The Longest Roads in the World

February 6, 2024

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Long road stretching into the distance

The oldest known paved road was constructed in Egypt between 2600 and 2200 BC. However, rudimentary roads date back much further than this, with some believing that the very first roads began with humans creating pathways by following animal trails.

Today, almost 40 million miles of paved and unpaved roads exist to transport food, goods, equipment, and people all over the world. But what are the top 10 longest roads in the world? Keep reading to find out.

1. Pan-American Highway

Length: 30,000 km | 19,000 miles
From: Prudhoe Bay, United States
To: Puerto Montt or Quellón, Chile and Ushuaia, Argentina
Countries: United States, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina

The world’s longest road is the Pan-American Highway, which stretches for 30,000 kilometers from Prudhoe Bay in Alaska through the entire Americas to Quellón in Chile and Ushuaia in Argentina.

The initial proposal in 1923 was to connect North, Central, and South America via a railroad, but with an increasing number of automobiles and other vehicles transporting passengers and goods, it was decided two years later that a highway would be constructed instead. In 1937, the countries signed the Convention on the Pan-American Highway, and construction began.

Passing through 14 countries on two continents, the landscape and climate along the Pan-American Highway is extremely diverse, ranging from arid deserts and barren tundra to dense jungles and rugged mountains. Some areas of the road are only travelable during the dry season, and one stretch — the Darién Gap, from Turbo in Colombia to Yaviza in Panama — cannot be passed by vehicle. The only way to travel this 66-mile stretch of marshland is by hiking. However, as one of the rainiest areas on the planet, this is both difficult and dangerous. A safer way to travel from Colombia to Panama is by boat.

2. Asian Highway 1

Length: 20,557 km | 12,774 miles
From: Kapıkule, Turkey
To: Tokyo, Japan
Countries: Japan, South Korea, North Korea, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey

Stretching for more than 20,500 kilometers, the second-longest highway in the world is Asian Highway 1.

The road forms part of the Asian Highway Network — a network of highways connecting 32 countries across Asia. It is one of five Asian Highway Network roads to appear on this list.

Asian Highway 1 crosses South Asia, beginning in Tokyo in Japan and ending in Istanbul in Turkey. Along the way, it passes through the countries of South Korea, North Korea, China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran before joining the Trans-European Motorway E80, which continues all the way to Portugal.

3. Highway 1

Length: 14,500 km | 9,000 mile
From: Loop road
To: Loop road
Countries: Australia

The third-longest road in the world is Australia’s Highway 1, measuring 14,500 kilometers in length. 

Also known as the “Big Lap”, the road runs around the entire circumference of the continent, making it the world’s longest national highway. Passing through the state capitals of Sydney, Brisbane, Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, and Hobart, it connects seven of Australia’s eight states. The exception is the Australian Capital Territory, of which Canberra is the capital. 

Highway 1 was created in 1955 to link up a system of local and national roads that already existed, and today, an estimated one million people use the road on a daily basis.

From multi-lane freeways in cities like Sydney and Melbourne to single-lane roads in rural areas like northern Queensland, Highway 1’s conditions are varied. While there are some beautiful stretches — such as the Grand Pacific Drive, which is considered to be one of the world’s most scenic drives — huge parts of Highway 1 are extremely remote, and vast distances between destinations, as well as limited rest areas, can cause driver fatigue, which has led to the road being called a “death trap”.

4. Asian Highway 2

Length: 13,177 km | 8,188 miles
From: Denpasar, Indonesia
To: Khosravi, Iran
Countries: Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Iran

With a length of nearly 13,200 kilometers, Asian Highway 2 is the world’s fourth-longest road.

Like Asian Highway 1, it forms part of the Asian Highway Network, connecting the countries of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Iran. Some of the large cities the road passes through include its starting point of Denpasar, then Jakarta, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Mandalay, Imphal, Dhaka, Narayangarh, Delhi, Lahore and Khosravi where it ends.

5. Trans-Siberian Highway

Length: 11,000 km | 6,800 miles
From: St. Petersburg, Russia
To: Vladivostok, Russia
Countries: Russia

Measuring 11,000 kilometers, Russia’s Trans-Siberian Highway is the fifth-longest road in the world.

Following the route of the famous Trans-Siberian Railway, the road connects Vladivostok to Moscow, then heads north to St. Petersburg.

Some parts of the Trans-Siberian Highway were built before the railroads, having been constructed by prison inmates around the 1870s. In 2010, roadwork was completed on the section between Chita and Khabarovsk, which, historically, was problematic due to potholes, mud, marsh, sand, gravel, and rocks. The road became fully paved in 2015, yet this hasn’t made it an easy route to travel. As well as passing through the most remote regions of Siberia, harsh weather conditions make it one of the most challenging roads on this list. Those who do brave it, though, are rewarded with scenic views of lush green forests, soaring mountains, and glittering lakes.

6. Asian Highway 6

Length: 10,475 km | 6,509 miles
From: Busan, South Korea
To: Belarusian border, Russia
Countries: South Korea, North Korea, Russia, China, Kazakhstan

Sixth on the list of the world’s longest roads is Asian Highway 6, which stretches for almost 10,500 kilometers.

Another road that forms part of the Asian Highway Network, it passes through the Asian countries of South Korea, North Korea, Russia, China, and Kazakhstan as it makes its way from Busan in South Korea to the Belarusian border in Russia.

Much of the stretch that travels through Russia coincides with the slightly longer Trans-Siberian Highway. 

7. Asian Highway 5

Length: 10,380 km | 6,450 miles
From: Shanghai, China
To: Bulgarian border, Turkey
Countries: China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey

Asian Highway 5 is almost 10,400 kilometers long, putting it seventh on the world’s longest roads list. 

Again, it makes up part of the Asian Highway Network, but it is 95 kilometers shorter than Asian Highway 6. This means it is the fourth-longest of the 88 routes that form the network.

Running from east to west, it passes through the countries of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey.

8. National Highway 219

Length: 10,000 km | 6,200 miles
From: Kom-Kanas, China
To: Dongxing, China
Countries: China

At 10,000 kilometers long, China’s National Highway 219 is the eighth-longest road in the world.

From Kom-Kanas, in Xinjiang to Dongxing in Guangxi, it runs along the whole southern and western border of China.

Construction of National Highway 219 began in 1955, and it is ongoing. The road is being upgraded and extended as part of the Chinese Ministry of Transport’s plans to expand the country’s highway network significantly. Once completed, it will surpass Australia’s Highway 1 as the longest national highway.

The Chinese government has started to promote tourism along National Highway 219, but while the scenery in some stretches is breathtaking, it also has some of the world’s most inhospitable terrain.  Domar township, for example, is one of the bleakest and most isolated outposts of the People’s Liberation Army, and there is a dangerous 5,050-meter-high pass near the Xinjiang border.

9. Asian Highway 9

Length: 10,000 km | 6,200 mi 
From: St. Petersburg, Russia
To: Lianyungang, China
Countries: Russia, Kazakhstan, China

The world’s ninth-longest road is Asian Highway 9, again with a length of 10,000 kilometers.

The final Asian Highway Network road to feature on this list, it passes through the cities of St. Petersburg, Moscow, Ulyanovsk, Toliatti, Samara, and Orenburg in Russia; the cities of Aktobe, Kyzylorda, Shymkent, Taraz, and Almaty in Kazakhstan; and the cities of Khorgas, Urumqi, and Lianyungang in China.

10. National Highway 331

Length: 9,200 km | 5,700 mi
From: Dandong, China
To: Altay, China

The final road to appear on this list is National Highway 331, which — once fully completed — will stretch for 9,200 kilometers across China.

It runs from Dandong in Liaoning to Altay in Xinjiang, along the northern Chinese border. 

Also known as the “King of Highways” by people living in North China, it passes through all of the region’s provinces and ports. People traveling the route can enjoy its diverse and beautiful scenery, which includes views of numerous forests, lush grasslands, and the Gobi Desert.

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