Largest National Parks in the World: National parks are some of the most awe-inspiring and ecologically diverse areas on the planet. These protected areas, often covering thousands of square kilometers, are home to countless species of animals and plants, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth. Among them, some are so massive that they could easily be mistaken for entire countries. In this article, we will take a closer look at the largest national parks in the world, exploring their unique features, the diverse wildlife they harbor, and the incredible landscapes that make them some of the most beautiful places on our planet.
Largest National Parks in the World
Find some of the Largest National Parks in the World
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, USA
The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, located in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, is the largest marine protected area in the world, encompassing over 1.5 million square kilometers of ocean. The monument was established in 2006 by President George W. Bush and expanded by President Barack Obama in 2016. It is named after two Hawaiian gods, Papahānaumoku and Wākea, who, according to legend, were the parents of the Hawaiian islands.
The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is not only the largest, but also one of the most ecologically diverse marine reserves in the world. It is home to over 7,000 species of marine plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth. This includes endangered species such as the Hawaiian monk seal, green sea turtle, and several species of sharks and whales.
The unique geology of the area is also fascinating. The monument consists of a chain of volcanic islands and atolls that were formed millions of years ago by underwater volcanoes. The islands themselves are uninhabited, and the surrounding waters are largely untouched by human activity. This makes the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument an important refuge for marine life and an important scientific research site.
The monument is also significant culturally, as it is considered a sacred place by many Native Hawaiian communities. The area has been inhabited by Native Hawaiians for over a thousand years, and many of their cultural practices and traditions are still practiced in the region today.
Overall, the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is an incredible example of the natural wonders that can be found in our world. Its protection is essential to preserving the unique and diverse marine life that call it home, and its significance to the cultural heritage of the Hawaiian people makes it a truly special place.
Northeast Greenland National Park
Northeast Greenland National Park, established in 1974, is the world’s largest national park, covering over 972,000 square kilometers of Arctic wilderness. The park is located in the northeastern region of Greenland and includes the world’s largest ice cap, as well as numerous glaciers, mountains, and fjords.
Despite its massive size, the park is uninhabited and largely inaccessible, with no roads or permanent settlements within its boundaries. The extreme climate and rugged terrain make it one of the most remote and challenging places on Earth, but also one of the most pristine and unspoiled.
The park is home to a wide range of Arctic wildlife, including polar bears, musk oxen, arctic foxes, and various species of seal and whale. It is also an important breeding ground for many migratory bird species, including several species of geese and ducks.
The park’s natural features are also incredibly diverse and awe-inspiring. Visitors to the park can explore ice-filled fjords, towering mountains, and vast glaciers, including the world-renowned Petermann Glacier. The park is also home to several hot springs and geothermal areas, which provide unique opportunities for scientific research and exploration.
Despite its remote location and harsh climate, the park is an important area for scientific research and exploration, attracting scientists and researchers from all over the world. The park is also an important site for cultural heritage, with evidence of human habitation dating back over 4,000 years.
Overall, the Northeast Greenland National Park is a truly unique and remarkable place, showcasing the incredible natural beauty and ecological diversity of the Arctic region. Its protection is essential to preserving the area’s fragile ecosystems and ensuring that it remains a place of wonder and discovery for generations to come.
The Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area
The Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area spans five Southern African countries, including Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. It is twice the size of the United Kingdom and encompasses the river basins of the Kavango and Zambezi.
One of the main attractions of this vast conservation area is the Okavango Delta, which is the largest inland delta in the world. Visitors can explore the delta’s winding waterways and marvel at its diverse ecosystem, which includes wetlands, grasslands, and savannas. Another highlight is the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls, which is one of the world’s largest waterfalls and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area is also home to an abundance of wildlife, including elephants, lions, cheetahs, giraffes, and various species of antelope. The park’s diverse habitats, ranging from wetlands to deserts, provide a unique opportunity to observe and appreciate the incredible biodiversity of Southern Africa.
Visitors to the park can enjoy a variety of activities, including game drives, bush walks, and boat safaris. The park also offers cultural experiences, such as visits to local villages and interactions with indigenous communities.
Overall, the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area is a remarkable destination for nature and wildlife enthusiasts. Its vast size, stunning natural landscapes, and diverse wildlife make it one of the best places in the world to experience the beauty and majesty of Africa’s wildlife and ecosystems.
Phoenix Islands Protected Area
The Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) is one of the largest marine protected areas in the world, covering an area of approximately 408,250 square kilometers (157,626 square miles) in the central Pacific Ocean. It is located in the Republic of Kiribati, an island nation consisting of 33 atolls and islands.
PIPA was established in 2008 to protect the marine biodiversity of the Phoenix Islands archipelago, which consists of eight coral atolls and two submerged reef systems. The area is home to more than 120 species of coral, over 500 species of fish, and numerous other marine creatures, including sharks, dolphins, and sea turtles.
The Phoenix Islands themselves are a prime example of a pristine coral reef ecosystem. The remote location and limited human activity in the area have helped to maintain the health and diversity of the coral reefs, making them some of the most biologically diverse and intact in the world.
To protect this fragile ecosystem, all commercial fishing and mineral extraction activities are strictly prohibited within the protected area. The only activities allowed in PIPA are scientific research, low-impact tourism, and traditional fishing by local communities.
The unique biodiversity and ecological significance of the Phoenix Islands Protected Area have earned it recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It serves as an important model for marine conservation and sustainable development in the Pacific region and around the world.
Visitors to PIPA can participate in a range of activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking. These activities offer an opportunity to experience the incredible beauty and diversity of the marine life in this protected area, while also supporting local conservation efforts and the sustainable use of natural resources.
Galapagos Marine Reserve
The Galapagos Marine Reserve is not only one of the largest marine reserves in the world but also one of the most biodiverse. Positioned on the equator, it is located 1,100 kilometers off the coast of Ecuador and covers an area of 133,000 square kilometers of the Pacific Ocean surrounding the Galapagos Islands. The reserve encompasses a variety of terrains such as underwater volcanoes, cliffs, mountains, and coral below sea level, as well as wetlands and lagoons at sea level. These diverse ecosystems provide habitat to over 2,900 recorded animal species, including whales, dolphins, albatrosses, sharks, sea lions, penguins, fur seals, rays, cormorants, marine iguanas, sea turtles, and tropical fish.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
The Great Barrier Reef, situated off the coast of Queensland in North-Eastern Australia, is an unparalleled wonder of the natural world. Spanning over 2,000 kilometers, the world’s largest coral reef system is composed of 900 islands and almost 3,000 individual reefs. The enormity of the reef is such that it can be seen from space and its unique appearance makes it easily distinguishable. This diverse ecosystem provides habitat to an astonishing variety of marine life, including over 1,500 fish species, 125 species of sharks and rays, 30 whale species, 17 species of sea snake, six turtle species, and a large population of dugongs, as well as giant saltwater crocodiles. With more than 5,000 molluscs and 400 species of coral, the Great Barrier Reef has been declared a World Heritage Site and listed as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, cementing its place as a must-visit destination for any nature lover.
The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park
The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park is a massive conservation area that stretches across three African countries – Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe – covering over 35,000 square kilometers. It was established in 2002 as part of a peace park initiative aimed at bringing together formerly isolated national parks and promoting cross-border conservation.
One of the main highlights of the park is the opportunity to witness the majestic African elephant in its natural habitat. The park is also home to a diverse array of other wildlife including lions, leopards, rhinos, buffalos, and giraffes, as well as over 500 bird species.
Visitors to the park can enjoy a variety of activities such as guided safaris, hiking, bird watching, and cultural tours of nearby local communities. The park offers a unique opportunity to experience the wild beauty of Africa while supporting conservation efforts and sustainable tourism practices.