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World heritage

World Heritage in Colombia

The National Intersectoral World Heritage Committee was created through Decree 2406 of 2005. Its main responsibility shall be that of evaluating and assessing the new inscription proposals of goods to the World Heritage List, as well as acting as a liaison between UNESCO, the Nation and the Territorial Entities for the management of the cultural and natural heritage.  The Commission shall be made up by the Ministries of Culture (chair of the Commission); Foreign Relations; Environment, Housing and Territorial Development, as well as by the director of the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History.

  1. Tentative List

Article 11 of the World Heritage Convention suggests the elaboration of lists of the goods located within the territory of each State deemed suitable for their inclusion on the World Heritage List.  Currently, UNESCO’s Tentative List includes the following sites:

 Buritaca 200 - Ciudad Perdida - Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (1993)

It is an archeological site of great testimonial value that also includes the discovery of pottery and goldsmith works. It is a 14-hectare indigenous settlement on the Corea hill up to the Buritaca River on the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. It comprises a set of terraces linked by paths made of stone that derive, in a transversal manner, from the main one and that, in turn, is part of a complex communication system with the neighboring villages. These paths are 5 meters wide, they are rock paved and they have a central staircase.  Each one of them includes an efficient drainage and protection system. Besides the foundations of the dwellings, two temples (cancurubas) have been preserved as well as some petroglyphs that have not been deciphered yet.

Sistema Hidráulico Prehispánico del Río San Jorge (1993)

The lower region of the San Jorge River is covered by a complex and broad network of artificial channels covering an area of 200,000 hectares that was built by an ethnic group that inhabited the area between the 1st and the 7th centuries, according to the little information available.  The construction of an artificial drainage system was necessary for the permanent settlement of the population since it is an area that is flooded during several months of the year. Therefore, the activities of its inhabitants depend on the flood and drought periods. There are very well-preserved structures that may reach a height of 2 meters. The wide plain, flooded by the Magdalena River, is probably the largest and best preserved reserve of agricultural land of the country.

Qhapaq Ñan (2005)

The Road, the Main Road, also known by some as the “Core Road of the Sierra,” connected the centers of power of the Inca Empire and the “yungas,” the most distant desert and jungle areas of the Empire. The construction of the road responds to commercial, political, administrative, strategic and military interests, crossing the tops and the valleys of the Andes with the objective of passing the messages to even the most distant places. Under the sponsorship of the World Heritage Centre, the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru work jointly on the nomination of Qhapaq Ñan to the World Heritage List.

Seaflower Marine Protected Area (MPA) (2007)

The Seaflower Marine Protected Area comprises the San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina Archipelago. It includes three small inhabited islands and several uninhabited cays. It covers a terrestrial area of 57 km2 and a marine area of 300,000 km2.  The Archipelago has complete coastal and marine ecosystems representing the tropical region such as a variety of coralline structures, marine pastures, mangrove swamps, oceanic areas, beaches, tropical woodlands and woodland succession whose conditions range from almost complete pristine to degraded ones thus illustrating the effects of a wide variety of uses. This area was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 2000.

The Chiribiquete Natural National Park: this place includes a geographic area of the Chiribiquete Mountain Range, a series of plateaus and tubular hills called “Tepuyes” which may have altitudes of up to 1,000 meters. There are vegetation formations ranging from rainforest to rocky formations. In addition, there is the typical flood zone vegetation on the banks of the rivers. The fauna of the region has not been completely studied.

World Heritage List

At present, Colombia has six sites included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Port, Fortresses and Group of Monuments, Cartagena de Indias (1984):
The port, the fortresses and the historic center of Cartagena de Indias were registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List on 1 December 1984 which led to a greater awareness on the responsibilities involved in their management and intervention and, especially, the reaffirmation of the city as a tourism and convention destination.

Los Katíos National Park (1994): the Los Katíos National Park, created in 1947, protects some of the most important ecosystems of the country and of the region, representing a hub of historic speciation as well as of ecological connection between Central America and South America. It was registered as World Heritage Site in 1994.

Historic Center of Santa Cruz de Mompox (1995): the predominant element in its houses, churches and other constructions is the basic Andalusian scheme grouping the bedrooms and other rooms around one or more patios, depending on their global size. The Historic Centre of Mompox was declared a national monument through Law 163 of 1959 and later it was included on UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995.

San Agustín Archaeological Park (1995): the San Agustín Archaeological Park is located on the Andean Belt. It is considered one of the most important pre-Columbian cultural vestiges housing part of the religious traditions of the inhabitants of the area in ancient times.

National Archaeological Park of Tierradentro (1995): this National Park, located in the department of Cauca to the southwest of the Colombian territory, is considered unique evidence of the daily life, the rites and the religious ceremonies of the pre-Hispanic culture.  The Colombian state declared it a reserve of public interest in 1931 and it was only in 1971 that it was proven that it belonged to the classic period, from 1000 to 1900 BC.  

Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary (July 2006):  this sanctuary is located on the Pacific Ocean, 490 kilometers from Buenaventura.  The great reserve includes two different ecosystems, the coastal surface and the marine system. This reserve is protected from fishing since it is considered a genuine source of life and it is a place where scientific expeditions take place on a permanent basis. These expeditions monitor the natural process taking place in this area of the planet.

Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia (2001): the coffee areas of Colombia are located on the mountains of the Western and Eastern mountain ranges of the Andes that cross the country from south to north. The Departments that are historically more representative of this region are Antioquia, Caldas, Risaralda, Quindío and Valle. They have been, since the 19th and the 20th centuries, the “Coffee Axis” which includes the “Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia” due to its particular natural, urban-development, architectural and cultural characteristics. As a region, it stands out because of the cultivation and commercialization of coffee, besides representing a guild and a consolidated, unique and diverse culture according to the specific conditions of its historic development which is determined by the Antioquean Colonization that took place during the first half of the 19th century.  

The inclusion of the Coffee Cultural Landscape on the UNESCO World Heritage List has been requested since 2001. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which will have its meeting between 19 and 29 June 2011, approved the inscription of the Coffee Cultural Landscape on the World Heritage List.

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