People and the Falls

People have lived in this area for more than 10,000 years. First, the Kaingang. Then, the Guaraní. In 1541, a Spanish explorer was the first European to see the falls.

Religious missionaries arrived in 1609. But, the Spanish forced them to leave in 1767. In the early 1880s, Westerners returned.

Scientific expeditions led to the first tourist trip in 1901. Today, there are two national park sites. Iguazú Falls is thought of as one of the “New Seven Wonders of Nature.”

In Argentina, people speak Spanish. So the falls are called the Iguazú Falls. In Brazil, they speak Portuguese. So, they call them the Iguaçu Falls.

This sign says, "Iguazú National Park, Argentina" in Spanish.

Trouble in Paradise

People want to protect the Iguazú region. Yet, people are its biggest problem. Poachers come into the parks illegally. They take trees and animals. People accidentally injure or kill animals while driving through the parks.

The Itaipu Dam on the Paraná River is one of the largest hydroelectric projects in the world.

Tourists take a boat tour of Iguazú Falls.   

Outside the parks, logging and clearing land for farms is a problem. When trees disappear, plants and animals lose their homes. Some species go extinct. Water sources are affected, too. Building hydroelectric dams supplies electricity to the area. But, the dams also affect the water level in the river.

Working Together

One challenge in preserving the region is its location. The falls are near the borders of three countries. Each country has its own ideas on how to manage the land.

Still, they have come together to create a long-term plan. This includes more patrols, monitoring species, education, and research.

Jaguars are a sign that the plan is working. In the early 2000s, jaguars had nearly disappeared from this region. Farmers used to kill jaguars that killed their livestock. Now farmers use the land to plant corn. The number of jaguars has doubled.

Jaguars are making a comeback in the Iguazú region. 

People’s efforts to make the parks better are working. The beautiful falls are worth seeing. More importantly, they are worth fighting for.

This view from above shows part of the spectacular falls.