Plitvice Lakes National Park, founded in 1949, is the oldest national park in southeast Europe, as well as Croatia’s largest national park. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979. Within the boundaries of this heavily forested national park, 16 crystalline lakes tumble into each other via a series of waterfalls and cascades. The mineral-rich waters carve through the rock, depositing tufa in continually changing formations. The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colors, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The colors change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight. The National Park covers a total area of 300 square kilometres, whilst the lakes join together over a distance of eight kilometres. The forests in the park are home to bears, wolves and many rare bird species.