Miles - History & Definition

For the purposes of this site the mile is the international mile used in the USA and the UK. The international mile was defined in 1959 by the major English speaking countries as being 1,760 international yards, the international yard in turn being defined in terms of the metre.

The word mile originates from the Roman 'mille passuum', a thousand paces (with the pace being two steps). This measurement spread across the Roman empire and became established as a measure of distance, although the distance changed in different places over time.

In 1592, during the reign of Elizabeth I an act of the English parliament defined the mile as being 1,760 yards - which is the basis for the current international mile.

There were previous definitions of the mile in use in England, Scotland and Ireland all of which differed in length. The mile was also used in many European countries as a unit of length including Denmark, Germany, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Croatia and Russia. Most of the European miles were considerably longer than the English statute mile and have fallen out of common usage following the introduction of the SI metric system.

Full miles to kilometres conversion tables can be found on the following pages:

Alternatively you can use our Quick Converter.