Difference Between Mile and Kilometer (km)

Mile vs Kilometer (km)

Difference between mile and kilometer can be discussed under two perspectives. One is discussing how many miles are in a kilometer and how many kilometers are in a mile. The other is by discussing how often mile and kilometer are used in the world today. To begin, we should first know what mile and kilometer are. Mile and kilometer are units of measurement of length. While kilometer is used in the metric system or as the SI unit of length, mile is a unit of measurement in the imperial system. Despite dominance of metric system worldwide, mile as a unit of length is used in a widespread manner in all parts of the world. Kilometer is used everywhere except the US and UK where mile is more commonly used to denote geographical distances between two places. There are obvious differences in a mile and a kilometer that will be discussed in this article.

What is a Mile?

Before the metric system was adopted it was only mile with different versions that were used in all parts of the world. One mile contains 1760 yards, which in turn equals 5280 feet (as 1 yard = 3 feet). Mile is one third in length to the older league that was used in ancient times. So widespread is the use of mile in both US and UK that they refer to mileage when talking about efficiency of cars and talk in terms of miles per hour when referring to speeds. Speed is abbreviated as mph and efficiency of a car in terms of fuel is referred to as mpg.

Before it was standardized by US in 1959, the British mile and the US mile differed and there were variations in miles of most of the countries. After the adoption of the metric system in 1959, US declared the definition of yard in terms of kilometer that fixed the issue once and for all. Since then, a mile contains 1760 yards and as such it is equal to 1609.344 meters. (1 yard = 3 feet).

As a matter of fact, the United Kingdom and the US are the countries that use Statute Mile as the official unit of length.

1 mile = 1.609344 kilometers

So, if someone says they went three miles to the south that means they went 4.828032 kilometers to the south. Hundred miles means 160.9344 kilometers.

Difference Between Mile and Kilometer (km)

What is a Kilometer?

Kilometer is also known by the abbreviation ‘km.’ A kilometer is a unit of length in the metric system that contains one thousand meters. In other words, kilometer or km is the SI unit of length. This is the distance traveled by light in 1/299792. 458 seconds. Kilometer is an accepted unit of distances between geographical places all over the world. This is the officially accepted unit of distances in many countries.

1 km = 0.621371 miles

So, four kilometers means 2.48548477 miles. 100 kilometers means 62.1371192 miles.

What is the difference between Mile and Kilometer?

• Mile is a unit of measurement of length in the imperial system still prevalent in the US and UK while kilometer is the unit of measurement in the metric system.

• Mile is always mentioned as mile while kilometer uses the abbreviation ‘km.’

• One mile equals 1760 yards and one yard contains 3 feet making it equal to 1.609344 kilometers. One kilometer equals 1000 meters and 0.621371 miles.

• Mile has the same spellings in British English as well as in American English. Kilometer has two spellings. Kilometer is the American English spelling while kilometre is the British English spelling.

• Speed in miles is known as miles per hour (mph) while speed in kilometers is known as kilometers per hour (kph).

• Most of the countries have converted to using kilometers. However, there are still some countries that use mile as the official unit of length such as United Kingdom and United States.

• You can see different mile categories as statute mile, metric mile and nautical mile. However, no such variations exist for kilometer.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Road sign with miles and kilometers by Analogue Kid (CC BY-SA 3.0)