I have always wondered, in my travels across the country and around the world: So what does being a UNESCO site really mean? More tourists? Probably. More funding and recognition? Possibly. Better protection, enforced by a committee that promotes responsible tourism? Definitely.
But get this! UNESCO has only stripped two places of their World Heritage titles. Oman’s Arabian Oryx Sanctuary was delisted in 2007 after poaching and habitat degradation nearly wiped out the oryx population. Germany’s Dresden Elbe Valley was removed when the Waldschlösschen Bridge was built, bisecting the valley.
Bardejov, in Slovakia, may be next to lose its World Heritage label. The medieval town is soon to have a vast shopping mall built on its doorstep; committee members are worried that the mall will violate Bardejov’s unique urban structure.
Italy has the most World Heritage sites (50), followed by China (47), Spain (44) and France and Germany (both 39). The UK currently has 28 sites; the USA has 22. Italy is surprising since they seem to do a poor job of preserving places like the famous Roman Coliseum. And in China, who knows what is real or not.
Okavango Delta, a place that really seems like the UNESCO designation really fits well.
UNESCO Sites in the US:
- Everglades National Park (1979) *
- Grand Canyon National Park (1979) *
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park (1983)
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (1987) *
- Kluane / Wrangell-St. Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek (1979)
- Mammoth Cave National Park (1981)
- Olympic National Park (1981) *
- Redwood National and State Parks (1980)*
- Waterton Glacier International Peace Park (1995)*
- Yellowstone National Park (1978) *
- Yosemite National Park (1984) *
- Chaco Culture (1987)
- Independence Hall (1979) *
- La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico (1983)
- Mesa Verde National Park (1978)
- Monticello and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville (1987)
- Monumental Earthworks of Poverty Point (2014)
- Statue of Liberty (1984) *
- Taos Pueblo (1992) *
Only a total of 22 in the U.S.