While nearly 75% of countries require drivers to drive on the right side of traffic, there are still a significant number of countries that drive on the left. Many former British colonies remain right hand drive countries to this day. The following is a summary of countries who drive on the left.
List of Countries Who Drive on the Left
There are 17 countries in Asia who drive on the left side of the street. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cyprus, East Timor, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Nepal, Northern Cyprus, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and Thailand all drive on the left hand side.
The history of driving on the left in Japan began during the Edo Period (1603-1867). In 1872, the British laid out the first railway line in the country. It was left-sided which laid the foundation for left-sided driving in Japan. East Timor started driving on the left in 1976 under Indonesian rule and continues to do so today. Macau and Hong Kong, unlike Mainland China, drive on the left. Thailand was never colonized but also drives on the left. There is no real reason for this; when the majority of the world was changing to driving on the right side, Thailand simply never changed.
12 African countries have left-sided traffic including the former British colonies of Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, Namibia, Swaziland, Uganda, and Tanzania. Other former British colonies including Sierra Leone and Nigeria changed to right-sided driving because they border former French colonies. Mozambique, having been colonized by the Portuguese, drives on the left even though its former European power switched to right-sided traffic in the 1920s. Mozambique borders nations which drive on the left as well. Mauritius also adheres to left-handed traffic.
Australia and Oceania
Australia and its territories (including Christmas Island, Cocos Islands, and Norfolk Island) all drive on the left. New Zealand and its territories (The Cook Islands and Tokelau) are also included in the list of left-handed drivers. Other territories that drive on the left include the former British colonies of Fiji, Pitcairn Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Niue. Nauru, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, and Solomon Islands also have left-sided traffic.
The first legislation to make traffic left-sided in the UK was made in 18th century in London. This law required that traffic on the London Bridge keep left. The Highway Act of 1835 made this law applicable in the British Empire. Although most European countries switched to right-sided traffic in the 20th century, the UK still continues to drive on the left. Guernsey, the Isle of Man in addition to Jersey, being Crown Dependencies of the UK, also keep left. Ireland, Malta, and Cyprus have left-sided traffic as well.
The UK Overseas Territories in the West Indies keep left which are Anguilla, Turks and Caicos Islands, Montserrat, Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands. Countries formerly part of the British Empire that drive on the left side include Saint Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Saint Lucia, Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and Grenada. The U.S. Virgin Islands also have left-sided traffic.
Why Do Some Countries Drive on the Left?
Historically, the majority of the human population has always been right-handed. It is theorized that left-handed traffic began in the days of horse travel. The left-sided position but them at the advantage of having easy access to their sword with their right-handed in case of an enemy encounter.
Right Hand Drive Countries
|Papua New Guinea||Asia|
|Antigua and Barbuda||North America|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||North America|
|Saint Lucia||North America|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||North America|
|Trinidad and Tobago||North America|