What Is The Biggest Time Difference Between Two Places On Earth?

International Date Line passes through the Pacific Ocean.

A time zone refers to a place on earth that uses a uniform standard time in order to streamline legal, social, and commercial activities. The time zones are defined by the boundaries of countries. The largest difference between the time zones of two countries is 26 hours between the Howland Islands and the Line Islands.

Time Zones

The clocks in the world are under the regulation of the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is not adjusted for daylight savings. In other countries, especially English speaking countries, the phrase Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is used to mean the same thing as UTC. The first Coordinated Universal Time was officially accepted in 1963 while the official abbreviations of the aforementioned times were adopted later on in 1967. Therefore, time zones in the world are obtained from the UTC. An area on earth can either be ahead (+) or behind (-) the UTC, which means that UTC is 0 hours. Given that there are 24 hours in a day, it is logical to state that the biggest time difference between two points on earth would be 24 hours. The reason for this time difference is that one end would have a time of +12 hours UTC while the other would have a time of -12 hours UTC, which would mean a difference of 24 hours on a number line.

Biggest Time Difference On Earth

Some places on earth do not use the international time zones, that is, they do not use the UTC system of +12 and -12 hours UTC. Some areas on earth use time zones that exist but are not defined by the current time convention. Some areas on earth use a time zone of +13 hours UTC or even +14 hours UTC. Essentially, this means that areas with -12 hours UTC and +14 hours UTC will have a difference of a whole 26 hours, which is beyond the theoretical 24 hours. Areas with +13 hours UTC will have a difference of 25 hours from areas with -12 hours UTC.

With this information, then the biggest time difference between two places on earth is a whole 26 hours. The Howland islands, an unincorporated unorganized territory of the United States, use a time zone of -12 hours UTC on the far west of the earth. The Republic of Kiribati’s Line Islands, which have a time zone of +14 hours UTC, are on the far east of the earth. These two places, therefore, have the biggest time difference of 26 hours.

Close Proximity

Interestingly, despite having such a huge time difference, these areas are extremely close to one another in the Pacific Ocean. What this difference means is that two areas that are close to one another have an extremely minor time difference. For example, the Howland islands have a time zone of -12 hours UTC while the Line Islands use a time zone of the aforementioned +14 hours UTC. These time zones mean that Wednesday 22:15 in the former is Friday 00:15 in the latter, which is a difference of only two hours. The bigger time difference of 26 hours is only observed in the dates of the two places. The area with a positive time zone means that it is ahead in terms of the date.

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