Japan's Mount Fuji, 7 other places, named U.N. world heritage sites

June 22, 2013 at 10:42 PM
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UNITED NATIONS, June 22 (UPI) -- Mount Fuji, a volcano that is Japan's highest mountain, Saturday was one of eight places the United Nations named as world heritage sites.

The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's World Heritage Committee, meeting this month in Cambodia, also picked the al-Zubarah archaeological site in Qatar, the historical Fiji port town of Levuka, the University of Coimbra in Portugal, the historic center of Agadez in Niger, the Red Bay Basque whaling station in Canada, the cultural landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces in China and Lesotho's Sehlabathebe National Park in South Africa.

Mount Fuji is an often snow-capped, active stratovolcano located about 60 miles southwest of Tokyo that last erupted in 1707-08. The U.N. committee said noted its beauty in "rising above villages and tree-fringed sea and lakes has long inspired artists and poets and been the object of pilgrimages."

Al-Zubarah was an important pearling and trading center in the late 18th century and early 19th centuries, before it was destroyed and abandoned in the 1900s.

Levuka was the first colonial capital of Fiji, ceded to the British in 1874.

The University of Coimbra was recognized for its status among institutions of higher learning in the Portuguese-speaking world.

Agadez is known as the gateway to the Sahara desert and became important in the caravan trade in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The Red Bay Basque whaling station, established in the 16th century, is "the earliest, most complete and best preserved testimony of the European whaling tradition," the committee said.

The Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, created by the Hani people over the past 1,300 years, are a complex system of channels that bring water from nearby mountaintops.

Sehlabathebe National Park was praised by committee members as a "spectacularly beautiful watershed area" that hosts flora and fauna of scientific importance.

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