Is there a name for the latitude/longitude pair 0,0? On a graph, (0,0) is referred to as the "origin" but I'm not sure if that term also applies to the location 0,0 in cartography.

  • 1
    Lat/Long is just one specific coordinate system. There are many different coordinate systems (or reference grids) used in creating maps (cartography). All of them have an origin, but lat/long 0,0 is a specific origin in a specific place. So you're really asking two different questions - is 0,0 on any map reference system called the origin (yes) and does lat/long's origin have its own name (apparently).
    – Chris W
    Mar 30, 2015 at 20:06

5 Answers 5


The point at (0°, 0°) is not generally given a name

All geographers, cartographers and surveyors ought to know the following, but I reference some sources anyway:

According to Matt Rosenberg

The point at which the equator (0° latitude) and the prime meridian (0° longitude) intersect has no real significance but it is in the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean, about 380 miles (611 kilometers) south of Ghana and 670 miles (1078 km) west of Gabon.

Also, according to wiki/Geographic_coordinate_system#Geographic_latitude_and_longitude

The 0° parallel of latitude is designated the equator ...

The meridian of the British Royal Observatory in Greenwich, a little east of London, England, is the international Prime Meridian ... [is the 0° meridian]


The grid thus formed by latitude and longitude is known as the "graticule". The zero/zero point of this system is located in the Gulf of Guinea about 625 km (390 mi) south of Tema, Ghana.

And at Fact Monster's Geography Glossary:

Zero degrees (0°) latitude is the equator ... Zero degrees longitude (0°) is called the prime meridian.

While "the origin" might well work – after all, that is what we call (0, 0) on a plane coordinate system – the point at (0°, 0°), on a spheroidal system, is not generally given a name. Certainly, none of the above (3 refs) give it a name, and until now, I'd never heard of Null Island.

On the other hand, when referring specifically to geodetic coordinate systems, the use of the term "origin" usually refers to one of three things, none of which are at (0°, 0°):

  • +1 because this does add something. Although, while 0,0 may be inconsequential with respect to the ecumene, it still. is. the origin of the geodesic coordinate system. Why burn so much oil fighting that reality?
    – elrobis
    Mar 31, 2015 at 14:28
  • 3
    @elrobis -- See new addition. Who's fighting? And thanks for a new word: Ecumene is a term used by geographers to mean inhabited land. statcan.gc.ca/pub/92-195-x/2011001/other-autre/ecumene-ecoumene/… :-)
    – Martin F
    Mar 31, 2015 at 16:17
  • +1. It might be of interest in this context to note that the (0,0) point of lat-lon is not unique: it depends upon the datum, specifically upon the Prime Meridian. Some of us have actually had to process data that use the old French PM passing through Paris, for instance.
    – whuber
    Mar 31, 2015 at 16:48
  • @MartinF. Well-played. :)
    – elrobis
    Mar 31, 2015 at 17:58

It's "there where all the data shows up when something goes wrong". At least that's how I call it, or how I often detect when something went wrong.

Others would call it Null Island, which is often used in a humorous way. For an occasional good laugh I would recommend some of the Null Island accounts on Twitter, such as Null Island Gang, Maptime Null Island, or Null Island.

But joking aside, as the Wikipedia article states:

Although intended humorously, the fiction has a serious purpose and is used by mapping systems to trap errors

As I stated above, when somthing ends up there, in most cases, it should not be there.

  • "Null Island" has a certain logic about it w.r.t. GIS software. However, i claim that zero is not null.
    – Martin F
    Mar 31, 2015 at 5:02
  • 1
    In a lot of languages the word 'null' is used for 'zero'. Not in English, not in computer science, but that still does not mean that in GIS Null Island necessarily refers to the absence of something. Null Island surely sounds better than Zero Island, and therefore it could very well be that the name was picked because it sounded good, not because it was a 'scientifically accurate name'. Could also have been named Origin Island... or Esri Island, if Jack had thought of it back in the sixties. Mar 31, 2015 at 8:21

Yes, you still reference coordinates (0, 0) as the origin in respect to the coordinate system as a whole.

In essence, coordinate systems are grids in themselves. Therefore, terminology between the two are shared.

See how ArcGIS refers to the "Grid" location as the origin.

  • 1
    Care to explain "Therefore, terminology between the two are shared."?
    – Martin F
    Mar 31, 2015 at 4:57
  • Also, what does "coordinate systems are grids in themselves." mean?
    – Martin F
    Apr 1, 2015 at 14:52

The term "Null Island" is used humorously to indicate the fictional island located at 0,0 or the buoy located there.


In connection with my work on a new maritime dictionary I have ascertained that the point where the equator intersects with meridian zero in the Atlantic Ocean has no name. I feel a point of this importance should have a name. Those I have been in contact with so far are of the same opinion. Below you will find the development of my investigations and the reasons for my choice of name:

  1. The Point Has No Name:

1.1 The Danish Language Council (Dansk Sprognævn) was the first organization I contacted. They informed me that according to their investigation the point had no name and that this surprised them.

1.2 The National Survey and Cadastre (Kort & Matrikelsyrelsen) informed me by e-mail SOE@kms.dk that they were of the opinion that the point did not have a name.

1.3 An e-mail from Copenhagen University (Københavns Universitet) Geography & Geology Hbm@geogr.ku.dk,informed me that the point did not have an official name. The university was wondering why the point had not been given a name.

1.4 An e-mail from The Royal Danish Embassy in Ghana,camchr@um.dk informed me that the Embassy had investigated the matter and been in contact with Mr. Foster Mensah, who is connected to the Centre for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Services (CERSGIS), university of Ghana, he also had no knowledge of a name for this point. The Embassy found my pursuit of trying to obtain a name for this point interesting and my choice of name for it excellent.

1.5 An e-mail from Troels Kloevedal,troelskloevedal@yahoo.com , did not give a name for this point either. This man is one of the best known global navigators.

  1. How Does a Point Get a Name?

2.1 On contacting the National Survey and Cadastre (Kort & Matrikelsyrelsen), mail SOE@kms.dk , I was informed that there are strict rules on how objects in international waters are named. The organization dealing with this is IHO (International Hydrographic Organization). A private person must complete the required standard forms and send them to the Danish Maritime Administration (“Farvandsvaesnet”) who will then pass the application on to IHO.

2.2 I completed the forms and sent them to the Danish Maritime Administration (“Farvandsvaesnet”). A week later they informed me via e-mail LHA@frv.dk that when an unnamed point is involved then your goodselves, UNGEGN, are the organization to contact and not IHO.

2.3 The United Nation of Experts on Geographical Names was then contacted. Their email reply came from ChairUNGEGN, Prèsidente du GENUNG Helen KerfootHelen.Kerfoot@NRCan-RNCan.gc.ca Ms. Helen Kerfoot (email) stating that they were not in the position to make such a decision. They wrote:”although I would doubt that there is any process for formally naming grid points on the spherical coordinate system!” However, Ms. Helen Kerfoot was so kind to put me into contact with Senior Lecturer Mr. Peder Gammeltoft with the Department of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Copenhagen and Chair of the Nordic Division of UNGEGN. After Senior Lecturer Mr. Peder Gammeltoft at the Copenhagen University has been investigating this matter for another 2, 5 month he has now reached the same conclusion as Ms. Helen Kerfoot.

My suggestion for the name of this point is “Anker's Point” (please note the spelling) and my reasons for this choice are as follows:
(A) This point is basis for determining any point on our planet.
(B) The name ought to relate to something maritime. The anchoring of ship seems a fitting symbol.
(C) The name Anker is the Danish word for the English word anchor and happens to be the name of the person who first realized that this important point has no name and he has been moving force to get a name for it.
As no one seems to be able to decide what a given point of this nature could be called – any one can make that decision. And as stated I have decided that this particular point where the Meridian Zero Intersects with Equator, should be named ”Anker`s Point”. (please note the spelling).

I would like to emphasize my gratefulness towards all the help and effort I have received throughout this investigation.

Yours sincerely,
Anker W. Lauridsen,
Naval architect,
Strandkanten 7 st.th.
9300 Saeby,


  • 2
    "the person who first realized that this important point has no name" A rather bold statement.
    – Martin F
    Mar 30, 2021 at 18:22
  • 1
    Has any authority agreed that this is the new name?
    – Martin F
    Mar 30, 2021 at 18:27
  • Point 4) is missing: I have a big ego Nov 29, 2021 at 12:48

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