Map of countries officially not using the metric system

Prepare to be amazed:

That’s right, the three countries which are not using the metric system are Liberia, Myanmar and of course… the United States of America. Seriously, what’s up with that? Maybe it’s something I’m just missing…

In other news, here’s something fun: A study showed that the US is an oligarchy, and not really a democracy.

Via Wikimedia

  • David

    That’s not completely accurate. Take the UK, for example, a “metric” country:

    – Milk is sold in multiples of 1 pint sized containers
    – Jam etc is sold in 454g – 1lb jars
    – Road distances are all signed in miles
    – Most people still measure their height in feet and inches and their weight in stones, pounds, and ounces

    Metric, really? I suspect many other countries are the same.

  • Ajedi32

    Wow, I thought we were the only ones. I guess USA isn’t the only country that doesn’t use the metric system. ;)

  • Ajedi32

    Oh, and you’re right David. You could also argue that the US DOES use the metric system, but only in certain situations. (Science, etc.)

  • Kylr

    There is nothing amazing in this.

  • lyesmith

    Well UK is in the process of the Metrication. Officially they use metric system, it is displayed on every product and it is the official system taught in school. On the other hand pupils are taught “rough metric equivalents of imperial units still in daily use”, but are not taught how to manipulate Imperial units. Canada, Jamaica is currently in the process of official metrication as well.

    but apart from these countries it is true that only USA Liberia and Burma have not adopted metric system yet.

  • RichF

    The US really does use the metric system – everywhere that it actually matters.

  • lyesmith


    Right, how many liquid pint is cubic mile? Or a more realistic example how much is 1/3 inch and 5/16 inch? How much time does it take you to calculate these?

    In metric system it takes like 3 seconds.

  • http://twitter.com/Stefing Stefing

    The UK is a mess but is officially using the metric system.
    If the UK ever switched to driving on the right it would be phased in – one month it would be lorries, a month later cars…

  • Sam

    The only reason the UK still uses miles for cars is because if they suddenly changed all the speed limits from 30 to 50, 50 to 80 etc we’d have most of the country speeding.

    I hardly think the UK is a mess, compared to the USA. Didn’t NASA use the wrong unit and end up sending a rocket 10ft into the sky :P. My friend in America uses cups for cooking!

  • http://bureado.com Jose Parrella

    Ecuador measures weight in pounds in almost every business and daily transaction.

  • Watt

    Too bad, everyone in the world uses “inches” for their TV.

  • KP

    Australia uses cm for TVs. Some people still tells their height in feet. @Stefing what does driving on the right has to do with the metric system???

  • Trevor

    Re:The only reason the UK still uses miles for cars is because if they suddenly changed all the speed limits from 30 to 50, 50 to 80 etc we’d have most of the country speeding.

    Not true. Ireland switched all signs from miles to kilometers a few years ago with little incident of higher speeding. In fact, one could argue that average speed was lower during the changeover as people were more conscious of their speed.

  • http://www.djoh.net/inde/ Djoh

    Hum, India is like UK for the distances (miles), for instance.
    This graph is meaningless…

  • http://twitter.com/Stefing Stefing

    What part of “officially” does no-one seem to understand?

  • mikebros

    No excuse. The world is global, the measurement system is metric. A triumph for the Napoleon and the French.

    In New Zealand we are now mainly metric. Some people still use feet and inches for their height, but even this is dying out. Screen sizes are weirdly in inches, but I suspect this is a USA influence.

    It very ignoring to have shows like “Myth Busters” still using imperial measurements. What are they talking about? The use BTUs (British Thermal Units) for f*** sake. FTW! The next generation will not have a clue.

  • lyesmith

    Officially metric. That means that metric system is taught in schools, and must be displayed on labels etc. Of course it takes time to switch. But US does not even makes an effort. (In Liberia and Burma they dont use metric system officially but it is widely used.)

    Of course USA should not switch because the rest of the world using metric system. They should switch because the metric system is a much better system. It is like using horse-drawn carriages in the 21st century. Which is a weird thought when you talk about US.

  • Sam

    The USA finds it hard to change anything though, not just measurement systems. Take global warming – they’re still one of the biggest polluters and still do almost nothing to prevent it.

  • Chris

    I’m American, and I can’t stand the imperial system. I talk to my wife in metric regularly (i.e.: Honey, it’s gonna be gorgeous today. Sunny and warm, and 28). We travel a lot, and it’s ridiculous that we have to translate anything into Metric…pounds, dry ounces, fluid ounces, miles, inches…stupid. If Americans would just wake up to the simplicity of Metric and stop defending an indefensible system, measuring stuff would become so much simpler.

  • RichF

    Chris, how about you use what you want and everyone else uses what they want? You can continue to feel superior and we will just live and not worry about units.

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  • Nicholson

    Using the metric system for science and industry is a no-brainer.

    For quotidian life, however, some parts of the traditional systems are superior because their origins are organic.

  • http://trueacu.com acupunc

    back in the 70’s it was all about moving to the metric system lol

    now it’s about keeping the imperial system so they can sell more tools lol

  • Ramius

    Even as a US Physics teacher I still prefer the imerial system for everyday use. Metric is great for science, but it’s just not as human as imperial.

  • Karthik

    “Or a more realistic example how much is 1/3 inch and 5/16 inch? How much time does it take you to calculate these?
    In metric system it takes like 3 seconds.”

    I don’t understand. 5/16″ in metric? Takes the same time as converting the metric equivalent to inches. But you’re missing the bigger picture — if you want to drill a 5/16″ hole, you don’t convert to a decimal. You go and get a 5/16″ drill. If you need a piece of metal 5/16″ thick, you can buy precision ground stock at that thickness.

  • lyesmith

    @Karthik So essentially you say that you prefer to use imperial system when you dont need to make any calculation. But you prefer metric when you need to do calculation.

    Now if I go to a shop that sells flooring supplies, then I can buy flooring that cost 3.59 per square foot and that cost 1.99 per square yard.

    Your bigger picture is irrelevant. If you need a 3mm drill you can go and get a 3mm drill.

    If you dont need to calculate than it does not matter what system you use. If you need to calculate something than metric system is better. simply because you dont need conversion at all.

  • lyesmith

    @Ramius How imperial system is human? And how metric system is not human? Can you bring an example? I think not. The maximum you can say that it is human for you because thats the system you got used to when you were a kid. For me measuring meters and centimeters with my body just as simple than for you measuring iches a feet.

  • Nicholson


    Again, the traditional systems are organic, i.e. they arose naturally from their environment. Metric is an artifice, though its designers strove to tie it to Nature . Look at all the different things upon which the meter has been standardized – wavelengths of light, fractions of the circumference of Earth, etc. The basing of centigrade on the states of matter of water is nifty though. At the end of the day, however, metric overall is just so much prescribing the use of “hir” and “sie” as “gender-inclusive” pronouns in English.

    What sounds more “human” – adding 1 cup of milk to a recipe or 240ml? What paints a more vivid picture of power (esp in vehicles) – horsepower or watts?


  • Karthik


    It’s the same as buying a banana at a restaurant for $1 or at the supermarket for $0.20, you’re paying for the convenience. 1 yd^2 = 9ft^2, so unless the yard2 costs 9x as much as the foot2…you’re being ripped off.

    Going back to the example of the cup – if you need 240ml of liquid for oatmeal, do you go to your graduated cylinder and measure down to the ml? No, you take your 1/2L container and fill it up about half way. Same thing with the cup, most people just garb a coffee mug and use that to approximate.

    I don’t understand the premise behind the debate here. If you’re building something which requires accuracy and precision like a building or a bridge, just choose a set of units that your suppliers will be able to handle and stick with it. Engineering is done based on calculations anyways, and most reference books will have fundamental constants in both sets (PSI, Pa, etc). Lathes and mills can use both by just hitting a toggle, you can buy imperial end mills with metric shafts and metric end mills with imperial shafts…

    But I don’t really care if my baker uses cups or liters, as long as his bread is fresh and the cupcakes soft. So, all this talk about units only matters when it comes down to situations where accuracy is important. Metric is great where you want to add significant figures without going to decimal or fractional units, but the problem is most people don’t have the ability to make the necessary measurements to the needed precision anyways.

  • http://twitter.com/Stefing Stefing

    If you are using a cumbersome archaic unit of measure then you can end up with the loss of the Mars Climate Orbiter for instance.

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  • lyesmith

    @Nicholson “.

    “Look at all the different things upon which the meter has been standardized – wavelengths of light, fractions of the circumference of Earth, etc”

    I have to disappoint you. in 1959 USA and the British Commonwealth standardized the imperial system.

    1 yard is exactly 0.9144 meter
    1 inch is exactly 25.4 millimeter
    1 pound is exactly 453.592 37 grams
    1 gallon is exactly 3.785 411 784 liters

    Yes the imperial system is now standardized on the very same thing that the metric system. Why because there were literally thousands of different units. The length of 1 foot was varied from city to city. It is actually the metric system the older one. Thats the one that was first standardized and not the imperial system.

    I have 5 cup n the cupboard each different sizes. You have “customary cup” “legal cup” “imperial cup” and “metric cup” each different. When you read “one cup” which one you will use? When I read 240 ml than it is 240 ml no more, no less.

    How much “cup” is one fluid ounce? is it a customary fluid ounce or imperial fluid ounce?

    You use mile and not one but three. You have statute mile (1760 yard) survey mile (5280 survey feet) and nautical mile (1852 meters or 6076.12 feet)

    You have inch, 12 inch is a foot, 3 foot is a yard 2 yard is a fathom, 1760 yard is a mile.
    You have pound which is 7000 grain or 16 ounce. A long ton is 2240 pounds a short ton is 2000 pounds

    On the other hand in metric system you have gram for mass, meter for length, square meter for area, cubic meter for volume. That’s it. If you want smaller or larger units you divide or multiply by the power of 10. Essentially you pushing around the decimal point the number itself does not even change.

  • Karthik

    The statue and survey miles are the same: 1760yards*3feet/yard = 5280feet.

    Here’s where a knot is useful: a ship going due south at 60 knots will travel 1 degree of latitude every hour. So, a ship going 30 knots will take 180degrees/(30/60) = 360 hours to make the journey from north to south (assuming no land and only ocean). There’s a reason pilots of aircraft and captains of ships use an “antiquated” set of units.

    MCO would have worked in imperial units too. The problem is *mixing* them. As I said before: choose one and stick with it. Virtually all science is done in SI (MKS or CGS), so when you build a scientific satellite you should use SI.

  • lyesmith

    The statue and survey miles are NOT the same. Statue mile is 1,609.344 m and survey mile is 1609.3472 m. Not much difference but just might be enough to miss the Mars.

    “ship going due south at 60 knots will travel 1 degree of latitude every hour.”

    How is this helpful? 60 is just a number. do you know a ship that goes with 30 knots/hour all the time? It is easy to make up numbers. Earth circumference is ~40000 km long plane traveling at 1000km/hour goes around 40 hours. But then you use mile on one side of the shoreline and nautical mile one the other side of the shoreline.

    “The problem is *mixing* them.”

    Yes!!! Thats my point exactly.

    I would not give a crap if a yard would be 10 or 100 inch, and a mile is 10 or 100 or 1000 yard. AND everybody would use the same system in the world. But is is not like that.

    Everybody using metric except US. And in US you are mixing customary, imperial, and metric system.

    And this is what you do in the US. Different field of expertise using different units. Some are based on metric, some are customary but defined as metric. Some are just customary. Mixing two or three expertise for a project creates nightmare. Selling american goods outside US becomes a nightmare. Why would anybody buy an american built product if they have to order a replacement screw from the US. Of course there is a solution start mixing units in the same factory or a more convenient one, move the factory outside US. Now thats just ideal for everybody. People outside US get jobs, and you can keep your measurement system.
    Well on the second thought. Go on! Keep up the good job!

  • lyesmith

    Actually I agree nautical mile does make sense in navigation. But of course it fits into SI very nicely. It is specified in meter and and 1 nautical mile is 1 latitude minute. Which moth SI. But how does it fit with imperial system? Yards and feet? Well it does not in any way.

  • JOseph

    Do you know what the best measurement system? The one that you’re used to. US don’t change from imperial to metric because this.

    The problem is mixing them, of course, and this is the point of SI and the metric system: if the whole world use the same standard system, you can talk about measurements without worry about the other people will mess things up, whatever they are. This is why science uses it.

    Really, the “metrication” is slow, but worthwhile too.

    PS: sorry any grammatical error…

  • http://centralthaimissions.com Eric

    I actually live in Thailand, and we use the metric system for everything except property measurements.

  • darunmaster

    guys i only have one question…. in the US, when someone says “a ton” it is 1000 kilograms right? if so then why?!

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  • pir

    Note that the US does not use “Imperial” measurements. They use pre-Imperial-standardisation units of British origin, “US customary units”.


    Many of them are even different from the rest of the world that still use non-metric measurements. A US pint is approx 473ml and an Imperial pint is approx 568ml. Even fluid ounces differ a very small amount.

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  • http://www.colourandlight.co.nz Jason

    Inverse of this map can be seen on the wikipedia page:


    cites this article (http://www.nist.gov/pml/wmd/metric/upload/1136a.pdf) as the source of the information that only 3 countries have not adopted the metric system.

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  • Kermonk

    “Ramius Says:

    Even as a US Physics teacher I still prefer the imerial system for everyday use. Metric is great for science, but it’s just not as human as imperial.

    Read more: http://www.zmescience.com/other/map-of-countries-officially-not-using-the-metric-system/#ixzz1HtvDt8bX

    Yeah, that’s just rubbish. You are USED TO IT. Its funny how americans always says its more intuitive to use it – that’s just because you are used to it! I have no idea how tall someone is if you say they are 5 feet 4 inches – I can convert it , but there is nothing logical, intuitive or “human” about it.

  • Nicholson

    “I have no idea how tall someone is if you say they are 5 feet 4 inches – I can convert it , but there is nothing logical, intuitive or “human” about it.

    Right – because there is nothing intuitive about a measurement that is derived – ORGANICALLY – from a part of the human anatomy.


    I suppose using hands to measure the height of horses doesn’t seem intuitive to you either. Tell the French that measuring with their thumbs (“pouce”) isn’t the least bit intuitive.

    Yes I realize that people have differing sizes of feet, hands, and thumbs. However, if you tell someone who is unfamiliar with the specifics of ANY measuring system that a horse is 14 hands tall he will have a much better idea of how tall that horse is than if you told him it was 142.24 cm.

    Yes, metric is far superior to customary systems where standards are critical and conversions of units are frequent: science, industry, commerce, &c.

    But only a db would insist that “5 degrees” is somehow superior to “41 degrees” as a reply to the question “how cold do you think it is today?”

    For QUOTIDIAN life the customary system is just as good a metric, and some might argue that it is in some ways superior since is arises organically from the environment around it.

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  • RedGreenInBlue

    Which paints a more vivid picture of power? Watts, hands down. Because I was taught science in metric. Because I therefore understand in detail what a power output (or consumption) of 1 W is, and means. Because I can easily manipulate measurements in watts and even derive equations involving power – from scratch! – without having to remember all the troublesome conversion constants. If an object of 1000 kg is climbing a slope with a vertical speed of 1 m/s in Earth gravity of 10 m/s2 (and ignoring frictional losses), the power output of the engine is quite clearly 10 kW – this is easy to do in one’s head. What is the power output in horsepower (which horsepower BTW?) if a vehicle of 1 imperial ton is climbing a slope at 1 mph in Earth gravity of 32 ft/s2? I have absolutely no idea, and I suspect most people who claim to favour imperial would have to admit the same.

  • RedGreenInBlue

    And of course, UK roads are designed and built in metric, and road-side markers on motorways and main roads show distances from the origin in, er, kilometres. Oh, and tram speed limits signs are in km/h. And quite a few walking or cycling signs are in metric. 

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  • LiamCH

     What are you talking about?! I’ve never in my whole life seen a street sign in kilometres! Most British people aren’t even familiar with them, as all road signs I’ve ever seen are in miles.

  • Sean

    Here in Australia we use metric and Australia switched in two years back in the early 1970’s and if you ask any australian how hard was it to switch they will say it was very easy and i have spoken to people in there 60’s,70’s,80’s,90’s and they have no problem when they switched and cars came only with km/h speedos and i have herd of people with old cars that have miles on the speedo on 100 mp/h thinking they are going 100 km/h and it is very common for them to get picked up for speeding like with old sports cars. we mesher tv screen in inches and we use psi for pumping up tyres and i used kpa to pump up the tyres on my mothers mercedes and nearly blew up the tyres and since then i threw that tyre gage into the rubbish bin and now i will only get tyre gages in psi only or both on it. we use hp on engines power some people talk in kilo watt and i have no idea how any hp it is and i ask someone to tell me so i know what they are talking about but we do use feet and inches on someones height. we use celcus for temperature 

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  • Irajeshghi

    OK. I’m going to try to clear up why the metric system is objectively simpler and more logical than the imperial or “customary” system. We use a 10-digit system (0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9) So it should be logical that our mesuring systems should have a base of 10. And if someone insists they shouldn’s, at least choose a specific number! the US customary system has 3s, 12s, 5s, etc… And the temperature is based on alcohol freezing and evaporating points… I understand it was easier to use than a water-based system 300 years ago, but come on! grow up and become a little more rational for god’s sake…

  • hemp

    In the US, 1 ton is 2000 pounds (lbs). 2000lbs ~= 907kg

    It is derived from the tun, the term applied to a barrel of the largest size. This could contain a volume between 210 and 256 gallons (800 to 1000 L), which could weigh around 2,000 pounds (900 kg) and occupy some 60 cubic feet (1.7 m3) of space.
    from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ton

    In the UK the ton is defined as 2,240 pounds (1,016 kg)

  • Paige

    I am from the US and I am tired of thinking in terms of fractions when I want to measure anything. “It’s a quarter inch” or “I own a sixteenth of an acre.” I’m ready to adopt the metric system in full. Americans pretty much understand and use it more than they think anyway. By the way Chris–metric doesn’t measure temperature. So stating you commonly use centigrade is irrelevant.

  • Neo2199

    What! Mercedes is made in Germany. The Germans are completely and utterly metric. They wouldnt be caught dead using PSI. Pascals are the only logical option.1 Pascal = 1 Newton of force over 1 square metre. Thus 1 Kilopascal = 1000 Newtons of force over 1 square metre ;)

  • gambit

    centigrade is under the metric system

  • Pamela

    I am almost 50, I remember being in elementary school with the teachers telling us the day is coming when we will switch to the metric system.

  • bob

    I think China takes that trophy.

  • nick

    i tried and failed

  • Gabriel Pettier

    That’s untrue, china is quite polluted, but they produce less pollution, despite having a ~5 times larger population, so US still own the trophy, by far.

  • Camilo Fontova

    I’m American too, but in my country we use metric system…

    Remember, USA are not the only Americans…


  • mjbednar

    Canada is officially under the metric system. Speed limits are in km/h. Road distances are in m or km. Products are sold in g, kg, mL, or L. The temperature is given in degrees Celsius. Informally, people still use feet and inches to measure themselves, and pounds to record their weight. The construction industry still uses feet and inches for measurements. Old people still use Fahrenheit to measure the temperature, and they use their big toe to measure wind speed.

    Most cars in North America will have a km/h – mph or mph – km/h speedometer so that drivers can use either measurement when crossing the border between Canada and the US.

  • tracklayer

    The UK is a pain with its metrication. We changed to a pure metric system. i.e. it worked in the third decimal point. mm. then m. So our schools teach in centimetres ;-( It is 40 years or so and children are still being told about feet,inches, pints. I worked in the rail industry Luddites is a mild description. The industry uses Miles, quarter miles, yards, chains!! (22 yards to a chain). The rail engineers design totally in metric and set out in metric. Then convert to Imperial for the rest of the industry. There are then mistakes. This is then blamed on the engineers. its the engineers fault !!

  • Lloyd Watkin

    Wouldn’t look forward to the month where cars and lorries were driving on opposite sides of the road :)

  • Piet Delport

    Actually, China overtook the US as the world’s largest producer of CO₂ around mid-2000. (That still makes the US the second-largest producer: together, they emit as much CO₂ as the rest of the world combined.)

  • Gabriel Pettier

    Sorry, i should have looked it up http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions#List_of_countries_by_2012_emissions_estimates seems you are right, but there are still two points to consider here, 1/ china’s population being much larger, so emission per capita is less than half of USA’s one, and 2/ china export a lot of things, to the whole world, so a lot of its production is a direct effect of the rest of the worlds consumption, i.e. we are doing this pollution by buying this stuff, the pollution is just done far from our eyes.

  • Korean War 1950-52

    I am American and really do not care what the rest of the World uses for measurement. I am used to measuring in “U.S. Customary Units of Measurement” and hope we never change. We have a huge economy and the World wants to sell to us. As well as help them when they are inundated with sunamis, protect them from invasion, send economic assistance, etc. So why would I care at all what the French, Germans or anyone else thinks of our system here.

    I am so tired of criticism of my Country by “the World”. If it bothers a European tourist or immigrant from Central/South America that they have to convert their precious millimeters to inches, then stay home, don’t sell to us, disband NATO and forget the U.S. exists. We’ll survive over here. When China turns militaristic or Russia regains its Soviet era power, then “the World” will cry “help us America”. And all the comments about how arrogant Americans are and how spoiled we are, will silenced and those spoiled American soldiers will be fighting and dying on your soil protecting you.

    I was one of those spoiled American Marines in Korea and and am sick of the criticism. I don’t recall any Korean there complaining that we were using bullets sized in inches (.30cal) instead of millimeters.

  • Aksel Kargård Olsen

    That is a fair point; the SI is an abstraction, as is any measurement system by definition. However, the celsius scale is arguably way more intuitive than the Fahrenheit scale. Defined according to natural ‘extremes’ relating to properties of a most common compound — water — and its freezing and boiling point, I would say it is immensely easier to grasp for adults and kids to learn.

  • Karstin

    The French donate more money per capita to world aid than any one else and look how we treated them, freedom fries etc.. Educating ourselves about our own faults needs to be included in all this holier than thou talk. Your military service is greatly appreciated. I only ask that you realize that with along with doing many good things we are not perfect as is the case of those we tend to vilify. In science where exact measurement is necessary, we need to have a common system, its easier for other things to be the same as well but diversity is a beautiful thing and so does it truly matter. I would hate to wake up to a world where Paliachi was no more because we all spoke Swahili. (nothing against Swahili either). Just a few thoughts.

  • Karstin

    I was wondering about that because a couple years ago I saw a map that said USA, Liberia and Nepal were the 3.

  • dani666

    You “American” are only a seasonal accident of the history. Time will put you in your place. You are beggining to feel the chinese breathing in the neck, don’t worry, it is just indicative that your “America” will fly away as many other big nations along the history.

  • james

    Right… That’s going to happen.

  • OrganizedConfusion

    If someone told me that a horse was 14 hands high, I would wonder why they can’t give me an actual measurement.

  • Daniel

    Silly point … the USA is the only country with “America” in its name. Hence, they are Americans for ease of speech. What would you politically correctly call them, United States of Americans? Come on …

  • Esteban

    Yankies or US citizens.

  • Robert Krasinski

    UK invented imperial so they sort of still use it. Mainland Europe, and most countries that do not speak English all use metric. Canada and Austrailia converted to metric in the 1970’s.


    youre an idiot..imperial system rules


    they should always use imperial measurements like the USA will ALWAYS do


    well Said, man


    imperial system all the way


    i dont care i still prefer


    the Mercedes that come to America have all imperial markings

  • Miguel Lares Alemán

    In English maybe there is not a word to call them but american, but in Spanish we call them “estadounidenses” not americans. You can also say, US Citizen. But you’re right, we call them american but people do know that other people from the american continent are also americans but we do not have this issue related to our citizenship.

  • Jari V

    Well, that sounded really mature. Not defensive in the least. And logical & rational, too.

  • Jari V

    Cool, dude.