National Park in Croatia is defined by Article 11 of the Nature Protection Act as: "...a vast, predominantly unmodified land and/or sea area of outstanding and multiple natural values, which comprises one or more preserved or insignificantly altered ecosystems, and is primarily intended for maintaining original natural values."
Plitvice Lakes National Park and Krka are noted for their interesting karst hydrography and morphology of this magnificent travertine waterfalls and lakes, while Kornati, Brijuni and Mljet are island National parks characterized by varied and rich underwater world. Risnjak, Paklenica, and North Velebit are typically mountainous areas with diverse vegetation and relief.
National Park Brijuni
• Total Park area: 3395 ha
• Marine Park area: 2651.7 ha
• Entire islands area (14 islands): 743.3 ha
• Island coastal length: 46.82 km
• Park sea borders length: 22.93 km
Brijuni are the National Park and the islands in the Croatian part of the Adriatic Sea. They are located west of the south-west Istrian coast, facing Fažana, and consist of 14 islands and islets with total area of 33.9 km² (area of the island and the waters; the waters of Brijuni take 80% of the total area). The two largest islands are Veliki Brijun 7 km² and Mali Brijun 1.7 km², and smaller are Sveti Marko, Gaz, Okrugljak, Šupin, Šupinić, Galija, Grunj, Vanga, Madona, Vrsar, Kozada and Sveti Jerolim. Islands are partly covered with lush forests of holm oak, which in the 19th century were cleared to form the park at the time of this famous resort. On the islands in the mid-20th century were introduced fallow deer, axis deer and mouflon who today carelessly roam and graze on lawns or resting in the shade of old oak. The park is, apart from these inhabited with other introduced species and native animals, among which are the most numerous birds. On Brijuni there are many cultural and historical sites of which the most famous and best preserved are: Roman country castle I.-II. c. with spa and Venus temple, Byzantine castrum, Basilica of St. Mary from V.-VI. Century, church of St. German from the XV. century. On the island of Veliki Brijun there is one of the oldest olive trees in the Mediterranean. Planted in the fourth century it still gives olives, and as a witness of the ancient past attracts many tourists.
National Park Kornati
• number of islands: 89
• park area: 217 km²
• land area: 50 km²
• sea area: 167 km²
• coastal length: 238 km
• coastline indentedness coefficient: 9.54
• highest point: 237 m (Metlina on the island of Kornat)
• deepest point:125 m (on the border of the park SE of Purara)
• lowest average temperature: 8° C (February)
• highest average temperature: 25° C (August)
• number of sunny hours per year: 2700
• length of dry stone walls: 330 km
National Park Kornati makes most of the Kornati archipelago in the Croatian part of the Adriatic Sea in central Dalmatia on the confluence of Šibenik and Zadar islands. 1980, because of its exceptional landscape beauty, interesting geomorphology, indented coastline and especially the rich biodiversity of the marine ecosystem, they were declared a national park. The Kornati archipelago as a separate and distinct group of islands, stretches over an area of about 320 km² and includes approximately 150 of permanently or occasionally above-sea units (islands, islets and rocks). Kornati is the most developed island ecosystem in the Adriatic Sea, which includes as many as 12% of all Croatian islands (1264 islands), and only 1% of the Croatian sea surface. For a long time they attract the attention of many boaters, divers, hikers and other nature, and what nature offers lovers.
National Park Krka
National Park "Krka" is located on the area of Šibenik-Knin County and encompasses an area of 109 km² of the most beautiful waterfalls of the Krka river and lower flow of Čikola river. The Krka riverbed is deeply incised into the limestone plateau between Knin and Skradin. With the floated parts of delta river Krka is around 72.5 kilometers long, and by the length is the 22nd river in Croatia. It springs from the base of the mountain Dinara, 3.5 km northeast of Knin. This natural and karst phenomenon in its flow has built seven waterfalls Bilušića Buk, Brljan, Manojlovac waterfall, waterfall Miljacka, waterfall Roški, Rošnjak and Skradinski buk, the highest waterfall in the Mediterranean (46m). The travertine waterfalls of river Krka are the fundamental phenomenon of this river. National park was declared in 1985, while the other parts of Krka river were protected since 1948. Within the park there is a hydropower plant Jaruga. Jaruga is the second oldest hydropower plant in the world and first in Europe. It was put into operation on 28 August 1895, as the first Croatian and one of the world's first electric power systems. It was opened to traffic three days after the world's first hydroelectric power plants at Niagara Falls made by the patents of Nikola Tesla. Mostly thanks to Nikola Tesla the first European power plant was built in Croatia. 11.5 km long transmission line on wooden poles was built towards the nearby Šibenik and Šibenik was the first city in the world who has won AC electricity for their facilities. Three years later, work began on the expansion and modernization of hydro power plants. The new hydropower plant Jaruga 2 was built in 1903 and works to this day.
National Park Mljet
Mljet is National Park in Croatia, and covers the western part of the island, from the field of Crna klada (Black log) to the westernmost point of the island, cape Goli. It extends northwest - southeast, parallel to the eastern half of the Pelješac peninsula separated from it by the Mljet channel 8 km wide. Rt Goli on the northwwestern end of the island is 18 km apart from Korčula, and Cape Gruj at the southeast end of the island from Dubrovnik 30 km. Mljet National Park covers nearly 5400 hectares, including a sea belt 500 m from the coast, islands and reefs, and so takes up about a third of the island. Indigenous forests of holm oak and Aleppo pine forests cover more than 90% of the park area giving it a special biological and aesthetic value, therefore it is often called the "green island". Salt lakes, Malo (small) and Veliko (large), are the most prominent locations in this region and an important geological and oceanographic phenomenon which are sea submerged karst valleys. They are rich with number of different species of fish, crustaceans, shellfish and other marine organisms. Park area makes a rich cultural and historical heritage. In the southern part of the Great Lake is the island of St. Mary with its ancient Benedictine monastery and church, founded in the 12th century, today the most visited attraction of the National Park. Mljet is Croatian greenest island, with lush Mediterranean vegetation, clear and clean sea, gentle sandy bays, rich underwater sea life. Once you grasp this historic island of marvelous beauty and original nature you became his lover and gladly coming back. Sea around its coast is warmer and saltier than in the northern Adriatic.
National Park Paklenica
Total Park area: 95 km²
Highest peaks: Vaganski vrh 1757 m, Sveto brdo 1753 m
Counties: Zadar (64 km²) and Lika-Senj (31 km²)
National Park Paklenica first time was declared a National Park in 1929, but by the law which is to be reviewed every year, and this was not done. Paklenica was declared a national park in October 19, 1949, and it was the second National Park in Croatia, declared a few months after the Plitvice Lakes National Park. The main reason for the proclamation of this area a national park was the protection of the best preserved and largest forest complex in Dalmatia. National Park Paklenica covers an area of 95 km², on the southern slopes of Velebit, below the highest peaks Vagan Peak (1757 m) and Sveto brdo (Holy hill (1753 m)). It covers an area of torrential flows of Velika and Mala Paklenica, and their distinctive canyons carved vertically into the south slopes of Velebit and the wider surrounding area. In the relatively small area it gives an abundance of geomorphological phenomena and forms, diverse flora and fauna, attractive landscapes and untouched nature. The diversity of the living world is conditioned by climatic characteristics but also a rich and varied geological history. The park is a location of around 90 caves, including Manita Cave and Cave Vodarica the ones that stand out by the size and rich decorations. Forests cover two thirds of the park area and are characterized by the abundance of plant communities. In this protected area, there are 150 km of hiking trails and roads, and it is considered the most important Croatian climbing center, with over 360 equipped and improved routes, of which the most famous is Anića kuk.
National Park Plitvice lakes
Total area: 29 685 ha
Lakes: 200 ha
Forests: 13 320 ha
Average altitude: 600 m
Lowest altitude point: 367 m
Highest altitude point: 1279 m
The lakes were declared a national park in April 8, 1949. It is the largest, oldest and most popular Croatian National Park. National Park Plitvice Lakes is located in the mountainous part of Croatia, in the southern part of the mountain range Mala Kapela, at an altitude of 450-1280 m. National Park Plitvice Lakes is a special geological and hydrogeological phenomenon. Known for its magnificent travertine waterfalls that create clear lakes in constant biodynamic process of creation and growth of travertine. National Park consists of 16 lakes. The lakes are divided into Upper and Lower Lakes. The upper lakes are: Prošćansko, Ciginovac, Okrugljak, Batinovac, Veliko jezero (Great Lake), Malo jezero (Small Lake), Vir, Galovac, Milino, Gradinsko, Veliki Burget and Kozjak. The lower lakes are: Milanovac, Gavanovac, Kaluđerovac and Novakovića Brod. Lakes are soaked by the waters of Black and White river and their tributaries, and Rječica and its tributaries, and they are connected by cascades and waterfalls. There are many springs where water is abundant. Water lakes are supersaturated with dissolved calcium carbonate that form calcium bicarbonate. From this mineralized water in the streams and especially the travertine barriers comes, because of water spraying, to the excretion of calcium carbonate (calcite) in the form of tiny crystals which are then deposited. Blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria), diatoms (Diatomea), a variety of bacteria, protozoa (single-celled organisms) and multicellular organisms microscopic sizes are presenting life community that develops on the stones, plants (mosses) and objects submerged in water. Calcite micro-crystals stick to mucopolysaccaride substance secreted by algae and bacteria. Such glued crystals are presenting crystallization areas around which calcium carbonate from the water will continue to precipitate, forming a well-known travertine barriers. The Park has 1267 different plant species registered, of which as many as 50 orchids species, a large number of animal species of which 321 butterflies (of which 76 daytime butterflies and 245 night butterflies), 157 birds, over 50 mammals, 20 bats species, etc. Within the rich fauna a special place takes Europe's largest carnivores: brown bear, wolf and bobcat. Frequent inhabitants of the lake are two types of crabs: river and crayfish. The park is rich in endemic plant species (72 species). A special value takes endemic species who are for the first time described in this area: Grassy Bells (Edraianthus tenuifolius), Thora buttercup (Ranunculus scutatu) and Meadow Squill (Scilla litardierei). The park also highlights the richness (22 species) of protected plant species according to the Law on Nature Protection of the Republic of Croatia. In this group stands out lady's slipper orchid (Cypripedium calceolus) - the most beautiful orchid in Europe. Rare and interesting plants of Croatian flora which in the park flora there’s a significant number make up a special group in the park flora. Ligularia sibirica (Ligularia sibirica) is a species that deserves special attention. National Park Plitvice Lakes is the only site of its kind in Croatia, and beyond it - in South Eastern Europe. Within the park several carnivorous plants such as common butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris), sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) and small bladderwort (Utricularia minor) can be found.
National Park Risnjak
Area: 6350 ha
Highest altitude point: 1528 m –Risnjak peak
Lowest altitude point: 290 m –Kupa valley
The basic protection phenomenon: forest and hydrogeological nature monument - Kupa At the suggestion of one of the most famous Croatian scientist, botanist Dr. Ivo Horvat, September 15, 1953, the Croatian Government adopted the Law on proclaiming the Risnjak forest the National Park, in the total area of 3014 ha. National Park Risnjak, located in the northwestern part of Gorski Kotar, in the hinterland of Rijeka and Kvarner coast. The basic phenomenon of the park are forest and hydrogeological nature monument - Kupa. Risnjak has always been known for its rich flora, developed in different microclimate and geological conditions; up to 1148 species and subspecies. As fauna regards, National park area is home to three large European carnivores: the wolf, bear and bobcat after which massive Risnjak was named. In the area of National park and its close vicinity so far 114 species of birds are recorded.
National Park Northern Velebit
Northern Velebit, founded in 1999, is the youngest of the eight national parks in Croatia. The diversity of karst phenomena and flora and fauna are just part of a special image of this natural whole. Inside the park there is a strict reserve Hajdučki i Rožanski kukovi, Lukina jama - one of the deepest pit in the world (discovered in 1999), botanical reserve " Visibaba" with the endemic Croatian sibirea (Sibiraea altaiensis ssp. Croatica), forest reserve Borov vrh, botanical reserve Zavižan-Balinovac- Velika kosa and the famous Velebit Botanical Garden. In the extreme south there is a special reserve of forest vegetation Štirovača. Northern Velebit is a piece of the original European nature - not quite pristine wilderness, but the natural landscape shaped by pervasive human influence, at a time when the only option for people to survive was coexistence with nature. But do not let the presence of people indicate the idea that it is a gentle landscape - Velebit is cruel and sharp with climate and relief. Although the Velebit mountain is not high, thanks to the relief and the position at its highest part real mountain climate rules. The largest part of the park is covered by forests. The grassy and rocky peaks and slopes provide the stunning views of the northern Adriatic and the vast slopes of Velebit. In the park area there are about 1,500 plant species, fungi and animals. This number is only a fraction of the biological treasures of Northern Velebit, because many groups still are not enumerated, eg. Moss or many groups of insects (grasshoppers, moths, flies, wasps and other). Thanks to the good preservation of the ecosystem, Northern Velebit is a home to bears, wolves, bobcats and Golden Eagles, predators at the top of the food web, which takes a lot of vastness and abundance of prey.