The US time zones span the entire country in addition to its territories. Though we often take them for granted, the eleven US time zones help keep the United States of America synchronized and running smoothly. Just like other time zones across the globe, the United States follows certain established time-keeping conventions, such as the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and Daylight Saving Time. Since it’s such a large country, it may not always be easy to tell the time in the Land of the Free. With enough information, anyone can forego the time difference calculator and tell time from anywhere in the world.
What You Need To Know About US Time Zones
History of US Time Zones
Up until the Industrial Revolution, there was no agreed upon universal time throughout the country. Each town or city set their own time by observing the sun’s zenith at noon. However, with the advent of mechanized transportation, train schedules had to be synchronized. In doing so, accidents and confusion with schedules would be avoided. As a result, the United States was divided into four time zones on November 18, 1883. The US Department of Transportation has been responsible for governing time zones since 1967.
The 9 Time Zones
Spanning fifty states and a total land area of 3,796,742 sq. mi., the United States has nine standard time zones by law, with 4 time zones in the contiguous US. From west to east, these are Chamorro Standard Time (UTC+10), Samoa Standard Time (UTC-11), Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time (HST), Alaskan Standard Time (AKST), Pacific Standard Time (PST), Mountain Standard Time (MST), Central Standard Time (CST), Eastern Standard Time (EST), and Atlantic Standard Time (AST).
Time Zones in Uninhabited Territories
Nutrient-rich guano: A great way to expand the borders of the United States. https://t.co/rBENfaUlNf
— Tedium (@readtedium) September 2, 2017
In addition to the nine US time zones, there are two more time zones for the uninhabited territories of the United States. The US Minor Outlying Islands are composed of Baker Island, Midway, and Wake Island. Baker Island is under the Anywhere on Earth (UTC-12) time zone, while Wake Island falls under Wake Time (UTC+12). Midway, meanwhile, follows Samoan Standard Time.
Daylight Saving Time
Just like many countries with cooler climates, the United States maximizes summer using Daylight Saving Time. US time zones make the switch at 2:00 AM local time on the second Sunday in March, and revert back to Standard Time at 2:00 AM on the first Sunday of November. Territories that don’t use Daylight Saving time are American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
Want to know more about the history of time zones? Check out this fantastic video here:
Time is not merely numbers on the face of a clock: it is both a science and an art. The systems for telling time help keep the world from falling into chaos. The eleven US time zones may seem a little overwhelming, but they have kept the country united for decades. Without them, the country would surely fall into disarray. Without a doubt, these time zones will surely be around until the end of time.
What are your experiences in traveling across time zones? We’d love to know. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.