World Heritage Site

World Heritage Site, a place of cultural or natural importance listed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List. The sites, some natural, some cultural, are chosen for their value to humanity and are legally protected by international treaties. Countries nominate sites for inclusion on the list; the nominations are reviewed by the World Heritage Committee.

In 1959, UNESCO set up an international committee to preserve and restore Egyptian monuments threatened by the construction of the Aswan High Dam (see under Aswan), and mounted successful efforts to save them. This led to the adoption in 1972 of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Since it came into effect in 1975, hundreds of ruins, edifices, areas, and other locations have been named World Heritage Sites. The ratio of cultural sites to natural sites is about three to one. Some of the best-known World Heritage Sites include the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Great Wall of China, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Japan, the Taj Mahal in India, Red Square and Lake Baykal in Russia, the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, the ruins of Pompeii in Italy, the Lascaux cave paintings in France, Westminster Abbey in England, the Forth Railway Bridge in Scotland, Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania, Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, and Machu Picchu in Peru.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: United Nations