The Tatra Mountains represent from the geological viewpoint a relatively young mountain range. They ware folded by mountain building rnovements in the late Tertiary, i.e. 5-20 million years ago. For the sake of comparison, the low Tatras, the Fatra chain, The Ore Mountains of Spis and Gemer originated at the turn of Mezoic and Tertiary (about 65 million years ago).
The Tatra Mountain range can be divided into two basic units - The West Tatras and The East Tatras. In the geological composition granites and crystalline schists prevail, especially in the orographic group of the High Tatras - in the East Tatras. In the groups Sivy vrch and Cervene vrchy (The West Tatras) and in the Belianske Tatras (The East Tatras) limestones and dolomites prevail. Modelling of the Tatra Mountain surface into a presentday shape is due to triple glaciation in early Quaternary. In this way originated characteristic relief features of the Tatra Mountains which are represented by peaks, glaciers, kettles (glacial cirques), glacial troughs. From among some tens of glaciers the biggest one was in the valley Bielovodska dolina the total lenght of which was 14 km, the thickness was about 300 m. The glacier recession was accompanied by the formation of moraine drifts and fluvioglacial cones at the Tatra Mountain base. In those times more than 100 mountain lakes originated, the biggest and the deepest being the lake Velke Hincovo pleso (20.08 ha, 53.7 m). The limestone parts of the Tatras are characterized by a frequent occurence of karst phenomena. To them belong karrens, abysses, limestone caves, including the cave Belianska jaskyna in Tatranska Kotlina which was made accessible to the public. A great value of inorganic nature rests mainly on the diversity of a very attractive surface relief being concentrated on relatively small area.
Diversity of geological composition, surface relief, soil properties and climatic originality of the Tatras gave rise to fauna and flora of special mountain and alpine character. Above all in plant associations there is a characteristic differentiation among five vegetation degrees - submontane, mountain, subalpine, alpine, nival.
A similar diversity occurs also in animal kingdom. Many animal and plant species are rare, because they are living witnesses of ancient times. They are called relicts because of their Tertiary or Quaternary glacial descent. From among plant species Dryas octopetala L., from among the animals mysovka vrchovska can be mentioned. Of great scientific and cultural value are the plants and animals occuring only on some smaller parts of the Earth. They are called the Tatra Mountain, West Carpathian and Carpathian endemits. To the endemits of the Tatra Mountain belong, e.g. ocianka bezostova Cerastium strictum L., Tatranian subspecies of chamois and marmot - svist. From among the West Carpathian and Carpathian endemits can be mentioned the following plant species - Soldanella carpatica, ostropysk karpatsky, Dianthus nitidus and Delphinium oxysepalum. The animal endemits are represented by mlok karpatsky, hrabac tatransky.
To a very rare group of plants being more typical in some other mountains, but in Slovakia they occur only in the Tatra Mountains, belong the following plant species and animals - vstavacik alpinsky, vicenec horsky, skalokraska pyrenejska, ziabronozka arkticka and some others.
A Man and nature
Natural beauties of the Tatra Mountains and their inestimable value belong to the cultural heritage and therefore, the great attention paid to the protection of the Tatra National Park, the first Slovak national park established in 1949, is justifiable. A man had been interested in the nature of the Tatra Mountain region even many centuries ago. Nevertheless, this has become more apparent in the last decades. The Tatra National Park serves to people by fulfilling more functions, Of great importance is its utilization as an irreplaceable natural laboratory for investigating the natural phenomena and relationships including the antropogenic impact on the natural components. For about five million visitors a year, the Tatra National Park represents a holiday and health resort, a place for sports and hiking.
A cultivated man utilizes a network of 600 km long pathways when hiking throughout the Tatra National Park, he respects the natives of this region (animals, plants) and follows the regulations of controlled movement as one of the conditions necessary for protection and preservation of rarities of this region. The alpine character and the climatic conditions of the Tatra region require a thorough preparation as far as the suitable gear and the choice of pathways corresponding to one's physical condition is concerned. This approach will result in a reduction of the negative effect due to the excessive visitors rate to individual localities of the Tatra National Park. Another important problem of the recent years is unfavourable influence of the global air pollution upon the rare plant associations and animal societies. The natural beauties of the Tatra National Park are for the time being relatively well-preserved so that they offer "pleasure and enjoyment" to every emotional visitor.