World Heritage Site

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World Heritage Site,

a place of cultural or natural importance listed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural OrganizationUnited Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO), specialized agency of the United Nations, with headquarters in Paris. Its counterpart in the League of Nations was the International Committee for Intellectual Cooperation.
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 (UNESCO) World Heritage List. The sites, some natural, some cultural, are chosen for their value to humanity and are legally protected by international treaties. Countries nominate sites for inclusion on the list; the nominations are reviewed by the World Heritage Committee.

In 1959, UNESCO set up an international committee to preserve and restore Egyptian monuments threatened by the construction of the Aswan High Dam (see under AswanAswan
or Assuan
, city (1986 pop. 190,579), capital of Aswan governorate, S Egypt, on the Nile River at the First Cataract. It is one of the driest cities in the world.
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), and mounted successful efforts to save them. This led to the adoption in 1972 of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Since it came into effect in 1975, hundreds of ruins, edifices, areas, and other locations have been named World Heritage Sites. The ratio of cultural sites to natural sites is about three to one. Some of the best-known World Heritage Sites include the Great Barrier ReefGreat Barrier Reef,
largest complex of coral reef in the world, c.1,250 mi (2,000 km) long, in the Coral Sea, forming a natural breakwater for the coast of Queensland, NE Australia.
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 in Australia, the Great Wall of ChinaGreat Wall of China,
series of fortifications, c.3,890 mi (6,260 km) long (not including trenches and natural defensive barriers), winding across N China from Gansu prov. to Liaoning prov.
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, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in Japan, the Taj MahalTaj Mahal
, mausoleum, Agra, Uttar Pradesh state, N India, on the Yamuna River. It is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the world and the finest example of the late style of Indian Islamic architecture.
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 in India, Red Square and Lake Baykal in Russia, the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, the ruins of PompeiiPompeii
, ancient city of S Italy, a port near Naples and at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius. Possibly an old Oscan settlement, it was a Samnite city for centuries before it passed under Roman rule at the time of Lucius Cornelius Sulla (1st cent. B.C.).
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 in Italy, the Lascaux cave paintings in France, Westminster AbbeyWestminster Abbey,
originally the abbey church of a Benedictine monastery (closed in 1539) in London. One of England's most important Gothic structures, it is also a national shrine. The first church on the site is believed to date from early in the 7th cent.
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 in England, the Forth Railway Bridge in Scotland, Kilimanjaro National Park in Tanzania, Victoria FallsVictoria Falls,
waterfall, c.1 mi (1.6 km) wide with a maximum drop of 420 ft (128 m), in the Zambezi River, S central Africa, on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border. The falls are formed as the Zambezi plummets into a narrow chasm (c.
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 in Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Guggenheim MuseumGuggenheim Museum,
officially Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, major museum of modern art in New York City. Founded in 1939 as the Museum of Non-objective Art, the Guggenheim is known for its remarkable circular building (1959) with curving interior ramp designed by Frank Lloyd
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 in New York City, and Machu PicchuMachu Picchu
, Inca site in Peru, about 50 mi (80 km) NW of Cuzco. It is perched high upon a rock in a narrow saddle between two sharp mountain peaks and overlooks the Urubamba River 2,000 ft (600 m) below.
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 in Peru.

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