The UN cultural organization UNESCO has added 19 new sites to its World Heritage list. Seven of them are in Asia. The list comprises a total of 981 natural and cultural sites of extraordinary importance to mankind.
The terraced rice fields of Honghe Hani
These spectacular terraces running down mountain slopes were built by the Hani people in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan. The Hani, also known as Akha, are one of the 55 minorities officially recognized by the Chinese government. Most of them live along the Chinese border with Myanmar, as well as in Northern Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.
A landscape of breathtaking beautyThe Hani developed in Yunnan a complex cultural landscape. Ancient channels transport water flowing down the Ailao mountains and bring it to the surrounding terraces and villages. Depending on daylight, the water on the terraces appears to change color. The Hani also created an integrated agrarian and farming system involving buffalos, ducks and fish and supporting the production of red rice.
Japan's most iconic mountain
Mount Fuji is one of the most famous new additions to the UNESCO list. Japan's highest mountain made it onto the list alongside 18 other sites because of its importance as "a sacred place and a source of artistic inspiration."
Tajikistan National Park
The Pamir mountain range ranks amongst the highest in the world. It stretches 120,000 square kilometers through the Central Asian countries of Kirgizstan and Tajikistan. UNESCO now included the Tajikistan National Park, situated in the eastern part of the mountain chain, to its World Heritage list. The Sarez Mountain Lake is located here.
The many colors of Tian Shan
Not far away from Pamir lies one of the world's largest mountain ranges. The Tian Shan mountains reach almost 7,500 meters. The region is renowned for its scenic beauty from soaring snow-capped peaks to sand dune-studded deserts. Its Chinese name stands for "Celestial Mountains." A large part of the chain lies in China, but it also stretches to Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Iran's Golestan Palace was also granted World Heritage status. Its beginnings date back to the 16th century, but its current design is from the late 18th century. It served as the official residence of the Persian monarch up until the Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 1979. The last Persian Shah, Reza Pahlavi, was crowned here in 1941.
World heritage at a crossroads
The remains of a fortress that once surrounded the former Korean capital of Kaesong made it onto the list. Kaesong became the capital of the Koryo Dynasty which ruled from 918 to 1392. When the Korean peninsula was divided along the 38th parallel after the Second World War, Kaesong ended up in South Korea. But it was taken over by the Communist North during the Korean War (1950 - 1953).