LivingTravelWhat African countries are on the equator?

What African countries are on the equator?

The equator is the imaginary line that separates the northern hemisphere from the southern hemisphere and crosses the center of the Earth at a latitude of exactly zero degrees. In Africa, the equator runs nearly 2,500 miles / 4,020 kilometers through seven countries in West, Central and East Africa, south of the Sahara Desert. Ironically, the list of African countries divided by the equator does not include Equatorial Guinea. Instead, they are: São Tomé and Príncipe, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya and Somalia.


Experiencing the equator

In the past, intrepid travelers might have followed the equator on their journey through Africa. However, the route is no longer safe, with several countries along the equator plagued by civil war, terrorism, crippling poverty, and piracy. The imaginary line also cuts through some of the most extreme environments on Earth, including the remote jungles of the Congo, the mist-soaked mountains of Uganda, and the deep waters of Africa’s largest lake, Lake Victoria. However, although traveling along the equator is no longer advisable, visiting it at least once is an unmissable African experience.

The position of the equator is directly related to that of the rotating axis of the Earth, which moves slightly throughout the year. Therefore, the equator is not static, which means that the line drawn on the ground on some equatorial markers is not always entirely accurate. However, this is a technical detail, and these markers are still the closest to the center of the Earth. Visit any of them and you can tell that you have straddled the equator with one foot in each hemisphere.


The equatorial markers of Africa

Often times, the African equator is marked without much fanfare. Usually a roadside sign is the only indication that you will have your momentous location, so it’s important to research where the line is beforehand so you can keep an eye out. In Kenya, there are signs advertising the equator in the rural towns of Nanyuki and Siriba, while similar signs exist on the Masala-Kampala highway in Uganda, and the Libreville -Lambaréné highway in Gabon.

One of the most beautiful equatorial markers in Africa belongs to its second smallest country, São Tomé and Príncipe. The island nation celebrates its equatorial location with a stone monument and world map frieze located on the small island of Rolas. The imaginary line also runs through Kenya’s Meru National Park, and while there is no marker, there is a certain novelty to seeing the game directly at the top of the equator. At the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club Resort luxury hotel, you can cross the equator just by walking from your room to the restaurant.

Equatorial phenomena

If you find yourself on the equator, take a moment to test out some of the strange facts and theories related to standing on the line between the two hemispheres. The rotational force of the planet causes a bulge on the Earth’s surface at the equator, which means that you are further from the center of the Earth here than anywhere else on the planet. Therefore, gravity puts less pressure on your body, so that at the equator, it weighs about 0.5% less than it would at the poles.

Some also believe that the Earth’s rotation has an effect on the direction in which drain water flows, which is why a toilet flushes clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. This phenomenon is known as the Coriolis effect and should dictate that at the equator, water flows directly down the drain. Most scientists agree that due to a host of external factors this can’t be proven with real precision, but it’s still fun to check for yourself.


This article was updated and rewritten in part by Jessica Macdonald

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