Chinese Map
Convention for Directions



By Western convention, all maps are drawn with the North direction at the top of the page.

In contrast, the convention, used since time immemorial in China places the South direction at the top of the page as shown.

As a consequence, North is the bottom, East is on the right and West is on the right side of the map.

Furthermore, the direction inbetween the North and the East is not called the Northeast , but "East-north" in Chinese.
Similarly, the names for directions Northwest, Southeast and Southwest are reversed as Westnorth, Eastsouth, and Westsouth respectively.

Modern Chinese maps have discontinued the ancient convention and adopted the universal convention of placing North at the top of the map.

However, the names of the 4 directions Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest remain reversed in all Chinese writings and daily conversations without exception.

Here are a few examples:
  1. Northwest Airlines changes its name in Chinese as "Westnorth Airline" !!!
  2. Southeast Asia in Chinese is "Eastsouth Asia."
  3. Northeast Provinces (Manchuria) are the "Eastnorth Provinces."
So, beware when asking for directions on Chinese streets.