World Heritage sites in North America
North America is a hugely diverse continent and there is simply so much to explore, in terms of natural, cultural and mixed UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Natural wonders in North America range from biospheres, canyons and ancient forest to mountain ranges and volcanic sites, as well as places of significant palaeontological interest. Swathes of immigration to the continent since the colonial era has had an enormous effect on the continent’s culture, including the home to several World Heritage sites in North America.
How many World Heritage sites are there in the upper North America?
Specifically taking only the World Heritage sites currently only listed in Canada, the United States, and Mexico, there are a total of 79 sites.
Which country in North America has the most World Heritage sites?
Contrary to popular assumptions, Mexico has the most world heritage sites in the region, with 35 compared with the US’s 24 and Canada with 20. In fact, Mexico is ranked seventh in the world in terms of the number of world heritage sites and has more than any country in the whole of the Americas. Mexico’s world heritage sites range from dramatic natural sites to fascinating pre-Columbian settlements and early colonial architecture.
Which are the most visited World Heritage sites in North America?
The Great Smokey Mountains lie along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, USA. This park has the greatest visitor numbers of any world heritage site in North America, with approximately 11 million visitors per year. Part of the Appalachians and affectionately dubbed, the ‘Smokies’, this vast park is made up of nearly 190,000 acres of ancient forest. Most of the other most popular sites are also located in the US. The Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island, New York, Arizona’s Grand Canyon and Utah’s Yellowstone National Park all receive annual visitor numbers in the millions as well. Mexico’s most popular site is the Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco, the location of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan and the Spanish capital, Mexico City, both of which have huge cultural and architectural significance.
What is the oldest World Heritage site in North America?
The first site to be granted UNESCO status was L’Anse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada, where the remains of the earliest known settlement of Viking explorers outside of Europe or Greenland is found. Sites with the most historical significance, however, include Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada, where a stunning array of fossils have been found, including every dinosaur from the Cretaceous and bones that are up to 75 million years old. Older still are the 500-million-year-old fossils of the Burgess Shale located within the Canadian Rockies heritage site. The oldest archaeological site in North America is the Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, US, where visitors can explore the ancient evidence left by the paleo-Indian people, who had used the site to build semi-permanent rock shelters.
Which are the most beautiful World Heritage sites in North America?
Mexico’s Sian Ka'an biosphere is one of the most beautiful places on the continent, with an immensely rich biodiversity found within its barrier reef, mangroves, and forests. The dramatic volcanic and dune scenes of Mexico’s El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve are also truly breath-taking. Another of the most spectacular landscapes on Earth can be explored at the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, US, one of the world’s most immense gorges. Yet more unparalleled beauty can be seen at Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks in the USA, as well as Canada's Nahanni National Park and Rockies National Parks.
Plan your next vacation with a list of World Heritage sites to visit
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