolute location, a Cartesian coordinate grid comes in handy.

Relative Location Versus Absolute Location

Absolute location and relative location are related in that they all attempt to give the location of a place or a feature. They all come in handy whenever people are traveling to new places. However, relative location only approximates the distances and direction. For instance, city X is approximately 80 miles north of city Y, where X is a relative location. Apart from distance, while attempting to locate an area using relative location, time or cost can be used. For instance, Town B is a 40-minute drive from town C. Furthermore, referring to places near it is also relative location. For instance, California is near Nevada. The relative location gives the location of a place in relation to another place. However, absolute location is also a form relative location since it gives the location in relation to the equator and the Greenwich meridian.

The differences between absolute location and relative location are quite clear as discussed above. Absolute location focuses on the exact point of a feature. For instance, the Capitol Building in Washington DC is 38° 53′ 35″ N, 77° 00′ 32″ W whereas relative location only approximates. The relative location would only tell users on what landmark is close to the Capitol Building, or how long it will take to drive from a certain point to the Capitol Building.

Strengths Of Absolute Location

Imagine an individual wants to locate building X in a city. They ask for the directions and they are told the building is a 10-minute walk from building Y or it is two blocks away from building Y. When they get to building Y, they could probably get lost, or they will need to ask for direction again. This is not the case with absolute location. Absolute location is more accurate than relative location. In fact, it is very accurate since it gives the fixed, exact position of an object on the earth’s surface. For this reason, the errors are reduced and very minimal whenever an absolute location is used to locate an object or a place.

Since absolute location is highly accurate, it is utilized in geolocation services and other applications that are dependent on the location of places such as Uber and Google Maps.

Limitation Of Absolute Location

Despite being accurate, many people still do not prefer absolute location. Ask any person on the streets for directions, you will notice that they will use relative location. This is simply because utilization of absolute location is quite complex, especially in casual contexts. Therefore, its utilization is more understandable in official contexts.

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