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Countries That Drive on the Left Side of the Road: The Complete List

Ever wondered why some countries require driving on the left side of the road instead of the right? 

Only about 70 nations stick to the left these days—accounting for around 30% of the world population—but that wasn’t always the case. 

Historians say ancient Romans steering chariots, Japanese samurai following narrow footpaths, and medieval pilgrims trudging to cathedrals all traveled on the left. 

Then, as now, most people were right-handed, so it made sense to journey on the left side so that your dominant hand would be closer to oncoming traffic, the better to defend yourself with a weapon, if need be, from hostile parties coming from the other direction. 

Legend has it that the left-handed Napoleon Bonaparte, striking a blow for southpaws everywhere (so that he himself could strike blows everywhere), switched most of Europe to the right side of the road during the French Empire’s heyday in the early 19th century. 

That is indeed when traffic started shifting rightward, though nobody knows to what degree Napoleon’s personal quirks played a role. (As a leftie myself, I for one wish the Little Corporal had done something about spiral notebooks instead.)

The United States, for its part, has been a right-side-of-the-road kind of place since the colonial era, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation highway history.

The choice had nothing to do with Napoleon, though. Evidently, the right side proved more convenient for wagons pulled by two or more horses. Plus, many Americans harbored a “smoldering opposition to customs of the Old World,” the history notes. 

That of course suggests a thumb of the nose to the British, who have remained among the most notable holdouts with regard to left-side traffic, made mandatory across the British Empire in 1835. (Perhaps a similar law dictates adherence to the bonkers British pronunciation of “aluminum.”)

The onetime vastness of that empire largely explains the presence of left-side driving in former British colonies across the globe, including in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Oceania. 

Some countries, however, developed a custom of driving on the left on their own. And some countries, whether former British colonies or not, started out on the left and later switched to the right—Canada, Brazil, Spain, Nigeria, and Sweden among them. In 2009, Samoa made a rare move in the opposite direction, transitioning from the right side to the left in order to align with regional neighbors Australia and New Zealand. 

For travelers contemplating road trips in other countries, knowing which side to drive on seems a fairly important consideration. For that reason, we’ve compiled the below list of left-driving countries, organized by region. 

Drivers accustomed to the right might want to take a look at SmarterTravel’s tips for steering a car from the left

First among those suggestions is a recommendation to rent a car with automatic transmission so that you don’t have to worry about operating a stick shift with your nondominant hand on top of everything else (though, again, as a left-hander I am tempted to invite you to cry me a river—you should see what it’s like for us to use can openers).

Leftward passage shouldn’t necessarily rule out any destination if you’re used to being on the right. As long as they remain vigilant, most travelers find their brains flip their sense of orientation pretty quickly once they get behind a steering wheel. 



  • • Botswana
  • • Eswatini
  • • Kenya
  • • Lesotho
  • • Malawi
  • • Mauritius
  • • Mozambique
  • • Namibia
  • • St. Helena
  • • Seychelles
  • • South Africa
  • • Tanzania
  • • Uganda
  • • Zambia
  • • Zimbabwe


  • • Bangladesh
  • • Bhutan
  • • Brunei
  • • East Timor
  • • Hong Kong
  • • India
  • • Indonesia
  • • Japan
  • • Macau
  • • Malaysia
  • • Maldives
  • • Nepal
  • • Pakistan
  • • Singapore
  • • Sri Lanka
  • • Thailand


  • • Anguilla
  • • Antigua and Barbuda
  • • Bahamas
  • • Barbados
  • • Bermuda
  • • British Virgin Islands
  • • Cayman Islands
  • • Dominica
  • • Grenada
  • • Jamaica
  • • Montserrat
  • • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • • St. Lucia
  • • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • • Trinidad and Tobago
  • • Turks and Caicos
  • • U.S. Virgin Islands


  • • Channel Islands (such as Guernsey and Jersey—no cars are allowed in some parts of the archipelago)
  • • Cyprus
  • • Ireland
  • • Isle of Man
  • • Malta
  • • United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland)


  • • Australia
  • • Christmas Island
  • • Cocos (Keeling) Islands
  • • Cook Islands
  • • Fiji
  • • Kiribati
  • • Nauru
  • • New Zealand
  • • Niue
  • • Norfolk Island
  • • Papua New Guinea
  • • Pitcairn Islands
  • • Samoa
  • • Solomon Islands
  • • Tokelau
  • • Tonga
  • • Tuvalu

South America

  • • Falkland Islands
  • • Guyana
  • • Suriname