World Heritage Sites - Central America

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World Heritage Sites

 

Belize

Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System

Belize District (sites I, II, III), Stann Creek District ( IV,V,VI), Toledo District (VII)
N16 45 0 W87 3 30

The coastal area of Belize is an outstanding natural system consisting of the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere, offshore atolls, several hundred sand cays, mangrove forests, coastal lagoons and estuaries. The system’s seven sites illustrate the evolutionary history of reef development and are a significant habitat for threatened species, including marine turtles, manatees and the American marine crocodile.

The largest barrier reef in the Northern hemisphere -a serial nomination consisting of seven sites. The Reef illustrates a classic example of reefs through fringing, barrier and atoll reef types.

 

Guatemala

Antigua Guatemala (1979)

Department of Sacatepéquez, Panchoy Valley
N14 34 W90 40

Antigua, the capital of the Captaincy-General of Guatemala, was founded in the early 16th century. Built 1,500 m above sea-level, in an earthquake-prone region, it was largely destroyed by an earthquake in 1773 but its principal monuments are still preserved as ruins. In the space of under three centuries the city, which was built on a grid pattern inspired by the Italian Renaissance, acquired a number of superb monuments.

 

Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua (1981)

Department of Izabal
N15 16 14 W89 02 25

 

Inhabited since the 2nd century A.D., Quirigua had become during the reign of Cauac Sky (723��"84) the capital of an autonomous and prosperous state. The ruins of Quirigua contain some outstanding 8th-century monuments and an impressive series of carved stelae and sculpted calendars that constitute an essential source for the study of Mayan civilization.

 

Tikal National Park (1979)

Department of El Peten
N17 13 W89 37

 

In the heart of the jungle, surrounded by lush vegetation, lies one of the major sites of Mayan civilization, inhabited from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D. The ceremonial centre contains superb temples and palaces, and public squares accessed by means of ramps. Remains of dwellings are scattered throughout the surrounding countryside.

 

Honduras

Maya Site of Copan (1980)

Copán; westernmost part of the country- N14 51 00 W89 08 00

 

Discovered in 1570 by Diego García de Palacio, the ruins of Copán, one of the most important sites of the Mayan civilization, were not excavated until the 19th century. The ruined citadel and imposing public squares reveal the three main stages of development before the city was abandoned in the early 10th century.

 

Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (1982)

Northeast of the country in the area known as the “Mosquitia Hondureña”
N15 44 40 W84 40 30

 

Located on the watershed of the Río Plátano, the reserve is one of the few remains of a tropical rainforest in Central America and has an abundant and varied plant and wildlife. In its mountainous landscape sloping down to the Caribbean coast, over 2,000 indigenous people have preserved their traditional way of life.

 

Nicaragua

Ruins of León Viejo (2000)

Puerto Momotombo, Municipality of La Paz Centro, Department of León
N12 23 50 W86 36 37

 

León Viejo is one of the oldest Spanish colonial settlements in the Americas. It did not develop and so its ruins are outstanding testimony to the social and economic structures of the Spanish Empire in the 16th century. Moreover, the site has immense archaeological potential.

The ruined town of León Viejo provides exceptional testimony to the material culture of one of the earliest Spanish colonial settlements. Criterion iv The form and nature of early Spanish settlement in the New World, adapting European architectural and planning concepts to the material potential of another region, are uniquely preserved in the archaeological site of León Viejo.

El Salvador

Joya de Cerén Archaeological Site (1993)

 

Department of La Libertad, Canton Joya de Ceren, jurisdiction of San Juan Opico
N13 49 39 W89 22 9

 

Joya de Cerén was a pre-Hispanic farming community that, like Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy, was buried under an eruption of the Laguna Caldera volcano c. AD 600. Because of the exceptional condition of the remains, they provide an insight into the daily lives of the Central American populations who worked the land at that time.

 

Costa Rica

Area de Conservación Guanacaste (1999, 2004)

 

Guanacaste and Alajuela provinces
N10 51 W85 37

 

The Area de Conservación Guanacaste (inscribed in 1999), was extended with the addition of a 15,000 ha private property, St Elena. It contains important natural habitats for the conservation of biological diversity, including the best dry forest habitats from Central America to northern Mexico and key habitats for endangered or rare plant and animal species. The site demonstrates significant ecological processes in both its terrestrial and marine-coastal environments.

 

 

Cocos Island National Park (1997, 2002)

Province of Puntarenas, South Eastern Tropical Pacific

N5 31 60 W87 4 0

Cocos Island National Park, located 550 km off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, is the only island in the tropical eastern Pacific with a tropical rainforest. Its position as the first point of contact with the northern equatorial counter-current, and the myriad interactions between the island and the surrounding marine ecosystem, make the area an ideal laboratory for the study of biological processes. The underwater world of the national park has become famous due to the attraction it holds for divers, who rate it as one of the best places in the world to view large pelagic species such as sharks, rays, tuna and dolphins.

The Committee inscribed Cocos Island National Park under natural criteria (ix) and (x) because of the critical habitats the site provides for marine wildlife including large pelagic species, especially sharks.

 

 

Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves / La Amistad National Park (1983, 1990) *

Provincias de Bocas del Toro y Chiriqui, Panama; San Jose, Cartago, Limon and Puntarenas Provinces, Costa Rica

N9 24 25.5 W82 56 19.7

 

The location of this unique site in Central America, where Quaternary glaciers have left their mark, has allowed the fauna and flora of North and South America to interbreed. Tropical rainforests cover most of the area. Four different Indian tribes inhabit this property, which benefits from close co-operation between Costa Rica and Panama.

 

 

 

Panama

Archaeological Site of Panamá Viejo and Historic District of Panamá (1997, 2003)

PanamaProvince, Panama’ District - N8 57 04 W79 32 26

Founded in 1519 by the conquistador Pedrarías Dávila, Panamá Viejo is the oldest European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas. It was laid out on a rectilinear grid and marks the transference from Europe of the idea of a planned town. Abandoned in the mid-17th century, it was replaced by a ‘new town’ (the ‘Historic District’), which has also preserved its original street plan, its architecture and an unusual mixture of Spanish, French and early American styles. The Salón Bolívar was the venue for the unsuccessful attempt made by El Libertador in 1826 to establish a multinational continental congress.

 

The Committee decided to inscribe this property on the basis of cultural criteria (ii), (iv) and (vi), considering that Panamá was the first European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas, in 1519, and the Historic District preserves intact a street pattern, together with a substantial number of early domestic buildings, which are exceptional testimony to the nature of this early settlement. The Salón Bolivar is of outstanding historical importance, as the venue for Simón Bolivar's visionary attempt in 1826 to create a Pan-American congress, more than a century before such institutions became a reality.

 

Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection (2005)

Provinces of Veraguas and Chiriquí

N7 25 58.8 W81 45 57.6

 

Coiba National Park, off the southwest coast of Panama, protects Coiba Island, 38 smaller islands and the surrounding marine areas within the Gulf of Chiriqui. Protected from the cold winds and effects of El Niño, Coiba’s Pacific tropical moist forest maintains exceptionally high levels of endemism of mammals, birds and plants due to the ongoing evolution of new species. It is also the last refuge for a number of threatened animals such as the crested eagle. The property is an outstanding natural laboratory for scientific research and provides a key ecological link to the Tropical Eastern Pacific for the transit and survival of pelagic fish and marine mammals.

Criterion (ix): Despite the short time of isolation of the islands of the Gulf of Chiriquí on an evolutionary timeframe, new species are being formed, which is evident from the levels of endemism reported for many groups (mammals, birds, plants), making the property an outstanding natural laboratory for scientific research. Furthermore the Eastern Pacific reefs, such as those within the property, are characterized by complex biological interactions of their inhabitants and provide a key ecological link in the Tropical Eastern Pacific for the transit and survival of numerous pelagic fish as well as marine mammals.

Criterion (x): The forests of Coiba Island possess a high variety of endemic birds, mammals and plants. Coiba Island also serves as the last refuge for a number of threatened species that have largely disappeared from the rest of Panama, such as the Crested Eagle and the Scarlet Macaw. Furthermore the marine ecosystems within the property are repositories of extraordinary biodiversity conditioned to the ability of the Gulf of Chiriquí to buffer against temperature extremes associated to El Niño/Southern Oscilation phenomenon. The property includes 760 species of marine fishes, 33 species of sharks and 20 species of cetaceans. The islands within the property are the only group of inshore islands in the tropical eastern Pacific that have significant populations of trans-Pacific fishes, namely, Indo-Pacific species that have established themselves in the eastern Pacific.

 

Darien National Park (1981)

 Province of Darien

N7 44 10 W77 32 50

 

Forming a bridge between the two continents of the New World, Darien National Park contains an exceptional variety of habitats ��" sandy beaches, rocky coasts, mangroves, swamps, and lowland and upland tropical forests containing remarkable wildlife. Two Indian tribes live in the park.

 

 

Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (1980)

Province of Colon - Distric of Cristobal

N9 33 14 W79 39 21

 

Magnificent examples of 17th- and 18th-century military architecture, these Panamanian forts on the Caribbean coast form part of the defence system built by the Spanish Crown to protect transatlantic trade.

 

Talamanca Range-La Amistad Reserves / La Amistad National Park (1983, 1990) *

Provincias de Bocas del Toro y Chiriqui, Panama; San Jose, Cartago, Limon and Puntarenas Provinces, Costa Rica

N9 24 25.5 W82 56 19.7

 

The location of this unique site in Central America, where Quaternary glaciers have left their mark, has allowed the fauna and flora of North and South America to interbreed. Tropical rainforests cover most of the area. Four different Indian tribes inhabit this property, which benefits from close co-operation between Costa Rica and Panama.

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