# eli5: Why are nautical miles used to measure distance in the sea and not just kilo meters or miles?

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eli5: Why are nautical miles used to measure distance in the sea and not just kilo meters or miles?

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A nautical mile is equal to one minute of latitude (overall average), which approximates as 1.151 statute miles. A knot is one nautical mile per hour. It makes more sense to me to ask why a statute mile is not equivalent to a nautical mile.

A nautical mile is a easily divisible unit of measurement into the 360 degrees around the earth, with of latitudes providing 180*

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It is more a consequence of the fact that we measure a full circle in terms of 360. Which is a “close enough” unit of measurement the Babylonians came up with to approximate a calendar year.

Just wanted to add that Nautical miles are also used in aviation for the same reason they’re used in sea travel. Because nautical miles line up with latitude they’re more useful for the greater distances of travel you’re dealing with on boats and planes.

The measurements came from different sources and people feel no reason to change once they have gotten used to something. That is why there are different units in different places.

Nautical miles came from measurements of the earth which simplified calculations with a sextant.

Land miles came from ancient Roman measurements.

Kilometres came from standardizing and decimalization of units and, fun fact, uses the same base measurement as the nautical mile. It is no coincidence that a nautical mile is 1.81 km. It comes from it being 180 degrees in a half planet, but measuring things slightly differently.