How Many Countries Don’t Use the Metric System

You’ll be surprised to learn that although the metric system has been universally adopted as a means of measurement, there are certain countries that don’t use the metric system.

Do you know how many countries don’t use the metric system? Let’s go through what the metric system is, and how many countries don’t use the metric system or use a blended system of measurements.

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1. What is the Metric System

The metric system also called the International System of Units (abbr. S.I.) is the decimalized system of measurement used internationally to calculate weights and measures, based on kilogram for weight, and meter for length. This decimal metric system was first implemented in France, after the French revolution, and then universally adopted in 1960 during the Eleventh General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) in Paris.

Courtesy: NIST

The CGPM is the highest governing power of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, an intergovernmental authority created in the year 1875, wherein the member states are active in the areas of measurement standards.

There are 7 base units used for measurement by the international system of units, they are:

  • Kilogram (kg) for Mass
  • Meter(m) for Length
  • Kelvin (K) for Temperature
  • Mole (mole) for Amount of Substance
  • Candela (cd) for Luminous Intensity
  • Second (s) for Time
  • Ampere (A) Electric Current

These base units can also be used to calculate a wide range of derived units, including square meters, radians, farads, ohms, and lumens.

Before the metric system was adopted, the British imperial measurement system was used for the calculation of weights and measures. The imperial system was given its name since the British Empire, the predominant ruling power, used it.

The British imperial system spread to all the states the British colonized, including the United States, the foremost country in the list of how many countries don’t use the metric system, which still uses another system of measurement despite most of the world’s adoption of the SI units.

2. How Many Countries Don’t Use the Metric System?

The metric system plays a very important role in scientific developments as well as global commerce activities. Although the metric system was adopted globally by most countries, there are some which do not use the metric system. Would you like to know how many countries don’t use the metric system?

how many countries don
Courtesy: NIST

Only three countries- Myanmar, Liberia, and the United States fall under the category of how many countries don’t use the metric system. But what are their reasons for not using the metric system when the rest of the world has implemented it and  how have they been keeping up with the rest of the world in the field of science, technology and trade.

Every country, including the US, Myanmar, and Liberia has implemented the metric system and is using it to some extent but predominantly, these countries are using other systems of measurement because they are used to it. In fact, certain countries other than these three countries, like the United Kingdom, North Korea, and Canada, have also not fully converted to S.I., they are using mixed measurement systems.

Let’s explore how many countries don’t use the metric system, and how they are managing with a different system of measurement, wherein the metric units are used together with the non-metric units, or are replaced by other methods of measurement.

how many countries don
Courtesy- Statista

2.1. Myanmar

We begin with Myanmar to answer the question, “How many countries don’t use the metric system?” Myanmar has its own customary measuring units, which are used in addition to the imperial units of measurement. Although, they did not make use of the metric system till 2010, in 2011 there were talks of adopting the S.I. units and in 2013 the government announced the use of the metric system to be implemented in Myanmar.

The main reason for this decision was to organize its international trade, especially agricultural products exported from the country. However, this implementation has not been finalized and thus the adoption of the metric system has been gradual especially by the public, in its entirety, since it is a system that has been used for centuries.

2.2. Liberia

Liberia was Africa’s oldest and first republic to declare its independence, it started as a society whose main purpose was to help back individuals after the Civil War relocate to Africa, from the Caribbean and the US, having English as its official language.

Liberia’s association with the United States could explain why the republic is still following the United States’ customary measurement system even though the other African countries have switched to metric. So this is another country falling on the list of how many countries don’t use the metric system.

However, the Liberian government announced its intentions to implement the metric system, again mainly to ease the process of international trade with any other country. Whether they officially adopt this measurement system depends on how well this adoption is received at the local level, as shown by other countries like the United Kingdom, Canada or the US, or various islands in the Caribbean.

This has resulted in a mixture of the metric and the US customary system and is an indication of the move of yet another one of the remaining countries from the imperial system to the metric system.

2.3. The United States

The 1900s saw almost every country adopting the system of international units, so it was only natural to wonder how many countries don’t use the metric system even now. As we saw above, though Liberia and Myanmar are going through the process of implementing the metric system, they still come under how many countries don’t use the metric system.

how many countries don
Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash/ Copyright 2018

Another country on the list of how many countries don’t use the metric system is the US. However, the United States of America participated in the Metre Convention in 1875. Additionally, 1866 saw the passing of a bill, which made the use of the system of international units lawful.

After 100 years of the blended use of the metric system and the imperial system, the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 was passed in America, declaring voluntary conversion to metric units at the local level. However, the absence of a deadline in this act caused the implementation of the metric system in America to die out, and the United States’ customary unit system stayed in place.

The United States is still partially reliant on the US customary measures, which are based on inches and pounds. This was brought to America by Great Britain during colonization, and the USA has chosen to continue using this system of measurement even after independence, although the United Kingdom has also moved to using the metric units along with the rest of the world.

That said, the metric system is not entirely extinct in the States. Commercial, scientific, and technical industries use the metric system, however, there has been no official move for the conversion of other things to the metric system.

how many countries don
Photo by Steve Johnson from Pexels/ Copyright 2018

Thus there remains a blended system of measurements since the government has not mandated the universal adoption of the metric system, and many industries have resisted the conversion mainly due to the heavy expenses involved in switching over, and the public at large due to their unwillingness towards employing a French-designed usage.

This makes the United States the only country on the planet, that is not actively trying to complete a full conversion to the metric system.

3. Countries Using Mixed Systems of Measurement

As we contemplated the question of how many countries don’t use the metric system, it is necessary that we also touch upon the countries who have officially and legally adopted the metric system however; the use of the imperial system is still very much in trend in their regions.

3.1. United Kingdom

The imperial system was put in place by the UK. However, it does not come under the category of how many countries don’t use the metric system anymore. The UK too, implemented the metric system in 1965, but the imperial system for measurement is still prevalent over there, and their system of measurement is a mix of this and that.

Image by Jake Heckey from Pixabay

For example, if you’re ever driving, you’ll see that the distance is many a time stated in miles and in kilometers. Such is the case in the UK, even though most European countries have more or less implemented the metric system.

3.2. Canada

Canada adopted the metric system in 1970, but the imperial system is still significantly used in many commercial industries and even in the day-to-day life. The British imperial units were used because of the country’s ties with Great Britain, and their proximity. The metric system is not wholly adopted by Canada, because of strong resistance by the public during its implementation, so a mixture of systems is used for measurement.

3.3. Malaysia

Malaysia too, has adopted the metric system however, you’ll often find the use of Malay measurement units, especially in old, traditional bazaars. And there’s a significant use of the imperial system as well.


As we took a look at how many countries don’t use the metric system, we realized that there are very few countries in the whole world that have not adopted the international system of units. While the metric system has taken over a majority of the world, it hasn’t 100% consumed the world. We read about the three countries falling under the category of how many countries don’t use the metric system.

There are still some countries, which use the imperial system of measurement or other non-metric units of measurement, which fall under the list of how many countries don’t use the metric system or a large chunk of countries use a mixed system for measurements. The reason for this is mainly that adopting new units for measurement can prove to be very difficult for a large group of people and it could prove to be costly to switch for various industries.



Lakshita enjoys giving form to the thoughts in her head. She likes to curl up with a good book and her dogs and swap reality with fiction for hours on end. And much prefers her dogs and fictional characters to people.
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