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.

{ 130 comments… read them below or add one }

Karl Slingo February 4, 2015 at 5:14 am

To all those ignorant Americans:
If you add the population of those countries in the world that still use the very backwards imperial system (USA, Myanmar, Liberia) it totals around 5% of the worlds population. So your are well in the minority. Come on people… embrace the future and get with program. Even us Brits (who invented the imperial system) let it go in the 70’s. Although we still use some imperial units in day to day life like ‘home many miles to Manchester?’, ‘can I have a pint of beer’ etc. All official measurements are SI units… like the rest of the world! So my litre is the same as a litre in Japan, and not a US gallon is different to a gallon anywhere else in the world. Well done USA at being utterly insular, and not even realising it. I applaud your ignorance.

K Bounds February 8, 2015 at 2:09 pm

To: Karl
From: Ignorant American
There have been many things that the United States has decided to do differently than the U.K. To begin with, there was the whole taxation matter that caused the separation of our tiny colonies from, what was at the time, a world super power. Since then, we have prided ourselves on being friendly with, but different from the U.K. I completely understand that we are a minority compared to the world’s population but we managed to secure our liberty with only 3% of our population. With that said, I’m beginning to see a trend with our being different. So as I do respect your opinion, because our constitution allows that freedom here, I feel as if your comment was utterly unnecessary. The Metric system is a very useful measurement system but we will continue to respectfully be different. If you’re in a profession that requires you to deal with the conversion of these measurements on a daily basis, I would suggest seeking employment elsewhere. One thing I find interesting about your comment is that you mentioned the use of imperial measurements in daily speech. If you are so upset about our use of a dated system, why are you not with the times and using the correct units? You have had decades to adjust to the change, get with the times. In the mean time there is no reason to get so worked up about something you cannot control. With that said, I am going to go relax by shooting one of my many personally owned guns, after driving to the range on the right side of the road. Good day sir.

Kiel February 15, 2015 at 11:07 pm

Dear Karl,

I hate to inform you, well I really don’t, the imperial system is a standard system across the world. A gallon in the US would be the same amount of liquid as a gallon in Japan if they used it. The benefit of the metric system is that it is neatly divisible; 10 units of a smaller unit make 1 of the next larger unit.

Frank February 17, 2015 at 12:01 am

@Kiel

Sadly you have confirmed another point of Karl. IGNORANCE

there are many different gallons, even with in US there are two, “gallon” and “dry gallon”!!!!

he gallon is a measure of liquid capacity in both the US customary units and the British imperial systems of measurement. Three significantly different sizes are in current use: the imperial gallon (≈ 4.546 L), which is used in the United Kingdom, Canada, and some Caribbean countries; the US gallon (≈ 3.79 L), which is used in the US and some Latin American and Caribbean countries; and the least-used US dry gallon (≈ 4.40 L).

Zach February 19, 2015 at 10:07 pm

USA! USA! USA! USA!USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! We have the best system in the world all the rest can take a meter stick and stick it up there asses. Your mom was so impressed with the inches of my dick that she started to drip US gallons of cum. By the way, your mother is so fat that she weighs around 300 pounds (WHICH IS NOT CURRENCY YOU JADED CUNT) so I ran away at 20 miles per hour.

Vicky February 20, 2015 at 12:40 pm

I just can’t help but comment on the irony that encompasses Karl Slingo’s post on February 4th. I find it laughable that in a post where you are chastising others for being “ignorant” your own grammar is comparable to that of a small child (the your vs you’re error- really?).

Just sayin’
:)

Zach February 20, 2015 at 2:45 pm

USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! I walked over to the gas station at a speed of 3 miles per hour. Then I

Reno Morrow February 25, 2015 at 1:50 pm

I truly hate being in the United States. The people here are the most racial amd ignorant of all the people in the world. They use so-called laws to institute their racial hatred and then get mad when people talk about it. Of course the U.S.A.ddoesn’t want to modernize like the rest of the world they want to stay backwater idiots who purposely do things different just to show the world beong backwater idiots is cool, but its not. Like this thing says forst we should try and get a decent govt then we should worry about the metric system Lol. It’s a known fact that a party of out right racists can vie for the highest office of this country and no one even cares. The U.S.A. is garbage and that is coming from a hard working American whimo has work harder than this his white counterparts because racial privilege still exists in a country that prides itself on freedom. A country where if you want to be a serial killer,rapist or child molseter all you have to do is become a police officer. Good old U.S. of A. Smh

David J. Sandmeyer March 2, 2015 at 10:04 am

As just one small business owner of a precision machining company, it would cost me well into 6 figures (or possibly even 7 figures) to “just” convert to the metric system. It begins with converting blueprints from inch to millimeter. Blueprints are legal documents and it is not a single step of changing the units – it is a time consuming process of checks and double-checks. We have thousands of blueprints. After that each product must go through a verification process that it still functions properly when produced to the new blueprint.

And we are just now getting to other documents and measurement instruments that must be purchased for measuring the parts to the metric system. A single gauge may cost $10k or more.

Now take my one shop and apply those costs to the entire U.S. economy. Do you really think metrification is simple and wouldn’t devastate an already fragile system? All of this to simply have everyone speak a universal language of measurements. I’ll agree to do it when everyone across the world only agrees to speak English.

Neil E. Roberts March 5, 2015 at 5:26 pm

The US does use the metric system. The inch, mile, ounce, pound, and so on have for quite some time been defined based on metric measurements! Go look it up!!!

The US just uses different metric units (inch, mile, ounce, pound, etc.) than those used by most other countries (meter, kilogram, etc.).

Anonymous March 8, 2015 at 6:17 am

As an American forced into subjugation by an antiquated system of weights & measures, I must say I shake my head sadly in shame. First, to the machine shop owner: sorry, it costs money to do business in the world market. The government should compensate for reasonable costs associated with being part of the global economy. Second, “we will continue to respectfully be different” means we’re arrogant bastards too stupid to adjust to: a) a more efficient, intuitive method of weighing and measuring, and b) the stubborn American child who throws a tantrum, “me, me, me…I am right!” 3 countries put of 190- some odd countries don’t use the metric system. Americans are just too stupid to adjust. The rest of the world should get hip.

John Steele March 14, 2015 at 4:50 pm

Zach said, “We have the best system in the world all the rest can take a meter stick and stick it”

Actually, Zach, the “system” we have is the leftovers of the pre-Imperial British system. It was so bad even the British improved it in 1824. Our gallon and bushel were defined by British Parliament around 1700. Does that make you a proud American?

We chose to sign the Treaty of the Meter in 1875, but people like you continue to want to be British and use the leftovers of our former king. Not me. We have been part of the development and improvements of the the International System since 1875. Lets use it, not our former master’s leftovers.

Deje March 17, 2015 at 1:00 pm

You are all fighting about a system of fucking measurement. Get over yourselves you primordial insects. No system of measurement can measure how fucking childish you all are.
Xoxo – USA, high school junior

Thomas March 24, 2015 at 5:11 pm

We’ll switch to metric when you switch to driving on the right side of the road.

John April 1, 2015 at 9:29 pm

Oh my gosh, can any country ever get along? All I see here is arguing maybe you should stop calling me ignorant, and say that EVERY country has ignorant people. Not all of us are ignorant if you think that, then you are ignorant. America has also helped many countries, and you may have not been here if we didn’t exist. I’m not saying America didn’t get help either, but we did help a lot in ww1 and ww2.

Mia April 19, 2015 at 1:36 am

Why is USA so ahead of the times with everything except for measurements? Its embarrassing :(

Fariha April 26, 2015 at 9:11 am

TO KARL-
Im British as well, and you’re saying what ever you said as if its the citizens of America’s fault, why are you blaming them?? Its only a system that not every country agrees with, why does it matter so much? Its not like if they don’t agree to the metric system the worlds going to end or something.

Kendall May 1, 2015 at 6:35 pm

To K Bounds
Choosing the Imperial system for the sake of nonconformity would be well and good if it didn’t cost us money while making us a laughing stock of the academic world. One of the biggest recent blows to the US space program, having to repair the Hubble Space Telescope a few years back, cost millions of dollars and was entirely because a single engineer neglected to convert from imperial to metric. What use is that? What do we benefit from making everything more difficult and complicated just for the sake of being contrarian? We’re basically that goth kid at school who wears all black with tons of make-up, hoodies, and heavy chains dangling off his pants in the middle of summer. Not exactly worth the trouble.

Amp May 2, 2015 at 8:43 pm

This discussion truly saddens me. It may be an outdated system, but I believe that we will eventually transition to using the metric system. However, that does not make Americans any more ignorant than the people of any other country. Calling all Americans stupid only shows your own ignorance, because there are stupid people in every country, but also smart people in every country. These are the kinds of over-reaching generalizations that encourage true ignorance.

Robert A Sizemore May 4, 2015 at 5:13 am

We actually use multiple measures in the USA. People forget, we are a democracy. Good or less than good, we don’t bow to every convention just to get go along with the herd. I remember the try to convert and no one made a compelling aguement for the change, other than “everyone else is doing it”, duh!
So I have two sets of tools for whatever I am working on. No one said Freedom was free.

Anthony May 27, 2015 at 5:52 pm

Actually, you’re not a democracy, you’re a republic.

Your “tiny colonies” didn’t fight off big, bad, ol’ England all on its lonesome. I think the French and Spanish might be surprised to hear that. And the Dutch. Securing your freedom with only 3% of your population suggests that 97% were quite happy staying British. Even wikipedia says “The conflict then escalated into a world war with Britain combating France, Spain, and the Netherlands. Contemporaneous fighting also broke out in India between the British East India Company and the French allied Kingdom of Mysore.”

And I notice that freedom really only extended to roughly half of the non-indigenous population. You had to have a civil war before you let the other half free.

You also don’t need the constitution to allow you the freedom to respect someone else’s opinion…

Glad you’re going to shoot one of your personally owned guns. We also have many personally owned firearms. You could check out our firearms licensing legislation and see what you think?

If Zach is a typical example of an American citizen, then I truly pity you.

And we universally use miles in the appropriate manner. Our speed signs are in miles per hour, just like the speedometers in our cars. We have signs listing how far places are in miles (12 miles to London) and we work out how efficient our cars are in miles per gallon (odd, because we buy petrol in litres).

Thomas June 4, 2015 at 9:53 am

The post is bad propaganda: it is simply wrong. Two reasons: first, the metric system IS officially used and endorsed by the United States; second, customary units remain in common and widespread use in countries other than Myanmar and Liberia – including the United Kingdom and Ireland, at the very least.

The metric system has been the official standard in the United States since the Mendenhall Order of 1893, which established the legal dimensions of the commonly-used US Customary Units – in metric. They have been defined in metric ever since. And, no law prohibits the use of metric units in commerce in the US – it’s just that the law also provides for the use of Customary Units, properly defined in metric.

Dave June 9, 2015 at 12:33 am

As an engineer, the confusion caused by having to convert nonsense imperial units during calculations makes it an terrible system. 1 page of calculations in metric has turned into 3 pages of the same calculation in imperial. Imperial is grossly inefficient and it’s use is responsible for many unnecessary accidents…including America’s NASA crashing the Mars probe, air crashes from lack of fuel, and numerous industrial explosions. But American’s love blowing stuff up for no reason so I imagine they will keep imperial BECAUSE it makes stuff break. I do feel sad for American scientists and engineers who are handicapped by this ridiculously outdated system when a vastly superior option is staring them in the face.

Jerry Hayward June 25, 2015 at 9:46 pm

I am interested in what David J Sandmeyer says about the cost of metrication for his business. Here in the US General Motors, Ford and Chrysler started metrication back in the 1970s and are pretty close to complete today. GM found it cost more to create tracking procedures for metrication costs than it cost to metricate. Caterpillar and John Deere both changed to metric measures and both are glad they did. Mr. Sandmeyer says it would cost his company 6 figures or even 7 figures just to convert to metric measures. He mentions thousands of blueprints. Does he really need to convert all those blueprints? Are all those blueprints in active use now? I am pretty sure that GM didn’t convert all the blueprints they had on file; they probably converted some and built drew new ones for future car models in metric measures while the bulk of their stored blueprints were left in storage. I don’t know Mr. Sandmeyer’s business but I would ask if it is growing ie he is so busy with present work he doesn’t have time to think closely about any metrication scheme. Is his business making parts for others so he is constrained by their blueprints and nobody is asking for or demanding parts made to metric dimensions? Anyway I hope Mr. Sandmeyer checks in again to this blog and is willing to answer some of questions if he will.

Shayne July 2, 2015 at 12:03 am

do you know that the moon is moving away from the earth at 1.48 inches/year. you know how we know, the mirrors on the moon surface that allow you to bounce a laser beam back and calculate the distance to the moon. you know how those mirrors got there? that’s right bitches, the USA put them there. The only country to get there so suck it. Where’s your metric system now?

Joey deVilla July 3, 2015 at 10:33 am

You might want to check out this article from 2007, which explains which units NASA’s been using for the past little while.

Greg L July 14, 2015 at 10:47 am

Three cheers for capitalism. If comapnies choose to convert or accommodate both systems because it is good for business, they will! Otherwise, who really cares! Most of us will contue out lives as normal using whichever system we are comfortable with, and if we need to adapt because of the goods we purchase, we will. Or we won’t, which gets back to whether it’s good for business. Yea capitalism!

Nick July 14, 2015 at 1:42 pm

Oh this is so funny! To read the abuse you all hand out so readily to eachother. Trouble is it’s not funny. It’s highly embarrassing! The reactions I’ve seen against the first comment have been so outlandish, frankly loutish behaviour. USA? I expected better. A little more self control. You really have shown yourselves to be as scared and paranoid as everyone already knew you to be. Your answer is to attack, attack, attack. Shame on you. Let’s face it, wasn’t this supposed to be a simple debate about metric/imperial?
Why so nasty over such a mediocre question?… Answer: Paranoia

Don July 24, 2015 at 4:27 am

There is a cost to going metric, but going metric does not happen overnight. It takes many many years. I lived through the UK change from imperial to metric. the change lasted probably 30 years. Even though certain things may become metric officially on a certain date, the important thing is to change the thinking of the people. That will take 20-30 years and involves teaching new measurement units right frm primary school and importantly teaching metric/imperial conversion so it becomes second nature. I now live in New Zealand, all metric here. Young kids dont know what imperial is. However us oldies who have been bought up on both still think in both, and choose which units they use in which circumstances. I never speak to young kids in imperial, but older guys may say something is 4ft long and between easch other we understand. But when you measure that 4ft to make it, it will all be measured in metric (dont actually own an imperial measuring tape anyway)

Roy From America July 27, 2015 at 3:48 pm

If it took a long time to convert to Metric for England, and I think Don knows about decimalisation and how that change went with the Brits, then it goes to show that we, as humans, do not always accept change. Right now, not a lot of Americans are ready to accept using the Metric system, as we were brought up with Imperial, plus, we will probably not want to convert until the change is smooth enough so that there will not be much difficulty in transitioning. Right now, considering Americans’ point of view, I’d say we are happy with our system and the British are happy with theirs (on a majority). But, as one to embrace the future, I will be content to converting. The trouble is, some of us (like Zach), no matter how obnoxious, view the Imperial system as a symbol of national pride, sort of like (I’m an American, so correct me if I’m wrong, as this is Wikipedia) the Tudor rose or the Coat of Arms. Which is ironic considering the origin of the Imperial system. Or as I prefer to call it, Customary. So long as we still spell doughnut donut and have fights instead of rows, we probably won’t convert to Metric unless something truly drastic occurs. Besides, what’s the use arguing about something that won’t change for at least another decade? It’s like a mini war here. I know we value national pride, but if it leads to arrogance and hatred towards people speaking the same language, albeit in different accents, then clearly we should stop. Not everyone will agree that one unit is better than the other. When my British friend comes over, I can explain to him about our measures without getting into a tizzy (sorry). Until than, we’ll be perfectly happy using pounds and ounces or litres (Brit spelling) and metres. And I think I wait until I’m really drunk until I stick a yardstick/meterstick up my a**.

Your Made in America friend,

RZ

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