Uruguay River (South America)

Uruguay River (South America)

Sun, 06/06/2021 - 15:47

The Uruguay River is a major river in South America. Its headwaters originate in Brazil's coastal range. The river forms parts of the boundaries of Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina before eventually joining the Río de la Plata.

Uruguay River

The Uruguay River is a major river in South America. Approximately 1,600 km (1,000 mi) in length, its headwaters originate in Brazil's coastal range. The river forms parts of the boundaries of Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina before eventually joining the Río de la Plata.

The Uruguay's main headstream is the Pelotas River which rises at 1,800 m (5,900 ft) above sea level just 64 km (40 mi) from Brazil's Atlantic coast. The Pelotas River flows northeast for 450 km (280 mi) where it meets the Canoas River and takes the name Uruguay.

Uruguay River location map

Uruguay River location map

The Uruguay River initially flows westward through Brazil, turns south-westward near Brazil's border with Argentina and then turns generally southward near the Brazil/Argentina/Uruguay border tripoint.

The main tributary of the Uruguay River is the Río Negro, which is born in the south of Brazil. Río Negro courses through Uruguay for approximately 500 km (300 mi) until it joins with the Uruguay River, 100 km (62 mi) north of its confluence with the Río de la Plata, in Punta Gorda, Colonia Department, Uruguay.

Together with the Paraná River, the Uruguay forms the Río de la Plata estuary.

The drainage basin of the Uruguay River has an area of 365,000 sq km (141,000 sq mi). Its main economic use is the generation of hydroelectricity and it is dammed in its lower portion by the Salto Grande Dam and by the Itá Dam upstream in Brazil.

Map of the Río de la Plata Basin, showing the Uruguay River

Map of the Río de la Plata Basin, showing the Uruguay River

The river is crossed by five international bridges called (from north to south):

  • Integration Bridge and Paso de los Libres-Uruguaiana International Bridge, between Argentina and Brazil
  • Salto Grande Bridge, General Artigas Bridge and Libertador General San Martín Bridge between Argentina and Uruguay.

Moconá / Yucumã Falls

An unusual feature of the Uruguay River is a submerged canyon on the Argentina/Brazil border. The canyon is only visible in two places, one of which is the Moconá Falls in Argentina (Yucumã Falls in Brazil). However, the falls are not visible for about 150 days per year and become more like rapids when they are not visible.

Unlike most waterfalls, the falls are parallel to the river, not perpendicular. The falls are 10 m (33 ft) to 12 m (39 ft) high and between 1,800 m (5,900 ft) and 3,000 m (9,800 ft) wide. State Parks protect the falls on both sides of the Argentina/Brazil border.