Pan American Highway
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Pan American Highway
a network of highways in Latin America, linking most of the countries of South and Central America with the USA. Its length is 33,600 km. The decision to build the Pan American Highway was reached at the Fifth Pan American Conference, held in Chile in 1923.
Starting from Nuevo Laredo at the US-Mexican border, the highway passes through several large Mexican cities, including Monterrey, Mexico City, and Oaxaca, and through the capitals of all the Central American states with the exception of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to which a branch leads from the main highway. As of 1975, two sections of the Pan American Highway have not been completed because of the roughness of the terrain: a 320-km section in Panama and an 80-km section in Colombia. In Colombia the highway runs through the valleys of the Andes and through the Cauca Valley, then along an intramontane plateau through Quito and Cuenca in Ecuador and along the Pacific coast to Lima, the capital of Peru. A section of the highway links Bogotá, Colombia, with Caracas, Venezuela.
The highway branches south of Lima. One branch goes to Buenos Aires, Argentina, through Arequipa, Peru, and La Paz, Bolivia. The other branch goes to Santiago, Chile, and then turns east and runs through the Uspallata Pass and the cities of Mendoza and Mercedes to Buenos Aires. From Rosario the highway again divides into two branches, one of which goes to Córdoba and San Miguel de Tucumán and then to Bolivia; the other branch goes to Asunción, Paraguay. From Buenos Aires, freight and passengers are ferried to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay, from which point one route passes through the cities of Mercedes, Paysandú, and Salto to the Brazilian border, and the other to Montevideo and then to Melo, Acegua, and Rio de Janeiro.
The Pan American Highway is of enormous strategic importance, especially in the regions adjacent to the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean in Central America and northeastern Colombia. The USA is therefore hastening completion of the highway and has granted a loan of $100 million to Panama and Colombia. The Pan American Highway is very important for tourism and for the development of vast territories in tropical regions that are rich in natural resources. It is connected to the Transamazon Road (Rio de Janeiro-Bogotá), which passes through the least developed regions in the Amazon Basin. One of the major branches of the Pan American Highway, the Carretera Bolivariana Marginal de la Selva, or Bolivarian Forest Edge Highway, which will pass through Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia, is in the planning stages.