Virunga National Park, formerly known as Albert National Park, is a national park that stretches from the Virunga Mountains to the Rwenzori Mountains in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Established in 1925, it is the first national park in the whole of Africa. Virunga National Park covers an area of 7,800 square kilometers and is an important habitat for mountain gorillas.
Virunga National Park stretches to the western shores of Lake Edward, which is known for its hippopotamus population. Unfortunately rampant poaching has severely reduced the wildlife population in the national park. The hippopotamus is down by 95 per cent as of 2006 while the mountain gorillas are also critically endangered. In addition to widespread poaching, the Congo Civil War and deforestation have also had a severe impact on the wildlife.
Virunga National Park was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site during the 3rd session of the World Heritage Committee which met in Cairo and Luxor, Egypt, on 22-26 October, 1979.
Virunga National Park was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger during the 18th Session of the World Heritage Committee in 1994, due to the deep concern about the civil unrest in the Congo (then Zaire) which has led to donors suspending their support.
Photos of Virunga National Park
Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Author: Julien Harneis (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)
World Heritage Site Inscription Details
Location: N 0 55 0 E 29 10 0 in the province of North-Kivu and Orientale, Democratic Republic of Congo
Inscription Year: 1979
Type of Site: Natural
Inscription Criteria: VII, VIII, X
Location Map of Congo's UNESCO World Heritage Sites
View UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Congo in a larger map
- Virunga National Park
- Kahuzi-Biega National Park
- Garamba National Park
- Salonga National Park
- Okapi Wildlife Reserve
Visiting Virunga National Park
At time of writing (April 2010), the Democratic Republic of the Congo is still regarded as not save for casual travelers. Crime rate continues to be high in the capital city as well as in other towns.