How Big is an Acre? Explained
One acre measures 43,560 square feet. An acre can be measured in any shape, from rectangles to circles, or even hexagons, and it can have any length and width so long as the total area of land is 43,560 square feet.
An acre is a unit of area commonly used for measuring land in the United States and United Kingdom.
Did you know?
During the Middle Ages, an acre was defined as the amount of land ploughable in one day by one man and an ox? Not very specific, then - especially if your ox is feeling particularly lethargic. Thankfully, these days the acre unit is more clearly defined.
Ox at the ready, let's take a look at the task at hand. Perhaps you're considering purchasing a new property attached to several acres of land and you're trying to visualise how big it is? Or, maybe you're studying for an exam and want to know how to convert between acres and square feet, square meters or hectares? Well, look no further. Let's start with the facts...
- Article sections
- What size is an acre?
- How large is an acre visually?
- How many acres are in a square mile?
- What is a commercial acre?
- Acres conversion calculator
- Interesting acre statistics
What size is an acre?
An acre can be measured in any shape, from rectangles to circles, or even hexagons. It can have any length and width so long as the total area of land is 43,560 square feet.
- 1 acre = 43,560 square feet
- 1 acre = 4046.86 square meters
- 1 acre = 4840 square yards
- 1 acre = 0.404686 hectares
- 1 acre = 1/640th of a square mile
As an example, your land could have a length of 208 feet and a width of 209 feet, giving a total area of 43,472 square feet, which would be just under 1 acre. The most common shape for an acre is 1 furlong by 1 chain, or 660 feet by 66 feet.
How large is an acre visually?
If you're struggling to picture how big an acre is, help is at hand:
To visualize an acre as a square, think of an area that's 208 feet long by 208 feet wide (43,560 square feet). If you're into sports, try picturing 60% of a soccer pitch, 75% of an American football field or 16 tennis courts in a 4x4 formation.
If all that doesn't help, think of a car park containing 150 cars parked in a square.
Football pitch measurements (acres and square feet)
- A soccer pitch commonly measures between 69,000 and 86,000 square feet (1.6 - 1.9 acres) (FIFA)
- An American football field commonly measures around 57,564 square feet (1.32 acres)
Anyone for tennis?
How many acres are in a square mile?
One square mile is equal to 640 acres. To calculate how many acres there are in your area of land, simply multiply your square mile figure by 640.
What is a commercial acre?
A visitor recently asked the question 'Why is a commercial acre different to a residential acre?', so let's address this now.
The commercial acre was invented by US real estate agencies for use in large cities and is a legal unit in some US states. It is said to be a standard acre unit with a deduction for alleyways, roads and sidewalks. The commercial acre is 82.6 percent of an international acre and you'll notice it's a rounded figure, for ease of calculation.
- 1 commercial acre = 36,000 square feet
- 1 commercial acre = 4000 square yards
- 1 commercial acre = 3342.8 square meters
U.S. land surveys
When surveying land in the United States, the primary, modern definition of an acre is 1/640th of a square mile. That is to say, there are 640 acres in a square mile or a "section".
Generally, for survey purposes, there are 36 sections in a township. A township is measured as a square with 6 miles on a side and a section is measured as a square with one mile on a side.
Of course, if you want an exact measurement conversion for land acreage then this handy conversion tool will help you...
Acres conversion calculator
If you want to convert between other units of area, take a look at our area converter.
Before we finish this article, here are some interesting acre facts for you to ponder on:
Interesting acre statistics
- The Amazon Rainforest measures approximately 1,344,000,000 acres. (2,100,000 square miles), but is decreasing at an ever-quickening rate. 1
- It has been reported that 2 acres of the Amazon Rainforest are being cleared every minute, to make way for farming land. 2
- According to the United States Census, the total land area of New York City measures 192,288 acres (300.45 square miles). By comparison, the area of Greater London measures 388,480 acres (607 square miles). 34
- The gardens at Buckingham Palace measure 39 acres and include a helicopter landing pad. 5
- The surface area of the moon measures approximately 9,383,748,198 acres (14,657,415 square miles). 6
- A single acre of wheat can be enough to produce around 3,000 loaves of bread (if baked properly)
- Approximately 100 acres of pizza are consumed in the United States every day. 3 billion pizzas are sold each year (350 slices every second). 7
Check out this guide that breaks down how much an acre costs, as land value and quality will vary based on location.
Questions or comments? Join in the discussion below. Alternatively, read our next article in which we look at how big a hectare is.
- Amazon rainforest. Wikipedia.
- 'Football pitch' of Amazon forest lost every minute. BBC.
- QuickFacts: New York city, New York. United States Census Bureau.
- Greater London. Britannica.
- Buckingham Palace Garden. Royal Collection Trust.
- Could Lunar land really be worth enough money to make a difference?. Space Settlement Institute.
- America's pizza obsession: By the numbers. The Week.
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