The Paraná River is considered the 14th-longest river on the South American continent, whose most important tributaries are the Paranaiba River, Paraguay River, and the Grande River.
It starts at the intersection of the Paranaiba and Rio Grande rivers and runs south-west to the Paraguay River, then south and east through Argentina to the Uruguay River and Río de la Plata. The Paraná River forms a natural border between Argentina and Brazil.
The Paraná river was named after the local phrase 'para rehe onava' which means 'as big as the sea'.
The Paraná Delta is an 8,400 sq mi (21,755 sq km) river and rainforest network with more than 1,000 small islands. Along the river's length, there are several dams, like the Yacyretá and Itaipu. The Paraná Delta's port system is the country's most important waterway network, and it has always been closely linked to the country's terrestrial transport network of trains and highways. Besides the connection to the Atlantic Ocean, the system also includes the Paraná-Paraguay canal or ship channel that connects Nueva Palmira port in Uruguay with Caceres Port in Brazil. The river's natural resources equip the locals with materials for the production of food products.
From its origin at the confluence of the Grande and Paranaíba rivers to its junction with the Paraguay River, the river is known as the Alto (Upper) Paraná. Read on to know more about the ecological importance of the Parana River for the subtropical wetland regions present along its course, and more Parana River facts.
Fun Facts About The Paraná River
Find out lots of interesting mysteries and Parana River facts, including:
Largest Tributary: The Paraná River Delta is the world's only river delta that flows into another river. There is no other river on the planet that has formed a freshwater delta like Paraná.
Discovery of Stone Tools: According to ancient stone tools found along the river, large towns may have been created around the Paraná River before European explorers arrived in South America.
Tourism, a major source of livelihood: Thousands of visitors visit the river for its beauty and great natural wealth, which contributes considerably to the life of residents and the economy of the region. It is considered one of the most important sources of income for people living near the coast.
Important waterway for shipment: Agricultural commodities, such as soy, maize, and wheat, costing billions of dollars are carried to ports along the Paraná and then shipped throughout the world. The waterway transports nearly 80% of Argentina's agricultural exports.
Deadly piranhas: Paraná River is home to the infamous deadly fish species called piranha. Red-bellied and black-bellied piranhas found in the river are considered the most dangerous, as they are aggressive and can attack anyone who triggers them.
Best bird-watching destination: Paraná River is also known as one of the best places to go bird watching. You can find a variety of unique beautiful species of birds flying around the region.
Itaipu Dam: The Itaipu Dam is the world's second-biggest hydroelectric power facility. This hydroelectric power station uses the Paraná River to generate electricity.
Geographical Facts About The Parana River
The Rio Paraná is separated into three sections: upper, lower Paraná, and the middle Paraná river. The Tietê, Paranapanema, and Iguaçu are three major tributaries of the upper Paraná.
The Paraguay River and the Salado River supply water to the lower Paraná. The drainage basin is 1,081,000 sq mi (2,800,000 sq km) in size.
The climate in the upper Paraná basin is hot and humid, and turns subtropical as the river travels south, with less rainfall. The lower Paraná runs through savannas and woods.
The Paraguay-Paraná river system stretches more than a million square miles, making it South America's second-largest river system, behind only the Amazon River.
The Itaipu Dam marks the start of the High Paraná part of the river, which finishes at the tri-national boundary of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. From the Iguaçu River, the river travels south-west and then west along the borders of Paraguay and Argentina for 1,208 mi (1,944 km).
The lower Paraná River serves as a transportation corridor for agricultural, manufacturing, and petroleum products, and its waters are utilized to irrigate nearby farmlands.
The Parana River is a major economic and political force in three South American countries. Its landmarks, animals, and dams are vital to the survival of the local community. Recent natural disasters have wreaked havoc on the economy, particularly in Argentina, where the drought has left many people without work or access to water.
It is the major source of income for residents living near the banks of the river, as consumable goods are transported along the waterway. Hydroelectricity dams built across the river act as a major source of electricity around the region. In one way or another, people are dependent on the river for their daily life.
Logistical Purposes Of The Paraná River
The Paraná River and its tributaries are an essential part of the daily lives of the South American people who live along its banks. Large-scale agriculture and livestock husbandry are supported by the Paraná River basin.
For many fishermen who live along the Paraná's banks, the river and its tributaries provide daily subsistence. Some fish species, such as the surub, which may grow to be 4 ft (1.3 m) long, and the sábalo, which can grow to be two feet long, are commercially significant and are fished for regional consumption or export.
The construction of big hydroelectric dams on the river has enabled cities to generate large amounts of energy to meet the region's expanding power demands. In addition to the abundance of natural resources utilized for the production of consumable products and power, thousands of worldwide visitors visit the Paraná River region to enjoy the abundant natural richness and beauty of the region. This has a tremendous impact on the local economy and the livelihoods of the native population.
Facts About The Parana River’s Ecosystem
The wetlands of the Río Paraná Delta region boast a variety of ecological features that provide a high quality of life for locals and visitors.
Although most of the Paraná River Delta has been degraded by human activity, it still comprises an important wetland ecosystem. The Pampas cat, marsh deer, and capybaras can all be found in the delta region's few remaining natural habitats. The Predelta National Park and the Paraná Delta Biosphere Reserve were built in the Paraná Delta to protect the region's unique flora and fauna.
The Parana River is one of the longest rivers in South America, and has great geological significance.
It is estimated to be 3,050 mi (4,880 km) long from the junction of the Grande and Paranaiba rivers in southern Brazil, going south-west for most of its length until turning south-east to drain into the Ro de la Plata. The Parana River is home to various species of aquatic animals.
The humid environment of the Paraná River ecosystem allows for varied and distinct flora and fauna to exist. About 50% of plants and 90% of amphibians are indigenous.
A considerable number of endangered species are found in the Alto Paraná Atlantic Forests, such as the jaguar and the seven-colored tanager. Apart from terrestrial life, the river supports a diverse range of aquatic species, including migratory fish, like the Atlantic saber-tooth anchovy, sábalo, and golden dorado, and also many other fishes like catfish, piranha, and lungfish, and also a diverse range of phytoplankton and macrophytes.
The Paraná River gets its name from a Tupi word; it is an abbreviation of the word 'para rehe onáva', which means 'like the sea' (i.e. 'as big as the sea'). It is joined to the Paraguay and Uruguay rivers, forming the Ro de la Plata, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
There are around 300 species of freshwater fish in this major river system in south-central South America. The Paraná River drainage has been home to nine species of potamotrygonidae freshwater river stingrays: the motoro stingray and the smooth-back river stingray are among them. The drainage's electric fish variety isn't as high as it is in many other South American systems. However, there are still enough species for trade, like the glass knife fish. Apart from these, the Parana River is home to loricariids, corys, erythrindis, swamp eels, killifishes, cichlids, and anostomidae.
In southern Brazil, the river is created by the confluence of the Paranaiba and Grande rivers. The river travels 385 mi (619 km) south-west from the confluence until reaching Saltos del Guaira, Paraguay. For the following 120 mi (192 km), the Paraná continues southward, forming a natural border between Paraguay and Brazil until it meets the Iguazu River.
Downtown Posadas, Argentina, is located across the Paraná River from Encarnación, Paraguay. The river maintains its general southerly route for another 291 mi (468 km) before turning west for another 510 mi (820 km) when it meets the Paraguay River, the river's greatest tributary. From its confluence with the Paraguay River, the Paraná continues south for another 510 mi (820 km) through Argentina before turning east near Rosario for the final 310 mi (500 km) before merging with the Uruguay River to form the Ro de la Plata and emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. It separates into multiple arms and produces the Paraná Delta, a large flood plain that stretches up to 38 mi (60 km) downstream from Diamante, Entre Ros.
The Paraguay and Paraná rivers are the main tributaries of the La Plata River basin, which flows through Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay, and is South America's second-biggest river basin after the Amazon.
The Paraná and its tributaries (the Grande, Paranaba, Tiete, Paranapanema, Iguaçu, and Uruguay) are impacted by 54 big dams in Brazil's La Plata basin, with 45 more planned or under construction.
The two major dams of the Parana River are the Itaipu Dam and Yacyretá Dam. One of the world's largest hydroelectric projects is the Itaipu Dam. Its 20 huge turbine generators, which are housed in a powerhouse at the dam's base, can generate 14,000 megawatts of energy. On the other hand, the Yacyretá hydroelectric plant is Argentina's biggest dam, built-in collaboration with neighboring Paraguay along the Paraná River to convert hydropower into energy. The massive reservoir of the dam poses great problems for the residents.
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