South Africa’s 10th World Heritage Site

The South Africa’s 10th World Heritage Site, the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains, has just been officially added to the World Heritage Site List.

Situated in northeastern South Africa, the Barberton mountains are what UNESCO describes as “the best-preserved volcanic and sedimentary rock dating back 3.6 to 3.25 billion years.”

Because of its position as one of the world’s oldest landscapes, the mountain range has provided geologists with invaluable information about the early formation of Earth’s continents.
It’s a site of immense historic and scientific value, but it’s also a magnificent destination for adventurers: The mountains’ rivers, trails, and biodiverse plant and animal ecosystems offer bounties for travelers to navigate.

Also referred to as the ‘Genesis of Life’, its geology includes the best preserved ancient rocks on Earth. The mountains are also believed to contain the oldest signs of life‚ with a micro fossil of bacteria discovered there that is estimated to be 3.1 billion years old. The site is one of the world’s oldest geological structures, with volcanic and sedimentary rock dating back to around the time when the first continents were starting to form on the primitive Earth.

This is South Africa’s 10th World Heritage Site, while last year the ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape became the country’s 9th site.
Other sites include the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Robben Island, the Cradle of Humankind, Maloti-Drakensberg Park, Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape, the Cape Floral Region, the Vredefort Dome and Richtersveld.
Aren’t we lucky?

Every year, the United Nations’ cultural agency meets to decide which sites around the world will join the ranks of destinations on the highly coveted UNESCO World Heritage List, which currently lists 1,092 heritage sites worldwide.

To warrant inclusion, landmarks must be deemed of “outstanding universal value” and fulfill one of 10 criteria categorizing each destination as a location of either unmatched natural beauty or environmental, cultural, or historic significance.

Acknowledgement Africa Geographic sourced from third-party sites UNESCO & Times Live; and Afar, with images courtesy of Tony Ferrar

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