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Home >> Ask Brett & Nina >> What is Nigeria's absolute and relative location?
Q: What is Nigeria's absolute and relative location?
A:  Let's begin by reviewing the terms used in the question.

Absolute location is the exact location of a place based on a standard measurement system, such as latitude and longitude. As you might know, latitude is a measure of distance north or south from the Equator, the imaginary line that runs horizontally around the middle of the earth. The Equator corresponds to 0 degrees of latitude. The North Pole represents 90 degrees north latitude, and the South Pole represents 90 degrees south latitude.

Longitude is a measure of distance east and west around the planet from an imaginary vertical line called the Prime Meridian, which stretches between the two poles and represents 0 degrees longitude. From the Prime Meridian, degrees of longitude run from 0 to 180 degrees east and from 0 to 180 degrees west. The imaginary line representing 180 degrees lies exactly halfway around the world from the Prime Meridian.

Relative location is a more general concept. It refers simply to the location of one place relative to the location of another place or a geographical feature such as a body of water or a mountain range.

Now, on to the answer.

To determine Nigeria’s absolute location, find the country on the Africa Political Map. (It is one of the pink countries in the northern half of the continent.) Notice that the map includes blue latitude and longitude lines that form a grid. The blue numbers along the edges of the map indicate that the lines represent every 10th degree of latitude and longitude.

Using the grid, you can see that Nigeria lies between 0 and 15 degrees north latitude and between 0 and 15 degrees east longitude. This is the country’s absolute location.

If you were to use a larger scale map that included a more detailed latitude and longitude grid, you could define the country’s absolute location more specifically.

Nigeria’s relative location can be described in many different ways. For example, you could say that the country is located along Africa’s Atlantic Ocean coast, or that it lies northeast of the point where the Equator (0 degrees latitude) meets the Prime Meridian (0 degrees longitude). 

You could also describe Nigeria’s location in relation to its neighbors. The country lies east of Benin, south of Niger, southwest of Chad, and west of Cameroon.

To test your understanding of the concepts we’ve discussed here, pick another country and describe its absolute and relative location.

(Question submitted by a 9th-grade student at Golden Valley High School in California.)

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