Built on the banks of the Paraná River, on the border between Brazil and Paraguay, the Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam began operating in 1984 and was finally completed in 2007.
Since work started on the dam in 1977, over 20 million people have been to see it. It now attracts almost 860,000 tourists per year, of which 30% come from neighbouring countries and 20% from other nationalities.
That’s because it is huge. (See that layered box in the middle. That’s an office block! And the little grey dots? Buses!)
The construction involved excavating eight times more land than EuroDisney, used as much concrete as the equivalent of 170 Maracanã stadiums and as much metal to build 380 Eiffel Towers. The dam supplies energy to 50 million Brazilian homes and produces 17% of the electricity consumed in Brazil & 70% of Paraguay’s electricity.
Visits to the plant generate around R$12 million per year, of which R$3.2 million are invested in the Itaipu Technological Park Fund to promote research into renewable energy, electric vehicle projects, research laboratories and free software factories, as well as the Mercosul Institute of Advanced Studies.
Visitor attractions include a sightseeing tour, an eco-museum and a wildlife sanctuary. Every Friday the dam is illuminated with a light show and on Saturdays there are racing tracks for test driving electric vehicles.