Time zones have been created for a wide variety of social, legal and commercial reasons. Truth be told, it is very helpful for countries and people who do business together and who conduct all sorts of other activities together to keep the same time. Because of this fact, time zones usually follow the boundaries of countries. To make things simple, all time zones are defined by the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). But most people don’t know exactly what a time zone is. They may not know what UTC is either. In fact, most people erroneously believe they are in the UTC time zone, when they are really in the GMT time zone. So let’s explain what time zones are, what UTC is and what it is used for, and then analyze the EST time zone. You can also find some very fun to read facts about time zones towards the bottom of the page.
UTC stands for Coordinated Universal Time. It is the standard when it comes to measuring time around the world. All time zones are UTC plus or minus some time (usually one of more hours). In other words, EST for example is UTC-05:00. This difference from UTC time is the UTC offset. In the case of the Eastern Standard Time zone, the time is 5 hours behind UTC time. The offset is usually one or more whole hours, but there are countries with offsets of 30 minutes (India, for example) and even 45 minutes (Nepal, for example). And while there are many countries that are split between time zones (Russia spans over 12 of them), there are also countries that are entirely in one large time zone (China, for example).
EST (Or Eastern Standard Time Zone) is UTC-5:00. In other words, the Eastern Standard Time zone has an UTC offset of minus 5 hours. This means that all regions in the Eastern Standard Time Zone are 5 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time. When it is 12 PM in London (which is in UTC), it is just 7 PM in Connecticut and Ontario.
Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) is just 4 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC-4:00) because it takes into account daylight saving time. Daylight saving time is observed during spring and summer. The states in the EST time zone move to the EDT time zone on the second Sunday of March. They transition back to EST in the first Sunday of November.
The Eastern Standard Time zone covers the eastern part of the United States, some parts of Canada, and a single state in Mexico: Quintana Roo. Also, EST time is being used in Panama, in Acre and part of Amazonas (both in Brazil), in Colombia, in Ecuador, and in the Caribbean Islands (Cuba included).
There are a total of 17 states that are entirely in the EST time zone in the United States. However, be aware that some of these states observe Daylight Saving Time, so they will transition to the EDT time zone during the summer months. They will return to EST time on the second Sunday of March, at 2 AM, however. Here are the states that are encompassed by the EST zone in the US:
Also, in the United States, there are 5 states that are split between the Eastern Time Zone and Central Standard Time (CST): Indiana, Tennessee, Florida, Kentucky, and Michigan.
In Canada, there are just three territories that are partly in the EST time zone: Quebec, Ontario and Nunavut. It is also important to note that these provinces observe Daylight Saving Time in sync with the US, even though there are some very minor exceptions.
Because the EST time zone covers so much of the United States, there are dozens of major cities in the EST time zone in the US. In fact, most people think about the United States when they hear EST time. And they are not wrong to do so. Notable examples of large cities in the US include New York City, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Florida, New Jersey, Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, and Cleveland. Other major cities in the EST time zone are Ontario, Quebec, Guayaquil, Hamilton, Bogota, Nassau, Lima, Panama City, Quito, and Havana.
It is estimated that almost 142 million people reside in the Eastern Standard Time Zone of the United States. New York (over 19 million people), Florida (almost 17 million people), and Pennsylvania (around 12.5 million people) contribute the most to the total number of residents. However, even though this number seems pretty large, it is not. China, for example, is entirely in one time zone. And China has almost 1.38 billion people (as of 2016).
Without time zones, it would be impossible for the Sun to be at its highest point in the sky at noon in all countries on Earth. The Earth rotates 15 degrees per hour, so it makes sense to divide the world into 24 time zones, with each one of them being 15 degrees in size. Now that you know what time zones are and how they are used, and also know what UTC and the UTC offset are, let’s take a look at some interesting things when it comes to time zones: