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What Is a Hectare?

Many parts of the Middle East use hectares with ease.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 15 December 2014
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For many people living in places like the US or the UK, the term hectare may not be that familiar. This is a type of measurement belonging to the International System of Units, also written as SI, which typically refers to an amount of land. The term usually doesn’t have much application for use outside of land measurement and could be comparable to the way the US and UK use acres to measure land. It should be noted that an acre is not equal to a hectare, which is 10,000 square meters (107,639.10 square feet).

There are additional measurements besides this metric land measurement that may be unfamiliar to all but the most dedicated mapmakers, city planners, real estate developers and mathematicians. The hectare is also considered one square hectometer/hectometre, 100 ares, or 10 decares. Many of these terms aren’t used often, unless it is to split land into smaller pieces. Meters might be used in place of hectares, as they are more recognizable.

Yet given more than the occasional use of the measurement, it’s not a bad idea to know how to appropriately abbreviate the term. Hectare is usually written as ha and are as a. It also helps for those unfamiliar with the term to think of relative sizing of the hectare in comparison to other more familiar measurements.

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The standard American acre, for example, would make up about 40% of a hectare, and the English acre would be relatively close to this amount too. This makes it much easier to visualize size. A hectare is approximately two-and-a-half standard American acres. Of course acres vary in size and two Scottish and Irish acres would be almost the same size as 10,000 square meters.

Given the push to convert most measurements to metric in many countries, the question must be asked as to why certain countries have stuck to the acre instead of converting acres into SI measurement. This could actually be a monumental task because land doesn’t divide into neat square packages. Surveying land could be a nightmare, creating questions about rights to titles, and costing significant amounts of funds and time.

On the other hand, many countries use hectares for measurement with ease. It is quite common in much of Europe, many parts of the Middle East and elsewhere. Even though this measurement is part of the International System of Units, one confusing aspect is that it may not always have the same name. Different countries have renamed the hectare, though the abbreviation might stay the same. Yet if people want to measure land in Argentina, they’ll need to know that hectares and manzanas are the same, and in Iran, land measurements could be counted in jeribs, instead.

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