Top Nine Craziest Time Zones Boundaries

Posted on Posted in Science, The World, Time

I’ve been hard at work with the solar system simulation, but multi-threading in C Sharp has a steep learning curve. Have a look at the previous post I’ve made of the progress so far on the simulation.

In the meantime, I was thinking about how crazy our time zones system sometimes is, so here are the top nine craziest time zone boundaries:

9. China (PRC and ROC)

China has one time zone across its vast territory – parts of it in eastern Manchuria longitudinally fall under UTC+10, and others regions in the west under UTC +5, but the government in Beijing enforces UTC +8 across the entirety of mainland China, which can cause for a maximum of a 3 hour 30 minute difference in time if you cross the border from China to Afghanistan, which is under UTC+4.5! The government in Taiwan enforces UTC +8 of its own accord on the parts of China it rules.

China

8. Russia

The largest country in the world by area also, unsurprisingly has the most time zones of any county in the world – 11 to be exact – from UTC +2 in Kaliningrad to UTC +12 in Kamchatka and the Chukotka Okrug. But instead of using the longitudinal lines to demarcate their time zones, the Russians decided to go wild. Few small areas of Russia operate under UTC+4, but for the most part, western Russia is dominated by UTC +3 and UTC +5.

The Russians have a similarly interesting organization of time zones between UTC +6 to UTC+11. In Siberia, UTC+5 goes directly to UTC+7, except for a (relatively) small area surrounding Novosibirsk that used UTC +6. A similar situation occurs between UTC +7 and UTC+9, with a small section of UTC +8 surrounding Irkutsk.

Times zones in Eastern Russia get even more convoluted! The part of Eastern Siberia using UTC +9 has a small border with the part that uses UTC +11, and this small border divides the parts of Russia that use UTC +10 into two halfs, not to mention the Kurils, the western part of which operates under UTC +10, with a few islands that use UTC+11, before Kamchatka, which uses UTC+12.

Russia

7. The United States (Alaska + Hawaii)

The newest two states of the Union also have similarly convoluted times zones as Russia. The entire Hawaiian and Aleutian Island chains operate under UTC -10 even though these zones both border the International Date Line. Interestingly, though geologically Midway Island is a part of Hawaii (and indeed American territory), UTC -10 bends underneath and around it, giving Midway a time zone of UTC -11.

The most egregious zone, however, is the UTC -9 that covers the vast majority of Alaska, completely ignoring the suggested longitudinal time zones of UTC -10 that Anchorage, Alaska should be under. and UTC -11 that Nome, Alaska should be under. This causes an interesting time zone boundary between UTC +12 of Eastern Russia and the UTC -9 of Alaska where crossing the international date line changes the local time by 21 hours instead of 24.

MurcaAlaska

6. Canada, Newfoundland, and What’s Left of New France (St. Pierre et Miquelon)

The western portion of the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador operates under a UTC -4 schedule, but when it comes to the provincial capital St. Johns and Newfoundland, it transfers over to UTC -3.5.

Not only that – when the British took the French colonies in North America (New France) from the French in the French and Indian Wars of the mid-1700’s, they forgot to take St. Pierre and Miquelon from the French, which remains an overseas collectivity of France to this day. To clearly demarcate that the island is a part of France that is very, very, separate from Canada, the French carved out a small exclave of UTC -3 exclusively for the island.

Newfoundland

5. Australia (and Daylight Saving Time)

Australia has three main time zones, UTC +8, UTC +9.5, and UTC+10. But Daylight Savings Time switches it up – during DST, the south-eastern part of Australia participates, while the rest of the country does not. So South Australia, normally in UTC +9.5 uses UTC 10.5 for half of the year, while New South Wales, Victoria, the Capital Territory and Tasmania, including the cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra use UTC+11 for half of the year. Interestingly, Australia completely ignores the time zone UTC +9.

For you eagle-eyed readers out there, you might have noticed the small UTC +8.75 time zone in southwestern Australia. This small area is a unique time zone that contains the small town of Eucla Australia, and has become a tourist hotspot.

Australia also has many other time zones not depicted in this map, from its islands off the mainland, including Christmas Island with UTC +7 and Norfolk Island with UTC+11.

Australia

4. Chile and Easter Island

Easter Island is a possession of Chile, and though it is surrounded by the time zone UTC -7, Easter Island uses UTC -5. Interestingly enough, mainland Chile actually uses UTC -4, including offshore islands closer to the mainland such as the Juan Fernandez Archipelago, despite them longitudinally being located in UTC -5.

This means anyone leaving and entering Easter Island will have to switch their clocks by two hours, and anyone going from mainland Chile to Easter Island will only have to adjust their clocks by an hour, despite the 3500 km distance between Easter Island and the mainland.

EasterIsland

3. Greenland

Just look at it! No landmass in Greenland uses UTC-2, but there are small areas of the territory in the east that use UTC 0 GMT, UTC -1, and Thule in the west that uses UTC -4, while the vast majority of the landmass uses UTC-3.

Greenland

2. Kiribati and UTC +13 and +14!

In the 1990’s the nation of Kiribati, which has inhabited territory to both the east and west of 180 Degrees longitude, meant the International Date Line divided the country into two days before they enacted a law stating that the easternmost islands would be new time zones designated UTC +13 and UTC +14, not only so that businesses in Eastern Kiribati could more easily cooperate with businesses in Western Kiribati, but so that Kiribati became the first country in the world to experience the 21st Century (and every year) boosting tourism revenue.

Usually you subtract 24 hours as you travel west across the international date line, but Kiribati’s UTC +14 means that you need to add 25 hours to your clock if you travel from the the Kiribatan Line Islands of UTC +14 to the American Jarvis Island under UTC -11.

+14

1. Nepal and The Indian-Bangladeshi Border

Not only does Nepal have a unique UTC+5.75 time zone, India and its island possessions all use UTC +5.5, including the Andamans, surrounded by UTC +6.

Wondering why this was number one on my list? Just look to the bottom right. India and Bangladesh have a complicated border, to say the least – I or India stands for Indian Territory, while Bangladesh or B stands for Bangladeshi territory. In the map in the bottom right, is perhaps the most complicated border in the world. A part of India, surrounded by a part of Bangladesh, that is surrounded by a part of India, which is then surrounded by the main body of Bangladesh.

As you’ll notice from the left map, India and Bangladesh are in different time zones, so if you walk from the parcel of land labelled I in the center of the right image towards India in the top left, you’ll technically have to change between UTC +5.5 and UTC +6 four different times in an easily walkable distance of less than a few kilometers!

Government officials from both countries have tried to even out the borders to both simplify border control and to help the timekeeping of the lives of the people living in these border regions, but until they finalize a treaty, the India-Bangladesh border will remain the most complicated place in the world to keep track of time.

India and Cocrazy3

Map Time Zone Image Sources: Public domain from cia.gov, and Google Earth for the India-Bangladesh border region.

Read more about the complex border between India and Bangladesh here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/India–Bangladesh_enclaves

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6 thoughts on “Top Nine Craziest Time Zones Boundaries

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