Pirin National Park World Heritage Site
Parc national de Pirin, Bulgaria
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Pirin National Park is a World Heritage national park that encompasses the larger part of the Pirin Mountains in the southwest of Bulgaria. It has an area of about 400 km2 (150 sq mi) and lies at an altitude from 1,008–2,914 m (3,307–9,560 ft).
Two nature reserves are located within the boundaries of the park, Bayuvi Dupki-Dzhindzhiritsa, one of the oldest in the country, and Yulen.
The park's boundaries and size have stood many changes through the course of history.
Vihren National Park was created on 8 November 1962 with the purpose of preservation of the forests in the highest parts of the mountain. The park had an area of 62 km2 (24 sq mi), which is a small part of its modern territory. It was renamed to Pirin People's Park in 1974 with a ministerial decree and its territory was considerably enlarged.
A separate park administration was established in 1979 with its seat in Bansko. The park was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1983, and after a protected areas law was approved in 1998, the area was proclaimed a national park, embracing a territory of 403.32 km2 (155.72 sq mi).
The huge relief diversity of the park is the reason for the variety of plant species on its territory, making it one of the most botanically interesting areas in Bulgaria. General examination of Pirin's flora have been conducted at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.
About 1300 species of higher plant species can be observed within the park, which constitute more than 30% of all higher plants on the territory of Bulgaria. Besides this, about 300 moss species and a large amount of algae have been determined.
The park is a home to 18 local endemic species, 15 Bulgarian and many Balkan endemic and a large quantity of preserved species, such as the Edelweiss, a symbol of Pirin. The total number of preserved species is about 60, whereas 126 are listed in the Bulgarian Red Book of Endangered Species.
Three plant belts are differentiated within the Pirin National Park, a forest one, a subalpine one and an alpine one, which is due to the relatively high location of the entire park.
A huge number of animal species are preserved in the park, a cause of the relief diversity and southernly location.
About 2090 species and subspecies of invertrebrata are to be seen in the park, among them 300 rare species, 214 endemic and 175 relicts, as well as 15 that were included in international endangered species lists.
A total of 6 fish species inhabit the park, which constitute 6% of the whole freshwater fish species of Bulgaria, whereas 8 amphibian and 11 reptile species live within the protected area.
The number of bird species that can be seen in the park is particularly large — about 160, 40% of all bird species in Bulgaria.
There are 45 terrestrial mammals (including 12 bat species) that inhabit the Pirin National Park, which is 50% of the total number in the country. Among them are the Wild Goat, a Balkan endemyte, and the Brown Bear.
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