Southern Hemisphere

Southern Hemisphere

Coordinates: 45°0′0″S 0°0′0″E / 45°S 0°E / -45; 0

The Southern Hemisphere highlighted in yellow (Antarctica not depicted).
Southern Hemisphere from above the South Pole.

The Southern Hemisphere is the part of Earth that lies south of the equator. The word hemisphere (from the Greek word σφαιρα (sphere) +ημι (half)) literally means 'half ball' or "half sphere". It is also that half of the celestial sphere south of the celestial equator.

The Southern Hemisphere contains all or parts of four continents (Antarctica, Australia, most parts of South America and southern half of Africa), four oceans (South Atlantic, Indian, South Pacific, and Southern) and most of Oceania. Several islands off the Asian continental mainland are also in the Southern Hemisphere. Due to the tilt of Earth's rotation relative to the Sun and the ecliptic plane, summer is December to March and winter is June to September. September 22 or 23 is the vernal equinox and March 20 or 21 is the autumnal equinox.



Climates in the Southern Hemisphere overall tend to be slightly milder than those in the Northern Hemisphere at similar latitudes except in the Antarctic which is colder than the Arctic. This is because the Southern Hemisphere has significantly more ocean and much less land. Water heats up and cools down more slowly than land.

The Southern Hemisphere is also significantly less polluted than the Northern Hemisphere because of lower overall population densities (a total of 10 to 12% of the human population), lower levels of industrialisation, and smaller land masses. (Air currents run mostly west–east, so pollution does not easily spread north or south.) The Hemisphere is also remarkably less diverse linguistically compared to the North, as the majority of the hemisphere's population can speak one of just five languages Portuguese, English, Spanish, French, or Indonesian.

In the Southern Hemisphere the sun passes from east to west through the north, although north of the Tropic of Capricorn the mean sun can be directly overhead or due south at midday. The Sun rotating through the north causes an apparent right-left trajectory through the sky unlike the left-right motion of the Sun when seen from the Northern Hemisphere as it passes through the southern sky. Sun-cast shadows turn anticlockwise through the day and sundials have the hours increasing in the anticlockwise direction.

Hurricanes and tropical storms spin clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere (as opposed to anticlockwise in the Northern Hemisphere) due to the Coriolis effect.

The southern temperate zone, a subsection of the Southern Hemisphere, is nearly all oceanic. This zone includes all of Uruguay, Lesotho, Swaziland and New Zealand; most of Chile, Argentina, South Africa, and Australia; and parts of Paraguay, Brazil, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, and Madagascar.

The South Pole is oriented towards the galactic centre and this, combined with clearer skies, makes for excellent viewing of the night sky from the Southern Hemisphere with brighter and more numerous stars.

Forests in the Southern Hemisphere have special features which set them aside from the Northern Hemisphere. Both Chile and New Zealand share, for example, unique beech species or Nothofagus. The eucalyptus is native to Australia but has now gone on to be planted in southern Africa and Latin America for pulp production and, increasingly, biofuel uses.

List of continents and countries


A famous photo of Earth from Apollo 17 (Blue Marble) originally had the south pole at the top; however, it was turned upside-down to fit the traditional perspective.

Micro Continents

African countries


Asian countries

Aurora australis appearing in the night sky of Swifts Creek, 100 km north of Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia

Oceania countries


American countries

Aurora australis appearing from Stewart Island/Rakiura at the southern point of the South Island of New Zealand.

Other territories

Pacific Ocean

Atlantic Ocean

Indian Ocean

Southern Ocean

See also

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • southern hemisphere — n Southern Hemisphere the southern hemisphere the half of the world that is south of the Equator …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Southern Hemisphere — that half of the earth south of the equator …   English World dictionary

  • southern hemisphere — noun the hemisphere to the south of the equator (Freq. 1) • Instance Hypernyms: ↑hemisphere • Part Meronyms: ↑Australia, ↑Gondwanaland, ↑South America …   Useful english dictionary

  • Southern Hemisphere — noun The hemisphere of the Earth (or any celestial body) to the south of its equator …   Wiktionary

  • southern hemisphere — n. hemisphere south of the equator …   English contemporary dictionary

  • southern hemisphere — noun Usage: often capitalized S&H Date: circa 1771 the part of the earth that lies south of the equator …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Southern Hemisphere — the half of the earth between the South Pole and the equator. [1885 90] * * * …   Universalium

  • Southern Hemisphere — the world south of the equator …   Eponyms, nicknames, and geographical games

  • Southern Hemisphere — South′ern Hem′isphere n. geo geg the half of the earth between the South Pole and the equator …   From formal English to slang

  • Southern Hemisphere — /sʌðən ˈhɛməsfɪə / (say sudhuhn hemuhsfear) noun 1. (also lower case) the half of the earth between the South Pole and the equator. 2. Astronomy the half of the celestial sphere south of the celestial equator …   Australian-English dictionary

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