A national park is a park officially recognised by a nation's government. National parks are often made to protect the animals that live inside them or the land itself. There are many National Parks in the world.
The first one established (in 1872) was the United States Yellowstone National Park.
An international organization, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and its World Commission on Protected Areas, has defined National Parks as its category II type of protected areas. The largest national park in the world meeting the IUCN definition is the Northeast Greenland National Park, which was established in 1974. According to the IUCN, there are about 7000 national parks worldwide (2010 figure).
In 1969 the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) declared a national park to be a relatively large area with:
- with one or more ecosystems not much altered by humans. It should have plant and animal species, geology sites and habitats. These should be of special scientific, educative and recreative interest, or contain a natural landscape of great beauty.
- the country has taken steps to prevent or eliminate exploitation or occupation in the area. They must enforce respect for its ecological, geomorphological or aesthetic features.
- visitors are allowed to enter, under special conditions, for inspirational, educative, cultural and recreative purposes.
- a minimum size of 1,000 hectares within zones where nature is protected
- statutory legal protection
- a budget and staff to provide sufficient effective protection
- no exploitation of natural resources (including the development of dams) except such activities as sport, fishing, the need for management, facilities, etc.
While national parks are generally understood to be administered by national governments (hence the name), in Australia national parks are run by State Governments and predate the Federation of Australia.
- Manú National Park, Peru
- Everglades, Florida
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Yosemite National Park, California
- Grand Canyon, Colorado River, Arizona
- Yellowstone National Park, United States
- Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia
- Dartmoor, Devon, England
- Galapagos National Park, Ecuador
- Teide National Park, Spain
Images for kids
Meadows of Chitral Gol National Park in Pakistan.
Lower Consolation Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Hadrian's Wall crosses Northumberland National Park in England
Lahemaa National Park in Estonia was the first area to be designated a national park in the former Soviet Union
Deosai National Park in Pakistan is known for being one of the highest plains in the world with serene beauty and wildlife.
National park Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.