Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park
"Cooling the Fire" by Malcolm Carlaw is licensed under CC BY 2.0
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Croatia · Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park (colloquial Plitvice, pronounced [plîtʋitse]) is one of the oldest national parks in Southeast Europe and the largest national park in Croatia. Due to its natural beauty and significance, this system of 16 interlinked lakes and a large forest complex around it were set aside as a national park in 1949. In 1979 the park was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites List.

It is situated in the mountainous area of central Croatia. Just on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The important north-south road connection, which passes through the national park area, connects the Croatian inland with the Adriatic coastal region. The protected area extends over 296.85 square kilometers. About 90% of this area is part of Lika-Senj County. While the remaining 10% is part of Karlovac County. The Plitvice Lakes National Park covers a total area of 300 square kilometers, whilst the lakes join together over a distance of 8200 meters.

The basic kinds of stone are limestone and dolomite. Formation of the relief is the result of numerous occurrences in geological past. Which took place in a large area of Dinaric ranges during the formation of mountain ranges such as today’s Velebit, Velika and Mala Kapela and Lička Plješevica. Thus created by movement and erection of large blocks of stone. During the Pleistocene era water was penetrating into the rocky base and by incising formed gradually what is today’s relief. For centuries, water has changed the limestone and thus the landscape of this area. The emerging travertine barriers decelerated and retained the flowing water. These dams are continuously growing in height. The color of the lakes is emerald green or turquoise.

The waters flowing over the limestone and chalk have, over thousands of years, deposited travertine barriers, creating natural dams which in turn have created a series of beautiful lakes, caves and waterfalls. These geological processes continue today. The forests in the park are home to bears, wolves and many rare bird species.