21 sites were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list during the 40th annual meeting of the UNESCO Committee (July 2016).
In order to become a UNESCO World Heritage site, a destination, structure or geographical feature must have special cultural, historical or natural significance. The Pyramids of Giza, Great Barrier Reef and Petra are some of the more renowned UNESCO sites.
As of July 2016, there are 1052 sites across 165 countries on the list and the latest addition consists of 12 cultural, six natural and three mixed (cultural and natural) sites.
al-Ahwar of Southern Iraq
Often described as the real ‘Garden of Eden’, Ahwar in Iraq is made up of three archaeological sites and four marshes in the delta between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Ancient Sumerian culture began in Ahwar, argued by many to be the first urban civilisation in the world.
Ani is a ruined medieval city which was the capital of a mighty Armenian empire until it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1319. It was known as the “city of 1,001 churches,” thanks to its numerous religious buildings – some of which make up the most important surviving monuments.
Antequera Dolmens Site, Spain
The Antequera Dolmens Site, located in Andalusia, Spain comprises of the megalithic Menga and Viera dolmens and the Tolos of El Romeral as well two natural monuments: the Peña de los Enamorados and El Torcal mountainous formations.
The Dolmen of Menga is one of the largest structures of its kind, built with 32 megaliths or large stones, the largest of which weighs around 180 tonnes.
Naval Dockyard, Antigua and Barbuda
The Naval Dockyard is the first site in Antigua and Barbuda to be included. A cluster of Georgian-era navy buildings, fully restored to their original splendour, house modern amenities and excellent musuems.
Ennedi Massif, Chad
This collection of sandstone monoliths sit on a vast plateau in Chad. Astonishingly, the isolated massif is home to some of the world’s finest Neolithic rock paintings and carvings.
Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art, China
Another startling collection of rock art located in southern China has also made the list. Over 1,800 motifs sprawl over 38 sites that illustrate the life and rituals of the ancient, now disappeared, Luo Yue people.
Hubei Shennongjia, China
China’s second addition brings the total number of UNESCO sites in the country to 50. The Hubei Shennongjia sub-tropical forest is home to more than 5,000 species of plants animals including the rare clouded leopard, Asian black bear and the Chinese giant salamander.
Architectural Work of Le Corbusier
17 buildings designed by the famous Franco-Swiss architect Le Corbusier were also to the World Heritage List. The Church of Notre Dame de Haut in France is perhaps the most famous of these works, and is regarded as one of the most important 20th-century religious buildings.
Gorham’s Cave Complex, Gibraltar
Gibraltar’s first Heritage site is a complex of four caves whose history dates back 28,000 years ago. Discovered in 1907 by Captain A Gorham the caves are considered to be the last known site of Neanderthal survival.
Khangchendzonga National Park, India
Located in the northern Indian province of Sikkim, Khangchendzonga National Park is home to 17 high altitude lakes, 18 glaciers including the awesome 26-kilometre Zemu Glacier and 19 mountains including the Himalayan peak of Mount Khangchendzonga—the world’s third-highest mountain. The park is also home to several endangered animals such as snow leopards and red pandas.
Archipiélago de Revillagigedo, Mexico
The Archipiélago de Revillagigedo comprises four islands that are in face the tops of ancient volcanoes now mostly submerged by the Pacific Ocean. The unusual natural habitat makes this area a haven for species like whales, sharks, manta rays and dolphins.
Nalanda Mahavihara, India
Nalanda is the ruins of a 3rd-century monastic and scholastic site which operated effectively as a university for over 800 years. The archaeological site contains stupas, shrines, residential buildings, and artwork and is a critical spot for studying the development of Buddhism.
Lut Desert, Iran
Southeastern Iran’s Lut Desert is one of the most geologically extreme place on earth. Strong winds from June to October cause huge amounts of erosion and movement of sediment resulting in strikingly long striped sand ridges. It’s also one of the driest places on the planet and satellite temperature data from NASA shows it to be the hottest with temperatures measured at 70 degrees centigrade.
Mistaken Point, Canada
Mistaken Point in Newfoundland owes its name to sailors who mistakenly thought they’d found nearby Cape Race amid the fog, only to crash along the rocky shore. The UNESCO status was awarded as the area has one of the biggest and most diverse fossil collections in the world here – some dating back 565 million years.
Pampulha Modern Ensemble, Brazil
The Pampulha Modern Ensemble is a superb piece of modern Brazilian architecture, designed from 1940 by Oscar Niemeyer and landscaper Roberto Burle Marx, the Ensemble is a Garden City around an artificial lake and includes a casino, a restaurant/dance hall, a yacht club, a golf club and the brilliant yet controversial Church of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Nan Madol, Micronesia
Nan Madol is the only ancient city ever built on a coral reef and consists of a series of 99 artificial islets home to the Saudeleur, a lost people who ruled the island for more than a millennium but left behind no insight into their lives. Erosion and climate change mean the site is at risk of being lost, but new funding from UNESCO will help efforts to preserve the ruins.
Persian Qanat, Iran
Qanats are underground tunnels that help to move water for drinking and irrigation in arid countries. Eleven of Iran’s Qanats have been listed as UNESCO sites including one of the oldest and largest which still provides water to 40,000 people in the city of Gonabad after 2,700 years.
Established in 356BC by the Macedonian King Philip II before being abandoned during the Ottoman conquests, Philippi was a key point along the ancient trading route between Europe and Asia.
Sanganeb Marine National Park, Dungonab Bay, and Mukkawar Island Marine National Park, Sudan
Included for their rare plant and animal life, including red coral, fish, turtles and sharks, the Parks play a vital role in the sustainability of sea life in the Red Sea. Sanganeb is an isolated, coral reef structure in the central Red Sea and the only atoll off the shoreline of Sudan while Dungonab Bay is a habitat for endanger dugongs and is made up of a highly diverse system of coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds, beaches and islets.
Stećci Medieval Tombstone Graveyards
Stećci are monumental limestone medieval tombstones that lie scattered across 3,300 sites in Balkan countries. First appearing in the 1100s, an estimated 70,000 remain with 60,000 to be found within the borders of modern Bosnia and Herzegovina and the rest in Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia.
Shared by multiple countries Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, the western region of the Tien-Shan mountain range consists of 13 parks and nature reserves. The range is renowned for its plant biodiversity with wild fruit and walnut forests which are among the largest in the world.