The Pan-Philippine Highway, also known as the Maharlika ("Nobility/freeman") Highway (AH26) is a 3,517 km (2,185 mi) network of roads, bridges, and ferry services that connect the islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao in the Philippines, serving as the country's principal transport backbone.
The highway was proposed in 1965, and built under the autocratic rule of PresidentFerdinand Marcos. Government planners believed that the motorway and other connected roads would stimulate agricultural production by reducing transport costs, encourage social and economic development outside existing major urban centres such as Manila, and expand industrial production for domestic and overseas markets. Construction was supported by loans and grants from foreign aid institutions, including the World Bank.
The highway was rehabilitated and improved in 1997 with assistance from the Japanese government, and dubbed the Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway. In 1998, the Department of Tourism designated 35 sections of the highway as "Scenic Highways", with developed amenities for travellers and tourists.
The Pan-Philippine Highway is designated as AH26 in the Asian Highway Network, a cooperative project which seeks to improve highway systems and standards across the continent. It is currently the only highway in the system that is isolated from every other highway; island-based sections of the Asian Highway Network in Japan (AH1), Sri Lanka (AH43) and Indonesia (AH2) are all linked to the mainland sections by ferries to South Korea (AH1), India (Dhanushkodi), and Singapore, respectively.