Giant panda sanctuaries in China, a tequila-producing area in Mexico, a millennia-old irrigation system in Oman and renaissance palaces in Italy are among 18 new sites admitted to the World Heritage List of humanity’s outstanding natural and cultural legacy, bringing to total to 830, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said today.
The additions, which were put forward by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee currently meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, join sites as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa’s Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the baroque cathedrals of Latin America, all considered especially worthy of protection.
This year, at its 30th annual session lasting until 16 July, the Committee is reviewing 27 new cultural sites, eight natural sites, two mixed sites and three trans-boundary sites presented by 30 countries for inclusion on the list.
The new sites admitted so far are: Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries in China, home to more than 30 per cent of the highly endangered animal, constituting their largest remaining contiguous habitat.
Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary in Colombia, the largest no-fishing zone in the Eastern Tropical Pacific and one of the world’s top diving sites for its outstanding beauty.
Harar Jugol in Ethiopia, a sacred Muslim city built between the 13th and 16th centuries on a plateau with deep gorges surrounded by deserts and savannah.
Stone Circles of Senegambia in the Gambia and Senegal, an extraordinary concentration of over 1,000 monuments dating from between the 3rd century BC and 16th century AD.
Chongoni Rock Art Area in Malawi, featuring the richest concentration of rock art in Central Africa. Aapravasi Ghat in Mauritius, a district of Port Louis where the modern indentured labour diaspora began when Britain in 1834 brought in Indian “free” labour to replace slaves.
The Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities of Tequila, Mexico, which has produced tequila since the 16th century and fermented drinks for over 2,000 years.
Kondoa Rock Art Sites in Tanzania, natural rock shelters whose vertical planes have been used for rock paintings over at least two millennia. Sewell Mining Town in Chile, built 2,000 metres up in the Andes in the early 20th century to house workers at what was the world’s largest underground copper mine.
Yin Xu in China, an ancient capital city of the late Shang Dynasty (1300 to 1046 BC) in the golden age of early Chinese culture, crafts and sciences. Old Town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof in Germany, a mediaeval town that has preserved historic structures spanning some two millennia. Bisotun in Iran, featuring remains from prehistoric times to the Median, Achaemenid, Sassanian, and Ilkhanid periods, including a cuneiform inscription from 521 BC.
Le Strade Nuove and the system of the Palazzi dei Rolli in Genoa, Italy (late 16th and early 17th centuries), built at the height of the city’s financial and seafaring power.
The aflaj irrigation system in Oman, where archaeological evidence suggests such systems existed in this extremely arid area as early as 2,500 BC.
Centennial Hall in Wroclaw, Poland, a landmark in the history of reinforced concrete architecture, in 1911-1913 by Max Berg.
Vizcaya Bridge in Spain, completed in 1893, merging 19th-century iron-working with the then new lightweight technology of twisted steel ropes. Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din in Syria, two castles represent the most significant examples of the exchange of influences in the Near East during the Crusades.
Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape in the United Kingdom, a landscape transformed in the 18th and early 19th centuries by pioneering copper and tin mining.
The Committee has also added extension to existing site: The Kvarken Archipelago in the Gulf of Bothnia off the coast of Finland added to the High Coast of Sweden, more than doubling its size, to be known as the High Coast/Kvarken Archipelago (Sweden and Finland).