Miles of Roadway per Square Mile of Land in EU and US States

Apr 3, 2018
Chart of Road Length per Square Mile of Land in EU and US States

The chart above shows the miles of roads per square mile of land in EU and US states.  New Jersey, which has the dubious distinction of being a series of roads connecting New York to Pennsylvania, is the most paved state in the US but even it is no match for the Netherlands, Belgium, and Malta which are the most paved states in both the EU and the US.  Malta, which is essentially a city-state is the most paved having nearly three times as many roads relative to its territory as New Jersey has.


  • The difference between the state with the greatest road coverage, Malta, and the state with the least, Alaska, is 11.32 miles.
  • Malta has 468 times the road coverage that Alaska has.
  • The EU has the three most paved states.
  • The US has the two least paved states.
  • The mean miles of roadway per square mile of land is 2.03; the median is 1.76.


  • US road length data is from 2015.  EU road length data is from 2008 except for Denmark which is from 2006, and Italy and Portugal which are from 2005.
  • US area data is from 2010.  EU area data is from 2007.
  • Road and area data come from different sources.
  • US and EU data come from different sources.
  • Bulgaria is not included because it did not have complete data in the road data set.
  • The road network is very limited in Alaska, so much so that the state capital is not connected by road, and one in 78 people are pilots.


Urban areas tend to have far more roads per square mile and thus small states like Malta and Belgium where the urban area takes up a larger portion of the state as a whole will be paved over more generously than larger states that also encompass large swaths of rural or uninhabited areas like national parks.  In the US, the federal government also administers large swaths of territory particularly in Western states and that land tends to not be paved over as much.  Nevada, for instance, has four-fifths of its territory administered by the federal government.  But there is this unusual paradox, where states with less road per square mile of territory tend to have high vehicle ownership rates.  Perhaps a future post will focus on the correlation between the two.

The number of miles of roadway per square mile of land for the European Union as a whole is 2.00 which ranks it just below Iowa and slightly above Lithuania.  The number of miles of roadway per square mile of land for the United States as a whole is 1.09 which ranks it just below Washington and just above South Dakota.


European Union Road Federation.  2011.  "European Road Statistics 2011."  Accessed March 12, 2018.

United Nations.  2007.  "United Nations Statistics Division - Environment Statistics."  Accessed January 23, 2018.

United States Census Bureau.  "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016."  Accessed December 12, 2017.

United States Department of Transportation.  2016.  "Table HM-10M - Highway Statistics 2015 - Policy | Federal Highway Administration."  Accessed March 12, 2018.