Countries That Don’t Use the Metric System

by Joey deVilla on August 13, 2008

Of all the countries in the world, only three backwaters still use the archaic Imperial system of weights and measures:
Map highlighting countries that don't use the metric system

I say we let them get some decent governments first, then worry about getting them on the metric system.

Remember, folks: this was posted back in 2008, when George W. Bush was president. I lived in Canada, and the time, and that the “let them get some decent governments first” line was a poke at “Dubya”.

Also worth reading

king henry's foot

Be sure to check out this follow-up article: More on America and the metric system.

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

NEIL CAMERON / 6443 October 10, 2015 at 10:04 pm





Peach October 16, 2015 at 9:01 pm

That would have come across a lot better if it hadn’t been in all caps, which is effectively yelling.

That aside …

Some of us are simply adept at arithmetic and can actually do conversions, so we usually find better things to whinge about. Well, until we head for the pub, because UK pints are bigger than US pints, and you’d better not be shortchanging us by serving those US things. Then it’s bloodsport.

Metric makes more sense unless you have 12 fingers. And good grief, have you seen how many standards there are for knitting needles? The only one that is unambiguous is metric. A “Size 5 Needle” could be US size 5, UK size 5, or whatever the hell China uses. “3.75 mm”–that’s the same everywhere.

Knitting matters to me. And I’m old and cranky. Get off my lawn.

One last question:

The one-pound, 24-karat gold macaroni noodle that Kraft foods is giving away: Is that an Imperial pound or a Troy pound? Gold is measured in Troy ounces, and a Troy pound is smaller than an Imperial one.

So if anyone asks you “What weighs more: A pound of feathers or a pound of gold?” … it’s the feathers. Different pounds. Now you’re a pub trivia genius.

Why are you still on my lawn? Get off my lawn.

Anonymous October 21, 2015 at 11:51 am

Why is it that so few of the people here have good grammar? It is because most of them are either in 30 and are upset about how they live in their parents basement due to an inability to get a good job because of their choice in higher education, or they are sniveling 13 year olds who are sitting in study hall at school, pretending to do school work, but instead wasting their parents/taxpayers money.

Metriccio October 27, 2015 at 11:21 am

It’s not about cultures or traditions. It’s about what makes sense. As science advances globally, a common and consolidaed system is necessary.
Here is a simple breakdown of the two systems:
In metric, one milliliter of water occupies one cubic centimeter, weighs one gram, requires one calorie of energy to raise its temrature by one degree, which is one percent of the difference between its freezing point and boiling point. An amount of hydrogen weighing the same amount has exactly one mole of atoms in it.
Whereas in the American system, the answer to “How much energy does it take to boil a room-temperature gallon of water?” is “Go fuck yourself” because you can’t relate any of those quantities.

FUCK THE WORLD November 5, 2015 at 12:04 pm


JD November 19, 2015 at 2:05 pm

And nobody’s complaining about the fact that the smelly English limeys are driving on the left?

Anonymous December 9, 2015 at 11:23 pm

I’m from the USA myself, and I admit that most of the people here are obese idiots. But apart from that thought a lot of people are stupid here, and some are really fucking childish too. Yes, i agree we should change to the metric system, but when you start thinking you realize how much money that would be, it’s just a kind of stupid thing to do. All the road signs that say something like “San Francisco, one mile ahead” or something similar. If only the USA could’ve started before. And i do respect some others ideas, I just think it’s not worth it.

Jorden December 11, 2015 at 7:59 am

I am a American and metric is used in school and in scientific thing also products are packaged in metric containers labeled in both metric and American units

Monty burns December 20, 2015 at 10:39 pm

Well there are more for sure besides those three. First England really not just metric. They still use the stone for body weight all road signs are in miles and try ordering a liter of beer in a pub that’s still a pint ( milk and cider too). The country of Belize still uses the imperial system as well. So there are two more countries not on that list. Makes you wonder about the original writer and the lemmings who just follow along.

Monty burns is a retarded cunt January 3, 2016 at 9:55 am

Monty you dense fuck, It meant the official unit of measurement. We order a pint of beer in new zealand as well, but if you asked me what a foot was i would point down.

Germany would have Won February 18, 2016 at 4:17 pm

They would all be Eating German Dicks if it wasnt for us for fuck off let us use whatever we want. We dont try to tell you how to live your lives, all we do is save them

Tom February 28, 2016 at 12:29 am

Well, this thread deteriorated fast. We now see the cancer of society at its finest and this is how our country is quickly deteriorating, seriously.

With that said, I spent 7 years living overseas. At first, I had a hard time adjusting to the metric system but after acclimating to the units of measure I find it super easy to work with. Take building something for example, you can do all the calculations in your head without having to figure out fractions and translating to lowest common denominator. Working on equipment it’s easy to know what size up from a 9mm socket you need (10mm for the cancer). What the next size up from a 1/4″ socket or a 5/16″ inch socket?…yeah….unnecessary extra conversion required. Pretty easy to know freezing is 0C and boiling is 100C and calculate temperature variables .

rob March 19, 2016 at 1:58 am

Maybe I’m showing my age, but I was taught in both imperial and metric when at school. I can do most calculations of conversion in my head and have been able to since I was about 8. Either way doesn’t really bother me….although if I could order a litre of beer in the pub for the same price as a pint is now – good good (1.75 Pints = 1 Litre). However if it was the other way round (half litre for the same price) not so good (0.87 Pint = 0.5 Litre). 😉

will March 20, 2016 at 1:29 pm

Why do Americans think Brits all speak metric? We don’t. We speak a mixture of both. If someone tells me they were going 80kmph (which no1 ever would anyway its just for the sake of argument) then id have a rough idea of how fast they were going buy id be thinking how many mph is that as that’s what we Brits think in. We also by pints of beer and milk even though milk is labelled in ml but we don’t say “I’m off to get however ml 1 pint of milk is from the shop” we say I’m off to get a pint of milk. If measuring ourselves we say it in feet and inches although younger generations like me below 30 or so do understand meters as they have been drummed in to us. I for example know 6ft 2 is 188 cm. Oh and we also weigh ourselves in stones although I’m not very good at understanding pounds in large amounts. Don’t really here anyone say I’m 200lbs they say I’m 14 stone 7lbs or whatever it is. Anyway my point is made. Why would Brits work in any other way anyway seems they are the ones the imperial system originated with.

will March 20, 2016 at 1:38 pm

And yes I know how to spell i wrote it quickly is all. I know some jumped up moron is going to call me out on it so thought id defend myself before it happens

Joel Meyer March 30, 2016 at 11:56 pm

Belize also uses the Imperial system

Lavada April 7, 2016 at 4:20 am

One cited reference was used primarily (J. H. Miller, Chambliss,
& Bargeron, 2006).

Ryan April 17, 2016 at 4:30 pm

While it may seem to make sense for America to change to the metric system, do you have any idea how much that would cost to do? Seriously, every single distance and speed limit sign would have to be changed out. And that’s just one example. If you think of the price to switch, versus the positives of switching, it just doesn’t make sense. Unless the countries complaining about it want to cover the cost. Then I and many others would say hell yes, go for it. LOL

Jayson Rex April 25, 2016 at 8:04 am

Americans are very, very conservative. For this reason they kept the Imperial System. But soon, things will change. To this end, Americans must elect a true leader that will have the drive and the courage to take the nation, screaming and yelling, into the 21st century.

Deb May 20, 2016 at 12:40 pm

First of all, it’s is up to the citizens of the United States to decide what system they want to use. We are a recalcitrant nation full of dissenters. Perhaps you all have forgotten how this nation was formed. Also, perhaps you have forgotten who pulled the rest of the world out of the largest war this earth has ever faced. While the “progressive” European nations were struggling for their survival… you didn’t mind our gallons, pints and inches then. We will switch when we want to switch and not a moment sooner. No amount of European pressure is going to change us. It didn’t work in 1776 and it won’t work now.

Thinker June 2, 2016 at 9:34 am

Imperial America invaded Afghanistan to “liberate” them and then ran away with their tails between their imperial legs.
Next Imperial America invaded Iraq to steal oil (to recover the horrible costs in Afghanistan) in imperial barrels with imperial attitudes. The resulting explosion in terrorism that afflicts the world is ignored because of how they “saved the people” of Afghanistan and Iraq.

For Imperial America’s “intervention” in the Arab nations others are paying with their blood – maybe, just maybe if America drops the imperial system they might reconsider their imperial attitudes and get their heads out of 1776 at the same time.

C June 7, 2016 at 9:32 pm

Wtf do these last two political rants have to do with the metric system? USA should go metric. i cant stand having to convert everything at work its unnecessary. The metric system makes more sense period. We already use it in science because…its easier. Im american btw.

Kevin July 30, 2016 at 1:51 pm

As an American, I just don’t see the benefit of one system over the other. Besides the fact everyone else uses it, what makes it so much better than English units of measurement?

boommer August 30, 2016 at 5:40 pm

America is not a back water

Eat My Sackbag September 16, 2016 at 1:40 am

People keep commenting on Americans using the imperial instead of the metric system . We don’t . We use the United States customary measurements a volumetric square foot is the same in both systems but gallons, ounces, etc are all different . American gallons are about 20% larger than imperial gallons. I grew up using both US and metric systems. My issues with metric in everyday and not scientific use are; the meter is hard to relate to 1.9 meters tall for a male measurement feels less accurate than 5’10” And switching to decimeter so or centimeters doesn’t make it feel more relatable or intuitive. Plus fractions feel more intuitive to me than decimals. As far as scientific use the metric system is far far far superior. In every way . It just its the metric system was set as One ten millionth of the distance from the equator to the North Pole . Now it’s pinned to the speed of light in a vacuum. About 298,000,000kmph in a vacuum. If it were set to 1,000,000,000kmph in a vacuum then a meter would be very close in size to a foot and all benifits of the metric system would be maintained .

Breddo October 22, 2016 at 1:59 am

Please do some research.
US gallons are not larger than British gallons.
3.785 litres to the US gallon,
4.546 litres to the British.

Trevs November 3, 2016 at 1:30 am

I think my favourite argument on here is “Actually, Belize use it as well.” Ah the four world superpowers!

I am aware that, as a Brit, who invented the imperial system, and as a European (as we thankfully are for now) I do use a mixture of both which isn’t ideal. However it means we can cope with both. Someone tells me something is 10km away or 10 miles away and it’s easy to visualise both.

Everyone can get very excited about which system to use but the simple fact of the matter is metric as far more logical, far simpler. When dealing with a globalised economy having a simple and universal system of measurement is important. America are being pretty backward in not adopting the metric system.

Don’t get me started on the way the date is written…

Bobby, Ricky Bobby November 8, 2016 at 1:26 am

Thanks to the Internet… We are able to have this discussion. Guess who brought you the Internet… MERICA! BAHAHAHA!

chris November 19, 2016 at 11:48 am

Why does the US insist on having 100 cents in a dollar – The main symbol of America’s world power is metric! HA HA HAAA!

TheAcademic November 21, 2016 at 11:16 pm

Ricky Bobby, the internet was invented in Europe -Switzerland to be exact- in CERN, by an English person. Additionally pertaining to the article, the other two mentioned countries are in the process of switching to the metric system, despite the costs, it would make life easier to just either adopt the metric system or integrate it so it could be used interchangeably.

jg November 27, 2016 at 11:56 am

I love the incredulous Americans on here asking, “Do you know how much it would cost to switch to metric?”
Yes. We do. We did it.

dude November 30, 2016 at 9:04 pm

America is filthy rich, it shouldn’t be that hard to change to the more universal system used by pretty much the entire world.

Terry D December 6, 2016 at 5:09 am

Most of the so-called imperial system is based on obsolete Medieval French systems which the Normans brought over when they invaded Britain. That includes the pound sterling. That is why pounds weight is abbreviated to lbs and not pds and the symbol for the pound sterling is and elaborated L. Of course, we also used the German Fahrenheit system for measuring temperature and the Nordic/Germanic Schilling as part of our currency. Really logical so far.

Of course in the case of the mile that was a Roman invention and there are as many variations as there are countries almost (The English, The Irish, the Italian, the Swedish and so on and on), not forgetting that we have two variations at least in the UK i.e. the imperial mile of 1760 yards and the Nautical mile of 2000 yards.

Have you ever tried to multiply fractions? Don’t forget that the imperial system also includes Rods, Poles and Perches as well as chains to measure length (to help here 1 Chain = 1/8th Imperial mile while Rod, Pole or Perch = 1/4 Chain or 1/64th mile – does that make it easier?). Volume calculations include the Bushel (again from France). A bushel in the UK is 8 gallons (64 imperial pints) or 36.4 Litres while in the US it is 64 US pints or 35.2 litres. Let’s not forget the peck (1/4 bushel) and the kenning (2 pecks).

Of course, the differences between the UK imperial measuring system and the NEARLY similar US system makes conversion fraught with difficulties and dangers. It is much easier to use the much simpler and universal Metric system which (for you Americans) is not overseen by the French or Germans but by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) which meets in Switzerland and has representatives from all countries which use the system (including the good ‘ole US of A).

To Joe Myer above, Belize may use the Imperial system but with a population of 400.00 or so it is the size of a secondary city here in the UK so hardly merits mentioning.

Pedro A. December 7, 2016 at 2:14 pm

The Imperial system is European. In Myanmar they use an Asiatic system.

This sentence is wrong: Of all the countries in the world, only three backwaters still use the archaic Imperial system of weights and measures.

It should say: Of all the countries in the world, only three backwaters still use their own archaic system of weights and measures.

Steve December 15, 2016 at 9:55 pm

In Australia 1973 -1976 they changed to metric and phased the use over about 3 years. I then worked for an American products company in Australia.

So I am reasonably fluent in both systems and so which is the best we question ?

who cares , just make sure the pilot of the plane and the tanker driver filling it does not mix them up as they fly around world ( re: air crash investigation’s)

Lets talk about just standardizing air craft fuel fill to either gallons or litres now that is worth talking about for a reason.

Peterv. January 3, 2017 at 3:17 pm

the US of A use the imperial system but they use the metric system in engine sizes like the 5.7 and 6.2 if the older people asked what is a 5.7 I have to tell them it is a 350 cu. in.
I still have to look up what a 2.2 lt. engine is
Here in Canada we are metric But when I go to buy lumber it is still a 2×4 and
4×8 sheet and we use 16 in. Centre
So we use both.

WonkeySquonkie February 3, 2017 at 7:10 pm

To be fair. In Britain we do serve beer (and milk) in pints, and spirits in 1/5 Gill. You could order 568.261 mls of beer but you would get funny looks. Our road signs still show distance in miles and our speed limit signs and speedometers are in MPH.

John G February 13, 2017 at 9:08 pm

@theacademic a simple Google search proves the US invented the internet. Your Brit at Cern only invented http.

patsy February 14, 2017 at 12:38 am

In the US we have the freedom of choice to measure any way we please. If you don’t like the US system, stay the fuck out of this country. The last thing we need here is more godless british and european trash. Even in Canada the metric system has been an ultimate failure. Don’t believe me?? Go to ANY store in canada, ALL of the food is advertised by the POUND with kg in very small print. Ask any canadian how tall he is or how much he weighs, and they will ALWAYS tell you in lbs and feet and inches. NEVER in metric. I’ve yet to meet any canadian who weighs themself by the kg. They would drive in miles and buy gas by the gallon, but it would be cost prohibitive to switch back, it was horrendously expensive to switch to the metric system there. Canadians still QUOTE distance in miles and feet and inches. As i said before if you don’t like the way we measure in america then stay the fuck out. WE WILL NOT BE DICTATED TO AS TO HOW TO MEASURE ANYTHING. Remember we are the superpower of the world and the world’s policeman, so your metric system doesn’t mean fuck all to us. We don’t want it or like it. A few socialist americans want to go to metric, but 99% of us will NEVER use it

LER March 2, 2017 at 9:57 am

The best argument I have seen for conversion to metric is that it is standardized, a meter is a meter everywhere, whereas the Imperial system (or whatever it is called in each country that uses it) varies from country to country, e.g., a pound is not the same eveywhere. Any US company doing business internationally must be fluent in both systems and be comfortable buying goods in one system and selling in the other, which is a great opportunity for mistakes. Ever hear of the Mars Surveyor Orbiter? That one mistake in units cost us a cool $300,000,000. Having been taught the US system in elementary school I had to learn the metric system later to work in scientific research. Unfortunately, that has meant that I default to each system depending on use and memorized the conversion factors (1 lb = 453.54 g, 1 in = 2.54 cm etc.). That was a real pain before calculators!

Unfortunately, this thread is an example of a greater problem we now have, thanks, in a large part to the internet. We no longer treat each other with respect, and seem to no longer be able to carry on a civil conversation or able to agree to disagree without becoming vulgar or vile.

John March 10, 2017 at 2:01 am

I think you should set a reminder every four years to update your comment on the government…

Christian March 25, 2017 at 9:25 am

Miramar (bruma) uses it’s own measurement system. And I think Belize also uses the imperial system

Raymond Ramirez April 28, 2017 at 10:38 am

I live in Puerto Rico which was a Spanish colony from 1493 to 1898. Now as a U.S. territory for almost 120 years, we have a mixture of both systems. Our distances and highway exit markers are in KM, and we sell gasoline and other fluids in liters, yet we buy cars based on MPG. We can buy in both kg and pounds, and also use both grams and ounces. So we have a mixture of systems and many residents are confused for the mix. As an engineer, I was trained in both systems, so I can mentally calculate between them. But I expect the U.S> to lead and convert to the worldwide Metric so we can also go back to the Metric system we used before.

BTW, there is a “metric ton”, which is equal to one thousand kg or one million grams, or correctly one megagram. That does sound better than tons.

Quad April 29, 2017 at 11:27 am

I am amazed that everyone who cited their own preference sees it purely from their personal need or want versus what the reality was. The reality is this. America lead the industrial revolution. You can argue the UK did or some other nation was a strong part. It’s irrelevant. Planes, cars, engines and the overall economy of the USA has lead the world. The economic super power. That said, right or wrong, the machines and standards put in place to make steel are rooted in designs everywhere. US steel is not metrically sized. Sorry. All the other nations have now learned to speak English because the USA is the largest market. We don’t need to change as we have the largest economy. It ends there. I can convert back and forth without issue. Deal with it. Otherwise stop buying Coke and speaking English.

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