Mapped: All of the World’s Roads, by Continent

This post is by Pallavi Rao from Visual Capitalist

Click to view this graphic in a higher-resolution.

A road map of the world, visualized by type.

Mapped: All of the World’s Roads, by Continent

Once upon a time, it was said that all roads led to Rome. Now with at least 21 million kilometers of roads spanning the globe, every continent and country has its own web of crisscrossing connections, from major highways to rural drives.

And there’s no better way to see the scale and spread of roads than by visualizing them. Adam Symington from PythonMaps used data from the Global Roads Inventory Project (GRIP) to map all the roads in the world, creating an accurate representation of humanity’s need to connect.

Creating the Global Road Map

The GRIP database pulled information from a variety of sources including governments, research institutes, NGOs, and crowd-sourcing initiatives to create a harmonized dataset of geospatial road information for a 2018 paper, “Global patterns of current and future road infrastructure.”

Researchers categorized roads into types using a UN classification system, which have been visualized in three colors on this map:

Main RoadsHighways + primary roads between and within cities and towns. Multi-lane, limited entry and exit points.White
Secondary RoadsPaved, high-traffic, access between neighborhoodsYellow
Tertiary RoadsPaved or unpaved residential access within neighborhoods, or rural points of interest.Red
Local RoadsAll other smaller roads that don’t fit above, and usually are not throughfare.Red

This classification allowed for examining relationships between road infrastructure, development, wealth, and population distribution.

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