Democratic People’s Republic of Korea announced Friday that the country is creating its own time zone, moving back 30 minutes on Aug. 15. The establishment of “Pyongyang time” is a move intended to erase the legacy of Japanese colonial rule a century ago.
The new time, 8½ hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time or GMT, is actually a return to what the Korean peninsula used before Japanese occupation.
While time zones were first proposed in the mid-19th century as global travel and communication increased, it wasn’t until the early 20th century that time zones were standardized with reference to GMT, after the meridian that runs through an observatory in the London borough of Greenwich.
Most countries now use hourly offsets from GMT, but some large countries use multiple time zones while some small ones use fractions of an hour that more closely reflect the passage of the sun in their territory. Here is a look at ways in which other regions have changed their time zones:
GMT is also synonymous with Coordinated Universal Time or Universal Time Coordinated (UTC). To obtain your local time, you need to subtract a certain number of hours from UTC depending on how many time zones you are away from Greenwich, England. The switch to daylight saving time does not affect UTC, according to the U.S. National Weather Service.
China, which stretches almost 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) from one end to the other, used to have five time zones. In 1949, China established “Beijing time” (GMT +8) to simplify governance and to bring cohesion to the diverse nation. That means those living in the country’s west rise two hours earlier than they naturally would to be in synch with the east.
In 1956 Nepal moved to GMT +5:45 to mark the time the sun passes over a famous mountain, becoming one of only three places to have the quarter-hour offset. Proposals to adopt the same time zone as neighboring India (GMT +5:30), which surrounds Nepal on three sides, have gone nowhere.
Stretching 1,800 miles from east to west, India has long struggled to reconcile itself to clocks. India was divided into two time zones for most of its history as a British colony, then chose a unified time zone upon independence. But some in the country’s far east still go their own way. In Assam state, home to much of India’s tea industry, many plantations work on what they call chaibagaan, or “tea garden time”: Clocks are set one hour ahead so field hands have more sunlight.
Last year, the Ukrainian province of Crimea jumped one time zone eastward to reflect its annexation by Russia. On March 30, 2014, clocks in Crimea were moved forward two hours to synchronize with Moscow. Crimea also gave up daylight savings time since Russia doesn’t observe it, so it’s now two hours ahead of Ukraine in the winter and one hour in the summer.
Until the 1940s, Spain was on the same time as Britain and Portugal, which are on roughly the same latitude. But when Nazi-occupied France switched to German time, Spain’s Franco dictatorship followed suit and the country never went back. A petition to switch back to British time has gathered some support in recent years and in 2013 a parliamentary commission said a switch could have profound effects on eating, sleeping and working habits in Spain, famed for long lunches, siestas and late shifts at work. So far, nothing has come of the proposal.
Venezuela was 4½ hours behind GMT until 1965, when it shifted to GMT -4 to conform to international standards. Former President Hugo Chavez, who railed against U.S. domination in the Americas, moved back to the half-hour offset in 2007 in a move that critics said was motivated mainly by politics. Chavez said he didn’t want kids waking up in the dark to go to school, but the move put a strain on an economy already facing power shortages because lights went on earlier in the evening.
On Dec. 29, 2011, the Pacific island nation of Samoa — not to be confused with American Samoa — became only the second country to jump across the international dateline. The shift means that it is now usually the same day in Samoa as in its biggest trading partners, New Zealand and Australia.
8. Arizona, USA
Although Arizona has observed Daylight Saving in the past, it currently exempts itself from the practice. However, the Navajo Nation, in northeastern Arizona, does observe Daylight Saving Time.
9. Hawaii, USA
Hawaii follows Hawaii Standard Time (GMT-10 hours), which is 5 hours behind Eastern Standard Time and 2 hours behind Pacific Standard Time. Hawaii does not observe Daylight Saving Time, so visitors must one extra hour to the time difference from March through November, according to Gohawaii.com
10. Newfoundland, Canada
Newfoundland, Canada, observes Newfoundland Standard Time which is 3:30 hours behind UTC. Nowhere else in all of North America does a jurisdiction deviate from UTC on the half-hour, according to Basementgeographer.com. The half hour is needed because it sits above Atlantic Standard Time, so it allows for the sun to be directly overhead at 12:10 p.m. rather than 11:40 a.m., Basementgeographer.com said.
Sudan is in UTC +3, despite lying in a region that should be UTC +2, perhaps to align itself with the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, Basementgeographer.com said. As a result, anyone entering from the west via Chad and the Central African Republic gains two hours, the website said.
Iran observes Iran Standard Time which is UTC +03:30, a half-hour time zone. When crossing into the country from Pakistan, visitors gain 90 minutes, Basementgeographer.com said.
13. Chatham Islands, New Zealand
New Zealand’s Chatham Islands uses Chatham Standard Time Zone, an unusual time zone that is UTC +12:45. Along with Nepal and the unofficial Australian Central Western Time, it is the only three time zones that use a 45-minute offset from UTC. The island observes daylight savings so in the summer it is UTC +13:45.
14. South Australia, Northern Territory, Broken Hill, Australia
Australia’s South Australia, Northern Territory, and the town of Broken Hill in western New South Wales observe Australian Central Standard Time (ACST) which is UTC +9:30. The country does not observe daylight savings in Queensland, Northern Territory, or Western Australia. Travelers from Western Australia to the Northern Territory gain 90 minutes in their day, Basementgeographer.com said.
Story complied with information by the Associated Press and Basementgeographer.com