|Balaton Uplands National Park, founded in 1997 on 57 000 hectars, is a diverse, mosaic-like array of habitats, consisting of 6 adjoining previous landscape protection areas. Due to the diversity of geological and geomorphological features and the local climate, wildlife and landscape are exceptionally appealing to tourists and researchers alike. The national park stretches along the north shore of Lake Balaton, which is the largest shallow-water lake in Central Europe, encompassed by hills, grasslands, lovely villages, vineyards. The once active, huge volcanic field of Balaton Uplands is a wonderland of unique geological heritage. The natural treasures of the Tihany Peninsula – part of the national park – were acknowledged by the European Diploma granted by the Council of Europe in 2003. Lake Balaton is the second most popular tourism destination in Hungary, with only the capital Budapest surpassing it. Regarding domestic tourism it is the most visited region in the country. The lake and the natural wonders of the national park enhance each other’s attractiveness, thereby raising the touristic value of the region. The operational area of the Balaton Uplands National Park Directorate includes the national park and several other protected areas as well (3 landscape protection areas, 27 nature conservation areas and numerous ex lege protected objects, e.g. caves). The Bakony–Balaton Geopark – managed also by the Directorate – is member of the European and of the Global Geoparks Network, assisted by UNESCO. The key tasks of the national park directorate are to protect and interpret the natural values.