Isla Apipe
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Jan S. Krogh's Geosite: Apipé Islands and Entre Rios Island

Apipé Islands (in Guarani: lomadas) and almost 40 km further west, Entre Rios Island are Argentine river islands situated between the Department of Missions in Paraguay and the Province of Corrientes in Argentina. They are surrounded by Paraguayan territorial inland waters.  Isla Apipé Grande appears to be  the biggest true enclave in the world with an area of about 276 km². 

The islands that make up the major group of Argentine exclaves are Apipé Grande Island, Apipé Chico Is. and several minor islands and islet. They are covering an area of more than 32,000 ha. All are surrounded by branches of the Parana River. The hydroelectric dam Yacyretá-Apipé, which began operations in 1994 and which provides electricity to the island, has made the islands have been almost covered with water from the reservoir. Apipé Grande has a population of about 2,000 inhabitants. This island has a small town called San Antonio. There are practically no motor vehicles on the island.

While the sovereignty of the islands are Argentinan, the surrounding waters belong to Paraguay, which transforms these lands into exclaves. This situation has generated numerous conflicts, especially when the islanders want to be transported to the mainland Argentina. 1)

Isla Talavera was a Paraguayan island east of Ituzaingo, now submerged by the reservoir of Yaciretá.

The Argentina - Paraguay Boundary Treaty of February 3, 1876, establishes the boundary as the midchannel of the main stream (de facto Thalweg) of the Rio Parana to the Brazilian boundary or tripoint. There are two true enclave areas; Isla Entre Rios and 39 km further east, Islas Apipé. Considering that some of the smallest islets must be considered as temporary islets, the Apipé Islands consist from four true enclaves; Isla Apipé Grande, Isla Apipé Chico, Isla Ituzaingo and the island southwest of Apipé Grande (unknown name).

From this map we learn that the island east of I. Apipé Chico is called Isla San Martin; and that the biggest Island southwest of I. Apipé Grande is called Isla Los Patos. 

Border Treaty 

Map from Knaurs Grosser Weltatlas.

The boundary follows the Rio Parana for approximately 732 kilometers (455 miles). It extends downstream between the Brazilian tripoint (ARBRPY) at the confluence of the Rio Paraná and the Rio Iguazu (Rio Iguacu) and the confluence of the Rio Paraná and the Rio Paraguay. The boundary then follows the Rio Paraguay upstream for approximately 383 kilometers (238 miles) to its confluence with the Rio Pilcomayo.

The Argentina - Paraguay boundary treaty of February 3, 1876, delimits the sector between the Brazilian tripoint and the confluence of the Rio Paraguay and the Rio Pilcomayo as follows:

Article 1

Paraguay should be divided from Argentina on the east and on the south by the mid-channel of the main stream of the Parana from its confluence with the Paraguay to the boundary of Brazil, on its left (east) bank, the island of Apipe to belong to Argentina and the island of Yesireta to Paraguay, as declared in the Treaty of 1856; 

Article 2

Paraguay should be divided from Argentina on the west by the mid-channel of the main stream of the Paraguay from its confluence with the Parana, the Chaco [belonging to Argentina] as far as the main channel of the Pilcomayo …; 

Article 3

The island of Atajo or Cerrito should belong to Argentina and the remaining permanent or temporary islands in either the Parana or the Paraguay to Argentina or Paraguay according to their [closer] position with reference to one or the other republic …, the channels between the islands, including Cerrito, to be common to the navigation of both states … 2)

Article in Corrientes Opina

Article 3 in the Treaty refers to the two channels on this map (from point 1 to 2; and from point 3 to 4).

By Rodolfo Fernandez, National Deputy for the Province of Corrientes. Member of the Defense Committee. HCDN

It is like a story from a renowned global series, where a group of men and women are trapped on a Pacific island, and unable to leave her. But the fact is that Argentine residents living on the Island of Apipé in the province of Corrientes for many years have been helt hostages in a distressing situation. Apipé Island is in its entirety an Argentine territory, and our national flag flies every day at the local schools that educate Argentine children. But this exercise of sovereignty ends as soon as they touch the waters of the Paraná River, since the waters surrounding the island belong to Paraguay.

An Argentine citizen who lives on the island, but works on any of the coastal villages of Ituzaingó or Ita Ibaté must perform daily immigration procedures, just listen to the stories from the villagers who live there in awe due to the irrationality.

Decree no. 1585/82, signed by the then Argentine President Reynaldo Bignone de facto approved the redefinition of the binational entity of Yacyretá. Several years ago, we began to negotiate with the Foreign Ministry a recovery from our lost sovereignty, but despite requests we failed to come to any solution.

Teachers who must travel daily to the island teaching classes on Apipé undergo a daily discomfort; these education workers must apply for approval to Migration to leave Argentina and go to Argentina. In addition, daily incidents are recorded, even armed, among fishermen from Apipé and Paraguay, in which the rights of apipeños [people from Apipé] are reduced because the Paraguayan Navy is having jurisdiction in those waters, despite the presence of a detachment of an Argentine Naval Prefecture on the island territory. The Paraguayan fishermen, act freely, of course, as any citizen who is in his own territory. If an apipeño wish to catch fish he has to do it secretly and endure threats, many of them violent, and to be intimidated with guns. Paraguayan Navy patrols the insular area constantly, with the simple goal of preventing Argentines to live from fisheries.

In March the presidents of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, and of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez celebrated the reach of the final elevation of the Yacyretá dam. At no moment the need of restoring the lost sovereignty of the waters occupied the agenda of the current Foreign Ministry headed by Hector Timmerman. The Minister never addressed this issue, being a fan of social networks, or even dedicated a "twit" to the tragic situation of these Argentines. The 2000 inhabitants of the Apipé Island, these Argentine citizens have the right, as any of us, to exercise fully the constitutional exercise of our country to could travel freely.

(Article from the paper Corrientes Opina on 10 June 2011, translated from Spanish.)

Teachers travelling daily the 14,5 km long boat trip from the Argentine town of Ituzaingo to the school at Puerto San Antonio on Apipé Grande, Argentina had in 2011 to pass Paraguayan passport and customs formalities since they travelled through the territory of Paraguay.

The territorial situation west of Apipé Chico. In the background is the town of Ituzaingo.   (The drawn midchannel is an approximate line.)

The territorial situation at the town of Ituzaingo. (The drawn midchannel is an approximate line.)

The major part of Isla Yacyreta is under water as a result of the construction of the dam. 

Visit on 1 Sep 2011 to Isla Apipé by the Argentinian artist Dr. Flooger. At 1:20 into the film the team departs from the Argentine side of the Yacyreta Dam Gate and is transported over the Paraguayan river territory to the village of San Antonio on Isla Apipé Grande by an Argentine Coast Guard (Prefectura Naval Argentina) vessel under the command of a Chief Petty Officer.

Calculated area of Isla Apipé Grande is 276.0 km² which makes it the biggest true enclave in the world.

Calculated area of Isla Apipé Chico is 23.8 km² 

Calculated area of Isla Los Patos is 11.8 km² 

Calculated area of Isla San Martin is 3,7 km².

Isla Entre Rios

Entre Rios Island is about 19 km long and 3,6 km on its widest. It is uninhabited, but is closer to Argentina than to Paraguay mainland at the same time as it is situated north of the mid-channel of the main stream. Since the Argentine island is surrounded by Paraguayan territorial waters it is therefore an Argentine exclave and a Paraguayan enclave.


  1. Spanish Wikipedia:é

  2. International Boundary Study No. 166 - January 20, 1979. Argentina - Paraguay Boundary, Department of State, United States of America:

  3. Corrientes Opina (Spanish):


  1. Enclaves insulares es Rios Internacionales. El caso de los Rios Uruguay, Paraná y Paraguay by Gustavo C. Bobrik (Spanish)


This page was last time updated 25/02/12 .