Digging a Hole to China: Fun with Antipodes

Watching the Simpsons Movie over the weekend, I was reminded of something I frequently heard as a child: “if you dig a hole straight down through the Earth, you’ll end up in China.” It’s not true, of course… you’d end up in China only if your tunnel totally missed the center of the Earth.

I asked some Chinese friends about this. Were they ever told that if they dug a hole straight down through the Earth they’d end up somewhere? To my disappointment, they said no.

Still, there has been plenty of interest in antipodes (the exact opposite point, running straight through the earth’s center, of any point on the globe). Here’s a wikipedia map showing what regions overlap:

Antipodes Map

So you can see that China mostly just overlaps with Argentina, and most countries don’t overlap with any land at all. According to another website, China gets these exciting antipodes match-ups:

1. Beijing – Bahia Blanca, Argentina
2. Shanghai – Buenos Aires, Argentina
3. Wuhan – Cordoba, Argentina
4. Xi’an – Santiago, Chile
5. Taipei – Asuncion, Paraguay

If you want to explore your own antipodes, there’s a cool “dual Google Map” Antipodes Map that let’s you do just that graphically, as well as a (more boring) online antipodal calculator for figuring out actual longitude and latitude.

Key takeaway: China is a cool place to visit, but you better do your homework before you go to the trouble of digging a hole all the way through the center of the Earth.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Why does it flip upside down?

  2. Because it’s mirrored, mate.

  3. Why dig through the middle of the earth when you are already the middle of the earth?

  4. Cool links. Thanks!

    I had heard from friends and blog commenters that there were jokes about 挖到美国去 – maybe it’s just not as common as ‘digging to China?’

  5. So the Movie “The China Syndrome” needs to be renamed to “The somewhere-in-the-middle-of-the-Pacific-ocean syndrome”?

  6. I read here and there on the net that if you dig from a town called Formosa in some South American country (I forgot which, but judging from this map it must be Paraguay), you end up in… Taiwan, la ilha formosa.

  7. OK. But what if you dig a hole straight through the planet, maintaining the same latitude?

  8. cool im from buenos aires.. so i traveled 1/2 earth already 😀

    Lu: Formosa its in Argentina.. but its really near Paraguay its not a city.. its the name of .. mm a province (kinda like estate)

  9. I get that the definition of an “antipode” makes things mirrored and such….but if you did just dig straight down, there’s no reason to flip things right?

  10. leviathan Says: August 19, 2007 at 5:05 am

    tunneling through the earth
    I expect that the pressure at the center of the earth is so great you could vaporise waste (That could be a fun).

    As a child was always told Australia, Down Under lol

  11. Fascinating to see the concept illustrated so simply!

    To Lantian: A point on the globs has only ONE antipode point. It is not only on the other hemisphere, it is on the opposite side of the EQUATOR (unless both points are directly ON the equator). So, in order to show in one simple illustration which land masses have antipodes on other land masses, one hemisphere must be inverted. To see why, on a globe find Spain, then flip the globe around and find South Island, New Zealand. If you “dug through the center of the earth to the other side” from Madrid, you’d come out pretty close to Christchurch. Likewise with Lima, Peru and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam.

    To Henning: Nope – it should be called “somewhere-in-the-southern-INDIAN-ocean syndrome” – El Paso Texas’ antipode is about half way from Perth, Australia and Johannesburg, South Africa. Nearly every other point in the US has an antipode SOUTH of there – pretty close to the ANTARCTIC!

  12. […] have some serious antipodean matching going on. John at the great Sinosplice blog apparently figured this out three years ago: So you can see that China mostly just overlaps with Argentina, and most countries don’t overlap […]

  13. To find the opposite side of the world dig with this tool


    It’s fun

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