UNESCO has been adding a wide range of cultural, historical, and natural wonders to its World Heritage list over the past few days. From Burkina Faso to Japan, the additions include some exquisite sites around the world. But what does it take to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Well, the site has to meet at least one of 10 criteria, like being a "masterpiece of human creative genius," "exhibiting an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world," "bearing a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared," and several others. The newest additions include:
Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the Coast of Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf of Chinavia Yancheng Broadcasting
This area is basically a large system of mudflat (wetlands) and it's considered to be the biggest in the world. These mudflats serve as growth areas for many species of fish, and they also are a gathering point for many birds species -- including some of the world's most endangered -- who use this coastline as a stop to rest, nest, or moult.
Hyrcanian Forests, Iranvia Fariba Babaei
These forests form a huge 850-kilometer massif along the coast of the Caspian Sea. They are also believed to date back to 25 to 50 million years ago, and they've undergone much change over that period of time from expansion to retreating again in size, over again. 44 percent of vascular plants in Iran are found in the Hyrcanian region, and 180 species of birds and 58 mammal species are also found there, including the Persian leopard.
Dilmun Burial Mounds, Bahrainvia Alamy
These burial mounds were built between 2050 and 1750, spanning over 21 archaeological sites in the island country. Overall, there are 11,774 burial mounds spread out over many fields, some of which were royal. These mounds are evident of the Early Dilmun civilization around the second millennium BEC, and they're quite unique due to not only their size and numbers, but also details of the burial chambers equipped with alcoves.
Budj Bim Cultural Landscape, Australiavia Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation
This area includes Budj Bim Volcano and Tae Rak (Lake Condah), and it's in the heart of Gunditjmara -- an aboriginal nation in southwest Australia. The terrain of the place is quite diverse, with wetland swamps, rocky ridges, and large marshes. It's the first World Heritage Site to be included in Australia purely based on its aboriginal cultural importance.
Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City, Chinavia Hangzhou Liangzhu Archaeological - Site Administrative District Management Committee
These ruins date back to 3300-2300 BCE, and they show the importance of rice cultivation in Late Neolithic China. Composed of four different areas, the ruins are an example of "early urban civilization expressed in earthen monuments, urban planning, a water conservation system and a social hierarchy expressed in differentiated burials in cemeteries within the property," according to UNESCO.
Jaipur City, Rajasthan, Indiavia Marcin Białek
Known as the pink city, Jaipur is the second Indian city to make it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was founded in 1727, and its architecture is quite unique and different from most other places in the country. Jaipur's urban planning is a mishmash of different cultures, Hindu and modern Mughal as well as Western ones.
Mozu-Furuichi Kofun Group: Mounded Tombs of Ancient Japanvia Japan Times
Aptly situated on a plateau above the Osaka Plain, this area has 49 mounds of various sizes. Kofun (Japanese for old mounds) can come in different shapes, key holes, scallops, squares, or circles. These particular tombs were for the elite and they have funerary objects like weapons and ornaments. These Kofun were selected from 160,000 like them in Japan because they best represent the Kofun period, from third century CE to the sixth.
Bagan, Myanmarvia Frontera
Bagan is a sacred landscape with a unique range of Buddhist art and architecture. The site contains temples, monasteries, stupas, places of pilgrimage, sculptures, and much more. It's a testament to the peak of the Bagan civilization between 11th and 13th centuries CE, and it shows the religious devotion of an early Buddhist empire.
Royal Building of Mafra — Palace, Basilica, Convent, Cerco Garden, and Hunting Park, Portugalvia Erasmusu
This place was the brainchild of King João V in 1711, as a representation of his perception of monarchy. Located 30 km from Lisbon, this building had the queen and king's palaces, royal chapel, a Franciscan monastery, and a library with over 36,000 volumes. It also has a garden and the royal hunting park. It's a masterpiece of architecture and a great depiction of that era in time.
Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga, Portugalvia Maiastra
Another Portugal monument, this site is a cultural landscape on the slopes of Mount Espinho with a view over the city of Braga. It's unique architecture is of Christian Jerusalem similarities, and this sanctuary was developed over 600 years. While designed in Baroque style, this place demonstrates a "European tradition of creating Sacri Monti (sacred mountains), promoted by the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent in the 16th century, in reaction to the Protestant Reformation." The location also includes several chapels with sculptures of biblical significance, fountains, gardens, and more.
Risco Caido and the Sacred Mountains of Gran Canaria Cultural Landscape, Spainvia Nacho Gonzalez
This gorgeous location is in the mountainous of Gran Canaria, and it has cliffs, ravines, volcanic formations, and a ton of biodiversity. According to UNESCO, "The landscape includes a large number of troglodyte settlements — habitats, granaries and cisterns — whose age is proof of the presence of a pre-Hispanic culture on the island, which has evolved in isolation, from the arrival of North African Berbers, around the beginning of our era, until the first Spanish settlers in the 15th century." There are also two sacred temples at the location, where seasonal ceremonies took place, and they're linked to cult of the stars and Mother Earth.
Babylon, Iraqvia Getty Images
The legendary city of Babylon was also added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Once the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, Babylon is one of the world's oldest cities, dating back to 626 BCE. Its remains, walls, gates, palaces, and temples remain testament to one of the most significant civilizations of the ancient world, with rules like Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar.
French Austral Lands and Seas, France
via Nelly Gravier
This area has the largest of the rare emerged land masses in the southern Indian Ocean, the Crozet Archipelago, the Kerguelen Islands, Saint-Paul and Amsterdam Islands, and 60 small sub-Antarctic islands. It is huge in size, and has one of the highest concentrations of marine mammals and birds in the world, with the largest population of King Penguins and Yellow-nosed albatrosses anywhere.