Uruguay River

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Coordinates: 34°12′S 58°18′W / 34.200°S 58.300°W / -34.200; -58.300
Uruguay River
Río Uruguay, Rio Uruguai
Sunset in the Uruguay River, from Misiones, Argentina
Countries Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay
 - elevation 1,800 m (5,906 ft)
Mouth Río de la Plata
 - elevation 0 m (0 ft)
 - coordinates 34°12′S 58°18′W / 34.200°S 58.300°W / -34.200; -58.300 [1]
Length 1,838 km (1,140 mi) [2]
Basin 365,000 km2 (140,000 sq mi) [3]
 - average 5,500 m3/s (194,000 cu ft/s) [3]
Map of Uruguay River's basin
The Moconá Falls (also known as Yucumã falls), where the river passes between Argentina and Brazil, are up to 3 km wide
Map of the Rio de la Plata Basin, showing the Uruguay River joining the Paraná near Buenos Aires

The Uruguay River (Spanish: Río Uruguay, Spanish pronunciation: [uɾuˈɣwai]; Portuguese: Rio Uruguai, Portuguese pronunciation: [uɾuˈɡwaj]) is a river in South America. It flows from north to south and forms parts of the boundaries of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay, separating some of the Argentine provinces of the Mesopotamia from the other two countries. It passes between the states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil; forms the eastern border of the provinces of Misiones, Corrientes, and Entre Ríos in Argentina; and makes up the western borders of the departments of Artigas, Salto, Paysandú, Río Negro, Soriano, and Colonia in Uruguay.

The river measures about 1,838 kilometres (1,142 mi) in length and starts in the Serra do Mar in Brazil,[4][5][6][7][8] where the Canoas River and the Pelotas River are joined, at about 200 m above mean sea level. In this stage the river goes through uneven, broken terrain, forming rapids and falls. Its course through Rio Grande do Sul is not navigable.

Unusual feature of Uruguay River is a submerged canyon along most of its length. This canyon has formed in dry period during the Ice Age and its depth in some locations reaches 100 m.[9] Canyon is visible only at Moconá Falls - unusual, up to 12 m high and more than 2 km wide waterfall, which has formed on a rim of this canyon 1 215 km from the mouth of Uruguay.[10]

Together with the Paraná River, the Uruguay forms the Río de la Plata estuary. It is navigable from around Salto Chico. Its main tributary is the Río Negro, which is born in the south of Brazil and goes through Uruguay 500 km until its confluence with the Uruguay river, which is located 100 km north from the Uruguay's confluence with the Río de la Plata, in Punta Gorda (Colonia Department, Uruguay).

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; and the Salto Grande Bridge, General Artigas Bridge and Libertador General San Martín Bridge between Argentina and Uruguay.

The drainage basin of the Uruguay River has an area of 365,000 square kilometres (141,000 sq mi).[3] 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.

Origin of the name[edit]

The name of the river comes from the Spanish settlers' interpretation of the word the locals used to designate it. The original name, Urugua'ý, in Guaraní, means "river of the painted birds".

Cellulose plant conflict[edit]

Argentina and Uruguay are currently experiencing a conflict over the Uruguay River. Two European companies proposed to build cellulose-processing plants at Fray Bentos, Uruguay, opposite Gualeguaychú, Argentina. Since April 2010, residents of the latter as well as many others have protested, claiming that the plants will pollute the river shared by the two countries. At the turn of the year the conflict escalated into a diplomatic crisis, making one of the companies move the project 250 km south. Since December 2005, the international bridges linking the Argentine province of Entre Ríos with Uruguay have been intermittently blockaded by Argentine protestors, causing major disruptions in commercial traffic and tourism.

Recent developments[edit]

The International Court of Justice completed hearings on October 2, 2009, between Argentina and Uruguay over the dispute. Judges from the Court will present their verdict in the beginning of 2010. Argentina believes the Finnish company Botnia is polluting the fish as well as the overall environment while Uruguay believes that the plant is not depositing a large amount of toxins in the Uruguay River.[11]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]