North Americans tend to assume the Pan-American Highway was completed, that you can drive from North America down through the narrowing isthmus of Central America into South America. Try it, though, and you’ll dead-end in Panama.
A map of the Darien Gap via Wikimedia Commons
The border between Panama and Columbia is where the dream faltered. A route through El Tapón Darién, the Darién Gap, was never cleared and paved. To this day, writes Miller, “Panama and Colombia are the only neighboring nations on the globe without a single road link of even the most primitive kind.”
Matthew Wills discusses the history of the Pan-American Highway and inability to mark a path through the Darién Gap. For more on the Darién Gap, Jason Motlagh documents his experience of passing through the region.