Planning & Economic Development (Civil Service Examination), Questions and Answers, GK for UPSC, Bank PO & All Exams
Roads to the End of the Earth
DARIEN GAP PANAMA TO COLUMBIA
Distinction: The last true wilderness in the Western Hemisphere; last driven by car in 1985, never sinceThe Pan American Highway connects the extensive road systems of Mexico to those of Columbia. It is a continuous stretch of roadwith the exception of a jungle in southern Panama about 50 miles wide called the Darien Gap. A 50 mile wide delta of the Atrato River soaks most of the land, keeping the ground swampy. Several attempts have been made to build a road, but potential environmental damage, disruption of the indigenous tribes who live there, and possible influx of diseased cows from South America to North America, have thwarted roadbuilders.That means the only way to cross the gap is off road, an extremely difficult trek due to the deep water in the marshlands. The Guinness Book of Records recognizes the all land crossing of the gap by Loren Upton and Patty Mercier, who found an all land path for their Jeep CJ 5 and spent 741 days making the drive. (Previous attempts, which began in 1923, all used boats and barges to navigate across swampy areas.)Since the 1990s, armed revolutionaries (FARC guerillas) have occupied much of the Columbian side of the gap, and have kidnapped tourists and trekkers in the areayet another reason not to attempt the crossing.