The metric system is a decimalised system of measurement based on the metre and the gram. It exists in several variations, with different choices of base units, though these do not affect its day-to-day use. Over the last two centuries, different variants have been considered the metric system. Since the 1960s the International System of Units (SI) ("Système International d'Unités" in French, hence "SI") has been the internationally recognised standard metric system. Metric units of mass, length, and electricity are widely used around the world for both everyday and scientific purposes.
One goal of the metric system is to have a single unit for any physical quantity. All lengths and distances, for example, are measured in metres, or thousandths of a metre (millimetres), or thousands of metres (kilometres), and so on. There is no profusion of different units with different conversion factors, such as inches, feet, yards, fathoms, rods, chains, furlongs, miles, nautical miles, leagues, etc. Multiples and submultiples are related to the fundamental unit by factors of powers of ten, so that one can convert by simply moving the decimal place: 1.234 metres is 1234 millimetres, 0.001234 kilometres, etc. The use of fractions, such as 2/5 of a metre, is not prohibited, but uncommon.
- (The rest of this article can be read on Wikipedia and is being used here under the GFDL)