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In South Africa, national routes constitute a numbered network of roads starting with an "N" prefix. They usually connect major centres. Although the terms National Road and National Route are often used interchangeably in everyday conversation, the two are not synonymous, and some Regional Routes (R routes) are actually proclaimed National Roads, while some sections of "N" routes are not proclaimed.
The system was mostly built during the 1970s by the National Party government of South Africa, although construction of new roads and repairs of existing stretches continue today. The system was modeled on the United States Interstate Highway network, an idea first brought into effect by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower during the 1950s, based on the German Autobahn, which he experienced when touring Germany after the Second World War.
 Definition of a National Route
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The physical scope of an instance of the abstract concept National Route may include many different stretches of paved road comprising more a total route than any single road.
 Current national routes
National Routes are denoted with the letter N followed by a number indicating the specific route. On maps and some signage, national routes are shown by a pentagon with the number of the road inside.
- via Laingsburg, Beaufort West, Colesberg, Bloemfontein, Winburg, Kroonstad, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Polokwane and Musina.
- via the Garden Route, Port Elizabeth, Grahamstown, Bisho, East London, Mthatha, Kokstad, Port Shepstone, Durban, Empangeni, Pongola and Piet Retief.
- via Pietermaritzburg, Estcourt and Harrismith.
- via Rustenburg, Pretoria, Witbank and Nelspruit.
- via Bethlehem.
- via Queenstown and Aliwal North.
- via Malmesbury and Springbok.
- via Kimberley, Bloemfontein and Ladybrand.
- via Graaf-Reinet and Middelburg.
- via Cradock, Eastern Cape, Middelburg, De Aar, Prieska and Upington.
- via Newcastle, Volksrust, Ermelo, Middelburg and Polokwane.
- via Oudtshoorn, Beaufort West, Kimberley, Warrenton, Klerksdorp, Potchefstroom and Johannesburg (Between Beaufort West and Three Sisters it is merged with the N1.)
- via Upington, Kuruman, Vryburg, Krugersdorp and Centurion, Gauteng.
- via Springs, Bethal and Ermelo.
- via Vryburg and Mafikeng.
 Maintenance, Ownership and Law Enforcement
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The roads that form National Routes may be owned and maintained by various authorities. The National Roads Agency (SANRAL) maintains and owns the portions that are proclaimed National Roads, while other sections are maintained by various provincial and local authorities. An example of this are the portions of the N1 and N2 close to Cape Town, which are maintained and owned by the City of Cape Town and Provincial Government of the Western Cape. Similarly, portions of the N3 close to Durban, are owned and maintained by the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, and part of the N14 in Gauteng is owned and maintained by the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport.
 Proposed routes
- N21 / Peninsula Expressway: A proposed ring road that will involve upgrading the R300 running parallel to the N7 through Bellville into a toll road connecting the West Coast to Muizenberg. See Peninsula Expressway, Cape Town.
 See also
 External links