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Iguassu Falls

Iguassu Falls – One of nature’s 7 new wonders


One of the world’s seven natural wonders, the Iguassu Falls are located along the section of the Iguazu River that forms the border between Brazil and Argentina.


The election that guaranteed the title to the Falls was organized by the Swiss foundation New Seven Wonders, in a process that began in 2007, with the participation of 400 natural wonders, of which 28 passed to the stage that culminated with the election of the seven winners in 2011.


Each year, the Falls are visited by 2.5 million tourists from around the world, always provoking a sense of enchantment and awe. One of these visitors, Eleanor Roosevelt, the then first lady of the United States, when comparing the spectacle of the waters before her to those her country shares with Canada, couldn’t help but exclaim: “Poor Niagara!”  


It is certainly what any tourist would think after having visited Niagara and then seeing the falls of the Iguazu River. Larger than and twice as wide as Niagara, the Iguassu Falls are completely unique. And its many beauties enchant even the most insensitive to natural wonders.


The Iguazu River, which starts in the Serra do Mar, is 1,320 km long and forms the border between Paraná and Santa Catarina. The last 115 km creates the border with Argentina. The Falls form 18 km before the Iguazu flows into the Paraná River.


At that point, a drop in the earth's surface forms falls some 65 meters high, stretching for 2,780 meters in width. Depending on the flow of the river, the number of falls varies from 150 to 300 and the height from 40 to 82 meters.


The Iguassu Falls drop at a rate of around 1.5 million liters of water per second, in normal periods. This volume, however, may vary from 500,000 liters, in times of drought, to 6.5 million liters during the Iguazu River flood periods.


The Falls have 19 main drops, three of which are in Brazil and the rest in Argentina, though facing the observatory on the Brazilian side. The drop that gains the most attention from visitors is the Devil’s Gorge, a deep crack caused by erosion, where the main sections of the Falls meet laterally. The Devil’s Gorge is almost 85 meters high and it is shaped like a horseshoe.


The first white man to view the Iguassu Falls, in 1542, was Spanish explorer Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca. He was traveling from the coast of Santa Catarina on route to Asunción, in Paraguay, a city founded during previous expeditions, when he stumbled across the grandeur of the waterfalls.


The Iguassu National Park, home to the Falls on the Argentine side, was created in 1934, covering an area of 67,620 hectares. In 1984 it was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO.


The Iguassu National Park, on the Brazilian side, was created in 1939, covering an area of 185,262.2 hectares. In 1986 it was also declared a world heritage site by Unesco.


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