Friday 25 June 2021

The Inca Roads: The “Original” Pan-American Highway

Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System, © Proyecto QÑ-Bolivia
Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System, © Proyecto QÑ-Bolivia

The Pan-American Highway  Spanish: Ruta Panamericana) is a network of roads measuring about 48,000 kilometres (30,000 mi) in total length, except for a rainforest break of approximately 100 km (60 mi), called the Darién Gap, the road links almost all of the mainland nations of the Americas in a connected highway system.

640px-PanAmericanHwyIn Costa Rica, the Pan-American is known as the Interamericana, split into two parts: Ruta 1 from the Nicaragua border to San José, and Ruta 2, from San José to the Panama border.

- Advertisement -

The Northern Pan-American Highway travels through 9 countries:

  •     Canada (unofficial)
  •     United States (interstate system official)
  •     Mexico
  •     Guatemala
  •     El Salvador
  •     Honduras
  •     Nicaragua
  •     Costa Rica
  •     Panama

The Southern Pan-American Highway travels through 9 countries:

  •     Suriname
  •     Guyana
  •     Brazil
  •     Venezuela
  •     Colombia
  •     Ecuador
  •     Peru
  •     Chile
  •     Argentina

Important spurs also lead into Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay.

[su_pullquote class=”H2″]Jake Silverstein, writing in 2006, described the Pan-American Highway as “a system so vast, so incomplete, and so incomprehensible it is not so much a road as it is the idea of Pan-Americanism itself”[/su_pullquote]According to Guinness World Records, the Pan-American Highway is the world’s longest “motorable road”. However, because of the Darién Gap, it is not possible to cross between South America and Central America by traditional motor vehicle.

- Advertisement -

However, thousands of years before the asphalted Pan-American Highway of today a much slower and narrower, highway connected parts of western South America. That road system, now known as the Inca Roads, actually had been started more than a 1,000 years before the short-lived Inca Empire.

The road, called the Qhapaq Ñan (Andean Road System) in Quechua, connects together parts of present-day Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and a corner of Colombia. The Incas invaded a bit of present-day Colombia near the Ecuadorian border just before their empire collapsed with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores in 1533.

The Inca roads are something of an engineering marvel for their day, with reinforced walls, paving in many parts and drainage systems. They didn’t need to be smooth, since the Incas didn’t have wheeled vehicles. (But, paradoxically, they did make wheeled toys for their kids). One of the road’s rope bridges, the Qeswachaka, originally built by the Incas, still survives near Cuzco, Peru. Locals tear it down and rebuild it every year.

Road system of the Inca Empire
Road system of the Inca Empire

The network was based on two north-south roads with numerous branches. The best known portion of the road system is the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Part of the road network was built by cultures that precede the Inca Empire, notably the Wari culture. During the Spanish colonial era, parts of the road system were given the status of Camino Real.

The eastern route ran high in the puna grasslands and mountain valleys from Quito, Ecuador to Mendoza, Argentina. The western route followed the coastal plain not including in coastal deserts where it hugged the foothills. More than twenty routes ran over the western mountains, while others traversed the eastern cordillera in the mountains and lowlands. Some of these roads reach heights of over 5,000 metres (16,000 ft) above sea level. The trails connected the regions of the Inca empire from the northern provincial capital in Quito, Ecuador past the modern city of Santiago, Chile in the south. The Inca road system linked together about 40,000 kilometres (25,000 mi) of roadway[1] and provided access to over 3,000,000 square kilometres (1,200,000 sq mi) of territory.

- Advertisement -

Situated between 500 to 800 metres (1,600 to 2,600 ft) above sea level, this monumental road, which could reach 20 metres (66 ft) in width, connected populated areas, administrative centres, agricultural and mining zones as well as ceremonial centres and sacred spaces.

Although the Inca roads varied greatly in scale, construction, and appearance, for the most part they varied between about 1 to 4 metres (3.3 to 13.1 ft) in width.

The Inca used the road system for a variety of purposes. Not only did the road simply provide transportation for people who were traveling through the empire, the road also provided many military and religious purposes for the Inca.

UNESCO just designated parts of the Inca road system as a World Heritage Site. The six nations which proposed the designation hope it will help preserve the road network and its associated resting houses and other infrastructure, which, unfortunately, has fallen victim to agriculture, asphalt and erosion.

Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System © Proyecto QÑ-Bolivia
Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System © Proyecto QÑ-Bolivia

 

 

 

Sources: Unesco, Wikipedia, Blogspot

- Advertisement -

FACT CHECK:
We strive for accuracy in its reports. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, send us an email. The Q reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it’s accuracy.

Ricohttp://www.theqmedia.com
"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! In these times of new normal, stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Related Articles

Today’s Vehicle Restriction June 25: plates ending in 9 & 0 CANNOT circulate

Today, Friday, June 25, plates ending in 9 & 0 CANNOT...

The 20 Nicaraguans detained by the Ortega regime in 25 days

TODAY NICARAGUA – Despite international pressure and rejection, Nicaragua President Daniel...

MOST READ

Germany opens borders to Ticos from this Friday!

QCOSTARICA - Good news for Ticos with traveling fever! From Friday, June 25, Germany will allow entry of travelers from Costa Rica as long...

Today’s Vehicle Restriction June 19: only “ODDS” can circulate

Today, Saturday, June 19, only vehicles with "ODD" ending plates CAN circulate The measure is countrywide and applied between 5:00 am and 9:00 pm, save...

The 20 Nicaraguans detained by the Ortega regime in 25 days

TODAY NICARAGUA – Despite international pressure and rejection, Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega continues to imprison Nicaraguans who criticize and question the way he is...

Today’s Covid News: Less than 800 new cases for the first time in two months

QCOSTARICA - For the first time in two months, less than 800 new cases of covid-19 in a single day were registered on June...

Internet speed decreases during peaks in service

QCOSTARICA - Ever wonder why your surfing on the Internet slows down, to even a crawl, mainly in the evenings? This is due to...

Carlos Alvarado: “Don Rodolfo has my confidence”

QCOSTARICA - President Carlos Alvarado said he has all the confidence in his Minister of Public Works and Transport (MOPT, Rodolfo Méndez Mata, and...

American woman found lifeless in hotel bathroom in Sabana

QCOSTARICA - A sad discovery occurred this Thursday morning in a hotel located in La Sabana, in San José, the lifeless body of a...

How to Continue Learning German If You Live in Berlin

Berlin is the place to be: the best parks, cinemas, concerts, and cultural life attract many students every year. COVID-19 has changed the situation...

Preventive operations to protect tourists visiting the Guanacaste Conservation Area

QCOSTARICA - The Ministry of Public Security (MSP) and the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) joined forces to prioritize ecological operations, which aim...

WANT TO STAY UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST!

Get our daily newsletter with the latest posts directly in your mailbox. Click on the subscribe and fill out the form. It's that simple!

Log In

Forgot password?

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.