Where the Americas Meet

The continents of North America and South America meet in which region?

And the answer is: Darién Gap.

Located on the border of Panama and Colombia, the Darién Gap consists of very challenging terrain, with mountains and a tropical rainforest. The world's longest highway, the Pan-American Highway, stretches from Northern Alaska to Argentina, but the Darién Gap provides a 100 km gap in the road, due to the extremely rugged terrain.

For centuries, the Darién Gap has wrecked havoc on explorers, migrants, and every other traveler brave enough to tough some of the most extreme conditions known to man. The dense rainforest and shifting mud prevents the expansion of any road through the region, much less the expansive Pan-American Highway, and the consequential gap creates the only separation in the 12,000+ miles of road. Murky river paths remain the best option for travel in the rugged forest terrain.

Historically, any attempt to conquer the wilds of the Darién Gap has lead to disaster. An attempt by Spanish colonists to assume control of the region in 1510 lived for only 14 years, until indigenous tribes torched the area and forced the settlers out. In the late 1690s, the Kingdom of Scotland invested in a project called the "Darién scheme," that set out to create a new colony called New Caledonia. Less than 10 years into the mission, the Scots were overpowered by Spanish forces and illness, and the colony was deserted.

Today, large stretches of the Darién Gap are preserved as national forest and officially considered to be a UNESCO World Heritage site. Thousands of migrants pass through the region every year, many traveling northward in search of opportunity and respite from political turmoil. To learn more about the perilous journey, check out the video below.


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