Tropic of Capricorn

Last updated on 6 August 2017

Coordinates: 23°26′14″S 0°0′0″W / 23.43722°S -0.00000°E / -23.43722; -0.00000 (Prime Meridian)

World map with tropic of capricorn.svg
World map showing the Tropic of Capricorn
Australia in 1794 Samuel Dunn Map of the World in Hemispheres.JPG
Tropic of Capricorn in 1794 Dunn Map of the World
Hito al Tropico de Capricornio (2).jpg
Monument marking the Tropic of Capricorn just north of Antofagasta, Chile
Tropic of Capricorn Longreach.jpg
Longreach, Queensland, Australia
Brasil Tropic of Capricorn.JPG
Sign marking the tropic in Maringá, Brazil
Reloj Solar del Tr%C3%B3pico de Capricornio.JPG
Sundial on the Tropic of Capricorn, Jujuy Province, Argentina

The Tropic of Capricorn (or the Southern Tropic) is the circle of latitude that contains the subsolar point on the December (or southern) solstice. It is thus the southernmost latitude where the Sun can be directly overhead. Its northern equivalent is the Tropic of Cancer.

The Tropic of Capricorn is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of Earth. As of 17 August 2017, its latitude is 23°26′13.2″ (or 23.437°)[1] south of the Equator, but it is very gradually moving northward, currently at the rate of 0.47 arcseconds, or 15 metres, per year.[2]

Geography and environment

The Tropic of Capricorn is the dividing line between the Southern Temperate Zone to the south and the tropics to the north. The Northern Hemisphere equivalent of the Tropic of Capricorn is the Tropic of Cancer.

The position of the Tropic of Capricorn is not fixed, but rather it varies in a complex manner over time; see under circles of latitude for information.

In Australia, areas on the Tropic have some of the most variable rainfall in the world[3] and thus even the wetter areas cannot be generally farmed, since irrigation sources invariably dry up in drought years. In southern Africa, where rainfall is more reliable, farming is possible, though yields are low even with fertilisers.

In South America, whilst in the continental cratons soils are almost as old as in Australia and Southern Africa, the presence of the geologically young and evolving Andes means that this region is on the western side of the subtropical anticyclones and thus receives warm and humid air from the Atlantic Ocean. As a result, areas in Brazil adjacent to the Tropic are extremely important agricultural regions, producing large quantities of crops such as sugarcane, and the natural rainforest vegetation has been almost entirely cleared, except for a few remaining patches of Atlantic Forest. In and west of the Andes, however, the Humboldt Current makes conditions extremely arid, creating the Atacama Desert, one of the driest in the world, so that no glaciers exist between Volcán Sajama at 18˚30'S and Cerro Tres Cruces at 27˚S.[4] Vegetation here is almost non-existent, though on the eastern slopes of the Andes rainfall is adequate for rainfed agriculture.

Around the world

Starting at the Prime Meridian and heading eastwards, the Tropic of Capricorn passes through 10 countries:

Co-ordinates Country, territory or sea Notes
23°26′S 0°0′E / 23.433°S 0.000°E / -23.433; 0.000 (Prime Meridian) Atlantic Ocean
23°26′S 14°27′E / 23.433°S 14.450°E / -23.433; 14.450 (Namibia)  Namibia Erongo, Khomas, Hardap, Khomas (again), and Omaheke regions
23°26′S 20°0′E / 23.433°S 20.000°E / -23.433; 20.000 (Botswana)  Botswana Kgalagadi, Kweneng and Central districts
23°26′S 27°18′E / 23.433°S 27.300°E / -23.433; 27.300 (South Africa)  South Africa Limpopo Province
23°26′S 31°33′E / 23.433°S 31.550°E / -23.433; 31.550 (Mozambique)  Mozambique Gaza and Inhambane provinces
23°26′S 35°26′E / 23.433°S 35.433°E / -23.433; 35.433 (Indian Ocean) Indian Ocean Mozambique Channel
23°26′S 43°45′E / 23.433°S 43.750°E / -23.433; 43.750 (Madagascar)  Madagascar Toliara and Fianarantsoa provinces
23°26′S 47°39′E / 23.433°S 47.650°E / -23.433; 47.650 (Indian Ocean) Indian Ocean
23°26′S 113°47′E / 23.433°S 113.783°E / -23.433; 113.783 (Australia)  Australia Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland
23°26′S 151°3′E / 23.433°S 151.050°E / -23.433; 151.050 (Coral Sea) Coral Sea Passing just south of Cato Reef in  Australia's Coral Sea Islands Territory
23°26′S 166°46′E / 23.433°S 166.767°E / -23.433; 166.767 (Pacific Ocean) Pacific Ocean Passing just north of the Minerva Reefs ( Tonga), and just south of Tubuai ( French Polynesia)
23°26′S 70°36′W / 23.433°S 70.600°W / -23.433; -70.600 (Chile)  Chile Antofagasta Region
23°26′S 67°07′W / 23.433°S 67.117°W / -23.433; -67.117 (Argentina)  Argentina Jujuy, Salta, Jujuy (again), Salta (again) and Formosa provinces
23°26′S 61°23′W / 23.433°S 61.383°W / -23.433; -61.383 (Paraguay)  Paraguay Boquerón, Presidente Hayes, Concepción, San Pedro and Amambay departments
23°26′S 55°38′W / 23.433°S 55.633°W / -23.433; -55.633 (Brazil)  Brazil Mato Grosso do Sul, Paraná, and São Paulo states
23°26′S 45°2′W / 23.433°S 45.033°W / -23.433; -45.033 (Atlantic Ocean) Atlantic Ocean

Places located along the Tropic of Capricorn

The following cities and landmarks are either located near the Tropic of Capricorn, or the tropic passes through them.

Flag of Argentina.svg Argentina
Flag of Australia.svg Australia
Flag of Botswana.svg Botswana
Flag of Brazil.svg Brazil
Flag of Chile.svg Chile
Flag of Madagascar.svg Madagascar
Flag of Mozambique.svg Mozambique
Flag of Namibia.svg Namibia
Flag of Paraguay.svg Paraguay
Flag of South Africa.svg South Africa
Tropico del capricorno Madagascar Regione di Atsimo-Andrefana.jpg

Atsimo-Andrefana Region, Madagascar

Tropic of Capricorn Jujuy.JPG

The Tropic of Capricorn marked in Jujuy Province in northern Argentina

Botswana Tropic of Capricorn Sign.JPG

Monument marking the Tropic of Capricorn as it passes through Botswana

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A sign marking the Tropic of Capricorn as it passes through Namibia

Tr%C3%B3pico de Capric%C3%B3rnio.JPG

Roadway plaque marking the Tropic of Capricorn in the city of Santana do Parnaíba, Brazil, at the correct latitude for year 1917.

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Marker for the tropic in Maringá, Paraná, Brazil, July 2012


Roadside monument marking Tropic of Capricorn in Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia, 28 January 2005

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Monument marking Tropic of Capricorn in Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia, 1970

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Road sign marking Tropic of Capricorn in Western Australia, Australia, 26 August 2008


Monument marking the Tropic of Capricorn just north of Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia

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Relationship between Earth's axial tilt (ε) to the tropical and polar circles

List of countries entirely south of the Tropic of Capricorn

As the major portion of earth's land is located in the Northern Hemisphere there are only four countries entirely south of the Tropic of Capricorn (there are 74 countries entirely north of the Tropic of Cancer):


The Tropic of Capricorn is so named because, when it was named about 2,000 years ago, the sun was also in the direction of the constellation Capricornus (capricorn is Latin for goat horn) at the December solstice. In modern times the sun appears in the constellation Sagittarius during this time. The change is due to precession of the equinoxes. The word "tropic" itself comes from the Greek trope (τροπή), meaning turn, change in direction or circumstances, referring to the fact that the sun appears to "turn back" at the solstices.


Length of the Tropic on 11 June 2015, at 23°26′14″S is 36,788 kilometres (22,859 mi).[6]

See also

External links


Content from Wikipedia