What countries drive on the left? Here’s a complete list of all countries that drive on the left as well as territories. You an also read how long they have had left-hand traffic and why.
Most countries that drive on the left today are former British colonies, but there are a few exceptions. Even my own country Sweden, used to have left-hand traffic. This was changed overnight in 1967, when Sweden switched to right-hand traffic on 3 September.
The switch happened on 04:49 and all cars that were out driving, had to switch sides with each other. There are many other countries in the world that have made the switch from left-hand traffic to right-hand traffic in the last 100 years.
Some of the most notable ones include Netherlands, South Korea, Portugal, the Philippines and Iceland. Even the United States drove on the left side in the early years of English colonization, before gaining their independence.
The British Empire, nowadays known as the United Kingdom introduced left-hand traffic in their colonies around the world. And while most former colonies have gained their independence, they still kept the rule of driving on the left side of the road.
And the UK is still driving on the left, even though most countries in Europe are driving on the right. There are two exceptions to this rule within the United Kingdom.
These are Gibraltar and the British Indian Ocean Territory where they have right-hand traffic. In Gibraltar, they are driving on the right to ease transportation between neighbouring Spain.
Cyprus, India, Kenya, and Sri Lanka are some examples of former British colonies, where they are still driving on the left side of the road.
Thailand is one of few countries that drive on the left side that has never been a British colony. Despite having neighbouring countries that drive on the right side of the road, they have kept left-hand traffic in Thailand.
Read More: Travel to Thailand
Japan is also one of the few left side driving countries that hasn’t been a British colony. The law was introduced in 1924, and both left hand drive cars and right hand drive cars are allowed on the Japanese roads.
On the Okinawan Islands, they observed right-hand traffic between 1945 and 1978. At the end of World War II, the United States occupied Okinawa for the next 27 years, before returning the islands to Japan. Since 30th July 1978, they have been driving on the left side of the road in Okinawa as well, just like in the rest of the country.
Read more: Interesting facts about Japan
Australia is a former British colony and since it was ruled by the Brits, they adopted left side driving as well. Even after the country gained its independence, they kept the rule of driving on the left side of the road, just like neighbouring New Zealand.
Read more: Interesting facts about Australia
Samoa is another country that is driving on the left, and contrary to other left-driving countries, Samoa has a purely economic reason behind the decision.
They changed from right-hand traffic in 2009. The reason why they introduced left-side traffic in Samoa was because they wanted to be able to import cheaper cars from Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
Suriname is one out of two countries that drive on the left in South America, together with Guyana. Suriname is a former Dutch colony and that is why they have left-hand side traffic They never switched to right-hand side traffic.
Both left-hand and right-hand driven cars are allowed on the roads in Suriname.
Indonesia was previously a Dutch colony and the Dutch used to have left-hand side traffic. When Indonesia became independent, they kept this tradition. Later on, when Indonesia occupied East Timor, they imposed the rule of driving on the left side there as well.
Read more: Interesting facts about Indonesia
How many countries drive on the left side of the road?
There is a total of 79 countries and territories that have left-hand traffic worldwide. This is equal to a little more than 1/3 of all countries in the world.
List of all countries that drive on the left
Below is a list of all left side driving countries, sorted in alphabetical order.
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Cook Islands
- East Timor
- New Zealand
- Papua New Guinea
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Solomon Islands
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
- Trinidad & Tobago
- United Kingdom
Territories where they drive on the left
- Andaman & Nicobar islands (India)
- Anguilla (UK)
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Falkland Islands
- Hong Kong (China)
- Isle of Man
- Macau (China)
- Montserrat (UK)
- Niue (New Zealand)
- Pitcairn islands
- Turks & Caicos islands
- U.S Virgin Islands
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Did you know about the countries that drive on the left? Leave a comment below!