The word Iguassu means “large water” in the Tupi-Guarani etymology. The cascades are formed by the falls of the Iguassu River. Eighteen kilometers before joining the Parana River, the Iguassu River gains altitude and then plunges 80 meters down. It can reach up to 2,780 meters wide.


Its geographical formation dates from about 150 millions years, but the formation of the waterfall’s geographic characteristics began approximately 200,000 years ago.


The Iguassu River measures 1,200 meters in width above the falls. Below, it narrows into a 65 meter channel. The total width of the waterfall in the Brazilian territory is approximately 800 meters and 1,900 in the Argentinean side.


The height of the falls varies between 40 to 80 meters, depending on the river flow. The number of falls varies, reaching a little over one hundred during periods of average flow.

The average flow of the river is about 1,500 m³ per second, ranging from 500 m³/s in times of drought and 8,500 m³/s in times of flood.


The largest volume of water occurs between the months of October and March.


There are 19 main falls. Five of them are on the Brazilian side (Floriano, Deodoro, Benjamin Constant, Santa Maria and União).


The rest are on the Argentinean side. Since most of the falls are on the Argentinean side and facing Brazil, the best views are for those who observe the scene from the Brazilian side.