Olympus National Park, Litochoro, courtesy of Marketing Greece
Despite its relatively small area, Greece has an exceptionally rich nature, with a greatly varying landscape, natural habitats, flora, fauna and vegetation. In the mainland, high mountains, ravines, gorges and valleys are alternating with rivers, lakes and lagoons, rocky or sandy beaches, river deltas and coastal wetlands. The same holds true for the Greek islands, with large or small islands, uninhabited islets and reefs surfacing throughout the Aegean and the Ionian Seas.
Parnassos National Park, Arachova
The great variety in the landscape, the climate and the wetlands create the perfect environment for a large number of flora and fauna species, with bird-life making the most impressive presence featuring 410 species of birds out of the 433 throughout Europe. There are 800 species of indigenous flora species in Greece, not to be found anywhere else in the world.
The need to protect the natural habitats of Greece's rare or endangered animals and plants led to the establishment of the first domestic National Parks on Mt. Olympus and Mt. Parnassos in 1938, which with a delay of 60 years in 1998 increased to 13.
Prespes National Park, Prespes, Florina
Presenting great interest to nature lovers and many others, the Greek National Parks impress all visitors; the burst of colours in spring on Mt. Oiti is beguiling: the Bay of Laganas on the island of Zakynthos becomes a huge nursery each year when the sea turtles Caretta-Caretta lay their eggs there; the azure waters of the Marine Park at the Sporades Group of islands offer refuge to the playful Mediterranean seal; the gorge of Samaria in Crete provides a great challenge to trekking aficionados; marshland, lagoons and marine forests compose the National Park at Evros, Northern Greece, where over 145 species of birds, ducks and storks spend their winters.
National Park of Kotychi – Strofylia Wetlands, Achaia, Peloponnese