If you live in the English speaking world, you probably take it for granted that you separate decimals from whole numbers using a point. However, you may be surprised to learn that many countries use commas or other decimal marks to separate decimals from whole numbers instead.
According to Wikipedia the following countries use a period/full stop:
- British West Indies
- China, People’s Republic of
- Dominican Republic
- Hong Kong
- Korea (both North and South)
- New Zealand
- Sri Lanka
- United Kingdom
- United States (including insular areas)
The following countries use commas:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
- East Timor
- The Netherlands
- South Africa
And the following use both:
- Canada (period when using English, comma when using French)
- Croatia (comma used officially, but both forms are in use)
- Hungary (comma is official but both are used)
- Luxembourg (uses both marks officially)
- Macau (full stop in Chinese and English text and comma in Portuguese text)
Finally those using Eastern Arabic numerals or momayyez include:
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
Want to learn more about the history of numbers? Then read:
- Finding Zero: A Mathematician’s Odyssey to Uncover the Origins of Numbers
- The Universal History of Numbers: From Prehistory to the Invention of the Computer
- Mathematics: From the Birth of Numbers
Which system do you prefer? Leave your comments below:
LOUNIS KHENICHE says
You forgot to mention Algeria on the list of countries using comma as decimal separator
Sam Nguyn says
Switzerland does not use both, it uses “comma”. In Switzerland, the apostrophe is used to group 1’000s.
Comma isn’t used in computing in Switzerland. Switzerland uses a dot (.) for computer and, for handwriting comma (,) is used.
Another wonderful example of globalization ruining the planet
Larry Rosenthal says
Only the US has insular areas? Really? Not the UK? Not Russia? Not Israel? Feh.
You forgot to include Montenegro where a comma is used, in line with most other countries in the Former Yugoslavia region.
Babila Tachu says
Cameroon (majority French, minority English) uses both; just like Canada (majority English, minority French) uses both.
Namibia and South Africa both use (only) periods and not commas. Your list is wrong.
Jan Hofmeyr says
Really? I use the comma. My firm uses the comma. All my engineering colleagues use the comma.