|It’s Friday! Well, it is for me right now this afternoon in Santa Barbara, but for almost half of the planet, it’s already Saturday. As midnight sweeps around the world, a new day comes into being, and the process starts as midnight crosses an entirely arbitrary line in the Pacific – the International Date Line. Unlike 0 degrees, the line of longitude that goes through Greenwich, England, the Date Line is a very crooked boundary indeed. More or less directly opposite the Prime Meridian, it bends this way and that in order to allow various island nations and island groups to be unified on the day of the week they’re observing. There are no World Government rules about the placement of the International Date Line. If an island nation feels sufficiently strongly for reasons of trade or location to redefine the line in relation to their position, they can do it autonomously. Of course it’s not a small decision, so it doesn’t happen often or on a whim. One of the more unusual changes came at the end of the 20th century when the island group nation of Kiribati bent the line far to the east so that its easternmost island outpost would be the first to see the sun rise on the new century. Not long ago, Samoa decided to push the line to its east in order to share the same working day as Australia and New Zealand, their biggest trading partners. Tokelau also went along with them to the new day, and in the process each lost December 30, 2011. History will record that nothing whatosever happened on those islands on that day because for them, it never existed.|
Posts Tagged ‘Kiribati
At the moment, the state formerly known as Western Samoa, is a day behind both Australia and New Zealand, but relies heavily on both countries for trade. 2 business days are lost each week because of the weekend. Short notice visits to either country are made difficult because of the visa requirements. It is almost impossible to get a visa processed quickly because of the weekend overlap.
The international dateline follows the line of 180 degrees latitude, however it deviates in several places in order to avoid dividing nations including Russia, across two different days. No international agreement exists for how the dateline should run, meaning that its path is at the discretion of nations and their territories affected. International waters use the nautical dateline which runs from pole to pole, but is superceded by local time in territorial waters.
Samoan Prime Minister Tuila’epa Sailele believes there will also be a tourist spin-off from the move, with visitors able to travel between time zones in Samoa and American Samoa in less than one hour – meaning that birthdays and anniversaries could be celebrated twice. On the other hand, the Samoan village of Falealupo, traditionally regarded as the entrance to the spirit world, will no longer be renowned as the last village on earth to see the sun set each day.
Samoa previously had moved the dateline so that it could be closer to California time, under pressure from American traders back in 1892. That year saw 2 4th of Julys and no doubt the visitors celebrated twice!
Further north, the New Zealand territory of Kiribati was the last to change, in 1995. The country, a group of small islands, had recently gained independence (1979) and acquired 2 islands from the United States. It became the only nation to be divided by the dateline (it still is on most maps). Government offices in different parts of the islands only worked 4 simultaneous days each week making administration of the islands slow and inefficient. The compulsary broadcasting of Sunday Hymns, a single state broadcaster and two Sundays apparently proved too much for the population and they also shifted the dateline east, an event seemingly disregarded by most cartographers.
The change is expected to take place on 29th December 2011. That would be the first 29th December, not the second one, we believe.
Get maps for yesterday, today and tomorrow from Maps.com, now in our 20th year of exceeding expectations.
- Samoa leaps dateline: how time zones work (telegraph.co.uk)
- Samoa goes back to the future as it slips across dateline to boost economy (telegraph.co.uk)
- Samoans set to do some time travelling. (adelaidegreenporridgecafe.blogspot.com)
- Samoa Is Going Time Traveling (newser.com)