Prespa National Park is located at the northern end of the Pindos mountain range and at the southernmost point of the Drin river basin, which flows into the Adriatic Sea.
The region takes its name from its two lakes, Mikri and Megali Prespa, which are two of the largest water bodies in the Balkans and amongst the oldest in the world. The lakes are located at the borders of Greece with Albania and North Macedonia, lying 850 meters above sea level and surrounded by mountains of over 2000 m.
Belonging to the Prefectural Unit of Florina, Prespa is an area of approximately 330 km2, with a resident population of about 1,400 people living in thirteen villages.
The lakes Mikri and Megali Prespa were once a single lake; however, over the last few thousand years the accumulation of sediment carried into the lake by the Agios Germanos River created an isthmus between the two lakes. A channel at Koula connects the lakes, and a sluice gate controls the flow of water from Mikri Prespa to Megali Prespa.
Lake Mikri Prespa is protected by the RAMSAR Convention as one of Greece’s ten ‘Wetlands of International Importance’ and forms one of the core areas of the Prespa National Park. This is due to the exceptional biodiversity of one of the main habitats of the lake, the wet meadows. These are areas around the lake with a shallow incline and low aquatic vegetation, which are seasonally flooded by the fluctuating water level of the lake. They are an exceptionally important habitat for many species, as they provide shelter and food, as well as breeding and wintering areas for a wide range of birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects, many of which are vulnerable or threatened in other parts of the world. Mikri Prespa Lake boasts the largest breeding colony of Dalmatian Pelicans (Pelecanus crispus) in the world.
The Prespa region has more than 1,800 plant species, which is exceptional for an area of its size and comprises almost a third of the total plant species found in Greece. In addition, about half of the total numbers of amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds in Greece can be found in Prespa (11 amphibians, 22 reptiles, 60 mammals, and 272 birds).
The great age of the lakes, the geomorphologic characteristics and the climatic conditions of the area have allowed endemic species to evolve, as well as species with a very narrow geographic range in Greece or the Balkans. The traditional agriculture, livestock farming and fishing practices which have been carried out in Prespa over hundreds of years, samples of which someone can find in nowadays, have also contributed to the development and conservation of this rich fauna and flora.