The world’s biggest road networks

The US boasts the world's largest road network, followed by China and India, the world's two most populous countries. Roadtraffic-technology.com profiles the ten biggest road networks in the world based on total road length.


US roads

United States of America

The US road network exceeds 6.58 million kilometres in total length, making it the world's longest and biggest road network. It comprises approximately 4.3 million kilometres of paved roads including 76,334km of expressways and 2.28 million kilometres of unpaved roads. The country's road network includes many of the world's longest highways.

"The US road network is the world's longest and biggest road network."

The country's vast highway network consists of three categories of roads, namely the interstate highways (Interstates), the US numbered highways (US Routes), and the state highways. The Interstate 90 (I-90), which connects Seattle, Washington, Boston and Massachusetts, spans over 4,990km and is the longest Interstate Highway in the country.

Route 20 (US 20), an east-west highway measuring 5,415km in length, is the longest single road in the country and one of the world's longest highways.

China

China has the world's second biggest road network, exceeding 4.24 million kilometres (as of 2012 data). National highways and provincial highways respectively comprise 4% and 7% of the Chinese road network. The country's expressway network, which extends over 96,000km, is the world biggest network of this type.

The national-level expressway system of China, known as the National Trunk Highway System (NTHS), comprises seven radial expressways from the capital city Beijing, nine north-south expressways, and 18 east-west expressways. The 5,700km-long China National Highway 010 (Tongsan Expressway) is one of the ten longest highways in the world.

The Chinese road network has witnessed rapid development in the last decade and the trend is set to continue in future. The country's 2030 Road Master Plan envisages 5.8 million kilometres of total road network including 400,000km of national highways and over 180,000km of expressways.

India

India's road network, which spanned over 4.1 million kilometres by 2012, ranks as the third biggest in the world. The road network is the key transport infrastructure, accounting for 65% of freight and 80% of total passenger traffic in the country.

"India's road network accounts for 65% of freight and 80% of total passenger traffic in the country."

The Indian road network comprises over 79,000km of national highways and express highways, over 1.5 million kilometres of state highways and approximately 4.4 million kilometres of district and village roads. National highways make up slightly less than 2% of the road network, but account for about 40% of total road traffic.

The Golden Quadrilateral highway network which spans 5,846km and connects Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata - the four major Indian cities - is one of the biggest highway networks in the world.

The National Highway 44 or NH 44 (previously named NH 7), a 2,369km-long north-south national highway running through the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, is the country's single longest national highway.

Brazil

The Brazilian road network, with a total length of approximately 1.6 million kilometres, is the fourth biggest road network in the world. The road network operated under federal jurisdiction covers 74,000km in length, while state and municipal jurisdiction roads cover 242,000km and 1.2 million kilometres respectively.

The majority of Brazilian roads are unpaved, and paved roads constitute just 13% of the total road network. The country has 12 federal highways and 19 state highways. Around 83% of the federal highways and 50% of the state highways are paved, whereas most municipal roads are unpaved.

The BR-101 highway, spanning 4,800km in length, is the longest federal highway in the country, connecting 12 state capitals. The BR-116, a major north-south federal highway, is the second longest measuring 4,385km.

Russia

The Russian road network covers a total length of more than 1.28 million kilometres. The network spanned 927,721km of paved roads including 39,143km of expressways and 355,666km of unpaved roads at the end of 2012.

The country's highway network comprises 50,000km of federal highways and 527.200km of regional public highways. The Trans-Siberian Highway comprised of seven federal highways and the stretch from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok is one of the longest highways in the world.

The Trans-Siberian Highway runs a total length of 11,000km, coincides with European route E30, and passes through Kazakhstan. The longest section of the highway is the Russian route M58 or the Amur Federal Highway that runs 2,100km from Chita to Khabarovsk.

Japan

The Japanese road network covers 1.21 million kilometres, a remarkable figure for an island nation. Paved roads constitute 973,000km of the network, whereas the remaining 237,000km of roads are unpaved.

"The Japanese road network covers 1.21 million kilometres."

The Japanese road network includes 7,920km of national expressways, 55,114km of national highways, and 129,334km of provincial highways. The remaining 84% of the road network is made up of municipal roads.

The national expressway network provides an uninterrupted link between Aomori Prefecture and Kagoshima Prefecture. The 679.5km Tohoku Expressway, which links the Tohoku region with the Kanto region as well as the greater Tokyo urban area, is the longest national expressway in the country. The 743.6km National Route 4 that connects Tokyo and Aomori is the longest highway in the country.

Canada

The Canadian road network, which covered 1.04 million kilometres as of 2011, is the world's seventh biggest network. The country's paved roads measure 415,600km, while unpaved roads constitute approximately 626,700km.

The national highway system includes over 38,000km of important national and regional highways. Most of the Canadian highway network is maintained under provincial jurisdiction.

The Trans-Canada Highway, a highway system passing through all ten provinces of Canada, is the only highway network under the federal jurisdiction. The 8,030km-long highway is among the five longest highways in the world.

France

France's 1.02 million kilometre road network is the eighth biggest in the world, and comprises motorways (Autoroutes), national trunk roads (Routes Nationales), and local roads (Routes Départementales).

The motorways, trunk roads and local roads in the country are designated 'A', 'N' and 'D' followed by numbers. The country's Autoroute system, largely consisting of toll roads, measures over 11,400km, making it one of the biggest European motorway networks.

The 549km-long A10 motorway, also known as L'Aquitaine, that links Paris and Bordeaux, is the longest motorway in France. The A89 motorway, stretching from Bordeaux to Clermont-Ferrand and beyond, is the second longest motorway in the country.

Australia

Australia has the world's ninth biggest road network, measuring over 823,000km in length and constituting 356,000km of paved roads and over 466,000km of unpaved roads. The network comprises expressways, national highways and local roads.

"Australia's Highway 1 is the world's longest national highway."

The vast national highway network passes through all Australian states. Highway 1, a network of highways circumnavigating the Australian continent with a total length of around 14,500km, is the world's longest national highway.

Major highways include the Hume Highway linking Sydney and Melbourne, the Pacific Highway linking Sydney and Brisbane, the Princes Highway linking Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, and the Eyre Highway that links Adelaide and Perth.

Spain

The Spanish road network, excluding non-paved roads, spans a total length of over 683,000km and is the tenth biggest network in the world. It consists of 16,205km of expressways, 25,733km of national highways and over 71,000km of regional highways.

The Spanish motorway network is the world's fifth biggest following China, the US, Russia and Canada. The motorways in Spain are known as autopistas and autovías. The country had 2,991km of toll highways and 2,500km of toll motorways as of 2011, managed by concessionaires.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) approved a loan of €465m ($630m) for Spain in December 2013 to construct several new bypasses and access roads as well as to upgrade and widen existing national roads.