Imperial vs. Metric System; Some facts to know!

Imperial vs. Metric System; Some facts to know!

The imperial system got its name due to the British Empire that ruled many parts of the world from the 16th to the 19th century. After the United States gained independence from Great Britain, the new U.S. government decided to keep this type of measurement, even though the metric system was gaining in popularity at the time, becoming one of the few countries in the world that still uses this system of measurement, in which things are measured in feet, inches, pounds, ounces, and so on. Most countries use the metric system, which uses units of measurement such as meters and grams and adds prefixes such as kilo-, milli- and centi- to count orders of magnitude.

Today only three countries – the United States, Liberia and Myanmar – remain (mostly or officially) attached to the imperial system, which uses measures of distances, weight, height or area that can ultimately be traced back to body parts or everyday objects. Unlike the metric system, these units are not easily divisible into parts of hundreds or thousands and are therefore considered by some to be inferior to those of the metric system. Critics of the metric system, which was created for ease of reference, in turn accuse it of being arbitrary.

Map provided by

In the United States, the use of miles and gallons is the norm, although scientists use the metric system, new units such as megabytes and megapixels are also metric, and runners compete for 100 meters as elsewhere in the world. Myanmar and Liberia are the only countries in the world that have not yet officially adopted the metric system. In both countries, metric measurements are used along with imperial. But the countries have said they want to switch to metric or are in the process of doing so. The United States has also made many grandiose statements about using the metric system in the past, and even made metric “the preferred system of weight and measure” in 1975 (without officially abandoning the imperial system). However, the plan never came to fruition.

Handy Measurement Tips:

  • 1 mile equals 1.6 Kilometers
  • 1 foot (12 inches) is equal to 30 centimeters
  • 1 inch is about 25 millimeters or 2.54 centimeters
  • A 3-foot measurement is almost exactly 1 meter
  • 1 Kilogram is just over 2 pounds
  • 1 pound is about 454 grams
  • For U.K. people, 14 pounds = 1 stone *

The stone as a weight unit.

* The stone or stone weight (abbreviation: st.) is an English and imperial unit of mass equivalent to 14 pounds (approximately 6.35 kg) The stone is still in common use in the United Kingdom and Ireland for body weight.England and other German-speaking countries in northern Europe formerly used various standardized “stones” for trade, the values of which ranged from 5 to 40 local pounds (approximately 3 to 15 kg), depending on the location and the objects weighed. With the advent of the metric system, the various European “stones” were replaced or adapted to the kilogram from the mid-19th century onwards.

A sixteenth century bronze weight of 1 stone with the English coat of arms

About temperature: Farenheit vs Celsius

Speaking of temperature, the scales are also different. We didn’t want to make it too easy for you. Americans measure temperature in Fahrenheit, not Centigrade/Celsius. You might turn on the TV and listen to the weather and hear that it’s 70 degrees outside. No, you’re not going to faint or be vaporized by the sun; 70 degrees Fahrenheit is actually very pleasant, about 21 degrees Celsius. The Celsius system has been used around the world since the mid-20th century, but, again, Americans clung to the original Fahrenheit system.

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