Uruguay River (South America)

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Uruguay River (South America)

Sun, 06/06/2021 - 15:47
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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 Paraná River to form the Río de la Plata estuary.

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 river's main headstream is the Pelotas, 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. The river initially flows westward through Brazil, turns southwestward near Brazil's border with Argentina, and then turns generally southward near the Brazil/Argentina/Uruguay border tripoint.

Uruguay River location map

Uruguay River location map

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

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 submarine canyon on the Argentina/Brazil border. The canyon is only visible in the Moconá Falls in Argentina and (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.

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

Map depicting the Uruguay River within the Río de la Plata Basin