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GuinnessTheBestBoi OP t1_jeelrq9 wrote

Why is north up? Why isn't north down and south up? They are the only two references


JIN_DIANA_PWNS t1_jeethc8 wrote

There’s a tribe of aboriginees in Austrailia that reference direction solely on the point of shadow from the sun at that particular time. Too lazy to google it, but it fits with your observation.


BurnOutBrighter6 t1_jefbaw8 wrote

Because the countries that were making the maps when this convention was established are all in the north and put themselves "on top".

And you can't really blame is useful to have maps always pointing the same way. So they had to put themselves either always at the bottom or always on top. Top is what I'd have done too.


KingHeroical t1_jefhr2b wrote

If you were holding a map, and trying to figure out which way to orient it so that it matched your surroundings, you'd want to have some sort of reference 'arrow' to line up with something. Historically, the most common physical reference point used in navigation was the north star.

So, face the north star while holding the map oriented correctly and north will be on the top of the map.


amandack t1_jefmemp wrote

The north star is only applicable in the northern hemisphere. The Southern cross is what is used in the southern hemisphere, and your argument would work with that. Orient your map to the southern cross, and south will be on the top of the map.


KingHeroical t1_jefohjt wrote

We're speaking practically rather than technically here:

Nearly 90% of humans live in the northern hemisphere. People who were developing mapping and navigation techniques did so primarily in the northern hemisphere. So for them, 'north on top' was not arbitrary at all but rather very practical.


john2218 t1_jefpj6x wrote

Because most of the world population economy and land is in the Northern hemisphere.