• There are more than 1,000 sites of “outstanding universal value” on the World Heritage List.
  • A UNESCO panel added 13 new sites in 2020-2021.
  • Entry onto the list means important sites are given special status and protection.

Prehistoric ruins in Japan, an archaeoastronomical complex in Peru, and Sudanese-style mosques in Africa’s Côte d’Ivoire – these are a few of this year’s new additions to the global list of more than 1,000 World Heritage sites.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee met for its 44th session, to decide which places of “outstanding universal value” will be added to the list and receive special status and protection.

Vestiges of the Roman Empire in Italy and past dynasties of China mean these two countries are home to the highest number of World Heritage sites, with over 50 each. But the latest additions are dotted all around the globe.

Here are some of this year’s 13 newly inscribed sites:

Chankillo Archaeoastronomical Complex - Peru

Dating back to 250-200 BC, the prehistoric Chankillo Solar Observatory and ceremonial centre sits on Peru’s north-central coast. Natural features and constructions in the desert landscape form a calendar instrument using the sun to determine dates throughout the year.

Chankillo Archaeoastronomical Complex - Peru
Chankillo Archaeoastronomical Complex - Peru.
Image: Juancito28, CC BY-SA 4.0

As-Salt City: a cultural melting pot - Jordan

The merchant city of As-Salt sits in the Balqa highlands of west-central Jordan. This once important trading post saw its golden age between the 1860s to 1920s, blending European Art Nouveau and neo-colonial architecture with local traditions, which created a cultural melting pot known for its tolerance and urban hospitality.

As-Salt City cultural melting pot - Jordan
As-Salt City cultural melting pot - Jordan.
Image: Ahmad Qaisieh, CC BY-SA 4.0

Hawraman/Uramanat culture - Islamic Republic of Iran

The traditional culture of the Kurdish Hawrami tribe has inhabited this remote mountainous region of modern-day Iran since around 3000 BC. Tiered steep-sloped architecture, gardening on dry-stone terraces, livestock breeding, and seasonal vertical migration are a way of life for these semi-nomadic people.

Hawraman/Uramanat culture - Islamic Republic of Iran
Hawraman/Uramanat culture - Islamic Republic of Iran.
Image: Diyar Muhammed, CC BY-SA 4.0

Dholavira: a Harappan city - India

Featuring a fortified city and a cemetery, the ancient city of Dholavira in the Indian state of Gujarat was occupied between around 3000-1500 BC. It is one of the best preserved urban settlements from the period in Southeast Asia.

Dholavira: a Harappan city
Dholavira: a Harappan city.
Image: Bhajish Bharathan, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Lower German Limes: frontiers of the Roman Empire - Germany/Netherlands

Following the course of the Lower Rhine River for 400km, the Lower German Limes features archaeological remains of military bases, ports, harbours, civilian towns, an aqueduct and numerous other features comprising one section of The Frontiers of the Roman Empire.

Nederland, Arnhem, 23-10-2016Castra Herculis was een fort in Romeins Nederland. Het castellum Meinerswijk bij Arnhem werd vermoedelijk tussen het jaar 10 en 20 gebouwd door de Romeinse generaal Germanicus aan de zuidzijde van de Rijn. Dit houten fort beschermde de Romeinse scheepvaart over de Rijn en de Drususgracht, die de Rijn met de IJssel verbond.Foto: Stichting Tijdlijn/Historische Projecten
Fort Meinerswijk Arnhem / Nederlandse Limes Samenwerking.
Image: Romeinse Limes via Flickr

Jomon prehistoric sites - Japan

Across 17 archaeological sites, this property reveals 10,000 years of the Jomon people’s spiritual and cultural journey in locations ranging from mountains, lowlands, lakes and rivers. This emergent hunter-gatherer society developed from around 13,000 BC.

Jomon prehistoric sites
Jomon prehistoric sites.
Image: 663highland, CC BY-SA 3.0

Winter resort town of the Riviera - France

From the middle of the 18th century, the French Riviera town of Nice attracted an increasing number of aristocratic and wealthy families seeking winter refuge from colder climates. Over the next century, successive phases of development featuring eclectic architectural styles turned the town into a cosmopolitan winter resort.

Nice, France
Nice, France.
Image: Image by Pierre Blaché from Pixabay

Settlement and artificial mummification of the Chinchorro culture - Chile

The Chinchorro marine hunter-gatherers, who occupied the hostile northern coast of the Atacama Desert in Chile between around 5450-890 BC, provide the oldest-known archeological evidence of artificially mummified bodies. The Chinchorro people developed complex mortuary practices that are testament to their particular spirituality.

A mummified Chinchorro baby lies inside Azapa's San Miguel Museum in Arica city, north Santiago, in this October 27, 2005 file picture. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado/Files - S1AEUJLTRXAC
Settlement and artificial mummification of the Chinchorro culture.
Image: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado/Files