World Heritage Site

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A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Site_sentence_0

World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance. World Heritage Site_sentence_1

The sites are judged to contain "cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity". World Heritage Site_sentence_2

To be selected, a World Heritage Site must be a somehow unique landmark which is geographically and historically identifiable and has special cultural or physical significance. World Heritage Site_sentence_3

For example, World Heritage Sites might be ancient ruins or historical structures, buildings, cities, deserts, forests, islands, lakes, monuments, mountains, or wilderness areas. World Heritage Site_sentence_4

A World Heritage Site may signify a remarkable accomplishment of humanity, and serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet, or it might be a place of great natural beauty. World Heritage Site_sentence_5

As of June 2020, a total of 1,121 World Heritage Sites (869 cultural, 213 natural, and 39 mixed properties) exist across 167 countries; the three countries with most sites are China, Italy (both 55) and Spain (48). World Heritage Site_sentence_6

The sites are intended for practical conservation for posterity, which otherwise would be subject to risk from human or animal trespassing, unmonitored, uncontrolled or unrestricted access, or threat from local administrative negligence. World Heritage Site_sentence_7

Sites are demarcated by UNESCO as protected zones. World Heritage Site_sentence_8

The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Program administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 "states parties" that are elected by their General Assembly. World Heritage Site_sentence_9

The programme catalogues, names, and conserves sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common culture and heritage of humanity. World Heritage Site_sentence_10

The programme began with the "Convention Concerning the Protection of the World's Cultural and Natural Heritage", which was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 16 November 1972. World Heritage Site_sentence_11

Since then, 193 states parties have ratified the convention, making it one of the most widely recognised international agreements and the world's most popular cultural programme. World Heritage Site_sentence_12

History World Heritage Site_section_0

Origin World Heritage Site_section_1

In 1954, the government of Egypt decided to build the new Aswan High Dam, whose resulting future reservoir would eventually inundate a large stretch of the Nile valley containing cultural treasures of ancient Egypt and ancient Nubia. World Heritage Site_sentence_13

In 1959, the governments of Egypt and Sudan requested UNESCO to assist them to protect and rescue the endangered monuments and sites. World Heritage Site_sentence_14

In 1960, the Director-General of UNESCO launched the International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia. World Heritage Site_sentence_15

This appeal resulted in the excavation and recording of hundreds of sites, the recovery of thousands of objects, as well as the salvage and relocation to higher ground of several important temples. World Heritage Site_sentence_16

The most famous of these are the temple complexes of Abu Simbel and Philae. World Heritage Site_sentence_17

The campaign ended in 1980 and was considered a success. World Heritage Site_sentence_18

To thank countries which especially contributed to the campaign's success, Egypt donated four temples; the Temple of Dendur was moved to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Temple of Debod to the Parque del Oeste in Madrid, the Temple of Taffeh to the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in the Netherlands, and the Temple of Ellesyia to Museo Egizio in Turin. World Heritage Site_sentence_19

The project cost US$80 million, about $40 million of which was collected from 50 countries. World Heritage Site_sentence_20

The project's success led to other safeguarding campaigns, such as saving Venice and its lagoon in Italy, the ruins of Mohenjo-daro in Pakistan, and the Borobodur Temple Compounds in Indonesia. World Heritage Site_sentence_21

Together with the International Council on Monuments and Sites, UNESCO then initiated a draft convention to protect cultural heritage. World Heritage Site_sentence_22

Convention and background World Heritage Site_section_2

World Heritage Site_table_infobox_0

Convention concerning the Protection of the World's Cultural and Natural HeritageWorld Heritage Site_table_caption_0
SignedWorld Heritage Site_header_cell_0_0_0 16 November 1972World Heritage Site_cell_0_0_1
LocationWorld Heritage Site_header_cell_0_1_0 Paris, FranceWorld Heritage Site_cell_0_1_1
EffectiveWorld Heritage Site_header_cell_0_2_0 17 December 1975World Heritage Site_cell_0_2_1
ConditionWorld Heritage Site_header_cell_0_3_0 20 ratificationsWorld Heritage Site_cell_0_3_1
RatifiersWorld Heritage Site_header_cell_0_4_0 193 (189 UN member states plus the Cook Islands, the Holy See, Niue, and Palestine)World Heritage Site_cell_0_4_1
DepositaryWorld Heritage Site_header_cell_0_5_0 Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural OrganizationWorld Heritage Site_cell_0_5_1
LanguagesWorld Heritage Site_header_cell_0_6_0 Arabic, English, French, Russian, and SpanishWorld Heritage Site_cell_0_6_1

See also: World Heritage Committee World Heritage Site_sentence_23

The United States initiated the idea of safeguarding places of high cultural or natural importance. World Heritage Site_sentence_24

A White House conference in 1965 called for a "World Heritage Trust" to preserve "the world's superb natural and scenic areas and historic sites for the present and the future of the entire world citizenry". World Heritage Site_sentence_25

The International Union for Conservation of Nature developed similar proposals in 1968, which were presented in 1972 to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm. World Heritage Site_sentence_26

Under the World Heritage Committee, signatory countries are required to produce and submit periodic data reporting providing the committee with an overview of each participating nation's implementation of the World Heritage Convention and a 'snapshot' of current conditions at World Heritage properties. World Heritage Site_sentence_27

Based on the draft convention that UNESCO had initiated, a single text was eventually agreed on by all parties, and the "Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage" was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 16 November 1972. World Heritage Site_sentence_28

The Convention came into force on 17 December 1975. World Heritage Site_sentence_29

As of June 2020, it has been ratified by 193 states parties: 189 UN member states, 2 UN observer states (the Holy See and the State of Palestine) and 2 states in free association with New Zealand (the Cook Islands and Niue). World Heritage Site_sentence_30

Only four UN member states have not ratified the convention: Liechtenstein, Nauru, Somalia and Tuvalu. World Heritage Site_sentence_31

Objectives and positive results World Heritage Site_section_3

By assigning places as World Heritage Sites, UNESCO wants to help to pass them on to future generations. World Heritage Site_sentence_32

Its motivation is that “[h]eritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today” and that both cultural and natural heritage are “irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration”. World Heritage Site_sentence_33

UNESCO's mission with respect to World Heritage consists of eight subtargets. World Heritage Site_sentence_34

These include encouraging the commitment of countries and local population to World Heritage conservation in various ways, providing emergency assistance for sites in danger, offering technical assistance and professional training, and supporting States Parties' public awareness-building activities. World Heritage Site_sentence_35

Being listed as a World Heritage Site can positively affect the site, its environment, and interactions between them. World Heritage Site_sentence_36

A listed site gains international recognition and legal protection, and can obtain funds from among others the World Heritage Fund to facilitate its conservation under certain conditions. World Heritage Site_sentence_37

UNESCO reckons the restorations of the following four sites among its success stories: Angkor in Cambodia, the Old City of Dubrovnik in Croatia, the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Kraków in Poland, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania. World Heritage Site_sentence_38

Additionally, the local population around a site may benefit from significantly increased tourism revenue. World Heritage Site_sentence_39

When there are significant interactions between people and the natural environment, these can be recognised as "cultural landscapes". World Heritage Site_sentence_40

Nomination process World Heritage Site_section_4

A country must first list its significant cultural and natural sites into a document known as the Tentative List. World Heritage Site_sentence_41

A country may not nominate sites that have not been first included on its Tentative List. World Heritage Site_sentence_42

Next, it can place sites selected from that list into a Nomination File, which is evaluated by the International Council on Monuments and Sites and the World Conservation Union. World Heritage Site_sentence_43

These bodies then make their recommendations to the World Heritage Committee. World Heritage Site_sentence_44

The Committee meets once a year to determine whether or not to inscribe each nominated property on the World Heritage List; sometimes it defers its decision or requests more information from the country which nominated the site. World Heritage Site_sentence_45

There are ten selection criteria – a site must meet at least one to be included on the list. World Heritage Site_sentence_46

Selection criteria World Heritage Site_section_5

Up to 2004, there were six criteria for cultural heritage and four for natural heritage. World Heritage Site_sentence_47

In 2005, this was modified so that now there is only one set of ten criteria. World Heritage Site_sentence_48

Nominated sites must be of "outstanding universal value" and meet at least one of the ten criteria. World Heritage Site_sentence_49

These criteria have been modified or amended several times since their creation. World Heritage Site_sentence_50

Cultural World Heritage Site_section_6

World Heritage Site_ordered_list_0

  1. "To represent a masterpiece of human creative genius"World Heritage Site_item_0_0
  2. "To exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design"World Heritage Site_item_0_1
  3. "To bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared"World Heritage Site_item_0_2
  4. "To be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history"World Heritage Site_item_0_3
  5. "To be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change"World Heritage Site_item_0_4
  6. "To be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance"World Heritage Site_item_0_5

Natural World Heritage Site_section_7

World Heritage Site_ordered_list_1

  1. "to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance"World Heritage Site_item_1_6
  2. "to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features"World Heritage Site_item_1_7
  3. "to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals"World Heritage Site_item_1_8
  4. "to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation"World Heritage Site_item_1_9

Extensions and other modifications World Heritage Site_section_8

A country may request to extend or reduce the boundaries, modify the official name, or change the selection criteria of one of its already listed sites. World Heritage Site_sentence_51

Any proposal for a significant boundary change or to modify the site's selection criteria must be submitted as if it were a new nomination, including first placing it on the Tentative List and then onto the Nomination File. World Heritage Site_sentence_52

A request for a minor boundary change, one that does not have a significant impact on the extent of the property or affect its "outstanding universal value", is also evaluated by the advisory bodies before being sent to the committee. World Heritage Site_sentence_53

Such proposals can be rejected by either the advisory bodies or the Committee if they judge it to be a significant change instead of a minor one. World Heritage Site_sentence_54

Proposals to change a site's official name are sent directly to the committee. World Heritage Site_sentence_55

Endangerment World Heritage Site_section_9

Main articles: List of World Heritage in Danger and Former UNESCO World Heritage Sites World Heritage Site_sentence_56

A site may be added to the List of World Heritage in Danger if conditions threaten the characteristics for which the landmark or area was inscribed on the World Heritage List. World Heritage Site_sentence_57

Such problems may involve armed conflict and war, natural disasters, pollution, poaching, or uncontrolled urbanisation or human development. World Heritage Site_sentence_58

This danger list is intended to increase international awareness of the threats and to encourage counteractive measures. World Heritage Site_sentence_59

Threats to a site can be either proven imminent threats or potential dangers that could have adverse effects on a site. World Heritage Site_sentence_60

The state of conservation for each site on the danger list is reviewed yearly; after this, the Committee may request additional measures, delete the property from the list if the threats have ceased or consider deletion from both the List of World Heritage in Danger and the World Heritage List. World Heritage Site_sentence_61

Only two sites have ever been delisted: the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman and the Dresden Elbe Valley in Germany. World Heritage Site_sentence_62

The Arabian Oryx Sanctuary was directly delisted in 2007, instead of first being put on the danger list, after the Omani government decided to reduce the protected area's size by 90 per cent. World Heritage Site_sentence_63

The Dresden Elbe Valley was first placed on the danger list in 2006 when the World Heritage Committee decided that plans to construct the Waldschlösschen Bridge would significantly alter the valley's landscape. World Heritage Site_sentence_64

In response, Dresden City Council attempted to stop the bridge's construction. World Heritage Site_sentence_65

However, after several court decisions allowed the building of the bridge to proceed, the valley was removed from the World Heritage List in 2009. World Heritage Site_sentence_66

The first global assessment to quantitatively measure threats to Natural World Heritage Sites found that 63 per cent of sites have been damaged by increasing human pressures including encroaching roads, agriculture infrastructure and settlements over the last two decades. World Heritage Site_sentence_67

These activities endanger Natural World Heritage Sites and could compromise their unique values. World Heritage Site_sentence_68

Of the Natural World Heritage Sites that contain forest, 91 per cent experienced some loss since 2000. World Heritage Site_sentence_69

Many of them are more threatened than previously thought and require immediate conservation action. World Heritage Site_sentence_70

Furthermore, the destruction of cultural assets and identity-establishing sites is one of the primary goals of modern asymmetrical warfare. World Heritage Site_sentence_71

Therefore, terrorists, rebels and mercenary armies deliberately smash archaeological sites, sacred and secular monuments and loot libraries, archives and museums. World Heritage Site_sentence_72

The UN, United Nations peacekeeping and UNESCO in cooperation with Blue Shield International are active in preventing such acts. World Heritage Site_sentence_73

"No strike lists" are also created to protect cultural assets from air strikes. World Heritage Site_sentence_74

However, only through cooperation with the locals can the protection of World Heritage Sites, archaeological finds, exhibits and archaeological sites from destruction, looting and robbery be implemented sustainably. World Heritage Site_sentence_75

The president of Blue Shield International Karl von Habsburg summed it up with the words: “Without the local community and without the local participants, that would be completely impossible”. World Heritage Site_sentence_76

Critique World Heritage Site_section_10

Despite the successes of World Heritage listing in promoting conservation, the UNESCO-administered project has attracted criticism. World Heritage Site_sentence_77

This was caused by perceived under-representation of heritage sites outside Europe, disputed decisions on site selection and adverse impact of mass tourism on sites unable to manage rapid growth in visitor numbers. World Heritage Site_sentence_78

A large lobbying industry has grown around the awards because World Heritage listing can significantly increase tourism returns. World Heritage Site_sentence_79

Site listing bids are often lengthy and costly, putting poorer countries at a disadvantage. World Heritage Site_sentence_80

Eritrea's efforts to promote Asmara are one example. World Heritage Site_sentence_81

In 2016, the Australian government was reported to have successfully lobbied for Great Barrier Reef conservation efforts to be removed from a UNESCO report titled "World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate". World Heritage Site_sentence_82

The Australian government's actions were in response to their concern about the negative impact that an "at risk" label could have on tourism revenue at a previously designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. World Heritage Site_sentence_83

Several listed locations such as George Town in Penang, Casco Viejo in Panama and Hội An in Vietnam have struggled to strike the balance between the economic benefits of catering to greatly increased visitor numbers and preserving the original culture and local communities that drew the recognition. World Heritage Site_sentence_84

Statistics World Heritage Site_section_11

Main article: List of World Heritage Sites by year of inscription World Heritage Site_sentence_85

The World Heritage Committee has divided the world into five geographic zones which it calls regions: Africa, Arab states, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and North America, and Latin America and the Caribbean. World Heritage Site_sentence_86

Russia and the Caucasus states are classified as European, while Mexico and the Caribbean are classified as belonging to the Latin America and Caribbean zone. World Heritage Site_sentence_87

The UNESCO geographic zones also give greater emphasis on administrative, rather than geographic associations. World Heritage Site_sentence_88

Hence, Gough Island, located in the South Atlantic, is part of the Europe and North America region because the British government nominated the site. World Heritage Site_sentence_89

The table below includes a breakdown of the sites according to these zones and their classification as of June 2020: World Heritage Site_sentence_90

World Heritage Site_table_general_1

Zone/regionWorld Heritage Site_header_cell_1_0_0 CulturalWorld Heritage Site_header_cell_1_0_1 NaturalWorld Heritage Site_header_cell_1_0_2 MixedWorld Heritage Site_header_cell_1_0_3 TotalWorld Heritage Site_header_cell_1_0_4 PercentageWorld Heritage Site_header_cell_1_0_5
AfricaWorld Heritage Site_header_cell_1_1_0 53World Heritage Site_cell_1_1_1 38World Heritage Site_cell_1_1_2 5World Heritage Site_cell_1_1_3 96World Heritage Site_cell_1_1_4 8.56%World Heritage Site_cell_1_1_5
Arab statesWorld Heritage Site_header_cell_1_2_0 78World Heritage Site_cell_1_2_1 5World Heritage Site_cell_1_2_2 3World Heritage Site_cell_1_2_3 86World Heritage Site_cell_1_2_4 7.67%World Heritage Site_cell_1_2_5
Asia and the PacificWorld Heritage Site_header_cell_1_3_0 189World Heritage Site_cell_1_3_1 67World Heritage Site_cell_1_3_2 12World Heritage Site_cell_1_3_3 268World Heritage Site_cell_1_3_4 23.91%World Heritage Site_cell_1_3_5
Europe and North AmericaWorld Heritage Site_header_cell_1_4_0 453World Heritage Site_cell_1_4_1 65World Heritage Site_cell_1_4_2 11World Heritage Site_cell_1_4_3 529World Heritage Site_cell_1_4_4 47.19%World Heritage Site_cell_1_4_5
Latin America and the CaribbeanWorld Heritage Site_header_cell_1_5_0 96World Heritage Site_cell_1_5_1 38World Heritage Site_cell_1_5_2 8World Heritage Site_cell_1_5_3 141World Heritage Site_cell_1_5_4 12.58%World Heritage Site_cell_1_5_5
TotalWorld Heritage Site_header_cell_1_6_0 869World Heritage Site_header_cell_1_6_1 213World Heritage Site_header_cell_1_6_2 39World Heritage Site_header_cell_1_6_3 1,121World Heritage Site_header_cell_1_6_4 100%World Heritage Site_header_cell_1_6_5

Countries with 15 or more sites World Heritage Site_section_12

See also: World Heritage Sites by country World Heritage Site_sentence_91

Countries with 15 or more World Heritage Sites as of October 2020: World Heritage Site_sentence_92

See also World Heritage Site_section_13

World Heritage Site_unordered_list_2

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: Heritage Site.