On Google Maps, there's a line in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. What does it mean and why does it have such an odd shape?

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    Have you searched for the date line? If it is that, it has this strange shape because some countries wanted to be the first to meet the new milenium. – Willeke Sep 18 '16 at 13:37
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    It is the part that keep the Earth spherical. If you separate the two parts, the Earth becomes flat again. – Taladris Sep 18 '16 at 13:42
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    @JonathanReez being unaware of the date line has messed up travel plans for more than one person I know. It's also a travel experience to have 2 July 12ths or not have a September 1st. – Kate Gregory Sep 18 '16 at 13:49
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    Plenty questions about the international date line would certainly be on topic due to such confusions, and many other reasons, but not this one. This is a cartography question and not a travel question. – hippietrail Sep 18 '16 at 18:08

That is the International Date Line. It's roughly on the 180 meridian. It would, as you can imagine, be very challenging for different sides of an island to be on different days, so it originally jiggled around islands. The 180 meridian crosses land in just three places: very far north, very far south, and the island of Taveuni in Fiji. (My blog entry includes pictures of the sign on the meridian.) It is also a challenge for different islands in the same country to be on different days, which causes more jiggling.

Recently, Samoa decided it wanted to be on the same side as New Zealand and Australia, rather than the same side as American Samoa. This caused more jiggling.

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    Related to your last sentence, the most popular question on Mi Yodeya: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/12760/1713 – Daniel Sep 18 '16 at 15:43
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    The International Date Line has no meaning outside of territorial waters. However, it is drawn due north/south at an appropriate longitude. – CSM Sep 18 '16 at 16:35

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