Wikijunior:World Heritage Sites/Introduction

A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place which is listed as being of special cultural, physical or spiritual significance. These sites can include forests, mountains, lakes, deserts, monuments, buildings or cities. There are currently 1007 sites in the world. Italy has more sites than any other country (50).

  • Italy has 50 UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • China has 47 UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • Spain has 44 UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • Africa has 121 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
This world map shows how many World Heritage Sites different countries have. Italy (in black), Spain, China, Germany, France (in dark green) have the most

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Sites can be:

  • cultural sites
  • natural sites
  • a mixture of both

These sites must satisfy one of these qualities:

  1. a masterpiece of human creative genius (cultural)
  2. show human values over time or in a cultural area of the world - architecture, technology, arts, town-planning, landscape design, etc.. (cultural)
  3. represent a culture or civilization which is living or not. (cultural)
  4. be an outstanding example of a building, architecture or technology which illustrates human history (cultural)
  5. an example of traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use (cultural)
  6. be directly connected to events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance (cultural)
  7. superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty (natural)
  8. representing major stages of earth's history (natural)
  9. representing significant ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals (natural)
  10. most important and significant natural habitats for conservation of biological diversity (natural)

You can read more about UNESCO World Heritage Sites at the organization's Official web site

World Heritage Sites in Danger


35 World Heritage Sites are classed as being in danger. These include 2 sites in Afghanistan which are in danger because of the on-going war. One site, Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery in Georgia is currently in danger because of construction work which UNESCO feel will destroy the historic nature of the buildings. In Kosovo, Serbia the World Heritage Site Medieval Monuments in Kosovo is in danger because of violence and political problems which mean that it isn't being maintained. The Everglades National Park in the USA is in danger of damage from hurricanes and water pollution.

You can see the full list of sites in danger at UNESCO: List of World Heritage in Danger.