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κλίμα). Literally “a slope” or “inclination”; a term used in the mathematical geography of the Greeks with reference to the inclination of various parts of the earth's surface to the plane of the equator. Before the globular figure of the earth was known, it was supposed that there was a general slope of its surface from south to north, and this was called κλίμα. But as the science of mathematical geography advanced, the word was applied to different belts of the earth's surface, which were determined by the different lengths of the longest day at their lines of demarcation. This division into climates was applied only to the northern hemisphere, as the geographers had no practical knowledge of the earth south of the equator. The term κλίμα was afterwards applied to the temperature of these belts; hence the meaning of the modern word climate.

Hipparchus (about B.C. 160) seems to have been the first who made use of this division; his system is explained at length by Strabo (ii. p. 132).

The word clima is found only in the later Latin, the pure Latin term being inclinatio, declinatio, or devergentia.

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