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Introducing the metric system
Before metric measurements were introduced, the length of something was measured using the imperial system which included feet, inches, miles, furlongs and others. The lack of common standards led to a lot of confusion and significant difficulties in the trading of goods between countries.
At the end of the 18th century, the metric system was officially introduced in France as a way to simplify how things were measured. The metric system is used today by scientists and engineers throughout the world and most nations have adopted it as their standard of measurement.
Currently, there are only three nations worldwide that do not use it as their primary or sole system of measurement. The three nations are the United States, Burma and Liberia.
The metric system has standard units of measurement involving length, area, volume, mass, temperature and electricity. Other units of measurement in the metric system are obtained by multiplying and dividing by powers of 10.
The most common metric units of length used are the kilometre (km), the metre (m), the centimetre (cm) and the millimetre (mm). These units of length are related as follows:
How many millimeters in a centimeter? 10 mm is equal to 1 cm
How many centimeters in a meter? 100 cm is equal to 1 m
How many meters in a kilometer? 1000 m are equal to 1 km
Using the metric system
We would measure the thickness of a mouse mat or a pane of glass in millimetres, the width of a book or paper in centimetres, the length of a room in metres and the distance between two cities or the height of a mountain in kilometres.
We use various different instruments to measure length. For example rulers and tape measures are marked in both millimetres and centimetres to measure shorter lengths accurately.
A meter ruler or trundle wheel is used to measure length to the nearest metre and a car’s odometer will measure the distance in kilometres.