How Britain Hinders Progress

Earth is undoubtedly a metric planet. More than ninety-three percent of us live in a place that has completed the metrication process, making SI compulsory. Sure, anomalies are still out there in a few places, like Guatemala and Honduras reckoning petrol in US gallons and US Letter Format still in common use in Mexico and the Philippines. But eradication of the inch is kind of like a virus that is mostly eradicated, but kept alive in some laboratory.

So where on Earth do people still cling to nonsensical measurements? Where are the fewer than seven percent? A clear pattern emerges here. Colonial imposition (mostly British) has brought the inch, mile, gallon, et cetera into nearly every place now still clinging to these obsolete measures.

The Pacific

Seven places in the Pacific (the Marshall Islands, Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and American Samoa) are incomplete as far as metrication goes. Here is the common theme: Indigenous people arrive to these islands Before the Common Era (BCE). Various colonial powers (Spain, Britain, Netherlands, Germany, Japan and the United States) invade and impose their customs, religion and measurements upon the long-time indigenous inhabitants. Wars erupt. Independence movements lead to throwing the invaders out, but much of the imposed culture remains, including those damn inches.

1 MHL Marshall Islands

6 WSM Samoa

13 MNP Northern Mariana Islands [USA]

14 GUM Guam [USA]

15 FSM Micronesia (Federated States of)

25 PLW Palau

250 ASM American Samoa [USA]


Hong Kong still has three legal ways to measure: The Chinese units of measurement of the Qing Empire (no longer in widespread use in Mainland China); British Imperial units; and SI.

30 HKG Hong Kong

Macau published Law No. 14/92/M on 24 August 1992 to order that Chinese units of measurement similar to those used in Hong Kong, Imperial units, and United States customary units would be permissible for five years since the effective date of the Law, 1 January 1993. This is on the condition of indicating the corresponding SI values, then for three more years thereafter, Chinese, Imperial, and US units would be permissible as secondary to the SI.

31 MAC Macau

The traditional Burmese units of measurement are still in everyday use in Myanmar. Myanmar is preparing to adopt the International System (SI) as their official system of measurement, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

42 MMR Myanmar


Liberia is the only place in Africa colonized by America. Slaves freed from the United States in 1822 settle on a coast of West Africa. In 1847, this new country becomes the Republic of Liberia, establishing a government modeled on that of the United States and names its capital city Monrovia after James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States and a prominent supporter of the colonization.

92 LBR Liberia

Caribbean and South Atlantic Ocean

Puerto Rico (United States Commonwealth Territory) and United States Virgin Islands (Insular Area of the United States) and Belize (United Nations Member since 25 Sep 1981) are incomplete as far as metrication goes.

204 PRI Puerto Rico [USA]

206 VIR United States Virgin Islands

226 BLZ Belize

The metric system has been legal since 1864 in a handful of British Overseas Territories; five in the Caribbean (Turks and Caicos Islands, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Montserrat) and one in the South Atlantic Ocean (Falkland Islands / Islas Malvinas). But compulsory metric implementation is rather incomplete in these six places, whose total population amounts to less than that of Poole, a large coastal town and seaport in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England.

British Caribbean

The government of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda has adopted a policy of gradual shift to the SI since 1971. Road signs and petrol pumps are metric in Bermuda so we know that it can be done. Where there is a will, there is a way.

198 TCA Turks and Caicos Islands [GBR]

200 CYM Cayman Islands [GBR]

205 VGB British Virgin Islands [GBR]

207 AIA Anguilla [GBR]

213 MSR Montserrat [GBR]

244 FLK Falkland Islands [GBR]

North America

Unfortunately, having the United States at the southern border hinders full metrication in Canada. Ask a Canadian how tall someone is and the answer usually involves feet and inches. When we visited British Columbia, I was unable to purchase a metric-only measuring tape at hardware store. How pathetic! Canada and the United States of America are incomplete as far as metrication goes.

193 CAN Canada

196 USA United States of America

British islands on London time

England leaving the European Union would no doubt be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back. Scotland and Ireland wish to remain in the European Union. The so-called United Kingdom might very well break apart into its distinct components.

British Islands

It is pretty obvious how GBR (Great Britain) is a Non-FIFA Country Code. Great Britain is not a nation in the context of matches between nationalistic rivals. Men are instinctively warlike. Sport is a substitute for war. Scotland, England and Wales are distinct nationalities with distinct individual histories. Ireland has an unfortunate political border that should go away according to a majority of the people of Ireland. The Isle of Man (self-governing crown dependency) Guernsey (Crown Dependency) Jersey (Crown Dependency) and Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (British Overseas Territory) are four insular areas still clinging to Imperial measures to some degree.

182 SCO Scotland

183 ENG England

184 WAL Wales

185 IRL Ireland

186 IMN Isle of Man

187 GGY Guernsey

188 JEY Jersey

189 SHN Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha [GBR]

“The sun never sets on the British Empire” was once the proud boast, but alas, the British learned too late that subjects of the Crown could not be held under an oppressive thumb forever. Independence movements whittled the farcical monarchy down to the few remaining scraps we see today.

It is a tremendous hindrance to progress that these few remaining scraps stubbornly cling to Imperial measures.

Gain a Basic Understanding

Scaling Earth down to globe size (1 m in circumference) what length represents the distance between Moon and Earth?
1 m
10 m
100 m
1 km

Earth and Moon Globes

Earth and Moon Globes

Visit Kill the Inch and Complete US Metrication to find the answer; now take this trivia survey and gain a wealth of knowledge about the magnitude of your planet:

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