Wednesday, November 11, 2009


The vineyard terraces of Lavaux, Switzerland,

date back to the 11th century, when Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries had sovereignty in the mountainous region.
Lavaux's vineyards and villages reflect ten centuries of change in the production and patronage of local wine. Remains of medieval houses, mills, and fortified towers provide an evolutionary timeline of the region's cultural traditions.
Today Swiss locals adamantly support protective measures against urban development projects that they say would endanger Lavaux's rich archaeological history.

Southern China is home to the world's largest karst, a three-dimensional rock landscape usually made from carbon deposits. The South China Karst covers nearly 232,000 square miles (600,000 square kilometers) and slopes from high-altitude plateaus in the northwest to low-lying plains in the southeast.
The eight areas that make up the South China Karst encompass a variety of unique natural forms, including tower karsts, cone karsts, pinnacle karsts, and rare giant karst pits.
The region's carbon deposits are thousands of meters thick and were created during the late Paleozoic era, which spanned 542 million to 251 million years ago. Fossils found in the karst have offered important information about Earth's past.

The Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape is a mountainous desert region that covers more than 395,000 acres (160,000 hectares) in northwest South Africa. Despite extreme temperatures and a scarce water supply, the national park contains a wide range of birds, mammals and plants.
UNESCO added the region to its World Heritage list because it is communally owned by the Nama, seminomadic people who descent from from the Khoi-Khoi, a group that was pushed out of the area more than a hundred years ago.
The Nama only recently returned to their homeland, where they now live by building portable houses and herding sheep and cattle. The Nama are the last remaining South African group to follow seasonal migration, a practice that was once common in the area because of the difficulty of land management in such extreme environmental conditions.

Vlacherna Monastery on the island of Kirkira (Corfu) in Greece
People stand outside the . The church is part of the island's Old Town, which is noted for its well-preserved Venetian forts and neo-classical housing. The World Heritage Committee recently inscribed Old Town to the World Heritage list, calling it "a fortified Mediterranean port town of high integrity and authenticity, UNESCO reported."
Accentuated by secluded beaches and flowering countryside, Kérkira is a popular destination for international tourists. While some visitors seek out the island's cosmopolitan atmosphere and wild nightlife, others relax on its white pebble beaches and peaceful inlets.
The greenest of the Greek islands, Kérkira has more than three million olive trees.

Samarra, Iraq
A ninth-century spiral minaret is among the historical structures in the Samarra Archaeological City in Iraq, 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee chosefor the World Heritage list because of its rich cultural remains related to the Abbasid empire, one of Baghdad's two great Sunni dynasties.
The Abbasid Dynasty, which lasted from A.D. 750 to 1258, is historically recognized as an age of great intellectual achievement.
Also on UNESCO's list of World Heritage in Danger, Samarra's archaeological remains are constantly threatened by warfare in the region. The city was once home to the largest mosque in the world. Now all that remains is its walls and the spiral minaret shown above.

The Teide volcano on Tenerife,
one of Spain's Canary Islands, is among the new sites added to the World Heritage list.
Teide was selected because of its natural beauty and important geological history. The volcano is more than five million years old, so it provides valuable geological information about the evolution of oceanic islands.
The volcano's summit reaches to an elevation of 12,188 feet (3,715 meters), making it the third largest volcano on Earth. It is toped by the Las Canadas caldera, a 7- to 12-mile-wide (12- to 20-kilometers-wide) depression created by an ancient volcanic eruption.

Sydney Opera House

Perched in Sydney Harbor, the concrete "shells" of the Opera House, have become an icon for the country of Australia. Designed by Jørn Utzon in an architectural competition in 1957, the opera house opened for performances in 1973.
Last week the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) named the opera house—along with 22 other sites—as universally significant locations by adding them to the World Heritage list.
The sites will join the list's 851 other properties, which are decided on by representatives from 21 countries that are part of the World Heritage Convention.
The Sydney Opera House's inclusion on the list is notable because it arrived without a single dissenting vote, said Roni Amelan, a UNESCO spokesperson.
There was a consensus that it was a truly outstanding, iconic building that was a defining moment in 20th-century architecture," Amelan told the Associated Press.
The Sydney Opera House is now the youngest site to be included on the World Heritage list

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