50 Facts About The Itaipu Dam

Last updated on November 26th, 2022

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41. Friendship Bridge

The Itaipu Dam is 15 kilometers north of the Friendship Bridge or Ponte da Amizade. It connects Ciudad del Este in Paraguay to Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil. The arch bridge facilitates trade and boosts the local economy.

42. A Dam Car

Electric cars are old news. They may be going mainstream today, but models have been around for decades. In 1974, Brazil produced its first electric automobile named the “Itaipu” to honor the dam.

43. The 2009 Power Failure

What happens if the transmission system fails? In November 2009, a storm damaged three high-voltage transmission lines. The dam was unscathed, but Brazil and Paraguay suffered power outages that affected 50 million people.

Itaipu Dam, Brazil, Paraguay
The Itaipu Dam. Photo © Iuliia Timofeeva

44. Power Restoration

An entire country without power? That’s what Paraguay experienced for about 15 minutes. Darkness also covered São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro for over 2 hours. The blackout started at 10:13 pm. Most areas got their power back by 12:30 am.

45. A Modern Wonder

The Itaipu Dam is one of the seven modern Wonders of the World. In the list compiled by the American Society of Civil Engineers, it belongs up there with the likes of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Empire State Building, and the Panama Canal.

46. A Fallen Waterfall

The Guaira Falls produced the largest waterfall by volume. Unfortunately, it was one of the casualties of the Itaipu Dam construction. The reservoir inundates this natural feature. Brazil also blasted its rock face for safer navigation.

47. A Musical Tribute

Philip Glass, an American composer, is one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, with three Oscar nominations for film scores. Glass wrote a symphonic cantata inspired by the Itaipu.

48. A Beautiful Border

The Itaipu Dam sits near the Iguazu Falls – the most extensive waterfall system in the world. This natural wonder is part of the border between Brazil and Argentina. It’s a marvelous sight, with cascading waters creating white mist.

49. An Artificial Waterfall

It might not be as pretty, but the Itaipu Dam is mighty. When releasing water through its spillway, the Itaipu creates an artificial waterfall with a flow rate 40x higher than the natural Iguazu.

50. Cheap Energy

The Itaipu Dam is clean and efficient. It can produce electricity 55% cheaper compared to other kinds of power plants in the area, proving that it is an excellent investment.

Itaipu dam – quick facts and vital statistics

Official nameItaipu Dam
Coordinates25°24′29″S 54°35′20″W
Purposehydroelectric power
Type of damCombination gravity, buttress and embankment sections
LocatedFoz do Iguaçu
Owned byGovernment of Brazil & Government of Paraguay
Opened5 May 1984
Start of electricity generation1984
ImpoundsParaná River
ReservoirItaipu Reservoir

Capacity (29 km3, (24,000,000 acre⋅ft))
Height196 m (643 ft)
Length7,919 m (25,981 ft)
Volume12,300,000 m3 (430,000,000 cu ft)
CostUS$19.6 billion
How many men were employed during the dam's construction?40,000
Number of turbines installled20 × 700 MW

(each generator is capable of handling 160 tons of water per second)
Installed capacity14 GW
Spillwaythe maximum discharge capacity of the spillway is 62.2 thousand m3/s (40 times greater than the mean discharge of the Iguaçu Falls.)
Notes1. Paraguay exporting most of this generated energy due to its lack of consumption, and Brazil benefiting by having first rights to buy the excess energy that Paraguay sells at a highly discounted price.

2. Ten years after its completion in 1984, the American Society of Civil Engineers named it "one of the seven engineering wonders of the modern world."
Last updatedNovember 26, 2022