Everyone has heard about time zones, but not many people know exactly why they were created and why they are important. A time zone is basically a region of the globe where the same standard time is used. In other words, all the countries in a time zone keep the same time. It is very important to note that times zones are very useful for commerce because they help countries that are close to each other to keep the same time. Communication becomes much easier when both parties are in the same time zone. In addition, time zones are important for military operations. However, keep in mind that the military has different names for the various times zones. For example, Z (or Zulu) Time is Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) in military jargon. Now that we have explained what a time zone is and why it is important, let’s talk about what UTC and UTC offset are. Then we will discuss the PST (also known as Pacific Standard Time) time zone specifically.
Let’s Talk About UTC and Its Importance
Did you notice how many people say that they are in the UTC time zone? This is not correct though. UTC, short for Coordinated Universal Time, is a time standard. In fact, it is the time standard that coordinates all time across all time zones. What people mean to say when they are saying that they are in the UTC time zone is that they are in the GMT time zone. GMT is basically UTC+00:00. In other words, GMT uses the time of UTC. There is no UTC offset. Other countries in other time zones have various UTC offsets. For example, PST is UTC-08:00. Pacific Standard Time is 8 hours behind UTC. This is the offset. In general, offsets are whole hours. However, some countries use fractions of an hour in their offset. India is UTC+05:30. Nepal goes one step further, using a standard time that is UTC+05:45.
What Is PST?
PST (also known as Pacific Standard Time or simply Pacific Time) is 8 hours before Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). As stated previously, UTC is the primary time standard on Earth, which means it regulates all of the other time standards. In other words, all of the different time zones are an offset of the Coordinated Universal Time. It is important to note that PST has two names: Pacific Standard Time and Pacific Daylight Time. Pacific Standard Time, as we mentioned earlier, is UTC-8 (8 hours before UTC). On the other hand Pacific Daylight Time is UTC-7 and is used only during daylight saving time. Daylight Saving Time is observed during the summer months and is designed to increase the time humans can be active during daylight. Daylight Saving Time starts on the second Sunday of March and end on the first Sunday of November. It starts and ends at 2 in the morning (AM).
Countries That Are in Pacific Standard Time
PST covers United States, Canada and Mexico but not in their entirety. In the United States, the Washington and California states are entirely in Pacific Standard Time. Most of the Oregon and Nevada states are also in PST, while just portions of Idaho are included in this time zone. These three states are split between PST and Mountain Time Zone. Alaska is also split between PST and the Alaska Time Zone.
In Canada, only one territory is entirely in PST: Yukon. British Columbia and the Northwest Territories are split between PST and the Mountain Time Zone.
In Mexico, Pacific Standard Time encompasses just Baja California and Colima (Clarion Island more specifically). It is important to note that in Mexico, the Pacific Time Zone is called Zona Noroeste.
Important Cities in PST
According to estimates, more than 52 million people live inside the PST time zone. California is by far the biggest area in PST, with three major cities: San Diego, Los Angeles and San Jose. San Francisco is also in PST, with more than 700,000 residents. Las Vegas, Portland and Seattle are the three other major American cities that are in the Pacific Time Zone. In Mexico, Baja California and Tijuana are in PST, while in Canada Vancouver is the major city that contributes around 400,000 residents to the total number of people residing in the PST time zone. If you think 52 million people are a lot for a time zone, think about China. China has a single time zone, and the country has a population of 1.38 billion people as of 2016. India has a single time zone as well. Russia on the other hand is split between 9 time zones. It should have been split between 12 time zones, but president Putin decided 3 of the time zones must go to bring some areas of Russia closer to the Moscow time.
Interesting Time Zone Facts
Now that you know that UTC and the UTC offset are, and how PST fits into the picture, it’s time to take a look at some of the most interesting facts about time zones:
- It is important to note that broadcasting companies are directly affected by time zones. North American broadcasters must take into consideration the various time zones and schedule television programming accordingly. Another variation is given by the daylight saving time.
- Some countries use an offset that is multiple of 30 minutes. While most people think that time zones are determined by whole hours, several countries in Southern Asia (India, to be more specific), are in the UTC+5:30 Time Zone, or 13 hours and 30 minutes ahead of PST. Iran is UTC+3:30 and Afghanistan is UTC+4:30. And to make things even more complicated, Nepal is UTC+5:45.
- UTC+12 and UTC-12 are the same time zone, but with a different date. The difference between countries in these two time zones is of 24 hours, or one whole day.
- One could have two birthdays in 24 hours by travelling between different time zones. Also, one could skip Christmas doing the same. There are areas where a quick flight can force people to adjust their clocks with as much as 4 hours.
- Russia spans over 11 time zones geographically. However, Putin decided to abolish two of them in 2010 so that several regions could catch up with Moscow and be on the same time as the capital city. Also, Crimea skipped ahead two hours when it was annexed by Russia in 2014.
- India is a huge country that maintains a single national time zone, which is UTC+5:30. And Hawaii doesn’t adhere to Daylight Saving Time at all. The time zone of Hawaii is GMT-10 all year round.
- Remember that your wristwatch will not know when you are in a different time zone, so you will have to adjust it manually. Your computer and your smartphone, on the other hand, are capable of adjusting their time accordingly automatically.
- Jet lag is caused by the time zone differences. When you travel quickly between various time zones, the time zone differences will disturb your circadian cycle. You may leave early in the morning and when you arrive at the destination, it can be late at night. Your body will take some time to get used to this.
- Did you know that the United Kingdom, who has invented GMT (Greenwich is in the UK), is not in the GMT time zone all year round? British observe Daylight Saving Time, which means that they are actually in BST (which is UTC+01:00) during the summer months. They are in GMT though during the winter months.