Parallel 36°30′ north

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Line across the Earth
36.5th parallel north
Map of the United States c. 1849 (modern state borders), with the parallel 36°30′ north – slave states in red, free states in blue
This 1856 map shows slave states (gray), free states (pink), U.S. territories (green), and Kansas in center (white) with parallel 36°30′ north prominently indicated.

The parallel 36°30′ north is a circle of latitude that is 36 and one-half degrees north of the equator of the Earth. This parallel of latitude is particularly significant in the history of the United States as the line of the Missouri Compromise, which was used to divide the prospective slave and free states west of the Mississippi River, with the exception of Missouri, which is mostly north of this parallel. The line continues to hold cultural, economic and political significance to this day; the Kinder Institute for Urban Research defines the Sun Belt as being south of 36°30′N latitude.[1]

In the United States[edit]

In the United States, the parallel 36°30′ forms part of the boundary between Tennessee and Kentucky, in the region west of the Tennessee River and east of the Mississippi River. This parallel also forms part of the boundary between Missouri and Arkansas in the region west of the St. Francis River, and part of the boundary between the Oklahoma Panhandle and the Texas Panhandle. The rest of the boundaries between Virginia and North Carolina; between Virginia and Tennessee; and between Tennessee and Kentucky lie close to the parallel 36°30′. The boundary between Kentucky and Tennessee was defined as 36°30′, based on the Royal Colonial Boundary of 1665 that set the boundary of the Colony of Virginia and the Province of Carolina.

In 1779 and 1780, surveyors were sent to mark the line on the ground as far as the Tennessee River. As they worked west their line drifted north until by the time they reached the river they were about 10′ north of 36°30′. Despite this error the boundary was set along the line surveyed. The final part of the Kentucky-Tennessee boundary, between the Tennessee River and the Mississippi River, was not surveyed until after 1819 when treaties extinguished Native American claims in the area. The final portion was surveyed east from the Mississippi River along 36°30′. Due to the relative precision of the survey of 36°30′ on the Mississippi River, Congress decided to continue the line west as the northern boundary of Arkansas Territory, with the exception of the Missouri Bootheel.[2]

The parallel 36°30′ north is part of a nearly straight east-west line of state borders (with small variations) starting on the East Coast of the United States, beginning with the border between Virginia and North Carolina. However, this boundary and the one between Kentucky and Tennessee line lies a few miles north of 36°30′ in places. The line west of Arkansas is slightly further north at 37°.

In southeastern Missouri, the Missouri Bootheel along the Mississippi River extends about 50 miles (80 kilometers) to the south, all the way to the 36th parallel north, and about 30 miles (50 kilometers) inland. This was because politicians in that region along that major river felt that it would be advantageous to be located in Missouri rather than in the Arkansas Territory, which became the State of Arkansas in 1836. The parallel 36°30′ then forms the rest of the boundary between Missouri and Arkansas.

The Missouri Compromise of 1820 established the latitude 36°30′ as the northern limit for slavery to be legal in the territories of the west. As part of this compromise, Maine (formerly a part of Massachusetts) was admitted as a free state. This addition maintained the balance of power in the U.S. Senate between the free states and the slaveholding states.

The bulk of Missouri lies north of the 36°30′ line, but Southern planters who lived in southeastern Missouri supported slavery, especially for farming on their cotton plantations. Hence, part of the Missouri Compromise arose from this. Also, the slave states of the Southern United States wanted to have the support of another slave state so the Senate could not abolish slavery in the United States. This situation remained in effect for decades because as the free states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa were admitted to the Union, the new slave states of Arkansas, Florida, and Texas were also admitted.

When the Republic of Texas joined the United States in 1845 as a slave state, it was required to cede all of its claimed land north of the 36°30′ latitude to the Federal Government. Over the following half-century, this land became parts of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. The Compromise of 1850 confirmed that the 36°30′ parallel was the northmost boundary of Texas. Then Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state in 1861.

The creation of the New Mexico Territory and the Utah Territory in 1850, the Kansas Territory in 1854, and the Colorado Territory[3] in 1861 moved the boundaries of one of the western territories, New Mexico, north to the 37th parallel north. New Mexico Territory was eventually split in two states, New Mexico and Arizona, which were admitted in 1912, but this was long after the 13th Amendment had abolished slavery in all of the United States.

The gap between the northern boundary of Texas on the parallel 36°30′ north and the southern boundaries of Kansas and Colorado on the parallel 37° north created the No Man's Land that later became the Oklahoma Panhandle in 1889. While a significant part of Nevada (containing Las Vegas) is south of 36°30′, at the time of the admission of Nevada in 1864, it was in the New Mexico Territory. This land was not split off from the new Arizona Territory until 1871, when it was given to Nevada by the Federal government.

The Compromise of 1850 made no attempt to divide California along the line of 36°30′, or to allow slavery south of it; the social and political conditions created by the California Gold Rush ruled out any such idea, and California was admitted to the union as a free state.

During the American Civil War (1861–65), all of the states located wholly south of 36°30′ north joined the Confederate States of America. All of the states with land north of the parallel, except Virginia, stayed in the Union, although Kentucky and Missouri had Confederate legislatures that were elected in parallel with their regular legislatures. Also Maryland, another slave state, was occupied by the Union Army under the commands of President Abraham Lincoln, and its legislature was thus pressured into voting not to secede. Naturally, Lincoln and the remaining members of the U.S. Congress wanted Maryland to stay in the Union in order to prevent the national capital city of Washington, D.C. from being surrounded by Confederate states, and hence being cut off from the rest of the Union. If such a thing had happened, then the Federal government would have been forced to move somewhere else further north, such as to Philadelphia.

Around the world[edit]

Starting at the Prime Meridian and heading eastwards, the parallel 36°30′ north passes through:

Co-ordinates Country, territory or sea Notes
36°30′N 0°0′E / 36.500°N 0.000°E / 36.500; 0.000 (Prime Meridian) Mediterranean Sea
36°30′N 1°8′E / 36.500°N 1.133°E / 36.500; 1.133 (Algeria)  Algeria Passing through Ténès, Blida, Héliopolis
36°30′N 8°9′E / 36.500°N 8.150°E / 36.500; 8.150 (Tunisia)  Tunisia
36°30′N 10°50′E / 36.500°N 10.833°E / 36.500; 10.833 (Mediterranean Sea) Mediterranean Sea Passing just south of the island of Sicily,  Italy
36°30′N 22°21′E / 36.500°N 22.350°E / 36.500; 22.350 (Greece)  Greece Mani Peninsula, island of Elafonisos and Cape Malea
36°30′N 23°8′E / 36.500°N 23.133°E / 36.500; 23.133 (Aegean Sea) Aegean Sea Passing just south of the island of Folegandros,  Greece
Passing just north of the island of Santorini,  Greece
Passing just south of the island of Astypalaia,  Greece
36°30′N 26°58′E / 36.500°N 26.967°E / 36.500; 26.967 (Greece)  Greece Island of Kandelioussa
36°30′N 26°59′E / 36.500°N 26.983°E / 36.500; 26.983 (Aegean Sea) Aegean Sea Passing just south of the island of Nisyros,  Greece
Passing just north of the island of Tilos,  Greece
Passing just south of the island of Symi,  Greece
Passing just north of the island of Rhodes,  Greece
36°30′N 29°8′E / 36.500°N 29.133°E / 36.500; 29.133 (Turkey)  Turkey
36°30′N 30°32′E / 36.500°N 30.533°E / 36.500; 30.533 (Mediterranean Sea) Mediterranean Sea Gulf of Antalya
36°30′N 32°5′E / 36.500°N 32.083°E / 36.500; 32.083 (Turkey)  Turkey
36°30′N 34°11′E / 36.500°N 34.183°E / 36.500; 34.183 (Mediterranean Sea) Mediterranean Sea Gulf of İskenderun
36°30′N 36°0′E / 36.500°N 36.000°E / 36.500; 36.000 (Turkey)  Turkey
36°30′N 36°33′E / 36.500°N 36.550°E / 36.500; 36.550 (Syria)  Syria Passing through Al-Hasakah
36°30′N 41°23′E / 36.500°N 41.383°E / 36.500; 41.383 (Iraq)  Iraq
36°30′N 45°3′E / 36.500°N 45.050°E / 36.500; 45.050 (Iran)  Iran Passing just north of Amol and Qaemshahr; passing just south of Babol and Sari
36°30′N 61°9′E / 36.500°N 61.150°E / 36.500; 61.150 (Turkmenistan)  Turkmenistan
36°30′N 64°37′E / 36.500°N 64.617°E / 36.500; 64.617 (Afghanistan)  Afghanistan
36°30′N 71°49′E / 36.500°N 71.817°E / 36.500; 71.817 (Pakistan)  Pakistan Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Gilgit-Baltistan – claimed by  India
36°30′N 75°58′E / 36.500°N 75.967°E / 36.500; 75.967 (China)  China Xinjiang
Qinghai – passing just south of Xining
36°30′N 120°57′E / 36.500°N 120.950°E / 36.500; 120.950 (Yellow Sea) Yellow Sea Passing through Anmyeon Island,  South Korea
Passing through Cheonsu Bay
36°30′N 126°20′E / 36.500°N 126.333°E / 36.500; 126.333 (South Korea)  South Korea South Chungcheong Province
Passing through Sejong City
Passing just north of Daejeon
North Chungcheong Province – Passing just south of Cheongju, Passing through Mount Songni
North Gyeongsang Province – Passing through Andong
36°30′N 129°27′E / 36.500°N 129.450°E / 36.500; 129.450 (Sea of Japan) Sea of Japan Passing just north of the island of Dōgo,  Japan
36°30′N 136°30′E / 36.500°N 136.500°E / 36.500; 136.500 (Japan)  Japan Island of Honshū:
Ishikawa Prefecture
Toyama Prefecture
Nagano Prefecture
Gunma Prefecture
Tochigi Prefecture
Ibaraki Prefecture
36°30′N 140°38′E / 36.500°N 140.633°E / 36.500; 140.633 (Pacific Ocean) Pacific Ocean
36°30′N 121°56′W / 36.500°N 121.933°W / 36.500; -121.933 (United States)  United States California – passing just south of Point Lobos
New Mexico
Oklahoma / Texas border
Missouri / Arkansas border
Kentucky (Kentucky Bend) / Tennessee border (for about 5 km)
Missouri (for about 5 km)
Kentucky / Tennessee border
Tennessee – passing through Clarksville
North Carolina
36°30′N 75°52′W / 36.500°N 75.867°W / 36.500; -75.867 (Atlantic Ocean) Atlantic Ocean
36°30′N 6°16′W / 36.500°N 6.267°W / 36.500; -6.267 (Spain)  Spain Passing through Cádiz and Marbella
36°30′N 4°41′W / 36.500°N 4.683°W / 36.500; -4.683 (Mediterranean Sea) Mediterranean Sea

See also[edit]


  1. ^,degrees%2030%20minutes%20north%20latitude.
  2. ^ Hubbard, Bill (2009). American Boundaries: The Nation, the States, the Rectangular Survey. University of Chicago Press. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-226-35591-7. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
  3. ^ "An Act to provide a temporary Government for the Territory of Colorado" (PDF). Thirty-sixth United States Congress. 1861-02-28. Retrieved 2007-02-22.