cabezadevacaNOVACabeza de Vaca, while crossing the dense jungle from Santa Catarina to Assuncion, Paraguay; was the first European to arrive at the Cataratas in 1541.

The Jesuits founded here a mission in 1630 which was part of the “Republic of the Guaranies”. It was abandoned in 1639 due to attacks from slave-traders from São Paulo known as “Bandeirantes”.historia2_200px

After this, the region was practically abandoned until 1880 when Argentinean entrepreneurs started exploiting the natural reserves of lumber and wild Yerba tea. This produce was exported by the Parana River to urban centers in Argentina. In 1888 a Brazilian military outpost was established in Iguassu. From 1940 to 1970 there was a great influx of settlers from southern Brazil who transformed the region into one of the major producers of grain in the world. In 1974 construction began on the Itaipu Dam which transformed and modernized the region. Today, the urban area which comprises the three cities in three countries has a population of approximately 600,000 inhabitants.