The relationship between kilometers and miles is very simple to understand. One kilometer becomes 0.62 miles. A mile is 1,760 yards or 1,609.344 meters. What few people know is the long story behind how kilometers and miles as we know them today came to be.
A mile is currently the official unit of length in many countries around the world such as the United States. However, as time goes by, more and more countries are switching to the more popular metric system. There is a lot of pressure for the metric system to be the universal system of measurement, but countries like the United States have strongly resisted.
The mile as a form of measurement was first used by the Romans, although with a different meaning. Mile or mille passus was the distance attributed to a thousand steps that was equivalent to five thousand Roman feet. Although it has fallen out of favor, this unit is still sometimes used and is titled the Roman Mile. It measures 1,480 meters in length.
Our modern definition of the 5,280 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 Weights and Measures Act was applied to Great Britain and its colonies during that time, making the Imperial units of measure standard. Still, many countries still maintained their own single mile.
All the confusion of measuring distance made it difficult for travelers to maintain accuracy when measuring. It was not until 1959 that the current unified longitude was finally agreed upon and established as what we now know as the International Mile. The international mile can be broken down into international feet which is 0.3048 m. Until this moment; Miles were measured in feet, as defined by English-speaking countries.
Today, most countries in the world have adopted the metric system and use kilometers to measure large distances. However, the UK and the US insist on keeping the miles on signs on all their roads.
The UK has officially switched to the metric system, but refuses to change all road signs. The people there have a long history with the mile as a unit of measurement and they don’t want to change. It doesn’t look like this is going to change any time soon.
Kilometers are a unit of measurement in the metric system. Over the centuries, many systems were called metric. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the metric system became standardized into what we know today. This system is called “Système International d’Unités” in France, giving it the unit title “SI”.
The main purpose of the Metric System is to simplify and standardize measurements. Since each measure is divisible by ten, it is much easier to understand and teach future generations.
Kilometers and miles have a long and often forgotten history. As we enjoy modern units of measurement, it’s good to reflect on the past and remember how they became what they are today.