Oldest National Park in Europe

Caitlin Dempsey


Located in northern Sweden in Jokkmokk Municipality, Lapland, Sarek National park is the oldest national park in Europe.

The remoteness of Sarek has also earned it it the designation as one of “Europe’s last true wilderness areas.”

Sarek National park was established in 1909 and is located north of the Arctic Circle. Sarek, along with Stora Sjöfallet to the north of the park were two of the nine national parks formed in 1909. Padjelanta, located to the west of Sarek, was formed in 1996.

Sarek is 1,977 square kilometers (763 square miles) in size, Stora Sjöfallet is 1,278 square kilometers (493 square miles), and Padjelanta is 1,984 square kilometers (766 square miles) in total area.

These three parks make up a large portion of the 9,400 square kilometer Laponia UNESCO world heritage site in the area.

Satellite image of glaciers and bogs in northern Sweden.
Satellite view of Sarek National Park. Image: August 2021, European Space Agency, CC BY 4.0

Most Mountainous Region in Sweden

There are 19 mountains in the park with peaks over  1,900 meters (6,200 feet) including the second-highest mountain in Sweden, Sarektjåkkå.

The most prominent mountains Sarek National Park are:

  • Sarektjåkkå, highest point: Stortoppen, 2,089 meters (6,854 feet)
  • Pårte, Pårtetjåkkå, 2,005 meters (6,578 feet)
  • Piellorieppe, Kåtokkaskatjåkkå, 1,978 meters (6,490 feet)
  • Ålkatj, (Akkatjåkko, 1,974 meters (6,476 feet)
  • Äpar, 1,914 meters (6,280 feet)
  • Skårki, 1,842 meters (6,043 feet)
  • Ruotes, 1,804 meters (5,919 feet)

Glaciers in Sarek National Park

Sarek is home to about 100 glaciers, making it one of the most populated areas of Sweden in terms of glaciers.

Vegetation in Sarek National Park

Vegetation at the lower elevation is mostly mixed conifer forest (Scots pine Pinus sylvestris and Norway spruce Picea abies) amid bogs and lakes.

The treeline at 600-700 meter elevation is made up of mostly mountain birch (Betula pubescens).

Above the treeline, alpine tundra composed of dwarf birch (Betula nana) and willow (Salix spp.) shrubs exists.

Wildlife in Sarek National Park

Large wildlife known to roam Sarek National Park include bears, wolverines, lynx, and elk.


Rauset, G. R. (2013). Life and death in wolverines (Vol. 2013, No. 2013: 15).


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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.

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