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date: 27 September 2023

The Pan American Highwaylocked

The Pan American Highwaylocked

  • Eric RutkowEric RutkowUniversity of Central Florida


The Pan American Highway, a successor project to the unfinished Pan American Railway, originated as an interwar initiative among member nations in the Pan American Union and is generally considered to comprise the longest road in the world. The highway network’s longitudinal through-route—complete save for the sixty-mile “Darien Gap” between Panama and Colombia—crosses eleven countries and, with the inclusion of its unofficial northernmost leg, covers more than 12,500 miles in total, from Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay to South America’s Tierra del Fuego. Additional spur roads in the pan-American network radiate to the capitals of other South American nations, adding an additional four thousand miles to the system. While the nearly finished Pan American Highway never achieved the hoped-for goal of linking the Americas (and still faces constant maintenance challenges), it stands as a concrete symbol of pan-Americanism and a “trunk line” for the Western Hemisphere, an overland corridor for trade, tourism, cultural exchange, and migration throughout the region.


  • History of Central America
  • 1910–1945
  • 1945–1991
  • Diplomatic History
  • Environmental History
  • International History

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