Iguazu National Park
Since 1984 • Natural
The semicircular waterfall at the heart of this site is some 80 m high and 2,700 m in diameter and is situated on a basaltic line spanning the border between Argentina and Brazil. Made up of many cascades producing vast sprays of water, it is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. The surrounding subtropical rainforest has over 2,000 species of vascular plants and is home to the typical wildlife of the region: tapirs, giant anteaters, howler monkeys, ocelots, jaguars and caymans.
The site consists of the national park and national reserves in Misiones Province, north-eastern Argentina. The Iguazú River forms the northern boundary of both the reserves and park, and also the southern boundary of Iguaçu National Park World Heritage site in Brazil.
The Iguazú Falls span the border between Argentina and Brazil. Some 80 m high and 3 km wide, the falls are made up of many cascades that generate vast sprays of water and produce one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world.
The vegetation is mostly subtropical wet forest rich in lianas and epithytes, although the forests have less species diversity when compared with others in Brazil and parts of Paraguay. Nonethless, over 2,000 species of vascular plant have been identified. Vegitation around falls is particularly luxuriant due to the constant spray.
The fauna are typical of the region and include tapir, coati, tamandua, raccon. The site is particularly rich in bird speices with almost half of Argentina's bird species found there. Threatened mammals such as the jaguar, ocelot and tiger-cat number among the carnivores, and the giant anteater and Brazilian otter are also found. Primates include the black-capped capuchin and black howler monkey. There are also small populations of the endangered broad-nosed caiman and the threatened Brazilian merganser (sawbill duck).
The first inhabitants in the area were the Caingangues Indians. This tribe was dislodged by the Tupi-Guaranies who coined the name Iguazú (Big Water). The first European to reach the falls was the Spaniard Don Alvar Nuñes Cabeza de Vaca in 1541 and some 10 years later Spanish and Portuguese colonization commenced. There are at least two sites of particular archaeological interest within the park.