The Paraná River: A Large River, a Large Dam, and the Death of a Waterfall (Rivers Special IV)

We continue today with the 4th article in the Rivers Special.  If you missed the previous articles or just want to read again, click the following:  
Part I: The Volga River
Part II: The Volga Germans
Part III. The Yenisei River

The 14th (or 7th) Largest River in the World
The Paraná is over 3,000 miles long and is the 2nd largest river in South America.  It flows through Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina before its waters reach the Atlantic Ocean.  However, unlike most rivers whose deltas flow into an ocean, the Paraná is the only river in the world to form a delta with another body of fresh water - Rio de la Plata.  Why is their debate about the length?  It depends on whether or not geographers count its merger with Rio de la Plata.  If not, Paraná is the 14th longest river in the world.  If counting it as the Paraná-Rio de la Plata System, it is the 7th longest.

The Big Dam Battle
Who has the biggest, baddest dam? China is in a battle for this title with Brazil & Paraguay's Itaipu Dam.  China's Three Gorges Dam is over one mile wide and 50 stories tall.  Around 2012, the Three Gorges Dam was producing more hydroelectric power than any other dam in the world.  This surpassed the then number one producer - the Paraná's Itaipu Dam. However, due to differences in rainfall, the Paraná river has pushed more water through Itaipu and it is once again king. Phillip Glass was so inspired by the dam that he created a musical composition titled Itaipu.

Fallen Falls
With the construction of massive dams, there is always a cost.  One major natural cost was the loss of the magnificent Guaíra Falls.  Once powerful enough to be heard 20 miles away; they no longer exist because the whole area was flooded by the creation of the Itaipu Dam.

Tomorrow will be the final installment of this week's Rivers Special, but the world has many rivers and interesting people living along them.  The "Rivers Special" will return in the coming months and years.  Check out the new article tomorrow and expect more fascinating facts next week!

Thanks for reading!

Here's some video of Guaíra Falls in a musician's video.

Photo Credit: NASA

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