The International Date Line

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Argentina 1314

     To mark the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Observatorio Naval de Buenos Aires in 1881, Argentina issued this stamp which presents, on a Mercator projection, a conventionalized view of the world time zones. The zones are 15 wide in theory, but in practice there are many modifications to accommodate political boundaries and commercial requirements.
     A map showing the time zones as they currently exist can be seen at:

SCN 1314

    Sir Sandford Fleming, chief engineer of the Canadian Pacific Railroad proposed a general system of standard times which was accepted in 1884.The International Date Line (180 E and W of Greenwich) is the left and right limit of the map on stamp above. 

SCN 587

The red line on the map on the stamp above reflects the general shape of the International Date line,  an imaginary line east of which it is one day earlier than it is west of the line. This is designed to accommodate the reality that as one travels west the time is one hour earlier every 15. While the Prime Meridian was established in 1884 by The International Meridian Conference, the date line has never been established by a formal treaty or law. Rather it exists as an informal agreement among those engaged in international trade.

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