Paraná River, Portuguese Rio Paraná, Spanish Río Paraná, river of South America, the second longest after the Amazon, rising on the plateau of southeast-central Brazil and flowing generally south to the point where, after a course of 3,032 miles (4,880 km), it joins the Uruguay River to form the extensive Río de la Plata estuary of the Atlantic Ocean. See also Plata, Río de la.
The Paraná River’s drainage basin, with an area of about 1,081,000 square miles (2,800,000 square km), includes the greater part of southeastern Brazil, Paraguay, southeastern Bolivia, and northern Argentina. From its origin at the confluence of the Grande and Paranaíba rivers to its junction with the Paraguay River, the river is known as the Alto (Upper) Paraná.
This upper course has three important tributaries, namely the Tietê, the Paranapanema, and the Iguaçu, all three having their sources near the Atlantic coast in southeastern Brazil. The Alto Paraná’s passage through the mountains was formerly marked by the Guaíra Falls; this series of massive waterfalls was completely submerged in the early 1980s by the reservoir of the newly built Itaipú dam complex, which spans the Alto Paraná.
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