Brazil Road Network

By | November 12, 2022

The SP-015 (Marginal Tietê) in São Paulo.

According to wholevehicles, with 2 million kilometers Brazil has a fairly large road network, of which only about 10% or 200,000 kilometers is paved. A main road is called a rodovia. The country also has a fairly large highway network of approximately 7,400 kilometers, of which part is substandard and part modern. More and more roads are being converted into motorways. The first highways opened in the 1950s and in 1967 the first 2×3 highway opened at São Paulo. Most of the highways are located in the southeast of the country, around the cities of São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba. There are also smaller networks around other large cities. The vast majority of highways are located in the state of São Paulo, where almost all important cities have a highway connection. Most highways are toll roads, but there are also toll-free highways. A number of highways are spectacularly situated, especially along the coast where sometimes large differences in height have to be overcome over a short distance.

The state of maintenance varies. The major main roads are usually asphalted, but in remote areas asphalt roads sometimes turn into gravel roads that are not always passable in the rainy season. In the coming decades, thousands of kilometers of roads will have to be converted into highways. Many highways are radial and mainly focused on São Paulo, but there are more and more tangential highways connecting other areas as well. In recent years, a large number of rodovias have been brought under concession to widen them to 2×2 lanes and raise the level of maintenance. These are often not fully-fledged highways, but they are relatively well developed.

Rodovias in Brazil
Rodovias radiasBR-010 • BR-020 • BR-030 • BR-040 • BR-050 • BR-060 • BR-070 • BR-080

Rodovias longitudinais

BR-101 • BR-104 • BR-110 • BR-116 • BR-120 • BR-122 • BR-135 • BR-146 • BR-153 • BR-154 • BR-155 • BR-156 • BR- 158 • BR-163 • BR-174

Rodovias transversais

BR-210 • BR-222 • BR-226 • BR-230 • BR-232 • BR-235 • BR-242 • BR-251 • BR-259 • BR-262 • BR-265 • BR-267 • BR- 272 • BR-277 • BR-280 • BR-282 • BR-285 • BR-287 • BR-290 • BR-293

Rodovias diagonalis

BR-304 • BR-307 • BR-308 • BR-316 • BR-317 • BR-319 • BR-324 • BR-330 • BR-342 • BR-343 • BR-349 • BR-352 • BR- 354 • BR-356 • BR-359 • BR-361 • BR-363 • BR-364 • BR-365 • BR-367 • BR-369 • BR-373 • BR-374 • BR-376 • BR-377• BR-381 • BR-383 • BR-386 • BR-392 • BR-393

Rodovias de ligação

BR-428 • BR-432 • BR-448 • BR-493


The Rodoviário Federal System.

Important data;

  • 1947: opening of the first lane SP-150 between São Paulo and Santos
  • 1949: introduction of the first numbering system for federal highways
  • 1953: opening of the second carriageway SP-150 between São Paulo and Santos
  • 1953: opening of SP-330 between São Paulo and Campinas as a highway
  • 1957: opening of the first part SP-015 in São Paulo
  • 1960: Brasília becomes the capital of Brazil.
  • 1961: opening of BR-116 between Curitiba and São Paulo as a highway
  • 1964: introduction of current numbering system
  • 1973: Adaptation of current numbering system
  • 1977: BR-116 between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro entirely highway
  • 2005: BR-381 between São Paulo and Belo Horizonte entirely highway

Roads in the Amazon

The north of Brazil is dominated by the Amazon, a large river with a jungle of the same name that covers 7 million square kilometers, located in 9 countries, 60% of which in Brazil. The area is characterized by almost impenetrable jungle, large rivers and lowlands that partly flood during the rainy season. The area is generally very sparsely populated, but there are still a few large cities in the region. The city of Manaus is the unofficial capital of the Amazon.

The Amazon rainforest is under threat from illegal logging, particularly in the states of Rondônia, Mato Grosso, and Pará. The states of Acre, Amazonas and Roraima have largely untouched jungle. The deforested area is largely used for livestock and agriculture.

The road network in the Amazon is very limited, and large parts of the few through roads are unpaved. Some roads only exist on maps and not in reality. The BR-364 has traditionally been the access route to the Amazon region, from Cuiaba to Porto Velho and west into the state of Acre. This is the only route that is almost completely paved. The other two primary roads from the south to the north are the BR-163 to Santarém and the BR-319to Manaus. Both roads have large stretches of unpaved road and are bad or impassable in the rainy season. The BR-319 has been increasingly asphalted after 2010. Santarém is located south of the Amazon and can be reached without ferry services. Manaus is north of the Amazon and requires a ferry service. There are no bridges across the Amazon in all of Brazil. In 2011, the Ponte Rio Negro opened over the rio Negro at Manaus.

South of the Amazon is an east-west connection, the BR-230 which theoretically runs from Benjamin Constant on the border with Peru to Maraba. Virtually no part of this route is paved, large parts are poorly accessible dirt roads and the western part does not exist in practice at all.

North of the Amazon are two paved thoroughfares, the BR-174 from Manaus to Boa Vista and the border with Venezuela, which is the only major paved road in northern Brazil. The BR-156 forms a north-south route from Macapá to the border with France. In 2012, a border bridge on the French border was completed. There are no east-west connections north of the Amazon. The BR-210 exists mainly on maps and not in practice, although parts have been constructed in the state of Roraima. The BR-163is a theoretical route from Santarém to the border with Suriname, but most of it only exists on maps. In the northwest is a large area with no paved roads at all.

Road numbering

There are two main layers of road numbering, rural routes, rodovias abbreviated with “BR” and state routes, abbreviated with the state abbreviation, for example “SP” in São Paulo.

National routes

The road number shield of the BR-101.

The BR network is national. BR-010 to BR-080 are radial routes from the capital Brasília. BR-101 to BR-174 are north-south routes and BR-210 to BR-293 are east-west routes. BR-304 to BR-393 are diagonal routes and BR-401 to BR-610 are connecting routes. Not all numbers are used, and the height of the number does not necessarily say anything about the length. A number of routes are extremely long, such as the BR-101 which is 4,551 kilometers long and runs along the east coast of Brazil. A number of radial routes from Brasília have not yet been completed, especially those to distant towns to the north and west.

State Routes

The SP-425 at Martinópolis in the state of São Paulo.

The secondary numbering system is that of the states. They are abbreviated with the state number, but often have an important role, and are also regular highways, especially in the state of São Paulo.

  • Acre = AC
  • Alagoas = AL
  • Amapa = AP
  • Amazonas = AM
  • Bahia = BA
  • Ceará = CE
  • Federal District = DF
  • Espirito Santo = ES
  • Goias = GO
  • Maranhão = MA
  • Mato Grosso = MT
  • Mato Grosso do Sul = MS
  • Minas Gerais = MG
  • Pará = PA
  • Paraíba = PB
  • Paraná = PR
  • Pernambuco = PE
  • Piaui = PI
  • Rio Grande do Norte = RN
  • Rio Grande do Sul = RS
  • Rio de Janeiro = RJ
  • Rondonia = RO
  • Roraima = RR
  • Santa Catarina = SC
  • Sao Paulo = SP
  • Sergipe = SE
  • Tocantins = TO


A road number shield of Rio de Janeiro.

The signage is somewhat underdeveloped, but certainly not among the least developed in the world. The font is similar to that of the United States and green signs are used on all roads. Distance signs are quite simple, often without a road number and indicate the major cities. Many roads have a name, which is indicated together with the road number on separate signs in the verge. The state road number shield is a pentagon with the state abbreviation at the top and the road number below, in black letters on a white surface. Road number plates for BR roads can be either green or white.

Portals and fork carriages are often used on highways. Road numbers are not always prominently marked, and highways are often better known by their name, which is often signposted. The choice of targets varies, but generally large cities are clearly signposted, and the amount of local targets is not too bad. Distance signs regularly indicate cities over hundreds of miles.

Speed ​​limits

The speed limit on the SP-419 near Penápolis in the state of São Paulo.

The maximum speed outside built-up areas is 110 km/h, regardless of the road type. However, a lower maximum speed is applied on many regular main roads, usually 80 to 100 km/h. Brazilian main roads are usually fairly well developed with half hard shoulder and climbing lanes. 90 km/h applies to trucks and buses. On some highways the limit is 120 km/h, but many 2×2 grade separated roads (actually highways) have a limit of 110. In built-up areas, speeds of 40 to 70 km/h apply. The general entry speed limit is 60 km/h, unless otherwise indicated.


Many highways, as well as other major highways, are wholly or partially toll roads. The toll is levied by private concessionaires who maintain the roads and build new roads. An example is the concessionary AutoBAN (Autopistas Bandeirantes e Anhangüera) in the state of São Paulo. Relatively few highways are toll-free completely or over large distances.

Road safety

The figures of Brazilian road deaths vary widely. In 2012, a total of 60,752 road deaths occurred in Brazil, or about 300 per 1 million inhabitants. This makes Brazil one of the least safe countries. Most of the road deaths are motorcyclists (40%) and cyclists and pedestrians (25%). In 2014, 8,227 road deaths occurred on federal rodovias in Brazil. Other figures show a decrease from 43,256 deaths in 2015 to 30,371 in 2019.

Brazil Road Network