UN's World Heritage Committee Friday inscribed 31 new sites including the Yungang Grottos of China on the World Heritage List, which now numbers 721 natural and cultural sites of "outstanding universal value" in 124 countries.
The decision was taken Thursday at a meeting of the World Cultural Heritage Committee under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), official sources said Friday in Beijing.
The 31 inscriptions this year, six natural sites and 25 cultural sites, concern 24 countries, of which Botswana and Israel see their sites appear on the list for the first time, according to a statement released by the Paris-based UNESCO.
The Yungang Grottos, situated 16 kilometers west of the city of Datong in Shanxi Province in northern China, have 51 grottos where stand about 51,000 Buddhist statues. It was listed as national cultural heritage by the Chinese government in 1961.
The organization also announced extension of six sites already inscribed, including the Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace in Lhasa in China. The heritage site of Potala is extended to include the Norbu-linka, another palace in Lhasa.
China now hosts 28 sites inscribed on the World Natural and Cultural Heritage list.
The Alto Douro wine region (Portugal), the historic centers of Vienna (Austria), Lamu Old Town (Kenya) and Goias (Brazil), the medieval town of Provins (France), tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Uganda) and the Yungang Grottos (China) are among the new sites.
(Xinhua New Agency December 15, 2001)