Industries in Depth

Which countries have the most UNESCO World Heritage sites?

View of buildings in Salt, Jordan as UNESCO lists the city as a World Heritage Site, July 28, 2021

Salt, Jordan, has recently been listed as a new World Heritage site. Image: REUTERS/Alaa Al Sukhni

Katharina Buchholz
Data Journalist, Statista
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  • An announcement of new sites by the UNESCO committee has shown that Italy now has 58 World Heritage locations.
  • This places it ahead of China, which currently has 56 World Heritage sites.
  • Any new property on this list is a great way to boost tourism in a country.

Italy is home to the largest number of UNESCO world heritage sites in the world. After the annual announcement of new sites by the UNESCO committee, the country now boasts 58 world heritage locations. New additions are the porticoes, or sheltered walkways, of Bologna, the fourteenth-century fresco cycles of Padua as well as the Montecatini Terme of Tuscany, part of the designation of "The Great Spa Towns of Europe", which stretch across seven countries.

With the new announcement, Italy pulls ahead of China. Formerly head-to-head at 55 properties each, China could only add one site - the Song-Yuan era Emporium of the World in Quanzhou - leading to a total of 56 properties for the country.

With 51 world heritage sites, Germany now ranks third ahead of Spain and France after having made a whopping five new additions. The Mathildenhöhe historic artists colony in Darmstadt, Jewish sites in Speyer, Worms and Mainz and appearances among the European spa towns are included in these as well as the Roman Empire Lower German Limes (shared with the Netherlands) and the Danube Limes (shared with Austria and Slovakia).

In total, the UNESCO list includes 1,155 monuments in 167 countries as world heritage sites. No matter how many additions a country could make, any new property on the list is sure to boost tourism when winning the prestigious label. The U.S. remained at 24 listed sites in 2021, thereby leaving the top 10. The listed properties include the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, the Taos Pueblo and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. The UK added two properties - the slate landscape of Northwest Wales and Bath as part of the spa towns of Europe - but sadly also lost one. The Maritime Mercantile City in Liverpool was deleted due to new building developments in its area.

this chart shows the countries with the highest number of UNESCO world heritage sites
Italy boasts the largest number of world heritage sites. Image: Statista
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