Everglades National Park is the largest American park east of the Mississippi River and one of the largest protected wetland areas in the world. A fragile area, it is home to both land and marine species, as well as hundreds of species of birds. Located between the densely populated coastal areas of Florida, it is one of the most visited parks in the United States, and is a UNESCO world heritage site.
The area around the Everglades was inhabited by Native American tribes since early times. In the 19th century, most of these were displaced as white settlers moved in. The Everglades area underwent many years of damage as dams and canals were built to control the water resources of South Florida. It wasn’t until the 1940s that serious efforts began to save and restore the Everglades. It was declared a national park in 1947, and through decades of planning and work much of the ecosystem has been restored.
From a wildlife standpoint, Everglades is very different from most other American national parks. Most of the resident species are subtropical, and big draws include the local populations of Manatee and American Crocodile. A few surviving Florida Panther still roam the park. The Everglades is particularly famous for its array of birds, including its world renowned Flamingo population. Unfortunately, the park has also become home to new species that have been dumped here over the years, notably Python and other snakes, that are disrupting the local habitat.
Everglades National Park incorporates over 6,000 square km of area and dominates the southern tip of the Florida Peninsula. It is fenced in by major urban areas on both the east and west, with entrances to Miami and Fort Lauderdale less than twenty miles away. The park is open year-round. Web: www.nps.gov/ever (official website).