Would you describe Japan as a long country "from south to north", or "from north to south"? I suspect that "from north to south" is more common, and Google ngram agrees, but is this is the case?
- Anybody can ask a question
- Anybody can answer
- The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
The "natural" order in such pairs is:
and not the other way.
From north to south sounds more natural to my ears. In fact, when I checked the Ngram, I was a bit surprised to find so many instances of from south to north. However, when I investigated further, I realized why: sometimes, you need to say south to north. For example, when a river flows from south to north, that's the easiest way to describe the flow of the river. Also, many of the hits were simply orienting the reader, this this one:
The same would be true when describing a south-to-north migration, or shipping route, or moutain ascent.
So, I'd guess that from north to south would be more common when you can use either one:
Sometimes, however, you don't have the liberty to choose the order of the directions:
That might explain why the gulf in the Ngram between north and south and south and north is much wider than the gap between north to south and south to north:
What sort of evidence are you looking for?
From the British National Corpus :
So that corpus seems to agree with your intuition.