The Iguazú (Iguaçu) River forms at the contact of three South American countries (Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay) the mightest waterfalls in the world.
Their name Iguazú means „great water“ in the local Indian Guarani language. 160 (at a low water level) to 250 waterfalls scattered among rocky isles and cliffs in a half-moon amphitheatre front 2.7 km long, are falling down into a canyon 80 m deep, with an average flow of 1,400 m3/s, the peak being 6,500 m3/s. The most impressive central waterfall in a narrow gorge is called the „Devil´s Throat“. Because of the unique natural feature, two bilateral national parks have been established there in the 1930s: the NP (now 55,000 ha including 6,300 ha of the waterfalls protected as National Reserve) in Argentina in 1934, in Brazil the Iguaçu NP (170,086 ha) in 1939. Both the national parks with natural subtropical rainforest have saved large undisturbed areas of this ecosystem (with over 2,000 species of vascular plants, about 450 birds, 80 mammals and a rich variety of insects). In 1984–1986, UNESCO has inscribed both the parks on the list of the World Heritage natural sites. Nowadays the number of their visitors reaches from 3 to 5 million every year.
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