Countries That Lie on the Equator

Nations Along the Line That Divides the Earth in Two

Map of countries that lie on the equator

ThoughtCo / J.R. Bee

Although the equator stretches 24,901 miles (40,075 kilometers) around the world, it travels through just 13 countries, though only the water controlled by two of these rather than the landmasses themselves.

The equator is an imaginary line that circles the Earth, splitting it into the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Because of this, the intersection point of any location by the equator is equidistant from the North and South poles. Find out what life is like for countries along the equator.

13 Countries That Lie on the Equator

Of the 13 countries that lie on the equator, seven are in Africa—the most of any continent—and South America is home to three of the nations. The remaining countries are island nations in the Indian and Pacific oceans. 

The countries through which the equator runs are:

  • São Tomé and Principe
  • Gabon
  • Republic of the Congo
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Uganda
  • Kenya
  • Somalia
  • Maldives
  • Indonesia
  • Kiribati
  • Ecuador
  • Colombia
  • Brazil

11 of these countries are in direct contact with the equator. The landmasses of Maldives and Kiribati, however, do not touch the equator itself. Instead, the equator passes through water belonging to these islands.

The Equator as a Line of Latitude

The equator is one of five lines of latitude used to help people navigate the world. The other four include the Arctic Circle, the Antarctic Circle, the Tropic of Cancer, and the Tropic of Capricorn. Because the Earth is a sphere, the equator—the middle line—is significantly longer than any of the other lines of latitude. Together with lines of longitude that run from pole to pole, lines of latitude make it possible for cartographers and navigators to locate any place on the globe.

The plane of the equator passes through the sun at the March and September equinoxes. The sun appears to cross over the celestial equator at these times. People living on the equator experience the shortest sunrises and sunsets because the sun travels perpendicular to the equator most of the year and the length of days is virtually the same. Daylight in these locations lasts only 14 minutes longer than nighttime.

Equatorial Climate

Most countries intersected by the equator experience much warmer temperatures year-round than the rest of the world despite shared elevations. This is due to the equator's near-constant exposure to sunlight all year long. Countries on the equator include almost half of the world's rainforests—concentrated in the African nations of Congo, Brazil, and Indonesia—because levels of sunlight and rainfall along this line are ideal for largescale plant growth.

Though it would be reasonable to assume that hot, tropical conditions are the norm in places straddling the Earth's main line of latitude, the equator offers a surprisingly diverse climate as a consequence of geography. Some regions along the equator are flat and humid, others like the Andes are mountainous and dry. You will even find snow and ice year-round on Cayambe, a dormant volcano in Ecuador with a height of 5,790 meters (nearly 19,000 feet). No matter the geography and location, there is little fluctuation in temperature throughout the year in any equatorial country.

In spite of constant temperatures, there are often dramatic differences in rainfall and humidity along the equator as these are determined by wind currents. In fact, these regions rarely experience true seasons. Instead, there are periods referred to simply as wet and periods referred to as dry.