One of the most fascinating things about living on planet earth is the way that we human beings compensate for the fact that it can be daytime on one side of the planet, and nighttime on another, through time zones! This is different for each country in the world. The question is, how many time zones are there in the United Kingdom?
The United Kingdom is made up of not only their own territories, but a subset of dependencies such as the Cayman Islands and Saint Helena. According to Time and Date.com, though the United Kingdom only uses one standard time zone, these overseas territories use eight other time zones. This means, in total, that the United Kingdom has 9 time zones.
Let’s take a look not only at time zones, but how they work in the United Kingdom and the UK’s dependencies, as well as the history of standardized time zones in the United Kingdom.
History of Time Zones in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is one of the first countries in known history to have adopted a Standard Time Zone, instead of having a local mean time for each area of it’s land. Usually, a Standard Time Zone means that the area within the zone is telling time without the use of Daylight Saving Time.
This can also be called “winter time,” since it is during the colder season of each year, while DST or Daylight Saving Time is called “summer time.” This is especially true in the United Kingdom, where you’re less likely to find citizens referring to their time zone by anything other than the seasons.
The entire world can actually be divided into 24 different time zone regions longitudinally, which are divided by about fifteen degrees. Every fifteen of these longitude degrees, an hour shift backward or forward marks the change in time zones.
After the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century, as trade expanded across the world between countries, the United Kingdom adopted time zones not only to tell time, but to navigate more easily based on the position of the sun throughout the year according to where their ships were.
However, initially, the United Kingdom used only what was called “Local Mean Time.” Otherwise known as “LMT,” Local Mean Time was how the United Kingdom’s citizens kept time by charting the sun’s movements across the sky based on the normal length of a day, at 24 hours long.
In fact, Great Britain’s way of telling time in the 1960s was a Mean Time localized in Greenwich, and most of the civilizations in the world used Greenwich Mean Time as a result. However, since 1967, UTC, or “Coordinated Universal Time,” Greenwich Mean Time has been replaced.
Still, The United Kingdom uses Greenwich Mean Time as their standard from their capital of London.
What Time Zones does the UK Have Now?
Currently, as previously mentioned, the United Kingdom uses Greenwich Mean Time as their standard, otherwise known as “GMT.” However, starting in the month of March, British Summer Time or “BST” will commence, as part of the Daylight Saving Time Change.
7 Time Zones Used By UK Dependencies
Although the UK operates on alternating GMT and BST time zones throughout each year, their dependencies are located in different longitudinal time zones around the world. Therefore, when you count the dependencies, the UK actually has 7 more time zones to consider! These are listed below:
- Central European Time
- South Georgia Time
- Indian Chagos Time
- Falkland Islands Summer Time
- Atlantic Standard Time
- Pitcairn Standard Time
- Eastern Standard Time
Let’s take a closer look at each of these time zones and which dependencies of the UK use them below!
2. Central European Time
The abbreviation for Central European Time is “CET.” CET is only used in the Gibraltar dependency of the United Kingdom. It is sometimes known as European Central Time, as well!
It is not only used by Giblraltar, but is the standard time used by most of Europe including places like the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Switzerland, and most of Spain. These countries all use CET until the winter time.
It is also the standard for the continent of Africa, who use it all year round.
Central European Time is one hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time.
3. South Georgia Time
The abbreviation for South Georgia Time is “GST.” GST is used by South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Many other time zones share the fact that South Georgia Time is 2 hours behind UTC, or the Coordinated Universal Time.
4. Indian Chagos Time
The abbreviation for Indian Chagos time is “IOT.” It is a Standard time for the British Indian Ocean Territory, which utilizes the Indian Chagos Time all year round without any Daylight Savings Time changes to the clock. It Is 6 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time.
5. Falkland Islands Summer Time
The abbreviation for Falkland Islands Summer Time is “FKST,” and it counts for the UK’s overseas territory of the Falkland Islands. It is a Daylight Saving Time standard used all year round by the Falkland Islands. It is three hours behind Coordinated Universal Time.
6. Atlantic Standard Time
The abbreviation for Atlantic Standard Time is AST, and it is observed by several of the UK’s overseas territories! These include Bermuda, Montserrat, Anguilla, and the British Virgin Islands. Atlantic Standard Time is four hours behind UTC. It is also used by four provinces of Canada and the United States Territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
7. Pitcairn Standard Time
The abbreviation for Pitcairn Standard Time is “PST,” and it is only used by the Pitcairn Islands, which are an overseas territory for the United Kingdom. This time zone is a Standard Time, observed all year on the Pitcairn Islands. It is a whopping 8 hours behind the Coordinated Universal Time.
8. Eastern Standard Time
Finally, Eastern Standard Time is abbreviated with “EST.” Many places around the world use EST, and the United Kingdom’s overseas territories that are included in this are the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cayman Islands. EST is 5 hours behind UTC, and it is the standard time in 23 of the United States and three provinces of Canada.
In conclusion, the United Kingdom was one of the first countries to ever adopt a standardized time. This is typically the Greenwich Mean Time observed in most of the United Kingdom until summer time, when British Summer Time commences. This brings the United Kingdom to around 2 time zones.
However, when you factor in the United Kingdom’s dependencies or overseas territories, this number is raised to a total of 9 Time zones, some of which, like the Eastern Standard Time, are shared with other countries like Canada and the United States.