National park

Bogd Khan Uul National Park, Mongolia. One of the earliest preserved areas now called a national park.

A national park is a park in use for conservation purposes. Often it is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state declares or owns. Although individual nations designate their own national parks differently, there is a common idea: the conservation of 'wild nature' for posterity and as a symbol of national pride.[1]

An international organization, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and its World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), has defined "National Park" as its Category II type of protected areas.[2] According to the IUCN, 6,555 national parks worldwide met its criteria in 2006. IUCN is still discussing the parameters of defining a national park.[3]

While this type of national park had been proposed previously, the United States established the first "public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people", Yellowstone National Park, in 1872.[4] Although Yellowstone was not officially termed a "national park" in its establishing law, it was always termed such in practice[5] and is widely held to be the first and oldest national park in the world. However, the Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve (established in 1776),[6] and the area surrounding Bogd Khan Uul Mountain (1778) are seen as the oldest legally protected areas, predating Yellowstone by nearly a century.[7][8]

National parks are almost always open to visitors.[9]


Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica was listed by Forbes as one of the world's 12 most beautiful national parks.[10]
Beech trees in Mallard Wood, New Forest National Park, Hampshire, England

In 1969, the IUCN declared a national park to be a relatively large area with the following defining characteristics:[11]

  • One or several ecosystems not materially altered by human exploitation and occupation, where plant and animal species, geomorphological sites and habitats are of special scientific, educational, and recreational interest or which contain a natural landscape of great beauty;
  • Highest competent authority of the country has taken steps to prevent or eliminate exploitation or occupation as soon as possible in the whole area and to effectively enforce the respect of ecological, geomorphological, or aesthetic features which have led to its establishment; and
  • Visitors are allowed to enter, under special conditions, for inspirational, educative, cultural, and recreative purposes.

In 1971, these criteria were further expanded upon leading to more clear and defined benchmarks to evaluate a national park. These include:

  • Minimum size of 1,000 hectares within zones in which protection of nature takes precedence
  • Statutory legal protection
  • Budget and staff sufficient to provide sufficient effective protection
  • Prohibition of exploitation of natural resources (including the development of dams) qualified by such activities as sport, hunting, fishing, the need for management, facilities, etc.

While the term national park is now defined by the IUCN, many protected areas in many countries are called national park even when they correspond to other categories of the IUCN Protected Area Management Definition, for example:[9][12]

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; similarly, national parks in the Netherlands are administered by the provinces.[9] In Canada, there are both national parks operated by the federal government and provincial or territorial parks operated by the provincial and territorial governments, although nearly all are still national parks by the IUCN definition.[13]

In many countries, including Indonesia, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, national parks do not adhere to the IUCN definition, while some areas which adhere to the IUCN definition are not designated as national parks.[9]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Nasionale park
Ænglisc: Rīcisc edisc
العربية: متنزه وطني
aragonés: Parque nacional
asturianu: Parque nacional
azərbaycanca: Milli park
Bân-lâm-gú: Kok-ka kong-hn̂g
беларуская: Нацыянальны парк
български: Национален парк
bosanski: Nacionalni park
català: Parc nacional
čeština: Národní park
Deutsch: Nationalpark
eesti: Rahvuspark
Ελληνικά: Εθνικός δρυμός
español: Parque nacional
Esperanto: Nacia parko
فارسی: پارک ملی
føroyskt: Tjóðgarðar
français: Parc national
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Koet-kâ Kûng-yèn
한국어: 국립공원
հայերեն: Ազգային պարկ
hrvatski: Nacionalni park
Bahasa Indonesia: Taman nasional
íslenska: Þjóðgarður
italiano: Parco nazionale
kaszëbsczi: Park nôrodny
қазақша: Ұлттық парк
Кыргызча: Улуттук парк
magyar: Nemzeti park
македонски: Национален парк
Bahasa Melayu: Taman negara
Nederlands: Nationaal park
日本語: 国立公園
norsk nynorsk: Nasjonalpark
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਕੌਮੀ ਪਾਰਕ
پنجابی: نیشنل پارک
português: Parque nacional
română: Parc național
Runa Simi: Mamallaqta parki
русиньскый: Народный парк
sicilianu: Parcu nazziunali
Simple English: National park
slovenčina: Národný park
slovenščina: Narodni park
српски / srpski: Национални парк
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Nacionalni park
svenska: Nationalpark
Türkçe: Millî park
українська: Національний парк
Tiếng Việt: Vườn quốc gia
吴语: 國家公園
粵語: 國家公園
Zazaki: Parko mılli
中文: 國家公園