UNESCO World Heritage Sites: how many have you visited? Selected for their unique cultural or natural heritage, these historic places make some of the best destinations. UNESCO's guide to their World Heritage Sites, which organizes the sites by order of inscription (Galapagos was the first), is forthcoming in its fifth edition at the end of September. From the Galapagos and Mesa Verde to China's Mount Sanqingshan National Park and Al-Hijar in Saudi Arabia, this beautifully illustrated compendium includes color photographs, a map and succinct description of each archaeological site, monument, city or park. The fully updated fifth edition includes 45 new site inscriptions made in 2012 and 2013, including the Red Basque Bay Whaling Station in Canada, the Namib Sea, the Medici Villas and Gardens in Tuscany and Mount Etna in Italy.
This summer, the UNESCO World Heritage list reached its 1000th site, with the inclusion of the Okavango River Delta in northwest Botswana. Comprised of marshlands and wetlands, the delta is unique for the fact that it does not flow into the ocean and because the biological behaviors of plants and animals native to the delta are synced to the river's rhythm, flow and flood seasons. Some of the world’s endangered species have their habitat in Okavango, including large and majestic mammals like the cheetah, rhinoceros and lion. Also recently named by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee are the decorated cave of Pont d'Arc in France and the caves of Maresha and Bet Guvrin in Israel; the vineyard landscape of Piedmont, Italy; the acropolis of Pergamon in Turkey; the site of the birth of the Ottoman Empire in Bursa, Turkey and the earthworks of Poverty Point in the Lower Mississippi Valley.