Tropic of Cancer | Countries through which it passes

The Tropic of Cancer is an imaginary circle at 23.5°N latitude. Also known as the Northern Tropic, it is the last latitude circle (going North from the equator) at which the Sun can be directly overhead (see diagram below). On the June Solstice that occurs around 21 June, the Sun is directly overhead on the Tropic of Cancer.

A diagram showing the Sun's rays directly overhead on the Tropic of Cancer during Summer solstice.
Sun directly overhead on the Tropic of Cancer during Summer solstice of Northern hemisphere

Countries through which the Tropic of Cancer passes

North America

  1. Mexico
  2. The Bahamas

Africa

  1. Western Sahara
  2. Mauritania
  3. Mali
  4. Algeria
  5. Niger
  6. Libya
  7. Egypt

Asia

  1. Saudi Arabia
  2. United Arab Emirates
  3. Oman
  4. India
  5. Bangladesh
  6. Myanmar (Burma)
  7. China
  8. Taiwan

The Tropic of Cancer also just touches the Chad-Libya Border.

Some major water bodies through which the Tropic of Cancer passes

  • Gulf of Mexico (Atlantic Ocean)
  • North Atlantic Ocean
  • Red Sea (Indian Ocean)
  • Arabian Sea (Indian Ocean)
  • North Pacific Ocean
  • South China Sea (Pacific Ocean)
  • Philippine Sea (Pacific Ocean)
  • Taiwan Strait (Pacific Ocean)

Some interesting facts

  • The 23.5°N latitude was named as Tropic of Cancer during a June solstice. It was named so because the Sun was in the Cancer constellation at the time.
  • The Northern Tropic passes through the Sahara desert almost dividing it into two equal parts. It also passes through the Arabian desert and the salt desert of Kutch (Rann of Kutch).
  • On the opposite side of the equator, in the Southern Hemisphere, is the Tropic of Capricorn at 23.5°S latitude.
  • The region between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn is known as the tropical region. In the tropical region, the climate is generally warm and humid.
  • The latitude value of the Tropic of Cancer keeps changing due to the wobble of Earth’s axis. The latitude value changes between 22.1°N to 24.5°N over a period of about 41,000 years.
  • During the June solstice, Sun is directly overhead on the Northern Tropic and there is 24 hour sunshine within the Arctic circle and the North Pole.

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