Foz do Iguacu is the 4th largest city of Paraná state, Brazil and the 11th largest of the Brazil’s Southern region, with a population of 309,000 habitants . It is located approximately 650 km (400 mi) west of Curitiba, Parana’s capital city.
The city is one of the most visited by tourists in Brazil. Most tourists are Brazilians and Argentinians, but Americans, British, Germans, Tongans, Italians, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese tourists are also numerous. The city has about 100 hotels and inns. The main attractions are:
The Iguassu Falls, (with a flow capacity equal to three Niagara Falls). Part of the falls are in the Brazilian side, others (including the “Garganta do Diabo” (Devil’s Throat in Portuguese), the tallest of the falls, 97 m, 318 ft (97 m) high) are in the Argentinian side. Parque Nacional do Iguaçu (Iguazu National Park), in both Brazil and Argentina, where the falls are. It is protected by the IBAMA.
Iguazu Falls, Iguassu Falls, or Iguacu Falls are waterfalls of the Iguazu River located on the border of the Brazilian state of Paraná and the Argentine province of Misiones. The falls divide the river into the upper and lower Iguazu.
The waterfall system consists of 275 falls along 2.7 kilometers (1.67 miles) of the Iguazu River. Position is at latitude (DMS): 25° 40′ 60 S, longitude (DMS): 54° 25′ 60 W . Some of the individual falls are up to 82 meters (269 ft) in height, though the majority are about 64 metres (210 ft). The Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat; Garganta do Diabo in Portuguese), a U-shaped 82-metre-high, 150-metre-wide and 700-metre-long (490 by 2300 feet) cliff, is the most impressive of all, and marks the border between Argentina and Brazil. Two thirds of the falls are within Argentine territory.
About 900 metres of the 2.7-kilometer length does not have water flowing over it. The edge of the basalt cap recedes only 3 mm per year. The water of the lower Iguazu collects in a canyon that drains into the Paraná River in Argentina, shortly downstream from the Itaipu dam.
The falls can be reached from the two main towns on either side of the falls: Foz do Iguaçu in the Brazilian state of Paraná, and Puerto Iguazú in the Argentine province of Misiones as well as from Ciudad del Este (Paraguay) on the other side of the Parana river from Foz do Iguaçu. The falls are shared by the Iguazú National Park (Argentina) and Iguaçu National Park (Brazil). These parks were designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1984 and 1986, respectively.
On the Brazilian side there is a long walkway along the canyon with an extension to the lower base of the “Garganta del Diablo”. The Argentinian access is facilitated by the Tren Ecológico de la Selva (Rainforest Ecological Train), which brings visitors to different walkways. The “Paseo Garganta del Diablo” is a one kilometer long way to bring the visitor directly over the falls of the “Garganta del Diablo”. Other walkways allow access to the elongated stretch of falls on the Argentinian side and to the ferry that connects to the San Martin island. The fall area provides opportunities for water sports and rock climbing.
Itaipu Dam, the largest generator of hydro-electric power in the world, in the Parana river, between Brazil and Paraguay. The Triplice Fronteira (Triple Frontier) location where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet. Each side has its own Marco (landmark). The Omar Ibn Al-Khattab mosque, the largest outside Middle East. The Bird Park (Parque das Aves), with a reasonably big collection of wild birds, and the “Bosque Guarani”, the city’s zoo. The Itaipu Dam produces about 20% of Brazil’s electricity needs, and employs (directly and indirectly) about 5000 Iguaçuenses.
Many people who live in the city work in its neighbor, Ciudad del Este. All trade between Brazil and Paraguay uses the Friendship Bridge (called Ponte da Amizade in Brazil). There is another bridge, the Fraternity Bridge (Ponte da Fraternidade, or Ponte Tancredo Neves, in Brazil), which connects Foz do Iguaçu with its Argentinian neighbor, Puerto Iguazú. The Fraternity Bridge, however, is far less important than the Friendship Bridge. Recently, the Friendship Bridge has faced problems such as traffic congestion as well as protests and blockades.
The city is strategically positioned, seeing its position in Mercosul, and it is expected that its importance will increase following the formation of the SACN (South Community of Nations).
Foz do Iguaçu has few industries apart from electrical energy generation; mostly, basic textiles. Because of the importance of tourism, domestic and international crises can affect the city’s economy through reducing tourist numbers and by bringing fewer consumers to Ciudad del Este (a duty-free city where Brazilians import cheaper goods from Paraguay).
A bus leaves hourly from the terminal to the entrance on Brazilian side of the falls, It is only a short walk across the Friendship Bridge over the river Parana to Ciudad del Este. Alternatively, you can take a taxi as walking across the bridge is not recommended due to pickpocketing. You might have to ask multiple taxi drivers to get a taxi across the bridge. Locals consider the trip dangerous and might refuse it.
The climate of Foz do Iguaçu is sub-tropical, with two distinctive seasons; one humid and hot in the summer and another, dry and cool, in the winter. The city’s annual average temperature is 23.8°C (74.8°F), but can be as high as 47°C (117°F) in the summer (highest) or as low as -5°C (23°F) in the winter (lowest). The average in the summer is 26.5°C (79.7°F)and in the winter 15.4°C (59.6°F).
The climate of the city is generally hot or warm throughout the year, due to the relatively low altitude (standing only 173 m, 567 ft (173 m), above sea level). Generally, the city is sunny during the year, but rain is fairly common during the spring and in the summer. The weather of the city, however, changes very constantly, because the region where the city stands is the zone where frequently three fronts meet. As consequence, it is not uncommon to see temperatures as high as 35°C (95°F) and in the summer as low as 8°C (46°F) in the city and, frequently, thunderstorms.
Foz do Iguaçu is connected to the east by the BR-277, to Paranaguá, and also to the east by the Friendship Bridge to Ciudad del Este, and to the south to Puerto Iguazú by the Fraternity Bridge. Both the BR-277 and the Friendship Bridge are very busy roads, linking Paraguay to the Paranaguá’s seaport. The city has an international airport, the Foz do Iguaçu International Airport(IGU), which served around 600,000 passengers in 2003.
The city does not operate its own municipal transport networks, but instead licenses four private bus companies to operate services on its behalf. The bus fares are set by the municipality for all four companies. In 2003, the city initiated an integrated city fare and created a hub near the city centre.
The transport network extends to certain distant areas, such as the city’s airport and the Iguazu Park, but not between the city and its neighbor Ciudad del Este, nor with Puerto Iguazú, which are serviced by other companies. These routes are not part of the integrated network, a situation reflected by higher fares.
Every day, hundreds of vans act as commuter vehicles for people whose earnings are based in the informal economy (mainly smuggling). This worsens the traffic problems in the Friendship Bridge, where they act, and are claimed to increase the deficits of Brazilian commerce with smuggling and crime rates near the bridge.
Since Foz do Iguaçu’s foundation, Brazil Avenue is the city’s main road. While during its early years the street was primarily the military headquarters’ location (now they are just in the right beginning of the Avenue), nowadays the street is a very active place where many retail stores are located.
As of 2004, the prefecture of the city decided that a major revitalization of “Avenida Brasil” (Brazil Avenue) was needed. Attracting many consumers from many different areas of the city and even from its neighbours Ciudad del Este and Puerto Iguazú, the avenue, wide enough only to support two cars side-by-side, is frequently used during business days, and even more in important holidays (Christmas, Children’s day, Easter, Mother’s day, with many cars competing for a parking space.
The revitalization proposals asks for removal of parking space, giving major attention to pedestrians. Also, the avenue would be wide enough only to support one car side-by-side. The project started at the end of 2004, and by 2006 was concluded. The avenue does not have a bus route, by municipal order.