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National Parks of the World


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  The concept of a National Park was born in the USA with the creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872, and Yosemite in 1896. The idea spread first to Canada, and has recently gained additional momentum to the point that there are now over 2000 worldwide. In this category we include national forests, national monuments and nature reserves, which bring the total to over 4000 regions. Nature reserves are generally established to protect specific often endangered species. A more generic term used by UNESCO is the term biosphere zone, which means protection of everything within an area, including air, water and geological formations. UNESCO has established something called the world heritage list, which is a list of places that have been noted as of value to mankind. These sites include areas of indigenous people, unique geological formations and archeological sites, but many of the heritage sites are also areas with unique fauna (animals) and flora (plant forms). Although there are some general rules that a national park should have a minimum size, there is no international organization that certifies parks.

Many countries have recently created numerous national parks for a variety of reasons. In some it is to promote eco-tourism, others are trying to protect animal species or national forests. The regions of the world with the highest density of parks is South East Asia (Thailand alone has 135 national parks), followed by Central America and the northern portion of South America. However the largest parks are in the far northern regions of North America and the southern tip of South America, as well as the desert regions in Africa. The Arab countries with the exception of Iran have few national parks or protected regions. The Russian park system is one of the oldest in the world having been authorized by Lenin. However most of their parks are not open to the public, they are Zapodveniks (strictly protected nature reserves) or Zakaznik(regional nature reserves). Another important category is wetlands, known as "ramsar" sites after a location in Iran where the organization first meet.

Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has established a list of world heritage sites, which include historical and geographic sites, but includes many national parks. Other links on the clickable maps are to Government sites, travel companies, bird watching organizations, the selected sites are those providing the most information about a park.

The maps used on this site were created using the software "Geoworld', the page translation was done with "Trandoc". For information on these products and much more see the main site Bobby knows Bridge , Click on a tree on the map below to go to a website about that park, or select one of the larger maps from the menu on the left.