The History of Kilometers and Miles

The relationship between kilometers and miles is very simple to understand. One kilometer converts to 0.62 miles. One mile has 1760 yards in it or 1,609.344 meters. What few people know is the long history behind how kilometers and miles as we know them today came into being.

A mile is currently the official unit of length in many countries of the world such as the United States. As time goes on, however, more and more countries are switching to the more popular metric system. There is much pressure to make the metric system the universal system for measurements, but countries such as the United States have strongly resisted this.

The mile as a form of measurement was first used by the Romans, though with a different meaning. Mile or mille passus was the distance attributed to one thousand paces which equaled five thousand Roman feet. Though it has lost popularity this unit is still used at times and is titled the Roman Mile. It measures 1,480 meters in length.

Our modern day definition of the 5280 foot Mile was not established until the 13th century. It took some time for the standardized mile to catch on. Many countries maintained their own separate systems for quite some time. Eventually the standardized mile became part of the Imperial Units of Measurement. In 1824, the British act of weights and measurements was applied to Britain and its colonies during that time, making the Imperial Units of Measurement standard. Still, many countries still held to their own unique mile.

All the confusion of measuring distance made it difficult for travelers to maintain accuracy when measuring. It was not until the year 1959 that the current unified length was finally agreed upon and established as what we currently know as the International Mile. The international mile can be broken down into international feet which are 0.3048 m. Up until this time; Miles were measured in feet, as defined by the English speaking countries.

Today, most countries in the world have adopted the metric system and use kilometers to measure large distances. The UK and the US, however insist on keeping the miles on the signs on all their roadways.

The United Kingdom has officially changed over to the metric system, but refuse to change all the roadway signs. People there have a long history with the mile as their unit of measurement and do not want to change. It does not appear that this will change anytime soon.

Kilometers are a unit of measurement in the Metric system. Throughout the centuries many systems were termed metric. It was not until the 1960s that the metric system was standardized into what we know it as today. This system is termed the “Système International d’Unités” in France, giving it the title “SI”unit.

The main purpose of the Metric System is to simplify and standardize measurements. With every measurement being divisible by ten, it is much easier to understand and teach to future generations.

Kilometers and Miles have a long and often forgotten history. As we enjoy the modern units of measurement, it is good to reflect on the past and remember how they became what they are today.