By Amina Nazarli
Azerbaijan, an amazingly beautiful land of unique natural contrasts, enjoys nine of the 11 major types of globe climates -- from subtropical to high alpine meadows.
The vast and diverse territory endows the country with some of the most beautiful natural scenery on earth. The country can be called a "museum of nature" with its rich flora of green forests and summer pastures.
The territory of the republic has almost all common types of plants in the world, and this richness of the diversity of flora and vegetation is related to its physical-geographic and natural-historical conditions of the country. Here, the diversity of nature and warm and cheerful atmosphere will make you want to stroll through the country and discover all its riches.
Thanks to these beauties, more and more tourists find Azerbaijan very attractive destination for eco tourism. There are currently nine established national parks in the Land of Fire, while one more area is in the process of turning into the national park.
In 2016, the number of tourists visiting the national parks of Azerbaijan grew by three times compared to the figure of 2015.
If in last year, the number of tourists was 75,000 people, then in 2016 this number reached 199,530 people, including 3,081 foreigners. In 2015, this ratio was 1,050 foreigners and 73,950 Azerbaijani citizens.
Azerbaijan’s nine national parks, 11 state parks and 24 state reserves are home to a wide variety of wildlife including eagles, gazelles, bears, wolves, deer, and wild boar.
The national forests are a rich source of biodiversity and habitat to a number of rarest species of flora and fauna. More than 450 tree and shrubbery species are growing in the Azerbaijani forests where overwhelming majority of the tree species are represented by the hardwood species.
It is worth to note, Azerbaijan is one of the few countries, which managed not only to stop the deforestation, but also to increase the forest areas.
Azerbaijan was ranked the 31st among 180 countries in 2016 Environmental Performance Index – ranking, evaluating how nations protect their ecosystems and human health, prepared by researchers from Yale and Columbia University.