Río de la Plata

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Río de la Plata
The river system of the Río de la Plata

The river system of the Río de la Plata

location Uruguay / Argentina
River system Río de la Plata
Drain over Río de la Plata → Atlantic
source Confluence of the
Río Paraná and Río Uruguay
33 ° 56 ′ 45 ″  S , 58 ° 24 ′ 33 ″  W
muzzle in the Atlantic on the line between
Punta del Este / Cabo San Antonio
35 ° 37 ′ 56 ″  S , 55 ° 52 ′ 8 ″  W

Satellite image: Entire Río de la Plata and southern river system

Satellite image:
Entire Río de la Plata and southern river system

Satellite image (Buenos Aires is lower right, Montevideo is upper left)

The common 290 km long and up to 220 km wide confluence of the large South American rivers Paraná and Uruguay into the Atlantic Ocean is called Río de la Plata ( Spanish for silver river ) . The water of the Río de la Plata is cloudy due to the high amount of loamy mud . From the air you can see how the ocher-colored water of Uruguay only slowly mixes with the red-brown water of Paraná. The area has only shallow depths, generally less than 20 m, so that ships with greater drafts heading for Buenos Aires have to use dredged fairways .

The region around the Río de la Plata is very densely populated. The Argentine capital Buenos Aires (about 3 million inhabitants, Gran Buenos Aires agglomeration around 12 million inhabitants) on the southern bank and the Uruguayan capital Montevideo (almost 1.4 million inhabitants, 2 million in the metropolitan area) on the north bank are the largest Cities on the Río de la Plata.


f1Georeferencing Map with all coordinates of the geography section : OSM

The origin of the Río de la Plata is the confluence of the Río Paraná and Río Uruguay ( 33 ° 56 ′ 45.2 ″  S , 58 ° 24 ′ 33.5 ″  W ).

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the border to the Atlantic on an imaginary line from the Uruguayan city of Punta del Este ( 34 ° 57 ′ 53 ″ S, 54 ° 56 ′ 43 ″ W ) to Cabo San Antonio ( 36 ° 18 ′  S , 56 ° 47 ′  W ) in Argentina. The state border between Argentina and Uruguay runs through the Rio de la Plata .


This estuary probably got its name from the fact that the silver deposits from Potosí in today's Bolivia were shipped via it. Sucre , the official capital of Bolivia, was then called Charcas , but was also called La Plata .

Other sources assume that the name comes from the fact that significant silver deposits were initially suspected in this region. The assumption was probably based on the fact that the discoverers who were shipwrecked at the mouth of the Río de la Plata together with Juan Díaz de Solís in 1516 , were given silver jewelry by the Indians living there . Among the conquerors who set out for this area a little later, the legend of a Sierra de la Plata , a mountain with abundant silver deposits, spread. As it turned out later, the assumption was wrong.

Another possible explanation of where the river got its name from has to do with its color. On bright, glistening sunny days, the surface of the water looks as if it were made of pure silver.


In 1888 an earthquake struck in the area of ​​the Río de la Plata . At the beginning of the Second World War , the so-called battle on the Río de la Plata between the German armored ship Admiral Graf Spee and Allied (British) units took place at the mouth .


In the Río de la Plata river water and sea water mix, and the water is only fresh water above Buenos Aires , brackish between Buenos Aires and Montevideo and salty like sea water to the east. Accordingly, the fauna is mainly characterized by marine fish. The narrow-nosed smooth shark ( Mustelus schmitti ) and the Argentine angel shark ( Squatina argentina ) as well as the rays Zapterix brevirostris and Myliobatis goodei occur. In addition, various species of the family of the croakers ( Cynioscion striatus , acylodon Macrodon , Menticirrhus americanus , Micropogonias fumieri , the banded croaker ( Paralonchurus brasiliensis ) and the Black drummers ( Pogonias cromis )), the gurnard Prionotus nudigula and Prionotus punctatus that Trevally Parona signata a kind from the family of sham Butte ( Paralichthys sp.), the Gabeldorschart Urophycis brasiliensis , three species from the order of the herring-like ( Anchoa marinii , Brevooitia aurea and Engraulis anchoita ), a Basilichthys -Art ( neotropical silverside ), mullets ( Liza sp . and Mugil sp.), the Grundel Gobiosoma parri and the comb tooth Schleimfisch Hypleurochilus fissicornis . Freshwater fish that have been detected in the Río de la Plata are the saber-toothed tetra ( Rhaphiodon vulpinus ), the aerial catfish Parapimelodus valenciennesi and Megalonema argentinum and a species from the family of the false thorn catfish ( Trachycorystes sp.). There are also two species of dolphins, the La Plata dolphin ( Pontoporia blainvillei ) and the bottlenose dolphin ( Tursiops truncatus ).


Web links

Commons : Río de la Plata  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. International Hydrographic Organization, Limits of Oeans and Seas (Special Publication No. 23, 3rd Edition 1953, p. 19) , accessed on July 12, 2017.
  2. ^ Enrique E. Boschi: El Ecosistema estuarial del rio de la plata (argentina y uruguay) Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo Pesquero, Mar del Plata, Argentina.