May I know what is the correct specific term for latitude longitude coordinate system?

With "Geographic Coordinate", it seems to be a general term for every other system?

3 Answers 3


A standard term is geodetic coordinate system. However, the market leader in GIS software tends to invent new terminology with each new release of its flagship system, and by virtue of gaps in fundamental training by most of its users (or just plain enthusiasm for new words), this terminology quickly gets adopted by the majority. For example, "Geographic coordinate system" was newly introduced with ArcGIS 8 about ten years ago but AFAIK it was not in common use before then.

  • 1
    +1 LOL ("enthusiasm for new words"). Note Sql Server provides two distinct types of spatial data: Geometry and Geography. Commented Oct 20, 2010 at 17:52
  • @Kirk Yes, the geometry/geography duo looks similar to ESRI's projected/geographic distinction. In the case of SQL Server, though, "geography" seems to include a promise of performing calculations using ellipsoidal or spherical formulas, somewhat in contradistinction to ESRI's handling of coordinate systems (where non-Euclidean calculations appear to be limited and ad hoc at present). However, "geometry" and "geography" would be unfortunate general-purpose choices to name different kinds of coordinates, due to their long-standing common meanings.
    – whuber
    Commented Dec 28, 2010 at 20:33

WGS84 is the coordinate system used when giving latitude and longitude, such as a coordinate from a handheld GPS device.

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    ... this is a common case but not at all an absolute truth. WGS84 is a specific model of the earth (an ellipsoid) that is very commonly used -- e.g., the GPS system uses it. Latitude and longitude in the context of WGS84 define a point on the surface of that particular ellipsoid. However, there's nothing preventing someone from choosing a different model of the earth -- a perfect sphere, for example -- and still using latitude & longitude to define coordinates within that model of the Earth.
    – Dan S.
    Commented Oct 21, 2010 at 18:22

I like to use Plate Carrée:

The equirectangular projection (also called the equidistant cylindrical projection, geographic projection, or la carte parallélogrammatique projection, and which includes the special case of the plate carrée projection or geographic projection) is a simple map projection attributed to Marinus of Tyre, who Ptolemy claims invented the projection about AD 100.

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