Seven Natural Wonders Inscribed on World Heritage List

DURBAN, South Africa, July 15, 2005 (ENS) - The UN World Heritage Committee chaired by Themba Wakashe, South Africa’s Deputy Director-General for Heritage and National Archives, Thursday inscribed seven natural sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Sites to be protected include South Africa's Vredefort Dome, part of the oldest and largest meteorite impact site in the world. Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr. Z. Pallo Jordan, welcomed the inscription of South Africa's seventh World Heritage site.

"The awarding of the status is a proud moment for South Africa," he said. "The next step is to establish management structures, and comply with requirements of the UNESCO Convention. The Vredefort site is rich in the symbolic representation of our culture and it demonstrates the meeting between scientific and cultural philosophy and practice."

The Vredefort Dome was formed an estimated two billion years ago when a giant meteorite hit the Earth close to where Vredefort is today.

"At Vredefort, opportunities exist to engage in geological research and explore and understand more sensitively the rich culture of the Basotho, Batswana and Khoi-San and the early evidence of human cognitive and artistic endeavour their cultures boast," said Jordan.

Other sites in Egypt, Japan, Norway, Mexico, Thailand and Panama were selected for inclusion on the World Heritage List.

The Committee also decided to extend two natural sites already on the list. The one is extended in size while the extension of the other makes it both a natural and cultural site.

With today’s inscriptions, UNESCO World Heritage List numbers 160 natural sites and 24 mixed sites - both natural and cultural - of outstanding universal value around the world.

The sites inscribed today are: