The Pan-American Highway is a road network stretching from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Ushuaia in Argentina. Measuring approximately 30,000 miles (48,000 km), it runs through North America, Central America and South America in an almost unbroken chain (the Darién Gap between Panama and Colombia being the most notable break in the network).
The Peruvian stretch of the Pan-American Highway is called the Panamericana or Carretera Longitudinal de la Costa (Longitudinal Coastal Highway). It stretches for about 1,500 miles (2,414 km) along the coastal strip of Peru, running from the Ecuadorian border in the north to Chile in the south.
The highway is divided into two main sections, the Panamericana Norte (North) and the Panamericana Sur (South). Both sections officially begin in Santa Anita in the Ate province of Lima (at a point on the highway known as kilometer zero, or “Km.0+000”).
The two sections of the Carretera Longitudinal de la Costa connect many of Peru’s major cities. The Panamericana Norte (001N) heads from Lima along the north coast of Peru, passing through important cities such as Chimbote, Trujillo, Chiclayo and Piura before heading inland to the Peru-Ecuador border-crossing at La Tina. One of the Panamericana Norte’s three branch roads -- the 001A -- heads back to the coast via Sullana to Talara, Mancora and onto Tumbes and the larger Peru-Ecuador border-crossing point.
The Panamericana Sur (001S) heads south from Lima, passing through Ica and Camana before heading further inland towards Arequipa. The highway then drops further south to Moquegua and Tacna and onto the Peru-Chile border at La Concordia. A branch road, the 001SA (also known as the costanera), hugs the coast as it passes through Camaná, Mollendo, Ilo, Tacahuay and onto Tacna.
The Panamericana is completely paved with no missing or impassable sections (unlike the Longitudinal de la Sierra and the Marginal de la Selva). For travelers -- especially those traveling in Peru by bus (or hitchhiking, perhaps) -- it offers reasonably straightforward overland connections between all of the major cities located on Peru’s coastal strip.