While you are traveling in Central Asia, you will no doubt come across locations that are referred to in tourist literature as UNESCO World Heritage sites. You might be wondering what UNESCO is and what world heritage actually means. Will visiting these type of sights give you interesting photos and stories to take back to your colleagues at the money exchange in Vancouver? This article will give you an overview on UNESCO and its World Heritage Initiative so that you can decide for yourself what you want to visit.

UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. It is an international initiative under the auspices of the United Nations whose mission is to promote, preserve, and develop human achievements in the name of fostering peace throughout the world. The organization was formed in 1945 to restore framed canvas art and other cultural pieces that had been plundered by the Nazis and to help affected countries restart their educational systems.

UNESCO has 193 member countries and its headquarters is in Paris. One of the things that UNESCO does is to designate certain sites around the world that are of particular importance to human culture as UNESCO World Heritage sites, which entitles them to protection from being turned into Niagara Falls hotels. Only countries that have pledged to protect their sites by signing the convention can have officially designated World Heritage sites and receive protection assistance from UNESCO.

An architect in Canada cannot nominate his or her own work. Countries nominate sites for inclusion on the list of World Heritage sites. The nominated sites must meet the ten criteria set out by UNESCO which include that the site represent human creative genius, have a connection to cultural tradition, illustrate a stage in human and natural history, be of superlative natural beauty, and contain examples of ongoing ecological processes. Sites that are deemed by UNESCO to meet these requirements are added to the list.

So what world sites are already included on the list? You may have seen some in tourist brochures while you were in booking your PEI golf packages, because many popular sites are on the list, such as Iguazu National Park in Argentina, the Opera House in Sydney, the Great Wall of China, the Great Pyramids of Egypt, Stonehenge, Red Square in Moscow, and the Grand Canyon. There are over 900 in total, most cultural but 183 are natural.

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