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Time Zones

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129917.  Fri Dec 29, 2006 6:55 pm Reply with quote

Q: How many time zones are there?

F: 24

A: At least 39, according to something I'm currently listening to on Radio 4 ("Shifting Meridians").

129927.  Fri Dec 29, 2006 7:36 pm Reply with quote

There are about 39 time zones* instead of 24. Contrary to what is generally believed. This is due to fractional hour offsets and zones with offsets larger than 12 hours near the International Date Line.
China, which should span five time zones, uses but a single time zone - eight hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (known by the abbreviation UTC - based on the time zone running through Greenwich at 0 degrees longitude). Australia uses three time zones - its central time zone is a half-hour ahead of its designated time zone. Several countries in the Middle East and South Asia also utilize half-hour time zones.

*according to google and wiki

129985.  Sat Dec 30, 2006 6:11 am Reply with quote

Yes, quite. The R4 documentary described places in America where you can drive N-S along the boundary of two time zones and you keep crossing back and forth over the line from one town to the next - so you have no way of knowing what time it is in your exact location without asking someone. Must be tricky for arranging games of tennis with your friends in the next town, but quite good at chucking-out time.

129986.  Sat Dec 30, 2006 6:22 am Reply with quote

Antarctica uses GMT, and Nepal is the only country who is 15 minutes away from an adjacent country (Indian Standard Time).

We have loads of unused Daylight Saving Time from last year too.

129991.  Sat Dec 30, 2006 7:14 am Reply with quote

I did happen to be listening to the radio 4 discussion (I was tuning my new radio at the time OK) but I must say that it isn't anything new to me (go have a read of the "time zone challenge" - the forum round that I did as part of the first live QI quiz).

Indeed the guest was incorrect to say that Tonga is the earliest time zone (being 1 hour ahead of the international date line) since the Phoenix Islands are also in the same time zone and the Line Islands are infact 1 hour further in front of the time zone in Tonga. This puts them in the time zone GMT+14. As I am writing this (11:45 GMT) the time in the Line Islands is 01:45 on Sunday morning. When the time in Samoa (located to the West of the Line Islands by several hundred miles) is 22:01 on Saturday 30th December 2006, the time in the Line Islands will be 00:01 on Monday 1st January 2007.

The only place in the Line Islands that you probably have heard of is Christmas Island which is the largest of the Islands. Christmas Island is also the world's largest coral atoll and comprises over 70% of the land mass of the Republic of Kiribati (which includes 33 Pacific Islands) The local name of Christmas Island is Kiritimati which is the Gilbertese spelling of Christmas (the "ti" is pronounced "s" giving "kee-rees-mass"). The largest settlement on Christmas Island is London with a population of 1829 as of 2005.

The Islands were discovered on December 24th 1777 by Captain Jame Cook. It was on this voyage (his third) that he discovered the Hawiian Islands (which he named the Sandwich Islands after the Earl of Sandwich) and also charted much of the Pacific North West from California to the Bering Strait (which he found impassable). In 1779 Cook returned to the Big Island of Hawaii where (although it is disputed) the local tribes deified Cook and his crew believing them to be the incarnation of the Polynesian God Lono. However, upon leaving the Island the ship's mast broke forcing them to return. This set in chain a series of events that led to the murder of Cook by the villagers.

Some of my sources are in book form but here are the wiki ones I used:

(I've not had a good researching ramble like that in a while).

129997.  Sat Dec 30, 2006 7:27 am Reply with quote

BTW I have counted 40 time zones but I need to have some lunch now, I'll come back later and try to prove this.

I should note that the time zone GMT-2 is only observed in the South Georgia Island and an Island off of the coast of Brasil. This may make it the least inhabited time zone of all since all of the Pacific ones include either some major Pacific Islands or part of a major continent.

130002.  Sat Dec 30, 2006 7:49 am Reply with quote

The local name of Christmas Island is Kiritimati which is the Gilbertese spelling of Christmas (the "ti" is pronounced "s" giving "kee-rees-mass").

Who knew that Slade were actually Kiribatians.

130013.  Sat Dec 30, 2006 9:11 am Reply with quote

OK so working through the time zones from GMT- to GMT+:

1. GMT -11:00 Samoa
2. GMT -10:00 French Polynesia, Hawaii and the Western Aleutian Islands
3. GMT -9:30 Marquesas Islands
4. GMT -9:00 Alaska
5. GMT -8:30 Pitcairn Islands
6. GMT -8:00 Yukon, BC, Vancouver, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California
7. GMT -7:00 Northwest Territories, Alberta, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, NW Mexico
8. GMT -6:00 Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Mid-West USA, Mexico (+Central America excluding Panama), Galapagos Islands and Easter Island.
9. GMT -5:00 Ontario, Quebec, Great Lakes, US Eastern Seaboard, Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
10. GMT -4:00 Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Domonican Rep, Eastern Carribean, Venezuela, Western Brazil, Chile, Falkland Islands
11. GMT -4:30 Island of Newfoundland
12. GMT -3:00 Greenland, Eastern Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina
13. GMT -2:00 South Georgia, Fernando de Noronha (Brazil)
14. GMT -1:00 East Greenland, Azores, Cape Verde
15. GMT Iceland, UK, Portugal, Canary Islands, Morroco, Guinea, Mali, Ghana, Liberia, Ascension Island, St Helena, parts of the Arctic and Antarctica
16. GMT +1:00 Norway, Sweden, Western Europe (inc Poland, Hungary and Macedonia), Algeria, Niger, Chad, Congo, Angola, Namibia
17. GMT +2:00 Finland, Eastern Europe, Turkey, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Zambia, South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland
18. GMT +3:00 Western Russia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar
19. GMT +3:30 Iran
20. GMT +4:00 Western Kazakhstan, Georgia, Oman, Seychelles, Mauritius
21. GMT +4:30 Afghanistan
22. GMT +5:00 Russia, Central Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Maldives, Chagos Archipelago
23. GMT +5:30 India
24. GMT +5:45 Nepal
25. GMT +6:00 Eastern Kazakhstan, Bhutan, Bangladesh
26. GMT +6:30 Burma, Cocos Islands
27. GMT +7:00 Russia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Sumatra, Java, Western Borneo.
28. GMT +8:00 Russia, Mongolia, China, Taiwan, Phillipines, Malaysia, Central Indonesia, East Timor, Western Australia
29. GMT +9:00 Russia, Japan, Korea, Eastern Indonesia
30. GMT +9:30 Central Australia
31. GMT +10:00 Russia, Guam, Papau New Guinea, Eastern Australia
32. GMT +10:30 Lord Howe Island (Aus)
33. GMT +11:00 Russia, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia
34. GMT +11:30 Norfolk Islands
35. GMT +12:00 Russia, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Fiji Islands, New Zealand
36. GMT +12:45 Chatham Islands
37. GMT +13:00 Russia, Tonga, Phoenix Islands
38. GMT +14:00 Line Islands

The total that I could find was 38. 39 could have emerged if some of the stranger time zones that occur in more than one location were counted twice.

130074.  Sat Dec 30, 2006 2:19 pm Reply with quote

Top work grizzly!

Just one piece of pedantry - Newfoundland uses -3.30, not -4.30.

I think the 39th time zone could be -12.00. According to

(warning: very large graphic)

-12.00 is allocated to two rather obscure US possessions, Baker Island and Howard Island. They are both uninhabited so scarcely count, but they have been inhabited in the past and so I reckon it's the elusive 39th.

130099.  Sat Dec 30, 2006 4:21 pm Reply with quote

Some maps mark the -12/+12 time zone as a single time zone but yes, they are really two different ones IMO.

Thanks for picking up on my mistake re Newfoundland (a case of subtracting instead of adding half an hour I think).

130156.  Sat Dec 30, 2006 5:49 pm Reply with quote

eggshaped wrote:
The local name of Christmas Island is Kiritimati which is the Gilbertese spelling of Christmas (the "ti" is pronounced "s" giving "kee-rees-mass").

Who knew that Slade were actually Kiribatians.

or Shavians (see 'ghoti')

131321.  Thu Jan 04, 2007 2:04 pm Reply with quote

There are some unofficial timezones.

There is a town on the border of Western Australia and South Australia. As it is more than a days drive to the nearest capital city they have a time zone which is half way in between. It is 45 min ahead of Perth and 45 min behind Adelaide.

131322.  Thu Jan 04, 2007 2:15 pm Reply with quote

If you have ever set a time zone on a computer, you may have noticed an entry for "Arizona." While Arizona is in the Mountain Time Zone it does not observe Daylight Savings Time. Thus, it is not necessary to "set the clock back." It is not considered another time zone, but it does during Daylight Savings Time have the same time on the clocks as Pacific Daylight Time. One could propose that it is Arizona Mountain Time.

131323.  Thu Jan 04, 2007 2:22 pm Reply with quote

It has been proposed that Time Zones be abolished, and the whole world run on Zulu Time. Does The Team Think that this is a Good Thing?

131332.  Thu Jan 04, 2007 3:00 pm Reply with quote

Not really, the value of it is limited and the costs probably quite high of such a change world wide.

I should also note that the time a country uses is determined by local statute law, not any international convention. Obviously that means that it would be quite difficult to convince every country's legislature to convert to anyone elses time zone.


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