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7 new sites in Asia-Pacific join World Heritage List

Core area of the domain and Lingxi river, Laosicheng, China ©Management Office of Laosicheng

Nirayama Reverbatory Furnaces, Japan ©Izunokuni City

Cattle breeding in Sar-e-Aqol, Islamic Republic of Iran ©Maymand Cultural Heritage Base

Hadish, Islamic Republic of Iran ©ICCHTO

Baekhwajeong Pavilion,Republic of Korea ©Baejke Historic Sites Nomination Office

Bosgo Tengeriin Davaa, Mongolia (the threshold pass of Heaven) ©A. Duurenjargal

The Bandstand ©Singapore Botanic Gardens

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Viet Nam ©Evergreen

Seven new properties of outstanding universal value in the Asia-Pacific region have been inscribed to UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Singapore’s Botanical Gardens was named the country’s first World Heritage site, while an extension to Viet Nam’s Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, first inscribed in 2003, was approved during the 39th Session of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany.

A total of 27 World Heritage sites were inscribed worldwide, including four sites related to industrial heritage and four cultural landscapes.

The new listings in Asia-Pacific are (photos above):

Tusi sites (China): Located in the mountainous areas of south-west China, this property encompasses remains of several tribal domains whose chiefs were appointed by the central government as “Tusi”, hereditary rulers from the 13th to the early 20th century. The Tusi system arose from the ethnic minorities’ dynastic systems of government dating back to the 3rd century BCE. Its purpose was to unify national administration, while allowing ethnic minorities to retain their customs and way of life. The sites of Laosicheng, Tangya and Hailongtun Fortress that make up the site bear exceptional testimony to this form of governance, which derived from the Chinese civilization of the Yuan and Ming periods.

Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining (Japan): The site encompasses a series of eleven properties, mainly located in the southwest of Japan. It bears testimony to the rapid industrialization of the country from the middle of the 19th century to the early 20th century, through the development of the steel industry, shipbuilding and coal mining. The site illustrates the process by which feudal Japan sought technology transfer from Europe and America from the middle of the 19th century and how this technology was adapted to the country’s needs and social traditions. The site testifies to what is considered to be the first successful transfer of Western industrialization to a non-Western nation.

Cultural Landscape of Maymand (Islamic Republic of Iran): Maymand is a self-contained, semi-arid area at the end of a valley at the southern extremity of Iran’s central mountains. The villagers are semi-nomadic agro-pastoralists. They raise their animals on mountain pastures, living in temporary settlements in spring and autumn. During the winter months they live lower down the valley in cave dwellings carved out of the soft rock (kamar), an unusual form of housing in a dry, desert environment.  This cultural landscape is an example of a system that appears to have been more widespread in the past and involves the movement of people rather than animals.

Susa (Islamic Republic of Iran):  Located in the south-west of Iran, in the lower Zagros Mountains, the property encompasses a group of archaeological mounds rising on the eastern side of the Shavur River, as well as Ardeshir’s palace, on the opposite bank of the river. The excavated architectural monuments include administrative, residential and palatial structures. Susa contains several layers of superimposed urban settlements in a continuous succession from the late 5th millennium BCE until the 13th century CE. The site bears exceptional testimony to the Elamite, Persian and Parthian cultural traditions, which have largely disappeared.

Baekje Historic Areas (Republic of Korea): Located in the mountainous mid-western region of the Republic of Korea, this property comprises eight archaeological sites dating from 475 to 660 CE, including the Gongsanseong fortress and royal tombs at Songsan-ri related to the capital, Ungjin (present day Gongju), the Busosanseong Fortress and Gwanbuk-ri administrative buildings, and the Naseong city wall related to the capital, Sabi (now Buyeo), the royal palace at Wanggung-ri and the Mireuksa Temple in Iksan related to the secondary Sabi capital. Together, these sites represent the later period of the Baekje Kingdom – one of the three earliest kingdoms on the Korean peninsula (18 BCE to 660 CE) – during which time they were at the crossroads of considerable technological, religious (Buddhist), cultural and artistic exchanges between the ancient East Asian kingdoms in Korea, China and Japan.

Great Burkhan Khaldun Mountain and its surrounding sacred landscape (Mongolia): The site is situated in the north-east of the country in the central part of the Khentii mountain chain where the vast Central Asian steppe meets the coniferous forests of the Siberian taiga. Burkhan Khaldun is associated with the worship of sacred mountains, rivers and ovoo-s (shamanic rock cairns), in which ceremonies have been shaped by a fusion of ancient shamanic and Buddhist practices. The site is also believed to be the place of Genghis Khan’s birth and burial. It testifies to his efforts to establish mountain worship as an important part of the unification of the Mongol people.

Singapore Botanical Gardens (Singapore): Situated at the heart of the city of Singapore, the site demonstrates the evolution of a British tropical colonial botanic garden that has become a modern world-class scientific institution used for both conservation and education. The cultural landscape includes a rich variety of historic features, plantings and buildings that demonstrate the development of the garden since its creation in 1859. It has been an important centre for science, research and plant conservation, notably in connection with the cultivation of rubber plantations, in Southeast Asia since 1875.

Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park (Viet Nam): The Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2003, covered 85,754 hectares. With this extension, the site covers a total surface area of 126,236 hectares (a 46% increase) and shares a boundary with the Hin Namno Nature Reserve in the Peoples Democratic Republic of Laos. The Park’s landscape is formed by limestone plateaux and tropical forests. It features great geological diversity and offers spectacular phenomena, including a large number of caves and underground rivers. The site harbours a high level of biodiversity and many endemic species. The extension ensures a more coherent ecosystem while providing additional protection to the catchment areas that are of vital importance for the integrity of limestone landscapes.

Learn more about the new sites: