In 1972 Unesco created the World Heritage Convention linking together the concepts of nature conservation and the preservation of cultural heritage. Based on the understanding that sites and monuments are threatened with deterioration or disappearance over time, the organization determines that those of outstanding universal value deserve special protection from the dangers they are facing. Therefore, the efforts to identify, protect, preserve, and value the sites included on this list are meant to safeguard and pass the world's cultural and natural heritage on to future generations.
Overall, to be included on the Unesco World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria created by the organization. According to Unesco, a site has outstanding universal value when it has cultural and/or natural importance that transcends national boundaries and is therefore of great relevance to current and future generations of mankind as a whole.
The criteria are regularly revised by the World Heritage Committee to reflect the evolution of the World Heritage concept itself. The list is also constantly updated with new sites, separated into categories: cultural heritage, natural heritage, and mixed heritage.
The following shall be considered as cultural heritage: monuments such as architectural works, sculpture, painting, elements or structures of an archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings; groups of buildings which are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science; and sites by works of man or the combined works of nature and man, which are of outstanding universal value from the historical, aesthetic, ethnological or anthropological point of view.
Venice and its Lagoon
Historic Centre of Prague
Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites
Historic Centre of Florence
Alto Douro Wine Region
Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea
Old City of Berne
Ancient City of Damascus
Historic Centre of Naples
Sydney Opera House
Medina of Marrakesh
Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments
Memphis and its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur
Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th Centuries: Stato da Terra – Western Stato da Mar
According to Unesco, natural heritage includes physical and biological formations which are of outstanding universal value from the aesthetic or scientific point of view; geological formations and areas which constitute the habitat of threatened species of animals and plants of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation; and natural sites of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science, conservation or natural beauty.
Grand Canyon National Park
Vatnajökull National Park - Dynamic Nature of Fire and Ice
Yellowstone National Park
Mixed heritage includes sites that meet criteria and definitions of both cultural and natural heritage.