The Republic of Macedonia is a small country situated in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula with an area of 25.713 km2 and population of about two million inhabitants. The geographic location is very good, since it is located in the Vardar - Morava Valley - the shortest vertical line of communications that connects Middle Europe with the Mediterranean Sea, and through it to the Near East. The natural conditions in the Republic of Macedonia (geological content, relief, climate, hydrography, soil, flora, fauna) make it one of the rare countries in Europe with wealth of natural values. In the past five decades of organized protection of natural rarities in the Republic of Macedonia, 74 objects of nature have been included in the protected areas network, with a total area of 187,895 ha, or 7,30% of the national territory. In the Republic of Macedonia the following have a status of protected wealth:
- 3 national parks, with an area of 108,338 ha, or 4,2%;
- 4 strict natural reserves, with an area of 12.855 ha, or 0,50%;
- 3 landscapes with special natural characteristics, with an area of 2.338 ha, or 0,09%;
- 14 distinct plant and animal species outside the natural reserves, with an area of 2709 ha, or 0,10%;;
- 33 nature parts protected in the category of monuments of nature, with an area of 61.655 ha, or 2,4%.
The flora and fauna of the Republic of Macedonia are amazingly heterogeneous. Here the Mediterranean flora goes hand-in-hand with the plant species of the Euro-Siberian regions. The high mountains, thick forests and lush pastures have encouraged the development of cattle breeding. Thus many works of art show Macedonia as an idyllic place with domesticated scenery in the valleys, but others present its impressive, awesome mountain landscapes.
The mountains are the natural habitat of chamois, bear, deer, boar, wolf, and many other animals. Because of the great variety of plant and animal species, many areas in the mountains have been proclaimed national parks and forests protected by the law. One of these is the mountain of Galichitsa (2,225 metres). It is a natural border between the Ohrid and Prespa plains with a peak from which a breathtaking view can be seen of both lakes. The national park of Mavrovo is situated on Mount Bistra and is rich in rare flora and fauna, crystalclear waters and the wonderful landscapes of Lake Mavrovo. The Pelister national park (2,600) is located on one of the most beautiful mountains of Macedonia. Its symbol is a rare variety of pines called molika.