|What is UNESCO's
UNESCO's World Heritage List can be seen as a celebration of both the greatness of nature and the greatness of culture. The list acknowledges humankind's capacity to feel awed by the beauty and power of the "wonders" of nature; similarly, it acknowledges humankind's ability to create its own great structures by recombining elements of the natural world in unique ways.
The UNESCO World Heritage List was established to preserve the great structures of all the diverse cultures of the world. From this point of view, such structures are not treasures of particular nations only, but are the heritage of all humankind. Thus, the concept of the cultural and natural wonders as "world heritage" was born. In 1972, the UNESCO World Heritage List was established, since, in the words of the General Assembly Resolution, "deterioration or disappearance of an item of the culture or natural heritage constitutes harmful impoverishment of all the nations of the world".
At this writing, over 851 properties are on UNESCO's list: 660 cultural, 166 natural, and 25 mixed properties. The cultural sites include the Great Wall of China, the historic district of Quebec in Canada, the Pyramids of Egypt, Mont-Saint Michel and its bay in France, Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in the United States.
What are some criteria for choosing a World Heritage site?
According to article 1 of the World Heritage Convention, World Heritage properties must be either "monuments, architectural works, works of monumental sculpture and painting, elements or structures of an archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings and combinations of features, which are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science" and "outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history".
Such examples are the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve of Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire, the Caves of Aggtelek and Slovak Karst in Hungary and Slovakia, and the Grand Canyon in the United States. World Heritage sites receive international assistance so that they may be maintained and preserved for all humankind.
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