National parks exist all over the globe, a true testament to the power and wonder of nature. In fact, in the entire world there are 6555 national parks, which are mostly undeveloped stretches of land. These vital, protected parklands hold within them some of the most incredible natural occurrences, including mountains, canyons, waterfalls and forestlands, not to mention the plethora of wildlife who make these breath-taking places their home. But where are the largest national parks in the world? We take a look through the biggest recorded parks, in celebration of their sheer and unwavering beauty.
1. Northeast Greenland National Park
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest national park is Northeast Greenland National Park, which is an impressive 972,000 km, or 375,000 square miles, making it 77 times bigger than Yellowstone. Established in 1974, and extended in 1988, this national park runs from Liverpool Land all the way to Odaaq near Peary Land. The majority of the park is covered with ice, making it pretty inhospitable, (only around 500 visitors come here per year), but a huge range of wildlife live here, from musk ox to polar bears and walruses.
2. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is a protected stretch of water and land in Australia, housing the world’s biggest coral clusters and some of the rarest known examples of marine life. These include sharks, rays, sea snakes, marine turtles, bony fish and many marine mammals. Making this stretch of land covering 343, 966 km, or 132,806 square miles, into a national park ensures it cannot be exploited by any damaging activities such as fishing or the removal of wildlife.
3. Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, Mozambique
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One of the world’s largest national parks, Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park is found in the borders of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe, covering a stretch of 99,800 square kilometres. This astonishing area of land houses more than 850 types of animals, and more than 2000 different plant varieties. Once ravaged by poachers and big game hunters, this protected area of land now allows the survival of a great many animal species to continue.
4. Namib Naukluft Park, Namibia
Set in the Namib Destert, this great stretch of 49,768 km, or 19,216 square miles, is a dry and barren desert land where a whole host of wild animals live. They include snakes, hyenas, jackals, geckoes and gemsboks, who have adapted to survive the region’s dry arid conditions. Now recognized as the oldest desert in the world, Naukluft National Park boasts vast, brightly colored sand dunes, as well as mountain ranges, canyons and gravel plains. It has been an ecologically protected area since 1979, and is the largest preserved area of land in Namibia. Because of its challenging conditions, many visitors opt to enjoy this national park from the air, via a flight or balloon ride.
5. Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada
Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada is situated in 44,807 square kilometers of land in northeastern Alberta and the southern Northwest territories. The entire park covers an area of land larger than Switzerland, giving some sense of how big this protected area really is. The site was originally given national park status to protect the large herds of free-roaming bison who live here, but it is also the only place in the world where the whooping crane will nest. It also houses the largest inland delta in the entire world, along with great swathes of untouched grass and meadowlands. The sheer scale and great natural significance of this park means in has now become a UNESCO World Heritage site.