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26 New World Heritage Sites Announced

Birthplace of Jesus, Palestine.
Inside the Nativity Church, Bethlehem, a place many believe marks the birthplace of Jesus. (Image credit: © UNESCO/Federico Busonero.)

A total of 26 places around the globe, including farmhouses in Sweden and a Neolithic site in Turkey, have been added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites so far this year, according to a recent announcement during the World Heritage Committee's annual meeting.

Some spots are famed for their unique natural beauty and others for their cultural significance. With the addition of the 26 sites, there are now 962 World Heritage Sites around the planet.

Here's a list of the newest additions:

Five natural sites were inscribed during the present session: Lakes of Ounianga (Chad); Sangha Trinational (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo,); Chengjiang Fossil Site (China); Western Ghats (India); Lena Pillars Nature Park (Russian Federation).

Twenty cultural sites were inscribed during the present session:

  • Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy (Bahrain);
  • Major Mining Sites of Wallonia (Belgium);
  • Rio de Janeiro, Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea (Brazil);
  • The Landscape of Grand-Pré (Canada);
  • Site of Xanadu (China);
  • Historic Town Grand-Bassam (Côte d’Ivoire);
  • Nord-Pas de Calais Mining Basin (France);
  • Margravial Opera House Bayreuth (Germany);
  • Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy (Indonesia);
  • Masjed-e J?mé of Isfahan (Islamic Republic of Iran),
  • Gonbad-e Q?bus (Islamic Republic of Iran);
  • Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel: The Nahal Me’arot/Wadi el-Mughara Caves (Israel);
  • Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley (Malaysia);
  • Rabat, Modern Capital and Historic City: a Shared Heritage (Morocco);
  • Birthplace of Jesus: Church of the Nativity and the Pilgrimage Route, Bethlehem (Palestine);
  • Garrison Border Town of Elvas and its Fortifications (Portugal);
  • Bassari Country: Bassari, Fula and Bedik Cultural Landscapes (Senegal);
  • Heritage of Mercury Almadén and Idrija (Slovenia/Spain);
  • Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland (Sweden);
  • Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük (Turkey).

Rock Islands Southern Lagoon (Palau) was inscribed as a mixed natural and cultural site.

The Birthplace of Jesus was also added to the list of sites in danger. The Galapagos Islands were kicked off that list in 2010, a move that some conservationists questioned. The "danger list" focuses international attention, and sometimes funding, on particularly vulnerable areas.

The 36th session of the World Heritage Committee began on June 24 in St. Petersburg, Russia, and will wrap up on July 6.

The session also uncovered some World Heritage success stories. Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore (Pakistan) and the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras (Philippines) were removed from the list of sites in danger.

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Live Science Staff
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