Which Countries Don’t Use the Metric System? Learn the Global Measurement Mosaic

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

Let’s review the metric system and how many countries don’t use it or a blended system of measurements.

This is completely off-topic, but if you are interested in it and want to know how it works in Canada, please go through this article. It will surely answer all your questions related to the metric system.

1. What is the Metric System

The metric system, also called the International System of Units (abr. S.I.), is the decimalized system of measurement used internationally to calculate weights and measures based on kilograms for weight and meters 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.

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Courtesy: NIST

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

There are seven 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 calculate various derived units, including square meters, radians, farads, ohms, and lumens.

Before the metric system was adopted, the British imperial measurement system was used to calculate weights and measures. The imperial system was named after 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 on the list of how many countries don’t use the metric system, which still uses another measurement system despite most of the world’s adoption of the SI units.

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

The metric system is very important in scientific developments and global commerce activities. Although most countries have adopted the metric system globally, some do not use it.

how many countries don't use the metric system
Courtesy: NIST

Only three countries- Myanmar, Liberia, and the United States fall under the category of countries that 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 in science, technology, and trade?

Every country, including the US, Myanmar, and Liberia, has implemented and uses the metric system to some extent. Still, these countries predominantly use other measurement systems because they are used to them.

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.

how many countries don't use the metric system
Courtesy- Statista

2.1. Myanmar

Myanmar has its customary measuring units, which are used in addition to the imperial units of measurement.

Although they did not use 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.

Thus, the adoption of the metric system in its entirety has been gradual, especially by the public, since it is a system that has been used for centuries.

Before the Metric System - remake with better audio

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.

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, the US, or various islands in the Caribbean.

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

2.3. The United States

how many countries don't use the metric system
Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash/ Copyright 2018

United States of America participated in the Metre Convention in 1875. Additionally, 1866 saw the passing of a bill that made using the system of international units lawful.

After 100 years of the blended use of the metric and imperial systems, 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 based on inches and pounds. This was brought to America by Great Britain during colonization, and the USA has chosen to continue using this measurement system even after independence.

However, the United Kingdom has also moved to using the metric units, as has 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 to convert other things to the metric system.

how many countries don't use the metric system
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

It is necessary to touch upon the countries that 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. The UK also implemented the metric system in 1965, but the imperial system for measurement is still prevalent there, and their system of measurement is a mix of this and that.

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Image by Jake Heckey from Pixabay

For example, if you’re ever driving, you’ll see that the distance is often stated in miles and 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 daily life. The British imperial units were used because of the country’s ties with Great Britain and their proximity.

The metric system was 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 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.


We realized that very few countries have adopted the international system of units. While the metric system has taken over most of the world, it hasn’t 100% consumed the world.

Some countries still use the imperial system of measurement or other non-metric units of measurement, and many countries use a mixed system for measurements. The reason for this is mainly that adopting new measurement units can be very difficult for a large group of people, and it could prove costly to switch for various industries.

Last Updated on by Namrata

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