What Data Type Is Latitude in SQL?


Scott Campbell

Latitude is a commonly used data type in SQL for storing geographical coordinates. In SQL, latitude is typically represented as a decimal number. However, it is important to understand that latitude itself is not a specific data type in SQL; rather, it is stored using an appropriate numeric data type.

Understanding Latitude

Latitude is one of the two coordinates used to define a specific point on the Earth’s surface, the other being longitude. Latitude measures the distance north or south of the Equator and ranges from -90 degrees (South Pole) to +90 degrees (North Pole). The Equator itself has a latitude of 0 degrees.

When working with geographical data in SQL, it is crucial to use an appropriate data type for representing latitude values accurately.

Data Types for Latitude

In most database management systems, such as MySQL and PostgreSQL, the recommended data type for storing latitude values is DECIMAL. The DECIMAL data type allows you to specify precision and scale, which ensures accurate representation of latitude coordinates.

The precision represents the total number of digits that can be stored, while the scale specifies the number of decimal places. For example, a DECIMAL(9,6) data type can store latitude values with up to 9 digits in total and 6 decimal places.

It’s important to choose an appropriate precision and scale based on your specific needs. Generally speaking, 6 decimal places provide enough accuracy for most applications involving geographic coordinates.

Example Usage

To better understand how latitude values are stored in SQL databases, let’s consider an example table called Locations.

  • ID: INTEGER (Primary Key)
  • Name: VARCHAR
  • Latitude: DECIMAL(9,6)
  • Longitude: DECIMAL(9,6)

In this example, the latitude column is defined as DECIMAL(9,6), allowing for precise representation of latitude values up to 6 decimal places.


Latitude is an important component of geographical data and is commonly represented using the DECIMAL data type in SQL. By choosing an appropriate precision and scale, you can accurately store latitude coordinates in your database. Remember that latitude itself is not a specific data type in SQL but rather a value stored using an appropriate numeric data type.

Now that you understand how latitude is typically represented in SQL, you can confidently work with geographical data and perform various operations based on latitude values.

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