Top 12 Wonderful Facts About Iguazu Falls

Some of the most amazing waterfalls in the world are located in South America.

In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of interesting facts about Iguazu Falls, one of the fascinating natural wonders on the planet!

1. It’s located on the border of 2 South American countries

Iguazu Falls are located on the border of Argentina and Brazil in the southern part of South America. It’s situated in the Argentine province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Paraná.

It’s one of the top 10 largest waterfalls in the world with a width of 2,682 meters (8,800 feet) and a flow rate of 1,756 cubic meters per second (62,010 cubic feet per second).

Yes, the Iguazu Falls are an amazing force of nature and have hence been chosen as one of the New 7 Wonders of the Natural World!

Iguazu falls facts
The enormous falls / Pixabay

2. The falls are located on an important river in the area

As the name of the waterfalls implies, the falls are located in the Iguazu River. This is one of the major rivers in the area as it has a total length of 1,320 kilometers (820 miles) and a drainage basin of 62,000 square kilometers (24,000 square miles).

The Iguazu River is also one of the main tributaries of the Paraná River, which with a length of 4,880 kilometers (3,030 miles) is the second-longest river in South America after the Amazon River.

The waterfalls divide the river into the Upper Iguazu River and the Lower Iguazu River. The Lower part is basically a canyon that drains into the Paraná River.

Iguazu River
Iguazu River just above the falls. / Wiki Commons

3. The majority of the falls are located in Argentina

The falls have the shape of a reversed “J” and are divided between the two countries Brazil and Argentina. The east bank of the river is located in Brazil and is the smallest part consisting of just 20% of the falls.

This means that the majority of the falls, which consists of 80%, are located within the borders of Argentina. This is remarkable because 95% of the drainage basin of the Iguazu River is located within the borders of Brazil.

Iguazu Falls sunset
Falls at sunset / SF Brit / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

4. This is how the waterfalls were created according to a legend

The origin of the name of the river and waterfalls can be traced back to the Guarani language. It’s a combination of the words “y,” which means “water” and “ûasú,” which means “big.”

There’s also a legend as to how the waterfalls were created. Word around the campfire spread that a god was in love with a beautiful girl named Naipí, but instead of answering his love, she ran off with her real lover, a man named Tarobá.

A chase ensued as they jumped into their canoe and sped off. The god was so angry that he sliced the river in half and created the falls, condemning the two lovers to an eternal fall.

Iguazu falls aerial view
Aerial view / Enaldo Valadares / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

5. The falls consist of two enormous steps

While this is hard to judge when you look at the falls from a certain angle, they actually consist of two massive steps. One of these steps is about 35 meters high (115 feet) while the other step is about 40 meters (131 feet) high.

They exist exactly on the location where the Paraná Plateau ends and the Iguazu River tumbles over the edge. This divide is 2,682 meters (8,800 feet) wide.

Iguazu waterfall steps
The two massive steps of the falls / Pixabay

6. About 1/3 of the edge doesn’t have water flowing over it

The height of the edge of the Paraná Plateau varies between 60 and 82 meters (197 and 269 feet). One of the most remarkable facts about the Iguazu Falls is that not all areas of this edge have water flowing over it to create a single waterfall.

Depending on the flow of the water, the Iguazu Falls actually consist of between 150 and 300 distinct different waterfalls, as opposed to single curtain waterfall as for example Victoria Falls in the southern part of Africa.

Iguazu falls different waterfalls
Different falls / Pixabay

7. Half of the water of the river falls into one particular canyon

As the river tumbles over the edge of the Paraná Plateau, about half of the water flows into one particular canyon referred to as the “Devil’s Throat,” locally known as the “Garganta del Diablo” in Spanish and “Garganta do Diabo” in Portuguese.

This amazing canyon is between 80 and 90 meters (260 and 300 feet) wide and has a height of between 70 and 80 meters (230 and 260 feet).

The largest distinct waterfalls of the Iguazu Falls also have name. There’s the San Martín, Adam and Eva, Penoni, and Bergano Falls!

Iguazu falls fun facts
One of the falls / Pixabay

8. There are 3 cities located in the area in 3 different countries

Right on the border of 3 countries in South America, Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, there’s a fairly large metropolitan area. This urban area consists of 3 different cities in 3 different countries.

  • Brazil – Foz do Iguaçu
  • Argentina – Puerto Iguazú
  • Paraguay – Ciudad del Este

These cities are located about 20 kilometers (12 miles) to the northeast of the waterfalls and each have a direct connection for tourists to reach this natural wonder!

Foz do Iguaçu
Foz do Iguaçu / Enioprado / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0

9. One of the biggest dams in the world is located nearby

Just north of this metropolitan area, the Iguazu River drains into the Paraná River. A short distance away, the Paraná River passes by one of the most amazing dams in the world, the Itaipu Dam.

This dam is located in both Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil and Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. It’s one of the most productive dams in the world, only surpassed by the Three Gorges Dam in China, and is able to power the entire electric grid of the country of Paraguay!

Itaipu Dam aerial view
The dam / Jonas de Carvalho / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0

10. The Falls are located within 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The Iguazu Falls are located within 2 national parks in both Brazil and Argentina. The Iguazú National Park is located in Argentina and the Iguaçu National Park is located in Brazil.

One of the most fascinating facts about Iguazu Falls is that both parks have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, in 1984 and 1986, respectively.

Iguazu Falls national Park
The park / Martin St-Amant – Wikipedia – CC-BY-SA-3.0

11. Iguazu Falls have been featured in multiple Tv-shows and movies

It’s hard to deny that these waterfalls provide one of the most amazing sceneries on the planet, and film directors have been keen on using them in their work. This means that the falls have been featured in various movies, including but not limited to:

  • Miami Vice (2006)
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
  • Captain America: Civil War (2016)
  • Black Panther (2018)
Iguazu Falls observation deck
The wonderful falls / Pixabay

12. There are multiple ways to get astounding views of the waterfalls

The falls have been a very popular tourist attraction for many decades. This has resulted in the continuous expansion of the tourist industry in the national parks, something that has been very beneficial for tourists as well.

Apart from numerous viewing decks on each side of the waterfalls which can be directly accessed by a train, visitors can also check out the waterfalls from the air as helicopter rides are available for tourists.

Needless to say that this ride provides stunning views of this magnificent feat of nature!

Iguazu falls aerial view helicopter
View from Helicopter / Deni Williams / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en