Facts and figures

A line of swans

This page gives you a useful snapshot of the Broads by numbers.

To see these in context please visit our page for students and our section about how we look after the area.


  • The broads, which are shallow lakes, did not occur naturally. They were formed in medieval times when peat was dug out to use as fuel for heating and cooking. Over the centuries water levels rose, the peat diggings became flooded and by the 14th century they were abandoned.
  • The Broads joined the national park family in 1989.
  • Norwich is the only English city with part of a national park in its midst. The stretch of the River Wensum that flows through the city is part of the Broads.
  • The Broads is in East Anglia, one of the driest regions in the country by rainfall.


  • Population: 6,300 approx.
  • Visitors a year: 7.450m
  • Tourism economic impact: £438.49m


  • Area: 303 sq km
  • Coastline: 2.7km
  • Length of public footpaths: more than 190 miles (300km)
  • Highest point above sea level: Strumpshaw Hill - approximately 38m

Counties: two

  • Norfolk
  • Suffolk

Council districts partly within the Broads: six

  • North Norfolk
  • South Norfolk
  • Broadland
  • East Suffolk and Waveney
  • Norwich
  • Great Yarmouth


  • Britain's third largest inland waterway
  • Length of navigable waterways (rivers and broads): more than 125 miles (200km)

Rivers: seven

  • Bure
  • Ant
  • Thurne
  • Yare
  • Chet
  • Waveney
  • Wensum (where it runs through Norwich)

Broads and other areas of open water: more than 60

  • Three largest broads: Hickling, Barton, Oulton


  • The Broads is a haven for a quarter of Britain's rarest species
  • Rare birds you may spot: crane, bittern, marsh harrier
  • Rare insects and a rare spider: Norfolk hawker dragonfly, swallowtail butterfly, fen raft spider
  • Rare plants: milk parsley, holly-leaved naiad, water milfoil, fennel-leaved pondweed, stoneworts
  • 28 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) cover nearly a quarter of the executive area

Buildings and boats

  • Scheduled ancient monuments: 13

Traditional sailing wherries: eight

  • Albion
  • Maud
  • Hathor
  • Olive
  • Norada
  • White Moth
  • Ardea
  • Solace