Beyond the Size

Measuring the World: Understanding Different Systems and Units

Measuring Systems Around the World

Have you ever wondered why countries use different measuring systems? It can be quite confusing when you travel from one country to another, and suddenly, you have to convert units that you are not familiar with.

In this article, we will explore some of the most common measuring systems around the world and their unique units of measurements.

The Metric System

The Metric system is the most widely used system of measurement around the world. It was first developed by a French astronomer in the late 1700s and was officially adopted by the French government in 1795.

The Metric system is based on increments of 10, making it easy to convert between units. It uses meters for measuring length, grams for weight, and liters for volume.

Some of the common units used in the Metric system include millimeters, centimeters, kilometers, kilograms, and liters.

The Imperial System and United States Customary System

The Imperial system is the oldest system of measurement, tracing its roots back to England in 1824. The United States Customary System is based on the Imperial system and is used in the United States.

Unlike the Metric system, the Imperial system is not based on increments of 10. It uses units such as inches, feet, yards, miles, ounces, pounds, and gallons.

Some of the units used in the Imperial system are not used in the Metric system, such as stone, hundredweight, and ton.

Burmese Units of Measurement

The Burmese units of measurement are unique to Myanmar and are rarely used outside the country. It is based on a system that uses various units of length and weight.

The Muyaw is a unit of length that is approximately 3.6 feet, while the Lan is a unit of length used for measuring fabric. The Kawtha is a unit of area, while the Kyattha is used for measuring land.

The Aseittha is a unit of volume, and the Ngase Tha is used for measuring precious stones. The Hkwet is a unit of weight, and Seit and Hkwe are used for measuring gold and silver.

Troy Weights

Troy weight is used exclusively for weighing precious metals, such as gold, silver, and platinum. It is named after the city of Troyes in France, where it was first used in the Middle Ages.

The Troy ounce is equal to 31.10347 grams, while the Troy pound is equal to 373.2417 grams.

Non-Standard Units of Measurement

Non-standard units of measurement are often used in everyday life and are not official units of measurement. They are common among certain sports, such as American football or soccer.

The American football field measures 100 yards in length, while a soccer pitch can vary in size depending on the country. These non-standard units of measurement may not be accurate or consistent and should not be used for official purposes.

Advantages of the Metric System

The Metric system has several advantages over other systems of measurement. First, it is easier to communicate between countries that use the Metric system.

Products can be bought and sold overseas without the need for time-consuming conversions. Second, the Metric system is based on increments of 10, making it simple to convert between units.

For example, to convert from centimeters to meters, you simply move the decimal point two places to the left. Third, the Metric system is a standard for scientists regardless of their country of origin.

In conclusion, measuring systems around the world can be unique and confusing. However, by understanding the different systems, we can appreciate the diversity and evolution of measuring systems.

The Metric system is the most commonly used system globally, while other systems such as the Imperial system and Burmese units of measurement have their own historical context. As we navigate the world, it is helpful to be familiar with different units of measurement to ease our travels and understanding of global cultures.

Adoption and Use of the Metric System

When it comes to measuring systems, the Metric system is widely accepted as the standard system used around the world. It has been adopted by almost every country, except for a few, such as the United States, Liberia, and Myanmar.

In this article expansion, we will delve deeper into the use of the Metric system, its common application, the partial adoption of the Imperial system, and Myanmar’s planned shift to this system.

Countries That Use the Metric System

The Metric system is truly a global system of measurement, with almost every country in the world using it as their standard. The system’s use is mandated or encouraged by international organizations such as the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, which seeks to standardize global trade transactions and scientific research across borders.

Nevertheless, some countries, including the United States, Liberia, and Myanmar, have yet to adopt this system of measurement fully.

Common Use of Metric System

The Metric system is commonly used in various industries worldwide, particularly in medicine and food production. In medicine, metric units are widely used for measuring doses of medication for therapies, injections, and prescriptions.

Metric volumes, such as milliliters and liters, are preferred in the food production industry for measuring ingredients such as water, flour, and oils.

Partial Adoption of Imperial System

Although the Imperial system is not officially used in all countries, it is partially adopted in some places such as the UK as part of their cultural heritage, along with the metric system. In Britain, both the Imperial system and the metric system are used in everyday life.

The Imperial system is still used in food preparation, where table and teaspoons, and ounces and pounds are used, while metric weights and volumes are used in grocery stores.

Differences between Imperial and US Customary Systems

The Imperial and US Customary systems of measurement are two different but slightly related measuring systems for weight, volume, distance, and time. While they share some similarities, there are also differences between the two measuring systems.

Similarities and Differences in Smaller Units

Both the Imperial and US Customary systems use the same smaller units of measurement, such as ounces, fluid ounces, pints, and quarts. However, their conversion ratios for these smaller units are different.

For example, one Imperial pint is equal to 20 imperial fluid ounces, while one US pint is equal to 16 US fluid ounces.

Differences in Weight Measurements over Pounds

While the pound is used as a standard measurement of weight in both systems, the units of hundredweight and ton differ between the two systems. The Imperial system uses a hundredweight of 112 pounds and a ton of 2240 pounds, while the U.S. customary system uses a hundredweight of 100 pounds and a ton of 2000 pounds, also known as the short ton.

Myanmar’s Switch to Metric System

Myanmar is one of the few countries in the world that have not fully adopted the Metric system of measurement. However, this is set to change soon as the country’s government is now fast-tracking its plans to shift to the metric system to integrate the country’s infrastructure into the global network.

The country has been using the Burmese units of measurement and the Imperial system, but this had caused confusion among citizens and trade partners. The adoption of the Metric system will standardize trade transactions globally, ease its logistics, while creating a wide range of opportunities for growth and development.

In summary, the Metric system has become the standard system of measurement around the world, with various advantages and uses in science, industry, and global trade. Although some countries, including the United States, Myanmar, and Liberia, still use non-metric systems, their adoption of this standard metric system could have a significant impact on international trade, research, and commerce.

Understanding the similarities and differences between measurement systems is essential in navigating global trade and communication, and the prompt adoption of the metric system worldwide can revolutionize the way we measure and trade in the future.

Non-Standard Units of Measurement

In our earlier discussion, we talked about standard units of measurement and their use around the world. However, there is another type of unit of measurement – non-standard units of measurement.

Non-standard units of measurement are not officially recognized units, but they are often commonly used to measure specific objects or spaces. In this article expansion, we will discuss non-standard units of measurement by looking at two examples – the American football field and the soccer pitch.

American Football Field

The American football field is one of the most familiar examples of a non-standard unit of measurement. In the United States, where American football is the most popular sport, the field serves as a standard measurement for the sport.

The football field is 100 yards long, with a width of 53 and a third yards. However, it is essential to note that this size does not mirror the standard measurement system for length or width, which uses meters expressed in the Metric system.

Given that American football fields are of a standardized size, they serve as a basis for size comparison, enabling individuals to visualize and understand distances better. For example, one can describe a distance as 50 yards – roughly half the length of a football field, or 10 yards – equivalent to one-tenth the fields length.

Soccer Pitch

The soccer pitch is another common non-standard unit of measurement that is often used in soccer games. It is not a standardized size, and therefore its dimensions can vary depending on various factors such as the country, stadium, or league.

In soccer, the pitch’s size is officially regulated by FIFA, with length ranging from 100 to 130 yards and width from 50 to 100 yards. Whereby, the soccer pitch serves as a standard for area measurement.

In contrast to the American football field, different soccer pitches can have different sizes, making the measurement system a bit ambiguous when used for comparison. The variability in soccer pitch size can affect the game’s dynamics because players have to adapt their playing strategies, depending on the pitch size.

For example, a smaller pitch size can affect the game’s speed, prompt closer ball control, and favor a defensive playing style than offenses.

In conclusion, non-standard units of measurement provide a context-specific approach to measurement that serves various needs.

They are useful in certain activities and contexts, but they are not scientific units nor standardized measurement systems. As such, they may provide for a bit more creativity and flexibility.

However, they may also lead to confusion and ambiguity when used in unfamiliar contexts or cross-cultural boundaries. It’s therefore imperative to have a good understanding of standard and non-standard units of measurement and use them appropriately and accurately.

In conclusion, the world of measurement is complex, with different systems and units serving various needs. However, understanding the differences between standard and non-standard units of measurement is essential in facilitating communication and trade across borders.

While the Metric system is the most widely adopted system globally, the Imperial system and Burmese units of measurement have their unique historical roots and still have partial use in some countries such as the United States and the UK. Finally, non-standard units of measurements such as the American football field or soccer pitch have become critical in appropriate contexts, aiding in visualization and better understanding of distances and areas in specific situations.


Q: What is the history of the Metric System? A: The Metric system was first developed in the late 1700s by a French astronomer and was officially adopted by the French government in 1795.

Q: How does the Metric System differ from the Imperial System? A: The Metric system is based on increments of 10, while the Imperial system is not.

The Metric system uses meters for length measurement, grams for weight, and liters for volume, while the Imperial system uses units like inches, feet, yards, ounces, pounds, and gallons. Q: What are non-standard units of measurement?

A: Non-standard units of measurement are not officially accepted or standardized but are commonly used to measure specific objects or spaces. Q: Why is the Metric System important for international trade?

A: The Metric system is important for international trade because it is widely used and allows for reliable communication and transactions between different countries. Q: What are the benefits of standardizing measurement systems globally?

A: Standardizing measurement systems globally reduces confusion and makes it easier to communicate accurate measurements across borders, which is especially important for international trade and scientific research.

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