Which are the longest roads in the world? To get a better perspective on the list of incredibly long roads we are about to present, it’s worth considering the longest road in Italy: the SS16 Adriatica. This major arterial route, which is a national road, crosses 6 regions: the Veneto, Emilia Romagna, the Marche, Abruzzo, Molise and Puglia, from Padua to Otranto, winding along for about 1,000 kilometres. Much of the route runs between the cities on the Adriatic coast, hence the name ‘Adriatica’. So it is astonishing to think that the longest roads in the world are 5, 10, 20 or even 30 times longer than the already very long SS16. Let’s take a look at the list of the top 10 longest roads in the world.
The top 10 longest roads in the world
The list of the longest roads in the world features routes that make their way across several countries and continents:
1. The Pan-American Highway, 25,750 kilometres, Chile – Alaska
2. AH1, 20,500 kilometres, Japan – Turkey
3. Highway 1, 14,500 kilometres, Australia
4. The Trans-Siberian Highway, 11,000 kilometres, Russia
5. The Trans-Canada Highway, 8,030 kilometres, Canada
6. The Golden Quadrilateral, 5,846 kilometres, India
7. RN10, 5,700 kilometres, China
8. Route 20, 5,415 kilometres, United States
9. Route 6, 5,158 kilometres, United States
10. Interstate 90, 4,990 kilometres, United States
The longest road in the world: the Pan-American Highway
The total length of the Pan-American Highway is a matter of some disagreement, with wide variations in the figures. Some claim that the Pan-American Highway is 48,000 kilometres long, while others say it is 25,000 kilometres. It is no simple matter to determine the exact length of this very long road, for two reasons: firstly, the fact that it covers two continents makes it difficult to measure every stretch of it; secondly, different stretches of road are included in the calculation each time. Some only measure the actual route of the Pan-American Highway itself, while others include the parts linking the Pan-American Highway with some of the most important cities in South America.
Generally speaking, one can say that if you measure only the actual Pan-American Highway, the total length is 25,750 kilometres; however, if all the unofficial branch routes are also included in the calculation, it comes to a total length of about 45,000 kilometres. At any rate, rather than just one road, we are really dealing with an integrated network of arterial roads which mainly run along the Pacific coast of the two American continents.
The complete (although not entirely) Pan-American Highway extends from Alaska to Chile, thus crossing Canada, the United States, Mexico, the Central American states, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Argentina, with connections to Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. As we suggested above, this exceptionally long road is almost but not quite complete: there remains a gap of just 87 kilometres, between Panama and Colombia, covered by extremely dense, wild forest that is largely still unexplored. The only practicable way to get around this obstacle is by sea, sailing between Turbo in Colombia and Puerto Obaldía in Panama.
In view of its great length, the Pan-American Highway is far from uniform. It crosses through some very diverse climate zones, and the various tracts are very different in appearance. It should also be pointed out that the changes in national administrations along its route have obvious consequences for the quality of the road. Furthermore, it can be dangerous to travel along some stretches of the road as a result of the guerrilla warfare taking place in the vicinity, as well as possible extreme weather events during the rainy season.
Asian Highway 1
Stretching for 20,557 kilometres, the AH1 is the second longest road in the world after the Pan-American Highway. The road starts in Tokyo, Japan, and winds through South Korea, North Korea, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey, terminating in Istanbul. So this incredibly long road crosses the whole of southern Asia, in effect connecting Japan with the European road network.
Highway 1 Australia
Some lists of the longest roads in the world don’t include the Asian Highway 1, which would make Australia’s Highway 1 the second longest road in the world. This 14,500 kilometre-long road runs around the entire continent, thus linking all the principal cities in Australia with the exception of Canberra. It is the longest national highway in the world, the top two longest roads being multinational road systems. It is estimated that this road is used by over a million people every day. Highway 1 was created in 1955, linking up an already existing system of national and local roads.
Less famous than the Trans-Siberian Railway, the Trans-Siberian Highway stretches for 11,000 kilometres and links European Russia with the far east of the country, crossing the most remote regions of Siberia. This road makes it possible to travel from Moscow to Vladivostok, following the route of the famous railway, in fact.
Now let’s look at the fifth longest road in the world, the Trans-Canada Highway. This is a system of highways that links the 10 provinces of Canada, running between east and west. The main route extends for a total of 8,030 kilometres; added to this are the kilometres covered by the various branches. The TCH was opened in 1962, but the entire road network was not completed until 10 years later in 1971.
The layout of this road network means that it is not easy to identify the actual start of the road. However, on the Atlantic side, the city of St. John’s on the island of Newfoundland has christened the TCH stretch passing through its centre as “Mile One”, while the end of the Trans-Canada Highway is marked by a monument erected in the city of Victoria.