Brazilian river basin

Platinum Basin: the River Plate Basin

The second major Brazilian river basin is Platina, also called the La Plata Basin or the Paraná-Paraguay-Uruguay system.

In addition to the 1,415,245 km 2 (or just over 16% of the Brazilian territory), the Platinum Basin covers lands in Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay.

According to, the Southern Region of Brazil is characterized by the existence of a dense drainage network consisting of important hydrographic basins:

  • Paraná and Uruguay, which, when joining their waters in the low course, give rise to the River Plate;
  • small and medium hydrographic basins in the coastal area – the southeastern basins (South Atlantic).

In this region, plateau rivers predominate, with high gradients, which gives them a high energy potential – a characteristic that, on the other hand, allows only a precarious waterway use, with navigation restricted to small stretches of rivers.

River navigation in the Platina Basin takes place more easily in rivers such as Paraguay – typical of the lowlands – which have a satisfactory level of water throughout the year.

However, an important waterway axis has been implemented with the Tietê-Paraná system, with an area of ​​influence of approximately 70 million hectares, covering five states: São Paulo, Paraná, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás and Minas Gerais.

The Paraná River rises on the border between the states of Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso do Sul and São Paulo. It is formed by the confluence or junction of two very important rivers: Paranaíba and Grande.

Paraná and its main tributaries are plateau rivers, with many waterfalls or waterfalls. They are barely navigable rivers, but with great electricity generating capacity.

The Marimbondo waterfall (in Rio Grande), the Itu, Avanhandava and Itapura waterfalls (in the Tietê River), the Salto Grande (in the Paranapanema River) and the mouth of Iguaçu are the main falls of this river basin.

The largest hydroelectric plants on the Paraná River are the Itaipu binational and the Urubupungá complex (Jupiá and Ilha Solteira).

The Paraná River is the natural border that separates the State of Mato Grosso do Sul from the States of São Paulo and Paraná. This great Brazilian river is also the border that separates Brazil from Paraguay, in the stretch where the Friendship Bridge and the Itaipu binational plant, the largest hydroelectric plant in the world, are located.

The importance of the Platinum Basin

Looking at the map, we can see that the Paraná Basin bathes the Southeast Region, which has the highest industrial and urban concentration in Brazil. This is a strong reason for the great use of the basin in the generation of energy. About 70% of all installed power in Brazil is concentrated in the Paraná Basin.

The investment in hydroelectric power drives the development of the regions, since the supply of electricity provides the installation of industries, benefiting the cities and the countryside. In addition, the construction of locks on the unevenness of the river beds enables river navigation, draining local, regional or national production at a lower cost.

A good example of this advantage is the Tietê-Paraná waterway – the integration waterway between the Mercosur countries . Its role is of great importance, as it facilitates the flow of production between Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, especially agricultural and mineral.

On the other hand, the installation of hydroelectric dams and waterways implies the construction of gigantic lakes that flood forests and even entire cities. Naturally, people are transferred to another place where they build new houses, leaving behind their roots, their ground, the whole affective relationship built in the history of their lives.

Not to mention the animals, the vegetation – the fauna and flora suffer the environmental impact of the flood -, in addition to the changes that these immense lakes can cause in the local climates – the microclimates.

Brazilian river basin