Iguaçu National Park is a national park in Paraná State, Brazil.
Created by federal decree nr. 1035 of January 10, 1939, the Park comprises a total area of 185,262.5 hectares and a length of about 420km, 300km of which are natural borders by bodies of water and the Brazilian and Argentinean sides together comprise around 225 thousand hectares.
On November 17, 1986, during the UNESCO conference held in Paris, the Iguaçú National Park was listed as Natural Heritage of Humanity and is one of the largest forest preservation areas in South America.
The Iguaçú National Park owes its name to the fact it includes an important area of the Iguaçú river, approximately 50km of the length of the river and the world famous Iguaçú Falls.
It is the most important park of the Prata Basin and, since it is a haven to a significant genetic asset of animal and vegetal species, it was the first park in Brazil to receive a Management Plan.
The Iguaçú National Park is spectacular as well as pioneering. The first proposal for a Brazilian national park aimed at providing a pristine environment to "future generations", just as "it had been created by God" and endowed with "all possible preservation, from the beautiful to the sublime, from the picturesque to the awesome" and "an unmatched flora" located in the "magnificent Iguaçú waterfalls". These were the words used by Andre Rebouças, an engineer, in his book "Provinces of Paraná, Railways to Mato Grosso and Bolivia", which started up the campaign aimed at preserving the Iguaçú Falls way back in 1876, when Yellowstone, the first national park on the planet, was four years old.
In Brazil the Park has boundaries with the following municipalities: Foz do Iguaçu, Medianeira, Matelândia, Céu Azul, São Miguel do Iguaçu, Santa Terezinha de Itaipu, Santa Tereza do Oeste, Capitão Leônidas Marque, Capanema and Serranópolis.
As foreseen by Rebouças, the park's basic goal is the preservation of the highly relevant ecologically and scenic natural ecosystems, thus enabling scientific research and the development of environmental education and interpretation activities, recreation in natural surroundings and the ecological tourism.
The Park is located in the westernmost region of the state of Paraná, in the Iguaçú river basin, 17km from downtown Foz do Iguaçú. It borders Argentina, where the Iguazu National Park, which was implemented in 1934, is located. The border between the two countries and their national parks is made by the Iguaçú river, whose source is near the Serra (mountain range) do Mar near Curitiba and runs for 18 km throughout the state of Paraná. The river estuary is located 18km downriver from the Falls, where it flows into the Paraná river. This meeting of rivers forms the triple Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay border. The area of the park open for visitation and where the concession areas of Cataratas do Iguaçú S/A are located, accounts for approximately 0.3% of the total area of the park.
The most spectacular sightseeing of the park is the Iguaçú Falls, which form a 2,700m wide semicircle, while the waterfalls filled visitors with awe as they watch the water foam that plunges down from a height of 72m.
The number of waterfalls ranges from 150 and 300 depending on the Iguaçú river flow. Besides the exuberant waterfalls, there are other attractions such as rich fauna, the Poço Preto (the Black Well), the Macuco Waterfall, the Visitors Center, the Santos Dumont Statue, a homage paid by VASP (an airline company) to the "Father of Aviation", who lent all his prestige and efforts in turning the falls area into a National Park.
It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.