Thursday, November 11, 2010

The World's Newest Natural Wonders

The Northern Lights                                                                                                                   Source

Each year, the United Nations unveils a list of the world's most stunning natural attractions, called World Heritage sites, and chances are, you've never heard of them—Papahanaumokuakea, anyone? The designation shines the spotlight on a handful of hidden gems, while also protecting them from man.

Over the past 28 years, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has identified more than 180 of these natural wonders across 77 countries. These "World Heritage Sites" are deemed "unique, irreplaceable, and authentic." The esteemed club includes the likes of the Grand Canyon, Mount Everest, and Victoria Falls among other iconic sites. (Manmade landmarks, such as Rome's Colosseum, are counted separately.)

This summer, the UN agency added some particularly picturesque landscapes to its list.

China - China Danxia
The region known as China Danxia spans six subtropical areas approximately 310 miles southwest of Xi'an, home of the terra-cotta warriors. Red sandstone pillars, ravines, and other fantastical shapes recall Mars more than they do southwestern China.

Hawaii - Papahanaumokuakea
Preposterously clear lagoons and extensive coral reefs protect rare marine life around this set of tiny islands and atolls in northwestern Hawaii (reachable only by chartered plane). Ghost alert! As native tradition has it, spirits return to this area after death.

Russia - Putoransky State Nature Reserve
This nature reserve is situated more than 62 miles north of the Arctic Circle in northern Central Siberia, and is a vital migration route for reindeer crossing its tundra and rivers. the Putoransky State Nature Reserve is technically a desert because it rains and snows so little here, though snowfall does tend to linger owing to the icy temperatures.

Continue to the rest of the list..


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