Cardinal points

The cardinal points represent the foundation of a worldwide reference methodical system, used by people to orient themselves, either by means of a map, or on the earth’s surface itself. They are defined depending on the position of the sun with respect to the earth. The cardinal points are: north, south, east, west.

North will be reflected at the top of the map. North will always be ahead, when oriented from any point on earth. South will be reflected at the bottom of the map. East is located to the right, and it is easy to recognize since the sun rises there. West is on the left side of the map, and it’s also easy to spot as the sun sets here.

In ancient times, the movements of the earth were unknown, but still navigators located a direction by being guided by the wind, or by the location of the stars. Although the main factor for orientation was the place where the sun rose at dawn.

Knowing about the cardinal points and knowing how to locate them has meant a lot to humanity, especially for maritime navigation. With the passage of time and with the new technical advances, man created an instrument capable of determining the location in physical space, this instrument was called a compass, this is an instrument that is based on terrestrial magnetism, using a magnetized needle to indicate Earth’s magnetic north.

This device was of great importance since although it is true that in the case of navigators, they were oriented by the position of the sun; It is also true that there were days and nights that were cloudy, so these references were not very useful, since the cloudiness was an impediment when observing the stars and the sun. When the compass came into use in the 9th century, navigators were able to master geographical coordinates almost completely.

The denomination of the cardinal points is derived from Nordic mythology (Nordri = north, Sudri = south, Austri = east and Vestri = west) these were added to the Spanish language and to the other languages ​​derived from Latin in a relatively recent time. Since anciently, the names of the cardinal points in Spanish were: septentrión (north), Meridion (south), oriente or nascent (east), occidente or poniente (west).