Río de la Plata

estuary formed by the confluence of the Uruguay River and the Paraná River on the border between Argentina and Uruguay

The Río de la Plata (called River Plate in British English) is a river in Argentina and Uruguay. It is an estuary made from the Uruguay River and the Paraná River. These rivers are on the border between Argentina and Uruguay. It is about 290 kilometres (180 miles) long.

Río de la Plata
River Plate, La Plata River, Platine River
NASA photo of the Río de la Plata looking from northwest to southeast. Buenos Aires is visible on the right side near the Paraná River delta. River sediments turn the seawater brown in the vicinity of Montevideo, visible on the left coast.
Map of the Río de la Plata basin, showing the Río de la Plata at the mouths of the Paraná and Uruguay rivers, near Buenos Aires
EtymologySpanish for "river of silver"
CountriesArgentina and Uruguay
Physical characteristics
SourceConfluence of Paraná and Uruguay Rivers
 - locationArgentina/Uruguay
 - coordinates34°0′5″S 58°23′37″W / 34.00139°S 58.39361°W / -34.00139; -58.39361[1]
MouthAtlantic Ocean
 - locationArgentine Sea, Argentina
 - coordinates35°40′S 55°47′W / 35.667°S 55.783°W / -35.667; -55.783[2]
Length290 km (180 mi)[3] 4,876 km (3,030 mi) including the Paraná
Basin size3,170,000 km2 (1,220,000 sq mi)[6] 3,182,064 km2 (1,228,602 sq mi)[4]
 - locationRio de La Plata, Atlantic Ocean
 - average(Period 1971-2010)

27,225 m3/s (961,400 cu ft/s)[4] 22,000 m3/s (780,000 cu ft/s)[3]

884 km3/a (28,000 m3/s)[5]
 - minimum12,000 m3/s (420,000 cu ft/s)
 - maximum50,000 m3/s (1,800,000 cu ft/s)
Basin features
 - leftUruguay River, San Juan River, Santa Lucía River
 - rightParaná River, Luján River, Salado River

The Río de la Plata widens from about 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) at the inner part to about 220 km (140 mi) at its mouth.[7] Buenos Aires is on its western shore. Montevideo is on its northern shores.

The Río de la Plata is home for the loggerhead sea turtle, green sea turtle, leatherback sea turtle, the rare La Plata dolphin, and many species of fish.

Battle of the River Plate (1939)


The first naval battle of the Second World War was fought near the River Plata. The Kriegsmarine "pocket battleship" Admiral Graf Spee was engaged by the Royal Navy cruisers, HMS Exeter, Ajax and Achilles off the estuary of the River Plate in December 1939.

The German ship retired up the estuary with a crippled fuel system and put into port at Montevideo. A few days later, rather than fight outgunned against the British, she was scuttled in the estuary. This engagement was part of the early Battle of the Atlantic skirmishes.


  1. Río Paraná Guazú at GEOnet Names Server (main distributary of the Río Paraná)
  2. "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition" (PDF). International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Río de la Plata". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 9 May 2015. Retrieved 11 August 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Balance hídrico en la Cuenca del Plata". Archived from the original on 2021-10-19. Retrieved 2022-11-01.
  5. "Transboundary River Basin Overview – La Plata" (PDF).
  6. Raúl A. Guerrero; et al. (June 1997). "Physical oceanography of the Río de la Plata Estuary, Argentina". Continental Shelf Research. 17 (7): 727–742. Bibcode:1997CSR....17..727G. doi:10.1016/S0278-4343(96)00061-1.
  7. Fossati, Monica; Ismael Piedra-Cueva. "Salinity Simulations of the Rio de la Plata" (PDF). International Conference on Estuaries and Coasts. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 March 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2010.

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