In today’s world, you can’t turn around without hearing about “big data”. From internet cookies to CCTV, we’re told that every moment of our day is documented and logged somewhere. As such, we generally expect to be able find data on anything we research. Therefore, you might think it easy to find out which are the “busiest” intersections in the world. But this is not so. There exists no list of the 20 busiest intersections worldwide compiled by some United Nations sub-agency. Any lists that do exist are generally not well sourced. Nevertheless, the Merriam-Webster entry for “busy” has several definitions, including “full of activity” and “full of distracting detail”. This list will include intersections from all over the world that are full of activity and distractions.

While it does not seem possible to find reliable numbers for vehicular and pedestrian traffic, the 20 intersections on this list are undeniably busy, bustling, and chaotic. Many of these would also feature on a list ranked strictly on numerical values, if such a list existed. These intersections are from all over the world. Some are classic four-way intersections, some are highway interchanges, and some defy categorization. Many of these intersections are in the developing world, where customs, laws, and life itself is very different from the way things are in the Western, developed world. But there are also plenty examples of baffling intersections from the West and the United States, the spiritual home of the automobile. If you think that that one confusing intersection in your hometown is bad, get a load of these 20.

20 Place Charles de Gaulle- Paris, France

When Napoleon Bonaparte commissioned the construction of the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile in 1806, he probably imagined generations of French people coming to the spot to pay homage and reverence to those who fought and died in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. While that still happens, what happens more often is Parisian motorists cursing and honking their horns at both each other and all the gawking tourists ambling about.

The former name for this intersection -- the Place de l'Étoile-- speaks to its geography. The “star” in question is the Arc which sits at the junction of TWELVE straight avenues, including the Champs-Élysées. A great idea, and beautiful for aerial photography, but a guaranteed headache for anybody trying to drive through it.

19 The “Magic Roundabout” - Swindon, UK

For many of our North American readers, the term “intersection” conjures up an image of a four-way stop with traffic lights. But a roundabout is also a form of intersection. Any roundabout can be baffling and frightening to a North American, but this “Magic Roundabout” can strike fear into the hearts of even seasoned British motorists.

Many of the intersections on this list are located in vast megalopolises. But Swindon shows us that even smaller cities can get in on the fun of confusing drivers. Swindon’s “Magic Roundabout” often features on lists of the scariest junctions in Britain. It has five mini-roundabouts arranged around a sixth central roundabout. This central roundabout runs counterclockwise. I don’t know who designed this monstrosity, but I can only assume its an asphalt homage to Dante’s Inferno.

18 Nanpu Bridge Interchange - Shanghai, China

Shanghai has a staggeringly large population of over 24 million people. That’s a lot of people. As you can well imagine, traffic congestion is a major issue there. To deal with it, city planners have had to get creative. Though I’m not quite sure what they envisioned when they thought up this monstrosity.

The Nanpu Bridge Interchange is a double twist multi-lane highway convergence which exits onto a suspension bridge. And if you didn’t understand that, join the club. This roller-coaster-looking interchange looks like it would be difficult to navigate along with just a few other vehicles on the road. But once you include the massive traffic flow of everyday Shanghai, well...good luck.

17 Porta Maggiore - Rome, Italy

“All roads lead to Rome”, they say. Unfortunately, those roads still don’t appear to have figured out what they’re doing once they get to Rome. The Porta Maggiore (“Larger Gate”) is a well-preserved gate from a wall and aqueduct built way back in the 3rd century CE. Pretty neat. What’s not quite as neat is trying to drive around or through it.

The Ancient Romans were revered for their road building capabilities. But even they never imagined that their gates would have to accommodate a hoard of Fiats, tour busses, public transportation trams, and busy, pressed-for-time Romans whizzing about on Vespas. The Porta Maggiore is a perfect visual representation of antiquity in conflict with modernity.

16 Knight St and SE Marine Dr, Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver is renowned for being an idyllic city. People from Canada are often thought of as polite and mild-mannered. Therefore, it might be hard to imagine anybody exhibiting road rage in Vancouver, but looking at how traffic “flows” at Knight Street and Marine Drive, you might be disabused of that notion. The intersection is located in the southern part of the city and occurs just north of the Knight Street Bridge over the Fraser River.

The intersection might not look as diabolical as some of the other examples on this list, but there’s definitely something wrong with it. The intersection is the most dangerous in Vancouver, possibly in all of Canada, with over 300 collisions occurring every year. A 5.2 million dollar upgrade began construction in July of 2017.

15 “The Plough” - Hemel Hempstead, UK

Hemel Hempstead is a town in the Greater London Urban Area with a population of only about 81,000. For a town of its size it must have only modest traffic congestion, at most. It would take some doing to concoct an intersection bad enough to gain global infamy.

Well, Hemel Hempstead did it. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, “The Plough”. Six roundabouts for six intersecting roads and, given that it will probably take you six hours to figure it out, then, clearly, The Plough must have been developed by Beelzebub himself. The Number of the Beast aside, like the Magic Roundabout in Swindon, The Plough has the delightful added wrinkle of not having all the roundabouts work in the same direction. Wonderful.

14 The “Beijing Intersection” - Beijing, China

Many lists and articles similar to this one mention Beijing. It makes sense. With a population of over 21 million people and over five million registered vehicles, traffic is bound to be a nightmare there. But it’s not clear if all these lists are referring to one specific intersection, or if all the intersections are this bad in Beijing.

What is clear is that the intersection pictured here is truly abominable. Look closely and it does not appear that the intersection itself is particularly poorly designed. There’s just WAY too much traffic. If you ever visit Beijing, don’t rent a car.

13 Spaghetti Junction - Atlanta, USA

The “Spaghetti Junction” is a type of highway interchange, named thus because the roads look like noodles of spaghetti that have been plopped down on a plate. Atlanta’s Spaghetti Junction is a particularly daunting task for drivers unfamiliar with The ATL. Officially named the Tom Moreland Interchange, this junction requires either an intimate knowledge of the area or a GPS/mapping app that is really on the ball if you’re to get through it properly. Many motorists have attempted the Spaghetti Junction only to find themselves spat out on some residential street they didn’t know existed. Incidentally, Tom Moreland is a “leading road building expert”. Thanks, Tom.

12 Spaghetti Junction - Birmingham, UK

USA - “Nobody can design a complicated, arcane highway interchange like we can!”

UK - “Hold my beer.”

Looked at from up above, Atlanta’s Spaghetti Junction is at least aesthetically pleasing. There’s a sense of design and intentionality to it. Birmingham’s Spaghetti Junction looks less like a fine pasta dish that has been well plated and more like your three-year-old dropped her noodles on the floor.

What is even happening here? Officially known as the "Gravelly Hill Interchange", it combines a multi-level stack with a directional-T. Oh, and because it’s the UK, they threw in a roundabout somewhere in there, just for good measure. Jolly good.

11 Armdale Rotary - Halifax, Canada

The Armdale Rotary receives traffic from five different directions and is two-laned, just for the fun of trapping drivers in the inside lane for an interminable amount of time. The rotary handles about 60,000 vehicles on the average week day. But as bad as it might be now, it was worse prior to 2005.

Because they’re from Canada, I guess, they had a rule that's present in no other roundabout in the world; namely, that drivers would have to always “yield and proceed” while entering and driving within the circle. This meant huge queues of backed up vehicles on the streets leading into the roundabout because nobody had any idea what they were doing.

10 Flamingo Road and Pines Boulevard - Pembroke Pines, USA

To look at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Pines Boulevard, one might not think anything of it. You might say, “I don't get it. Sure, it’s big, but it looks totally fine”. Yes, this Florida intersection might look fine, but there’s definitely something wrong with it.

According to State Farm, there were over 357 crashes in just a two-year period at this intersection. The reason seems to be that there are just too many vehicles. Pembroke Pines is part of the Miami Metropolitan Area, so there are many people commuting.

9 Gibraltar Airport, Gibraltar

Imagine you are visiting Gibraltar. You’ve taken some beautiful photos of the Mediterranean and laughed when a monkey stole your ice cream cone. Now you’re driving back to your hotel. You stop at an intersection. You notice this intersection is very large and wonder why the perpendicular street is so wide. Then you notice that you’ve been stuck at this red for an awful long time. Then finally you notice a PLANE drive past you!

After you collect your jaw off the floor, you drive straight to a psychiatrist’s office and say you’re hallucinating. But no, you’re not! The runway of Gibraltar International Airport intersects with Winston Churchill Avenue, the main road into Spain. This definitely makes it the busiest intersection in terms of airplane traffic.

8 I-95, I-287, NJ 440, and CR 514 Intersection - Edison, USA

Edison New Jersey is named after famed inventor and New Jersey resident Thomas Edison. And this highway interchange in question looks as complicated and byzantine as the wiring on an early prototype for the phonograph. Edison is part of the New York City Metropolitan Area and as such is a transportation hub. Hence all the highways.

If you want to see where the stereotype of your average New Jersey/New York driver comes from, then you’re at the right place. The only thing that can be heard over the rumbling of engines here is the steady chorus of creative vulgarity coming from the drivers.

7 Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange - Los Angeles, USA

West Coasters have a reputation of being more laid back than their east coast counterparts. While that may be true, perhaps no city (in the US) can rival LA for traffic. LA is not renowned for its public transportation so vehicle ownership is mandatory for many residents. There are lot of people and a lot of cars in LA and nowhere is that more evident than the Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange.

Opened in 1993 to alleviate LA’s notorious traffic, the Pregerson Interchange just seems like another overly complicated way to frustrate drivers. But hey, on the plus side, the Pregerson Interchange was used to film parts of Speed before it opened to the public. So that’s cool.

6 Kathipara Junction - Chennai, India

You had to know that at least one Indian city would pop up on this list. For folks in the Western world, driving in India can seem like a lawless hellscape. Road directions are often ignored, if they exist at all.

But perhaps no intersection in all of India is busier than the Kathipara Junction in Chennai. The Kathipara Junction is the largest cloverleaf flyover in all of Asia. It used to just be a roundabout, but that wasn’t confusing enough. It also couldn’t accommodate the massive traffic flow in Chennai. The Chennai metropolitan area has nearly nine million people.

5 Taganskaya Square - Moscow, Russia

Taganskaya Square is the most questionable “square” I’ve ever seen. Moscow has more than 13 million inhabitants within its city limits and over 17 million in its urban area. And it’s nearly a thousand years old so, like many old cities, it has struggled to update its infrastructure for modern technology. And Taganskaya Square is actually a merger of two historic squares.

The traffic from all the adjoining streets meets in the middle. The trouble is, nobody has any idea who has the right-of-way once they get there. Most Muscovites just aim their vehicles and hope for the best.

4 Times Square - New York, USA

Continuing with our “squares that are definitely not squares” motif we have Times Square. It’s hard to believe now that this blinding, neon, tourist trap was once the run-down domain of petty thieves. While it’s undoubtedly safer now, it’s perhaps more annoying than ever. So annoying that few actual New York residents are among the 360,000 pedestrians that pass through Times Square every day. In fact, Times Square is the most visited place in the world with over 131 million visitors annually.

Quite why anybody thought the intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue was a great place for people to stand around, watch a ball drop in the cold, or get accosted by an off-brand Spiderman, I don’t know.

3 Meskel Square - Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The last of our “squares” is Meskel Square in Addis Ababa. Meskel Square does not have the blinding lights of Times Square, but look closer and you’ll notice something else. Meskel Square doesn’t have any lights at all! Not even traffic lights!

Of course this is another example of the inequality between the developed and developing worlds, but it’s not as if Addis Ababa is a small African backwater. The Ethiopian capital is home to more than three million people. And if you actually look at videos of Meskel Square, the locals actually seem to manage the chaos reasonably well.

2 Ha Noi Intersection- Hanoi, Vietnam

It’s unclear if what is sometimes labeled as “Ha Noi Intersection” is a specific intersection, or if it’s simply a typo/mistranslation that has been reprinted on lists like this one. Whether there is one true “Ha Noi Intersection” or if many of the intersections in Hanoi are this crazy, it deserves representation on this list.

Hanoi is over 1000 years old and has a population of nearly eight million, with even more living in the surrounding areas. Much like in Addis Ababa, these Hanoi intersections have no traffic lights. But it’s even worse. Hanoi has a larger population density as well as more scooters and foot traffic. Navigating an intersection such as this resembles the most difficult level of Frogger.

1 Shibuya Crossing - Tokyo, Japan

Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo is routinely singled out as being the busiest intersection in the entire world. As big as New York is, it’s not as big as Tokyo, whose metro population of over 38 million is enough to make it the most populous metropolitan area in the world.

Shibuya utilizes a “scramble crossing”, meaning that as part of its cycle all traffic lights will periodically remain red to allow the throng of pedestrians to cross in any direction. Japan rightly has a reputation for order, and Shibuya Crossing somehow manages to blend order and chaos together in a way that’s really kind of beautiful. Plus there’s that statue of Hachikō the Dog, so that’s cool, too.