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About World Heritage

The World Heritage Centre of the United Nations Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) encourages the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world, considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.

Sites can be inscribed to the World Heritage List for their cultural value, their natural value, or a combination of the two. As of May 2011, the World Heritage List includes 911 properties in 151 countries, including:

  • 704 cultural sites,
  • 180 natural sites, and
  • 27 joint cultural/natural sites.

The List includes sites as diverse as the Galapagos Islands, East Africa’s Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and Jordan’s historic site at Petra. Read more about the criteria used to determine which sites are inscribed on the World Heritage List.

The Rapid Response Facility focuses on natural or mixed World Heritage sites, and specifically those which have been inscribed based on their value for biodiversity conservation.

These sites represent many of the world’s pre-eminent areas of biodiversity, and their identification and protection are key parts of the global community’s responsibility for conservation.