List Notes: This top 5 list includes both natural and historical World Heritage sites. This list was last accessed and updated by Top 5 of Anything: December 19th, 2014.
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The United States has 21 world heritage sites, Canada has 15, The United Kingdom 28, Australia 18, India 28 and Mexico 31. (a.)
There are 704 cultural World Heritage Sites , 180 natural World Heritage Sites and 27 mixed sites in 151 States Parties all over the world as of June, 2010. (a.)
There are 30 World Heritage sites in danger of losing their status. Five of these are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (which is all of it's sites). (a.)
Natural World Heritage Sites protect over 177 million hectares (ha) of land and sea with the average area of a natural World Heritage Site being 929,000 ha (9,290 square kilometers). (b.)
In order to be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria:
To represent a masterpiece of human creative genius.
To exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design
To bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared.
To be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history.
To be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change.
To be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria).
To contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.
To be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of land-forms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features.
To be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals.
To contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation. (a.)
Top 5 facts sources:
UNESCO World Heritage Convention. (2011). Retrieved Feb 1st, 2011 from: http://whc.unesco.org/
International Union for Conservation of Nature. (2008). "World Heritage Facts and Figures." Retrieved Feb 1st, 2011.