Pan-American Highway

The Pan-American Highway (Portuguese: Rodovia / Auto-estrada Pan-americana, Spanish: Autopista / Carretera / Ruta Panamericana) is a network of roads measuring about 47,958 kilometres (29,800 mi) in total length. Except for an 159 kilometres (99 mi) rainforest break, called the Darién Gap, the road links the mainland nations of the Americas in a connected highway system. According to Guinness World Records, the Pan-American Highway is the world's longest "motorable road". However, because of the Darién Gap, it is not possible to cross between South America and Central America by traditional motor vehicle.

The Pan-American Highway system is mostly complete and extends from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, in North America to the lower reaches of South America. Several highway termini are claimed to exist, including the cities of Puerto Montt and Quellón in Chile and Ushuaia in Argentina. No comprehensive route is officially defined in Canada and the United States, though several highways in the U.S. are called "Pan-American".

The Pan-American Highway passes through many diverse climates and ecological types, from dense jungles, to arid deserts, to cold mountain passes. Since the highway passes through many countries, it is far from uniform. Some stretches of the highway are passable only during the dry season, and in many regions driving is occasionally hazardous.

Famous sections of the Pan-American Highway include the Alaska Highway and the Inter-American Highway (the section between the United States and the Panama Canal). Both of these sections were built during World War II as a means of supply of remote areas without danger of attack by U-boats.

Jake Silverstein, writing in 2006, described the Pan-American Highway as "a system so vast, so incomplete, and so incomprehensible it is not so much a road as it is the idea of Pan-Americanism itself…"

Read more about Pan-American Highway:  Pan-American Highway System Overview, Darién Gap, Development and Completion, Northern Section of The Pan-American Highway, Southern Section of The Pan-American Highway, The West Indies Section, Art and Culture, Photo Gallery

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