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The History of Iguazu

Get to know about the History of Iguazu before your travel.

The history of Iguazu Falls City goes all the way back to the 16th century and it was developed around the same time the Iguazu Falls were discovered. Today Foz do Iguazu is a bustling metropolis with close to 1 million people living in and around the city.

Early History

Cabeza de Vaca, a Spaniard who was charged with exploring the region, came upon the falls while following the Iguazu River. He decided to name the falls Quedas de Santa Maria. The name was later changed to Quedas del Iguazu in respect for the Guarani Indians who were naturally, the first to name the falls.

Later Years

The falls remained part of Paraguay until 1860 when the country was defeated in the War of the Triple Alliance. At that time the falls ended up under Brazil’s control to the north and Argentina’s control to the south. At the time the only colony there was a military settlement. However, in 1897 a post office was added to the area giving it some authenticity and in 1910 it was upgraded to a village and officially named Vila Iguazu. In 1914 it was declared a city and the name was changed to Foz do Iguazu. Alberto Santos-Dumont traveled to the area in 1916. He thought the area was so beautiful he requested more land, which is now the Iguazu Park. Previously this land had been privately owned by Jezus Val. In 1939 Parque Nacional do Iguazu was formed. The name of the city was officially changed to Foz do Iguacu in 1945.

Late 1900s

Ponte da Amizade

From the 1960s to the 1980s the Friendship Bridge and Itaipu Dam were constructed. The city experienced a huge boon and grew as construction workers moved into the area and tourists flocked in to see the falls. A recession in the 1990s resulted is an economic disaster for the city as few tourists visited the area.

Modern Times 

In 2004 the recession ended and the city began to grow. In 2005 the city changed the spelling of its name to Foz do Iguassu as the locals wanted to keep the original spelling. Another reason to change the name was to improve the tourism industry because when someone searches on the internet for the falls the city will also get featured.

Present Day

Today Foz do Iguazu has over 300,000 residents and the surrounding communities boost that number to 820,000. The city is extremely diverse with many ethnic communities including Italians, Germans, Chinese, Lebanese, Swedes, Portuguese, Palestinians, Arabs and Ukrainians. As a matter of fact Foz do Iguazu has one of the largest Chinese populations in the country of Brazil. While the residents are mostly Roman Catholics there is a large group of Buddhists and Muslims too. In May the city celebrates their diversity with the Fenartec Festival. The populace is highly educated with a 95% literacy rate. There are 6 colleges, 30 private academies and 120 public schools.

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Brazil's diversity makes it a very interesting country to be visited, all five regions in Brazil have a different appeal to it. In Rio de Janeiro you can visit the beaches and the most famous carnival in the world.