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The Panamericana (English Pan-American Highway , Spanish Carretera Panamericana and Ruta Panamericana ) is a system of expressways that - with a few gaps - connects Alaska with Tierra del Fuego, i.e. extends over the entire north-south extension of the American continent . The network covers around 48,000 km of expressway and its longest north-south connection is around 25,750 km long. At the Fifth International Conference of American States in 1923 the idea of ​​a single cross-continental expressway was born. theThe Carretera Panamericana Convention was finally signed on December 23, 1936 at the Inter-American Conference for the Consolidation of Peace in Buenos Aires .

The Panamericana near Ambato, Ecuador
Between Sullana and Talara , Peru
The Panamericana near Puerto De Lomas, Peru
The Panamericana at the famous scribblings of Nazca in Peru
This GMC Sierra drove the whole Panamericana from Deadhorse / Prudhoe Bay , Alaska, to Ushuaia , Tierra del Fuego , Argentina. Photo in front of the Torres del Paine , Patagonia, Chile.

The route is almost completely passable, only a 90 km long section between Yaviza in Panama and north-west Colombia , which is to lead through the isthmus of Darién , the so-called Tapón del Darién , has not yet been completed. The Isthmus of Darien is an area of ​​mountainous primeval forest with high biodiversity .

The planned completion of the section has many opponents, who put forward various reasons: The tropical rainforest and the way of life of the indigenous peoples there would be threatened; the drug trafficking from Colombia to North America and the spread of foot-and-mouth disease in South America would be promoted.

The Panamericana passes through many climatic zones , both dense jungle and high mountain passes. In addition, it crosses 14 to 19 different countries and is therefore far from standardized signage and usability. Parts of the road can only be driven on in the dry season , while others are dangerous to use all year round. The annual average temperature ranges from freezing point to over 25 ° C.

Overview of the course

Course of the Panamericana from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego (only the section from the Mexican-US border to Buenos Aires is official)

Historically, the Panamericana officially begins in Laredo , Texas , on the border of the United States to Mexico and goes towards Mexico City . Accordingly, no road in the US and Canada is officially part of the Panamericana network. Later, however, new parts of the US road network were named after the Panamericana: The section of Interstate Highway 35 that runs from Laredo to San Antonio is called the Pan Am Expressway and Interstate Highway 25 that runs from Las Cruces , New Mexico via Albuquerque to Wyoming is called in parts Pan-American Freeway because it forms the connection of a route from Mexico City to El Paso (Texas) .

For tourist purposes, the Alaska Highway is mostly included in the Panamericana system and as such from its southern end point Dawson Creek in British Columbia ( Canada ) over the west coast of the USA to San Diego ( Interstate 5 ) and to the border crossing Nogales in Arizona to Mexico- Drive through town. The following section in Mexico, described in detail below, also runs along the Pacific coast.

The section in Central America from Laredo opposite Nuevo Laredo ( Tamaulipas ) on the border between the United States and Mexico to the Panama Canal is called the Inter-American Highway , which is particularly popular with North American tourists . Its route from the Mexican border with Guatemala to the interruption of the Panamericana in Yaviza follows Carretera Centroamericana 1 (CA-1).

In South America the Panamericana is developing into a real system of roads. The most famous route is the Panamericana Pacífico Longitudinal from northwest Colombia to Tierra del Fuego. This in turn has two routes from Santiago de Chile : one to Quellón on the Chilean island of Chiloé ( Columbia – Lima – Santiago de Chile – Quellón ), where the Carretera Austral connects to Tierra del Fuego, and one to Buenos Aires (Argentina) and from there to Tierra del Fuego along the Atlantic coast ( Santiago de Chile - Buenos Aires - Tierra del Fuego ).

In Nazca (Peru), several intercontinental route sections ( transversales ) branch off from the coastal stretch . One can distinguish four parts:

Buenos Aires is another hub of the system. In addition to the routes to Santiago de Chile, Tierra del Fuego, La Paz and Asunción already mentioned, a section ( Litoral Sur ) leads via Montevideo (Uruguay) and Porto Alegre to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil ( Buenos Aires - Montevideo - Rio de) Janeiro ). This route crosses the one from Asunción to Paranaguá in Curitiba (Brazil).

The Bolivarian Road ( Carretera Bolivariana , also Carretera Marginal de la Selva ), which leads from the coast of Venezuela to Bogotá and meets the route along the Pacific coast in Cali (Colombia), is included in the Panamericana system.

In addition, there are other, partly advanced projects for roads from Peru and Bolivia through the Amazon lowlands to Brazil ( Transamazônica ), as well as for roads connecting Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo with Caracas in Venezuela. Its course has only been sketched here so far (see other sections of the route in Venezuela ).

The route in detail

North and Central America

Alaska (USA)

Alaska Highway map (red line)

Since no road officially belongs to the Panamericana in the United States, the following route initially outlines the Alaska Highway through Alaska and Canada . This begins north in Delta Junction and leads to Dawson Creek . To the north, the road from Delta Junction to Fairbanks ( Richardson Highway ) and from there to Circle ( Steese Highway ) is also included. In the south, Dawson Creek runs roads along the Pacific coast to the border with Mexico at Nogales (Arizona) , which are often used as such in tourist use of the Panamericana.


United States


Map of the Inter-American Highway (Project, 1933)

The original course of the Panamericana leads from Mexico City through the Mexican interior to the border crossing Nuevo Laredo ( Tamaulipas ) / Laredo (Texas) . Alternative routes follow Mexican expressways from Mexico City to Ciudad Juárez ( Chihuahua ) / El Paso (Texas) or to Piedras Negras ( Coahuila ) / Eagle Pass (Texas) , from Monterrey to Reynosa (Tamaulipas) / Pharr (Texas) and from Ciudad Victoria (Tamaulipas) to Matamoros (Taumaulipas) / Brownsville (Texas) .

The route described below follows the route that is popular with tourists in the USA along the Pacific coast via the Nogales (Arizona) / Nogales (Sonora) border crossing to Mexico City. The (in Mexico shorter) original course of Nuevo Laredo meets this in Monterrey (Nuevo León).


In Guatemala, the Panamericana is known as the Interamericana . The Central American highway marking is CA 1.

El Salvador

San Martín, El Salvador


The Panamericana (or Interamericana) passes the country in the extreme south, the most important cities Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula are connected via the CA-5 .


Costa Rica

In official documents and in everyday language use by the locals, the Panamericana is referred to as the Carretera Interamericana .


Colombia – Lima – Santiago de Chile – Quellón


If the planned route of the Panamericana through the isthmus of Darién from Yaviza to El Tigre near Guapá were actually implemented, the Panamericana would run through the Departamento de Chocó. Currently, however, about 110 km are missing, 58 km of which would be in Panamá and 53.5 km in Colombia. The route finishes at the time (2001) at a place called Lomas aisladas , 39 km from the turnoff from the highway from Medellin to Turbo removed, currently regarded as the course of the Panamericana. The road still to be built would have to run 20 km through marshland, cross the Atrato River on a 1.3 km long bridge and run a further 30 km to a point called Palo de Letras , which marks the border with Panamá. In addition, it would run through the Los Katíos National Park , a world heritage site . More information at Tapón del Darién .

Currently, the expressway from Medellín to Turbo on the Gulf of Darién (also Gulf of Urabá ) is the route of the Panamericana. It runs exclusively through that


Panamericana in Cashapamba , Pichincha , Ecuador

About 20 km south of Riobamba (near Cajabamba) the Panamericana divides and runs on two routes to Peru:

Old course through the Sierra:

Panamericana - in the Cordillera de los Andes, Ecuador, near Catacocha, approx. 2500 m altitude

New route to the coast:


Panamericana - Northern Peru near Pacasmayo
Panamericana in the Atacama Desert, southern Peru

Old course through the inland (from Macará )

New course on the Pacific coast (from Huaquillas )

From here on common course again

(→ Nazca – La Paz – Asunción and La Paz – Salta – Buenos Aires )


The Panamericana in Chile runs mainly on Ruta 5 .

Here the eastern part of the Panamericana branches off longitudinally towards Buenos Aires , the western part continues south.

In Puerto Montt the partly unpaved Carretera Austral Longitudinal joins, which is to be expanded to Punta Arenas and ultimately to Ushuaia on Tierra del Fuego. So far, Punta Arenas can only be reached by land via Argentina; see the section Santiago de Chile – Buenos Aires – Tierra del Fuego described below .

Santiago de Chile – Buenos Aires – Tierra del Fuego



(→ Buenos Aires – Asunción )
(→ Buenos Aires – Montevideo – Rio de Janeiro )


The Strait of Magellan separates the South American continent from Tierra del Fuego . It is not possible to cross it by bridge. One way over is the ferry from the lighthouse Punta Delgada to Bahía Azul via the so-called Primera Angostura (Eng. First narrow ). Punta Delgada can be reached by road from Río Gallegos. A road leads from Bahía Azul via Manantiales to the Argentine side of Tierra del Fuego.


Nazca – La Paz – Asunción



At Caracollo different parts of the Panamericana cross. To the south the course La Paz – Salta – Buenos Aires runs , to the west you reach Arica in Chile. The course described below is that after Paranaguá in Brazil.

(From Santa Cruz there is a planned connection to the east via the border town of Puerto Suárez or Corumbá in Brazil to São Paulo.) To the south follows:


From here a section leads to Buenos Aires ( Buenos Aires – Asunción ) and another to Paranaguá in Brazil ( Asunción – Paranaguá )

La Paz-Salta-Buenos Aires



(In Salta this section crosses with a road that connects Antofagasta in Chile with Resistencia on the section Buenos Aires – Asunción ).

Buenos Aires – Asunción



In Asunción, the section connects to Paranaguá . The section Nazca – La Paz – Asunción also ends here.

Asunción – Paranaguá



Buenos Aires – Montevideo – Rio de Janeiro



(Ferries also operate between Buenos Aires and Colonia and between Buenos Aires and Montevideo)

From Montevideo through the inland (north) to Porto Alegre:

From Montevideo via the coast (east) to Porto Alegre:


Carretera Bolivariana


In 1954, the completion of the Carretera Panamericana was celebrated in the port city of La Guaira , 35 km north of Caracas . La Guaira is therefore still considered to be the starting point of the Panamericana. The course outlined here begins with the now connected city Güiria on the Gulf of Paria, further west . The section from Caracas to San Antonio del Táchira is called Carretera Trasandina (also Trocal 7 ) in Venezuela .


Transamazônica and Transoceánica

A (planned) connecting road, the Transamazônica , runs from Barcelona on the Carretera Bolivariana to the south via Ciudad Bolívar ( state of Bolívar , Venezuela), which in Brazil via Boa Vista ( Brazilian state of Roraima ) and Manaus ( Brazilian state of Amazonas ) to the Brazilian capital Brasília and from there to the port city of Santos (east) or from Manaus via Porto Velho ( state of Rondônia ) and Rio Branco ( state of Acre ) to La Paz in Bolivia and from there to Lima . The resulting direct road connection from Lima on the Peruvian Pacific coast via La Paz in the Bolivian Andean highlands to Santos on the Brazilian Atlantic coast is called Transoceánica . However, the part from Manaus to Porto Velho along the Brazilian-Bolivian border has largely fallen into disrepair after it was largely completed in the 1980s. The connection on the Bolivian side is not completed, but under construction.

From Boa Vista there are or were planned to Georgetown in Guyana , Paramaribo in Suriname and Cayenne in French Guiana and via Fortaleza and Salvador on the coast to Rio de Janeiro. Currently, however, the road from Boa Vista via El Dorado to Ciudad Guayana in Venezuela and from there to Ciudad Bolívar and Barcelona is the only road connecting Brazil with its northern neighbors.

However, a road is under construction between Venezuela and Guayana, which branches south of Tumeremo (between Ciudad Guayana and El Dorado) from the connecting road to Boa Vista to the east and is supposed to lead via Bártica and Apura in Guayana to Paramaribo in Suriname. From Linden there would then also be a connection to Georgetown . She is said to have been given the name Escudo Guayanés .

Further sections of the route in Venezuela

From Ciudad Bolívar a route leads west through the state of Bolívar to Puerto Ayacucho in the Venezuelan state of Amazonas . A road to Villavicencio in Colombia is planned from here .

From Caracas to the south, a route leads through the states of Miranda and Aragua to San Juan de los Morros , the capital of the state of Guárico . In San Fernando de Apure , the capital of the state of Apure , the part that was developed as an expressway probably ends. But there are road connections to Colombia: one leads west via El Amparo de Apure to San Cristobal and Cúcuta, the other south to Puerto Páez or Puerto Carreño on the Colombian side and from there to Villavicencio ( see below ).

From Valencia to San Cristobal there is an alternative route section that runs via San Carlos in the state of Cojedes , Guanare in the state of Portuguesa and Barinas in the state of Barinas .

From Valencia another section runs north to the Caribbean coast in the state of Falcón to Coro and from there to the state of Zulia over the bridge opened in 1962 over Lake Maracaibo to Maracaibo . From there you can go south to San Cristobal. To the west one arrives via Paraguaypoa in the Colombian department La Guajira and its capital Riohacha . The route continues to Santa Marta in the Magdalena department . From there see below .

Further sections of the route in Colombia

The section from Maracaibo (Venezuela) to Santa Marta ( Departamento del Magdalena ) leads south through the departments Cesar and Norte de Santander to Bucaramanga and from there on the regularly described section to Bogotá. On the other hand, there is a section along the coast via Barranquilla ( Departamento del Atlántico ) to Cartagena de las Indias ( Departamento de Bolívar ). From there the road leads inland via Sincelejo ( Departamento de Sucre ) and through the Departamentos Córdoba and Antioquia to Medellín on the section Colombia-Lima-Santiago de Chile-Puerto Montt .

From Bogotá, three routes to Venezuela are planned or implemented via Villavicencio ( Departamento del Meta ). One leads northeast via Yopal ( Departamento de Casanare ) and Arauca ( Departamento de Arauca ) to El Amparo de Apure in the Venezuelan state of Apure , the other through the departments of Meta and Vichada to Puerto Páez in Apure and Puerto Ayacucho in the state of Amazonas . Nothing can be said here about the state of the three sections. All cross the Amazon lowlands. At least the Villavicencio – Puerto Ayacucho line is unlikely to be completed.


The Carrera Panamericana , a car race, took place on parts of the Panamericana in Mexico in the 1950s .

In the 1950s, the actor Bud Spencer was involved in the construction of the Panamericana as a foreman for two years.

In 1958, the first part of the documentary Traumstrasse der Welt by German producer and director Hans Domnick was released . The second part followed in 1962. The film shows selected locations along the route of the Panamericana. In 1968 the internationally acclaimed two-part film was released again in a shortened version under the title Panamericana - Traumstrasse der Welt .

In 1997/98 Spiegel TV produced in coproduction with the NZZ under the direction of author Thomas Schaefer a 20-part documentary of 25 minutes each for German and Swiss television. So far, SF2 has only shown once from January 4, 1998, every 4 weeks, all 20 episodes, which were also available for sale for a short time in Switzerland on 10 VHS cassettes. This documentary series also started on German television on January 4, 1998 on VOX , but the series was cut to 9 episodes of 31–42 minutes. The first broadcast took place in 3 blocks of 3 episodes each. The last episode aired on December 27, 1999.

In 2010 Severin Frei shot the film Panamericana (film) in South America with his brother Jonas and his friend Thomas Rickenmann . The film was released in German cinemas in 2014. In the criticism, however, it was criticized that the documentation lacks in particular "research beyond the tourist field".


  • Robert Jacobi: America lengthways . Malik National Geographic, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-492-40342-9 .
  • Wolfgang R. Weber: Panamericana. Dream roads between Alaska and Tierra del Fuego . Bruckmann, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-7654-5539-1 .

Web links

Commons : Pan-American Highway  - Album containing pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ( Page no longer available , search in web archives: Iniciativa para la Integración de la Infraestructura Regional Suramericana (IIRSA) (Spanish; PDF; 271 kB) )@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /
  2. Silvia Hallensleben: Review of the film Panamericana (2010). epd film, accessed on November 3, 2014 .