Forming a bridge between the two continents of the New World, Darién National Park and Biosphere Reserve is the largest protected area in Panama. The property contains an exceptional variety of habitats: sandy beaches, rocky coasts, mangroves, swamps, as well as lowland and upland tropical forests containing remarkable wildlife.
Darien National Park and Biosphere Reserve extends across some 575.000 ha (1,420,800 acres) in the Darien Province of southeastern Panama. The largest protected area in Panama, Darien is also among the largest and most valuable protected areas in Central America. The property includes a stretch of the Pacific Coast and almost the entire border with neighboring Colombia. This includes a shared border with Los Katios National Park, likewise a World Heritage property.
From sea level to Cerro Tacarcuna at 1,875 m (6,150 ft) above sea level, the property boasts an exceptional variety of coastal, lowland and mountain ecosystems and habitats. There are sandy beaches, rocky shores and mangroves along the coast, countless wetlands, rivers and creeks, palm forests and various types of rainforest, including the most extensive lowland rainforest on Central America's Pacific Coast.
The property is also culturally and ethnically diverse, as evidenced by major archaeological findings, as well as Afro-descendants and indigenous peoples of the Embera, Wounaan, Kuna and others living within the property to this day. Darien National Park was groundbreaking by explicitly including a cultural dimension in the management and conservation of a protected area.
The large size and remoteness across a broad spectrum of habitats favor the continuation of evolutionary processes in an area of both cultural significance and exceptional diversity of flora and fauna with a high degree of endemism in numerous taxonomic groups. With future research likely to lead to further discoveries, hundreds of vertebrates and thousands of invertebrates have already been recorded.
Among the impressive 169 documented species of mammals are the critically endangered Brown-headed Spider Monkey, the endangered Central American Tapir, the vulnerable Giant Anteater and near-threatened species like Jaguar, Bush Dog and White-lipped Peccary. The more than 530 recorded species of birds include the endangered Great Green Macaw, the vulnerable Great Curassow and a major population of the near-threatened Harpy Eagle.