The Guarani Aquifer: South America’s Most Important Source of Fresh Water
What is the South American Guarani aquifer system? It’s the third-largest aquifer (groundwater reservoir) in the world and the largest in the Americas.
El acuífero Guaraní (the Guarani Aquifer) covers 460,000 sq mi (1,200,000 sq km) with a volume of 9,600 cubic mi (40,000 cubic km). That is almost as big as La Bahía de Hudson (Hudson Bay)—which covers 474,000 sq mi (1,227,650 sq km).
If you want to learn more about this amazing underground body of water, get comfortable and join me in uncovering all of its secrets.
Where Is the Guarani Aquifer?
The Guaraní Aquifer is spread across four South American countries: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. As you can see on the Guarani Aquifer map below, the Guarani aquifer covers northeastern Argentina, southern Brazil, southeastern Paraguay, and northern Uruguay.
The Guarani Aquifer Extension by Country
|Argentina||87,035 sq mi (225,424 sq km)|
|Brazil||324,420 sq mi (840,246 sq km)|
|Paraguay||28,007 sq mi (72,540 sq km)|
|Uruguay||22,604 sq mi (58,545 sq km)|
To put these numbers into perspective, the amount of territory that the Guarani Aquifer occupies in Paraguay and Uruguay is comparable to big lakes and the space in Argentina and Brazil are comparable to seas!
The landmass that the Guarani Aquifer occupies in Uruguay is around 2,000 sq mi (5,180 sq km) bigger than El mar de Alborán (the Alboran Sea)—a piece of the Mediterranean between Spain and Morocco.
The piece of territory that the Guarani Aquifer occupies under Paraguay is around 3,700 sq mi (9,582 sq km) smaller than El lago Superior (Lake Superior) between the U.S. and Canada.
The size of the Guarani in Argentine territory is 5,000 sq mi (13,000 sq km) smaller than El golfo Pérsico (the Persian Gulf)—a body of water between Iran, Iraq, Oman, UAE, and Saudi Arabia.
The Guarani Aquifer in Brazil is virtually the same size as El mar de Labrador (the Labrador Sea), a piece of the Atlantic Ocean between the Labrador Peninsula and Greenland.
In sum, the Guarani Aquifer is enormous!
Rivers Over the Guarani Aquifer
Additionally, the Guarani Aquifer lies under six South American important rivers.
|River and Countries||Length|
|Bermejo in Argentina||658 mi (1060 km)|
|Paraguay River in Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina||1674 mi (2695 km)|
|Paraná in Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay||3032 mi (4880 km)|
|Pilcomayo in Argentina and Paraguay||683 mi (1100 km)|
|Salado in Argentina||714 mi (1150 km)|
|Uruguay in Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay||1112 mi (1790 km)|
History of the Guarani Aquifer
The Guaraní Aquifer took a long time to be what it is today. It started becoming an aquifer when sandstones were deposited there in the Triassic Period between 250 and 200 million years ago. This process also occurred in the Jurassic Period—between 201 and 145 million years ago—when the Americas and Africa were part of Pangea, a supercontinent.
In 2010, the four South American countries signed an agreement to regulate a rational and sustainable use over the Guaraní Aquifer.
The Importance of the Guaraní Aquifer
The Guaraní Aquifer might be the most important body of water in South America. Because of its size, a vast amount of people depend on it.
In Argentina, there are 6 thermal wells in the province of Entre Ríos. Solely in Brazil, however, the Guarani Aquifer System gives water to more than 300 cities that have between 3,000 and 500,000 inhabitants. 60% of the population in Sao Paulo depends directly on the Guaraní Aquifer System for drinking water.
Paraguay owns more than 350 wells that give water to towns in La Paraneña Paraguaya (Eastern Paraguay) including cities such as Encarnación and Ciudad del Este.
Uruguay has 135 public wells for people in its northern communities. At least 5 (out of 19) Uruguayan departments are over the Guaraní Aquifer.
Places to Visit Connected to the Guaraní Aquifer
Let’s learn about important places that depend on the Guaraní Aquifer.
Entre Ríos, Argentina
Entre Ríos is one of the 24 Argentine provinces, and its capital city is Paraná. Paraná is 310 mi (500 km) away from Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires. The Entre Ríos province boasts at least 10 termas (hot springs).
São Paulo, Brazil
São Paulo is Brazil’s biggest and most populated city. With over 12 million people, it’s even more populated than New York! Sadly, there has been a drought in Sao Paulo recently and this has made the city more dependent on the Guaraní Aquifer. Here are 10 must-see landmarks in this Brazilian city.
|Landmark||Type of Landmark|
|Avenida Paulista||Famous avenue|
|Parque de Ibirapuera||Park|
|Mosteiro de Sao Bento||Monastery|
|Theatro Municipal de Sao Paulo||Theater|
|Catedral da Sé||Cathedral|
|Iglesia Pateo do Collegio||Church|
|Bairro da Liberdade||Neighborhood|
|Distrito de Jardins||Neighborhood|
|Allianz Parque||Soccer stadium|
|Estadio Pacaembú||Soccer stadium|
Ciudad del Este, Paraguay
Ciudad del Este (City of the East) is the capital of the Paraguayan department, Alto Paraná. It is 200 mi (325 km) from Paraguay’s capital, Asunción.
El Puente internacional de la Amistad (international friendship bridge) crosses over to Brazil. This city belongs to a place called triple frontera (triple border) that straddles Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.
|Landmark||Type of Landmark|
|Presa de Itaipu||Dam|
|Saltos del Monday||Waterfalls|
|Museo de Itaipu||Museum|
|Lago de la República||Lake|
|Costanera de Hernandarias||Beach|
|Parque Aventura Monday||Adventure Park|
Termas de Salto Grande, Uruguay
Salto in northwestern Paraguay is the capital of the homonymous province. Las termas de Salto Grande (the hot springs of Salto Grande), a 218-hectare park where with water that comes from underground at 113°F (45°C), is nearby.
The same department features las termas del Arapey (with water as hot as 102°F/39°C that comes directly from the Guaraní Aquifer) and las termas del Daymán.
Learn Spanish Before Visiting South America
Visiting the bodies of water over Guaraní Aquifer is sure to be an amazing time. Before you start packing, consider learning some Spanish. You’ll have better and more comfortable travel to Latin America and open the doors to 22 countries!
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