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Facts about The Tropic of Capricorn for Kids

The Tropic of Capricorn, or Southern tropic, marks the most southerly latitude on the Earth at which the Sun can be directly overhead. The Tropic of Capricorn is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth.

  • It currently (Epoch 2012) lies 23° 26′ 16″ south of the Equator.
  • The Tropic of Capricorn is the dividing line between the Southern Temperate Zone to the south and the tropics to the north.
  • The northern hemisphere equivalent of the Tropic of Capricorn is the Tropic of Cancer.
  • The position of the Tropic of Capricorn is not fixed, but rather it varies in a complex manner over time; see under circles of latitude for information.
  • As with the Tropic of Cancer, most places along the Tropic of Capricorn have arid or semi-arid climates, though with the Tropic of Capricorn this unfavorable environmental state is exacerbated by the fact that in Australia and Southern Africa tectonic activity and glaciation have been largely absent since the Carboniferous 300 million years ago, so that the aridity is compounded by extremely infertile soils.
  • In Australia, areas on the Tropic have the most variable rainfall anywhere in the world and thus even the wetter areas cannot be generally farmed since irrigation sources invariably dry up in drought years.
  • In South America, whilst in the continental cratons soils are almost as old as in Australia and Southern Africa, the presence of the geologically young and evolving Andes means that this region is on the western side of the subtropical anticyclones and thus receives warm and humid air from the Atlantic Ocean.
  • As a result, areas in Brazil adjacent to the Tropic are extremely important agricultural regions, producing large quantities of crops such as coffee, and the natural rainforest vegetation has been entirely cleared.
  • Vegetation here is almost non-existent, though on the eastern slopes of the Andes rainfall is adequate for rainfed agriculture.
  • Starting at the Prime Meridian and heading eastwards, the Tropic of Capricorn passes through: The following cities and landmarks are either located near the Tropic of Capricorn, or the tropic passes through them.
  • As the major portion of earth’s land is located in the Northern Hemisphere there are only four countries entirely south of the Tropic of Capricorn (there are 74 countries entirely north of the Tropic of Cancer): Uruguay Lesotho Swaziland New Zealand The Tropic of Capricorn is so named because when the Sun reaches the zenith at this latitude, it is entering the tropical sign of Capricorn (winter solstice).
  • When it was named, about 2,000 years ago, the sun was also in the direction of the constellation Capricornus (capricorn is Latin for goat horn) at the December solstice.
  • In India, the day of Sun entering the zodiacal belt Capricorn is celebrated as Makara Sankranti festival.
  • Hence, the festival is celebrated on either of 14th Jan or 15th Jan every year, when, as per the Indian astronomical calendar, the Sun enters the Capricorn sign.