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History of Iguazu

(Reads: 4737, since 22-Oct-2008)

Some 10,000 years ago the area around Iguazu Falls was inhabited by hunter-gatherers of the Eldoradense culture, who were succeeded by the Guarani thousands of years later, who proceeded to introduce new methods of agriculture. The first European to visit the area was Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in 1542. He was followed by Jesuit missionaries in the early 1600s, who arrived from Spain and Portugal to convert the Guarani to Catholicism.

The missionaries established reducciones or Guarani settlements around a Jesuit mission. For the next 150 years the reducciones flourished. By this time both Spain and Portugal had had enough fearing the Jesuits had become too powerful. And in 1767 they were finally expelled by military forces. Many Guarani were killed and those who weren’t simply returned to the forests. The best preserved Jesuit mission in the area close to Iguazu is that of San Ignacio Mini, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, which dates from 1696. Both the carvings and architecture reveal the Guarani culture.

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