World Heritage Facts and Figures

There are 222 natural World Heritage Sites

  • 193 classified as natural sites
  • 29 mixed sites classified as both natural and cultural

Natural and Mixed World Heritage Sites protect over 276 million hectares (ha) of land and sea and represent 23% of all 981 World Heritage properties.

Of all natural World Heritage sites, 106 are forest sites, 46 are marine sites and 15 are transboundary sites.

95 countries have an area designated as a natural or mixed World Heritage Site.

  • 40 in Africa
  • 6 in Arab States
  • 67 in Asia and the Pacific
  • 71 in Europe and North America
  • 39 in Latin America and the Caribbean

In 41 countries the extent of World Heritage sites is more than 10% of all protected areas.

To date, 18 natural and mixed World Heritage sites are on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

 

Areas protected by World Heritage amount to around:

  • 10% of the total area of all recorded protected areas
  • 19% of the total area of all recorded marine protected areas
  • 7% of the total area of all recorded terrestrial protected areas

Of all areas listed as protected areas in the World Database of Protected Areas, World Heritage Sites include:

  • 16% of the total protected area in the Asia Pacific Region
  • 11% of the total protected area in Africa
  • 8% of the total protected area in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • 9% of the total protected area in the Arab States
  • 13% of the total protected area in Europe and North America.

For the countries with an area designated as a natural or mixed World Heritage site:

  • In 21 countries, the extent of World Heritage Sites is more than 25% of all protected areas
  • In 41 countries, the extent of World Heritage Sites is more than 10% of all protected areas
  • More than half of the member states of the World Heritage Convention have no natural World Heritage Site.

The average area of a natural World Heritage Site is c. 1,263,100 ha (12,631 sq km). Excluding the very large Phoenix Islands Protected Areas, Papahānaumokuākea and Great Barrier Reef, the average size is c. 727,000 ha (7,270 square kilometers). 

The ten countries with the largest extent of natural World Heritage Sites are:

 
Country Total Area of natural World Heritage Sites Area of natural World Heritage Sites as % of national protected areas
1. United States of America
46,341,817
19%
2. Australia
44,135,913
27%
3. Kiribati
40,825,000
91%
4. Russian Federation
22,436,659
9%
5. Ecuador
14,338,439
73%
6. Canada
10,608,213
12%
7. Niger
7,956,000
96%
8.Algeria
7,361,315
52%
9. Tanzania
7,200,000
26%
10. Congo, The Democratic Republic
6,670,671
30%

 

 

A giant panda in the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary, World Heritage Site, China

A giant panda in the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuary, World Heritage Site, China

Photo: David Sheppard

World Heritage Facts and Figures July 2013
World Heritage Facts and Figures 2012
World Heritage Facts and Figures 2010