Flora and fauna
Greece is endowed with a wide variety of flora (some 5,500 species of flora have been recognized), being particularly rich in unique plant species.
The most common wild flowers in the country are anemones, gladioli, cyclamens, irises, tulips, lilies and many more, while the most extensive forests are found in northern Greece, in the mountains of Thrace, Macedonia and Epiros. Furthermore, the islands in the northern and eastern Aegean and similarly those of the Ionian Sea are covered with pines as well as olive trees. In total, the country has over 200 species of tree and large shrub and its forests consist, primarily, of conifers with deciduous trees such as beeches and chestnuts coming second.
Numerous protected areas exist in Greece, as the country has been committed to the protection of the environment through international conventions. Its national parks include Olympus (on the borders of Thessaly and Macedonia), Parnassos and Iti (central Greece), Prespa and Vikos-Aoos (Epiros), Parnitha (Attica) and Samaria (Crete). There are also 11 wetlands, 51 preserved natural monuments, 113 important bird sanctuaries and 300 biotopes.
Moreover, 900 species of fauna live in Greece as the country is a refuge for many endangered species, which are protected through specific action programmes implemented by the authorities, aiming at the management and protection of bio- diversity. Among the protected species are the Mediterranean sea turtle (Caretta -caretta) and the monk seal (Monachus - monachus). The former finds home in the waters of Zakynthos and Cefallonia, whereas the latter is found in the Aegean and the Ionian Sea. Furthermore, the dense forests and rocky outcrops of the Dadia Forest, upstream on the Evros River in Thrace, are shelter to the largest range of birds of prey in Europe. By the same token, Lake Mikri Prespa, in Macedonia, has the richest colony of fish-eating birds in Europe, including cormorants, ibises, egrets and herons. Moreover, the brown bear —Europe\'s largest land mammal— survives in the Pindos Mountains and in the mountains along the borders with Albania, FYROM and Bulgaria. Finally, the northern forests are home to the wildcat, marten, roe deer, and occasionally the wolf and lynx, whereas jackals, wild goats and hedgehogs live in the south.