How many of these Caribbean UNESCO World Heritage Sites have you visited?
So many places in the Caribbean are astonishing and beautiful, but some have been deemed worthy of a special title. A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area chosen by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for its cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance.
Each site is legally protected by international treaties. According to the UNESCO website, “world Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.”
How many UNESCO World Heritage Sites are there in the Caribbean?
Right now, there are 97 cultural sites, 83 natural sites, and 5 mixed sites in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the Caribbean alone, there are 23 World Heritage sites, spread across 14 islands. 16 of these are cultural, and 9 are natural.
Which Caribbean country has the most UNESCO World Heritage sites?
Cuba is the Caribbean country with the most World Heritage sites. It has nine– two are natural and seven are cultural.
Caribbean UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Here is a list of all the UNESCO sites in alphabetical order, with the site type and year of induction in parentheses.
1. ANTIGUA: Antigua Naval Dockyard and Related Archaeological Sites (Cultural, 2016)
Once a British naval yard, the Antigua Naval Dockyard, or Nelson’s Dockyard as it is known locally, is a picturesque combination of narrow bays surrounded by lush green hills. The view of the dockyard from Shirley Heights is one of the most breathtaking in all of the Caribbean.
2. BARBADOS: Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison (Cultural, 2011)
Historic Bridgetown offers a unique mix of contemporary comforts and colonial charm. The town’s 17th, 18th, and 19th century buildings are well-preserved. Its importance as a major sugar and slave trade port led to its inclusion in the heritage site list in 2011.
3. BELIZE: Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System (Natural, 1996)
The Belize Barrier Reef is the largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s famous for its atolls, mangrove forests, cays, lagoons, and a giant underwater sinkhole called the Belize Blue Hole or Great Blue Hole. In addition, it’s home to thousands of threatened marine species.
4. BERMUDA: Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications, Bermuda (Cultural, 2000)
St. George, founded in 1612, was the earliest settlement in the New World.
5. CUBA: Old Havana and its Fortification System (Cultural, 1982)
Havana is now home to over 2 million people, but its old city center still stands as a testament to the Spaniards who first settled there in 1519.
6. CUBA: Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios (Cultural, 1988)
These towns were built in the 16th century, Later, luxury palaces such as Palacio Brunet and Palacio Cantero, were added during the height of the sugar trade in the colonial era.
7. CUBA: San Pedro de la Roca Castle, Santiago de Cuba (Cultural, 1997)
This magnificent castle once protected the Cuban port of Santiago.
8. CUBA: Desembarco del Granma National Park (Natural, 1999)
This incredible National Park in Cuba features limestone cliffs, waterfalls, caves, canyons, and sinkholes.
9. CUBA: Viñales Valley (Cultural, 1999)
Farming communities living in this picturesque valley still employ traditional methods to harvest and dry tobacco.
10. CUBA: Archaeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the South-East of Cuba (Cultural, 2000)
As the name suggests, this is the site of the first coffee plantations in south-east Cuba. Visitors can tour the site and see traditional methods of coffee farming.
11. CUBA: Alejandro de Humboldt National Park (Natural, 2001)
This incredible park, featuring an abundance of interesting animal and plant species, is one of the most well-preserved one forested mountain ecosystems in the entire Caribbean.
12. CUBA: Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos (Cultural, 2005)
This Spanish colonial town was the first to hygiene and order when its streets were being planned. It was later settled by the French.
13. CUBA: Historic Centre of Camagüey (Cultural, 2008)
Camaguey was one of the first seven villages founded by Spaniards in Cuba.
14. CURACAO: Historic Area of Willemstad, Inner City and Harbour (Cultural, 1997)
Willemstad, Curacao’s historic capital city, balances European charm with Caribbean beauty. Colorful 17th-century Dutch houses line the harbor, and a unique pontoon bridge opens and closes to allow ships to pass through. UNESCO designated the historic city center and harbor a cultural World Heritage site in 1997.
15. DOMINICA: Morne Trois Pitons National Park (Natural, 1997)
This huge, 6,857 ha. park features gorgeous waterfalls, boiling lakes, giant ferns, a 1,342 meter high volcano, hot springs, and three freshwater lakes. Amazing biodiversity makes Morne Trois Pitons a favorite among explorers and scientists.
16. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Colonial City of Santo Domingo (Cultural, 1990)
Historic Santo Domingo was founded in 1498 by the brother of Christopher Columbus. It is the oldest continually inhabited European settlement in the Americas.
17. HAITI: National History Park – Citadel, Sans Souci, Ramiers (Cultural, 1982)
Deep in the heart of this wild and green national park stands Citadelle Laferriere, the largest stone fortress in the Americas (pictured at the top of this article). Built in the early 1800s to ward off French attacks, it contained large storehouses for food and an elaborate water system. Built by newly-emancipated slaves, it is a reminder of the Haitians peoples’ long, hard fight for freedom.
18. JAMAICA: Blue and John Crow Mountains (Natural, 2015)
This beautiful mountainous region once provided cover for fleeing slaves. Today, it is a favorite site for hiking and camping.
19. PUERTO RICO: La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico (Cultural, 1983)
Puerto Rico’s famous capital city, San Juan, has a historic district that still features original blue cobblestone streets from the colonial era. La Fortaleza, a Spanish fort built to protect San Juan from invaders, stands high on a rocky cliff, overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Known to locals as “El Morro”, this stone structure now features a museum that is open to the public.
20. SAINT KITTS & NEVIS: Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park (Cultural, 1999)
This national park features a well-preserved British fort built in the 17th and 18th centuries.
21. SAINT LUCIA: Pitons Management Area (Natural, 2004)
The incredible Pitons of Saint Lucia tower over a lush rainforest that hides diverse plants and animals, including eight rare tree species.
22. SURINAME: Central Suriname Nature Reserve (Natural, 2000)
This untouched nature reserve allows a wide variety of flora and fauna to grow and flourish. At least 5,000 vascular plants and 400 bird species live there, along with giant armadillos and playful river otters.
23. Historic Inner City of Paramaribo (Cultural, 2002)
Paramaribo is a surprising city– it blends Dutch, Indian, Spanish, South American, and indigenous cultures in its architectural styles. Its numerous museums and famous buildings make it the perfect city for history lovers.
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