Tropic of Cancer

The Tropic of Cancer, which is also referred to as the Northern Tropic, is the most northerly circle of latitude on Earth at which the Sun can be directly overhead. This occurs on the June solstice, when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the Sun to its maximum extent.[1] It also reaches 90 degrees below the horizon at solar midnight on the December Solstice. Using a continuously updated formula, the circle is currently 23°26′10.6″ (or 23.43627°) north of the Equator.

World map showing the Tropic of Cancer
Relationship of Earth's axial tilt (ε) to the tropical and polar circles

Its Southern Hemisphere counterpart, marking the most southerly position at which the Sun can be directly overhead, is the Tropic of Capricorn. These tropics are two of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of Earth, the others being the Arctic and Antarctic circles and the Equator. The positions of these two circles of latitude (relative to the Equator) are dictated by the tilt of Earth's axis of rotation relative to the plane of its orbit, and since the tilt changes, the location of these two circles also changes.

In geopolitics, it is known for being the southern limitation on the mutual defence obligation of NATO, as member states of NATO are not obligated to come to the defence of territory south of the Tropic of Cancer.

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