Let’s take a walk to the International Date Line (IDL), an imaginary line on the surface of the Earth that separates two consecutive calendar days. It mainly is on the 180º line of longitude in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The line is not straight. It has been bent in places to suit the various countries in the Pacific Ocean. If you travel across the line from the east to the west, you add a day (24 hours). If you travel across the line from west to the east, you subtract a day. There is no international organization that has fixed the IDL – each nation can decide what time zone they want to be in. For example, until 1995, the IDL went through the country Kiribati, a small country in the Pacific Ocean. If you stood on the IDL in Kiribati, half your body would be a day ahead as compared to the other half! It got very confusing, and Kiribati decided to have the whole country in the same time zone. Therefore, the IDL was moved eastward around the country. The country Samoa did something similar. Samoa used to be east of the IDL. At the end of 2011, it moved west of the IDL to be closer in time to its big trading partners, such as Australia and New Zealand, which are also to the west of the IDL. So which countries were the first to see 2013? The honor goes to Samoa and Kiribati. Here is a website that tells the order in which the countries around the globe welcomed in the new year.
Image Credits: Fonadier for the IDL image