Niagara Falls is possibly the world’s most famous waterfall, and thanks to its prominent location in a densely populated area along the American-Canadian border, possibly the world’s most visited. For years America’s premier honeymoon destination, it is one of the most popular natural wonders of any sort on the planet. The site of one of the world’s earliest hydro-electric plants, Niagara Falls also played a critical role in the creation of the American industrial belt in the 19th century. While part of the area around the falls is located in a protected park area, most of it is heavily built out with tourism sites.
The area around Niagara was inhabited by local Iroquios and other Native American tribes before the arrival of French explorers in 1604. It was already a popular tourist destination even before the American Revolution. Major development from the late 19th to the early 20th century turned Niagara Falls into one of the world’s must see natural sites, drawing millions of visitors annually. Hydroelectric plants in and around the falls have been generating huge amounts of power since the late 1800s. Niagara Falls and the surrounding area are now undergoing major restoration to both its natural environment as well as its tourist attractions.
Niagara Falls consists of three waterfalls fed by the Niagara River: the American Falls and Bridal Falls on the New York side, and the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. The Horseshoe Falls are the most spectacular and popular of the three. The falls have a vertical drop of 167 feet, with cascades at the bottom, notably on the American side. Collectively they have one of the highest flow rates of any waterfall on Earth.
Niagara Falls is located on the border between the United States and Canada, fairly close to the major cities of Buffalo and Toronto. The Rainbow Bridge spans the gorge between the two sides. Viewing from the Canadian side is considered to be superior, though there is an excellent observation deck on the American side, and both sides offer the world famous Maid of the Mist boat tours that run directly under the falls. Web: www.niagarafalls.ca (official website of Canadian side)