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by Orient-Express
Hotel das Cataratas, Iguazu Falls, Brazil

History of the Iguassu National Park

The Iguassu National Park was once inhabited by the Caigangue and Tupi Guarani indigenous groups. The name 'Iguassu' in fact originates from the Guarani language and means 'big water'.

In 1542 Spanish expeditions, lead by Don Alvar Nunes Cabeza de Vaca passed through the area on their way to the Prata Basin. Later, in the 17th century Spanish and Jesuit missions were founded in the area. 

The area became a National Park in 1916 when the famous Brazilian, Alberto Santos Dumont, was enchanted by the natural beauty of the area. At the time the Iguassu Falls were owned by an individual but Santos Dumont requested that the Iguassu Falls were made public property and the Brazilian Government subsequently created a reserve.

Originally the reserve encompassed only 1000 hectares but was extended to 3300 hectares in 1930. In 1939 the Iguassu National Park was created and in 1942 the boundaries in place today were established. In 1986 UNESCO granted the park the title of 'Humankind Natural Heritage' thereby definitively protecting the Iguassu Falls and the surrounding Park.  

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