Twenty-four more sites added to UN World Heritage List

3 July 2003

Twenty-four more sites have been to the United Nations World Heritage List including, for the first time, sites in Gambia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Sudan, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced today.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee included the new sites during its 27th session at its Paris headquarters, bringing the total to 754, including 149 natural, 582 cultural and 23 mixed sites “of outstanding universal value.”

The new entries include the following natural sites: Purnululu National Park in Western Australia with its eroded sandstone beehive-shaped towers or cones; three parallel rivers of Yunnan protected areas in China featuring the upper reaches of three of the great rivers of Asia -- Yangtze, Mekong and Salween; Monte San Giorgio in Switzerland, a pyramid-shaped, wooded mountain regarded as the best fossil record of marine life from the Mid Triassic Period (245-230 million years ago); Uvs Nuur Basin in Russian / Mongolia, the northern-most enclosed basin of Central Asia with a rich diversity of bird life; Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park in Vietnam, a vast area of dramatic, forested highland karst landscape.

New cultural sites include: Bamiyan, Afghanistan, with its Buddhist monastic sanctuaries, where the Taleban destroyed two huge standing Buddha statues in 2001; Quebrada de Humahuaca in Argentina, with substantial evidence of use as a major trade route over the past 10,000 years; Historic Quarter of Valparaiso, Chile, an example of late 19th century urban and architectural development; Jewish Quarter and St Procopius' Basilica in Trebic, Czech Republic, reminders of the co-existence of Jewish and Christian cultures from the Middle Ages to the 20th century; James Island in Gambia, bearing testimony to the beginning and the abolition of the slave trade.

Also included on the cultural list are: Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, India, with paintings from the Mesolithic period right through to the Historical period; Takht-e Soleyman, Iran, with a Zoroastrian sanctuary and a temple of the Sasanian period; Ashur (Qala’at at Sherqat), Iraq, first capital of the Assyrian Empire; The White City of Tel-Aviv, Israel, reflecting modern organic planning principles; Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lombardy, Italy, groups of chapels from the late 16th and 17th centuries; Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, Kazakhstan, built at the time of Timur (Tamerlane), from 1389 to 1405; Franciscan Missions in the Sierra Gorda of Querétaro, Mexico, built during the last phase of the conversion to Christianity of the interior of Mexico in the mid 18th century.

Others sites include Wooden Churches of Southern Little Poland showing different aspects of medieval church-building traditions; Citadel of Derbent, Russia, part of the northern limes of the Sasanian Persian Empire; Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape, South Africa, an expansive savannah landscape that developed into the largest kingdom in the sub-continent before it was abandoned in the 14th century; Ubeda-Baeza, Spain, dating back to the Moorish 9th century and to the Reconquista in the 13th century; Gebel Barkal in Sudan, archaeological sites of the Napatan (900 to 270 BC) and Meroitic (270 BC to 350 AD) cultures; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom, illustrating significant periods of the art of gardens from the 18th to the 20th centuries; Matobo Hills, Zimbabwe, with a profusion of distinctive rock landforms and an outstanding collection of rock paintings.

Three sites already listed were extended in size: Central Amazon Conservation Complex, Brazil, first listed in 2000, with key threatened species, including giant arapaima fish, the Amazonian manatee, the black caiman, and two species of river dolphin; Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, China, first listed in 2000, adding two distinct burial sites of Ming Dynasty emperors; and the Archaeological Site of Panamá Viejo in Panama, first listed in 1997, adding the location and ruins of the first European settlement on the American mainland and pre-Hispanic remains.


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