A national park is a site that has been specially chosen for preservation because of its beauty, environmental value, historical or scientific interest, and which are kept in trust by the government. Visitors are welcome to national parks, and they are often used for walking, cycling, climbing and other sporting and leisure pursuits. Despite the label of 'park', national parks are not exclusively restricted to any particular geographical features - national parks can include everything from the majestic beauty of the Yosemite Valley in California to lakes of the Lake District in England. In the United States of America, national parks are administered by the National Park Service - in other countries, they are often managed in partnership with third-party bodies like the National Trust. In the United Kingdom, the Association of National Park Authorities oversees each of the 14 National Park Authorities responsible for each protected area. At the European level, EUROPARC is an umbrella organization comprising all the individual national park representatives.
Across the world, there are 6,555 protected national parks, covering over a million acres of land and around 12% of the Earth's surface.