Parana, a river of South America, formed by the union of the Paranahyba and Grande, both from the mountains of Minas Geraes in Brazil. From the point of junction of these rivers, about lat. 20° S., Ion. 52° W., the Parana flows S. W. by S. as a majestic stream to lat. 24° 4', where it forms the cataract of Guayra or Salto Grande, described by travellers as eclipsing in magnificence all others in the world, not even excepting Niagara. After collecting the waters of several rivers on both banks, and especially those of the Tiete and Paranapanema from the east, the Parana increases in width until it attains nearly 4,500 yards a short distance above the falls; then the immense mass of water is suddenly con-lined within a gorge of 200 ft., through which it dashes with fury to the ledge, whence it is precipitated to a depth of 56 ft. It is computed that the volume of water per minute is equal to 1,000,000 tons; the velocity of the flood through the gorge is 40 m. an hour, and the roar of the cataract is distinctly audible at a distance of 30 m.
The river continues in a southerly direction for nearly 200 m., forming the boundary between Brazil and the Argentine Republic on the E. and Paraguay on the W., and then turns S. W. and afterward W., flowing between Paraguay and the Argentine Republic, till it is joined by the Paraguay at Tres Bocas, a little above Corrientes, 900 m. above its mouth. Thence it pursues a S. course through the Argentine Republic to Santa Fe, where it separates, forming several islands, and flows S. E. till it unites with the Uruguay to form the Rio de la Plata, after a course of 1,860 m., exclusive of that of the Paranahyba and Grande. Its principal tributary is the Paraguay (which is more voluminous, though shorter and narrower, than the stream in which its name is lost), and between their point of junction and Salto Grande empties the Igua-zu. The Parana is full of islands, which undergo a constant round of decay and renovation. Within the past century many have disappeared, and others have been formed and protected by vegetation. They are all well wooded, as are also the adjacent shores; but being composed of mud and sand, without even a pebble, and extremely low, they are inundated during the periodical rises of the river.
The Parana is in general more picturesque than the Paraguay, especially in the lower half of its course, where the cliffs are sometimes absolutely perpendicular, and of a reddish tinge, and at other times presented in large broken masses, clothed with cacti and mimosa trees. Several lines of steamers regularly ply between Buenos Ay res and Rosario and Cor-rientes. It is navigable to Corrientes for vessels drawing 16 ft., for smaller craft to Can-delaria, and thence only for small boats up to the cataract.