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World Heritage Sites

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Our cultural and natural heritage is an irreplaceable source of life and inspiration. It is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations.

World Heritage Sites have a cultural or natural significance that “is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and of importance for present and future generations of all humanity.” This concept, referred to as Outstanding Universal Value, is set out in the World Heritage Convention of 1972. By regarding heritage as both cultural and natural, the World Heritage Convention exemplifies the value that we place on both culture and nature and recognises the fundamental need to preserve the balance between the two.

There are currently 981 World Heritage Sites spread across 160 countries (as of January, 2014) reflecting the rich diversity of the world’s cultural heritage.

Within the UK, sites as diverse as Stonehenge and Avebury, Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, the Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast and the City of Edinburgh help to make up the UK’s heritage. Their position on the World Heritage List ensures that they will remain a part of our global heritage for generations to come.

The UK National Commission for UNESCO (UKNC) supports the effective implementation of the World Heritage Convention within the UK and works to strengthen international links and expertise in the protection and promotion of World Heritage Sites.

Pages in this section

World Heritage Education
Thumb: World Heritage Education
Working with UK World Heritage Sites to engage communities and young people with the internationally important heritage on their doorstep.
Becoming a World Heritage Site
Thumb: Becoming a World Heritage Site
World Heritage Sites must demonstrate that they meet one of the ten criteria used to assess a site's Outstanding Universal Value
World Heritage Sites in the UK
Thumb: World Heritage Sites in the UK
There are 28 World Heritage Sites in the UK, ranging from archaeological sites, country houses and estates to urban centres and industrial areas
World Heritage Committee
Thumb: World Heritage Committee
The World Heritage Committee, its advisory bodies and the World Heritage Centre, all play vital roles in the identification, designation and preservation of sites of Outstanding Universal Value

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