Time zone confusion

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I was baffled during my recent trip to Australia by the hour-and-a-half time zone change between Sydney and Uluru -- why the half hour? I asked a few people, but I guess it's just one of those things people don't think about; it just is. So I asked around here, and someone told me that the only reason we have one-hour increments in the U.S. time zones was to limit confusion on our intercontinental railway system. According to Wikipedia, this is in fact the case. Still, I've never encountered a half-hour change before, and am wondering if this is common and I just haven't gotten around enough?

The answer (from Wikipedia):

"Today, all nations use standard time zones for secular purposes, but they do not all apply the concept as originally conceived. Newfoundland, India, Iran, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Burma, the Marquesas, as well as parts of Australia use half-hour deviations from standard time, and some nations, such as Nepal, and some provinces, such as the Chatham Islands, use quarter-hour deviations. Some countries, most notably China, use a single time zone, even though the extent of their territory far exceeds 15° of longitude. Before 1949 China used five time zones (see Time in China)."

So, that's my new thing learned for the day!

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