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Despite being observed by 70 countries around the world, daylight saving time (DST) is a controversial subject. Before it became commonplace to change your clocks twice a year, daylight saving time was devised by a New Zealand entomologist who wanted to turn back the clock to gain longer days in the field. The concept didn’t catch on until World War I, when the Germans borrowed the idea as a way to address the fuel shortage, prompting other countries to follow suit.
Before long, DST was standard practice around the world, but it wasn’t always well received. While its supporters touted energy savings for the economy, its detractors claimed it was an unhealthy nuisance. As a result, some countries continue to observe DST, while others have decided it’s not for them. Here’s how other countries around the world recognize daylight saving time.
Citizens of the United Kingdom change their clocks bi-annually — once in March and again in October. When clocks spring forward in March, they jump an hour ahead to British Summer Time (BST), and in October, they rewind back to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). As recently as March 2019, the European Union (EU) voted to abolish DST, but the pandemic put the initiative on hold. Since then, the U.K. has left the EU, which means they are at liberty to make their own decision regarding daylight saving. With so much up in the air, it seems Brits will continue to spring forward and fall back with the rest of us — for now.
In an attempt to assist with the country’s frequent energy shortages, Bangladesh decided to give daylight saving a shot. In June of 2009, the country sprung forward from GMT+6 to GMT+7. While the time change did help with energy consumption, it was destructive in other ways. Citizens were unhappy, exhausted, and confused by the time change. Within six months, officials decided to cancel the whole thing. At 11:59 p.m. on December 31, 2009, the clock turned back to GMT+6 permanently, and daylight saving became a thing of the past.
Egypt has a complicated history with daylight saving time. The concept was first introduced by British colonizers, who used the method to save energy during World War II. When the war ended, the practice was dropped until former President Hosni Mubarak reinstalled the time change in 1988. When Mubarak was ousted in 2011, the time change was abandoned once again, but not for long. In 2014, it was reintroduced as a way to counteract rolling blackouts and then suspended after citizens complained. In 2016, days before the time change was scheduled to be implemented once again, it was canceled. Is DST abolished for good in Egypt? Only time will tell.
Similar to other countries, Japan experimented with daylight saving during World War II. After the war ended, however, there was a strong movement to abandon the practice. It’s believed that one of the reasons DST was so unpopular with the Japanese is that they associated it with wartime. Other detractors felt it would make people work longer hours than was necessary. After Tokyo was chosen to host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, officials briefly flirted with the idea of reintroducing DST for the event, just as South Korea did in 1988. However, public dissent quickly nixed the idea.
From 1986 until 1991, China briefly experimented with daylight saving as a way to manage national energy consumption. The plan was recommended by the Peking Energy Foundation, whose research predicted that the country would annually save two billion kilowatt hours of energy if they observed DST. Despite these benefits, the idea was either disliked or ignored by most of the country, which ultimately led to its demise. Today, Chinese citizens are not required to change their clocks, even if they travel cross-country. This is due to the fact that all of China shares a singular time zone (GMT+8), which is unusual for a country of its size.
In addition to curbing energy consumption, DST is used to increase the public’s access to daylight hours. As a result, daylight saving is a relatively foreign concept in India, primarily due to the country’s latitude near the Tropic of Cancer. Unlike the U.S., U.K., and Canada, which are all far enough from the equator to experience distinct seasonal variations in daytime hours, India does not have such a problem. Regardless of the time of year, Indians can roughly expect 10-12 hours of daylight, thanks to the country’s geographical proximity to the Equator. Without the noticeable change in daylight hours, the drawbacks of daylight saving seemed to outweigh the benefits.
Chile is one of a few South American countries that observe DST. Many other countries on the continent, such as Brazil, Uruguay, and Bolivia, have abolished the practice in favor of a standard year-round time. In preparation for austral winter, Chile winds the clocks backward every April and then moves them forward again in September. However, not every region of Chile is on board with switching back and forth. In 2017, the Magallanes Province did not change their clocks in the fall, in order to keep the extra daylight hour in the late afternoon. The rest of the country, including the capital of Santiago, switches between Chile Standard Time and Chile Summer Time twice a year.