Take a look inside the 5 destinations that have just been named UNESCO world heritage sites

Here are 18 striking photos of UNESCO's five newest natural and cultural World Heritage sites.

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Here are 18 striking photos of UNESCO’s five newest natural and cultural World Heritage sites.
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Shutterstock

Since 1972, the United Nations has protected many of the most beautiful natural sites and prominent historical and cultural landmarks as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

As of Friday, July 5, five more destinations were added to the list of World Heritage sites, which UNESCO says “belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.”

According to the organization, the new selections include two natural sites – one in France and one in Iceland – a mixed site (both natural and cultural) in Brazil, and two cultural sites in Burkina Faso and Iraq.

Check out 18 striking photos of the five newest UNESCO World Heritage sites below:


The first of the two new natural World Heritage sites is the French Southern Lands and Seas, a group of islands located in the southern Indian Ocean.

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Possession island, or Crozet archipelago, is part of the French Southern and Antartic Lands.
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SOPHIE LAUTIER/AFP/Getty Images

According to UNESCO, the French Southern Lands and Seas consists of the Crozet Archipelago, the Kerguelen Islands, Saint-Paul, and Amsterdam Islands, as well as 60 small sub-Antarctic islands.

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An aerial view of the Kerguelen Islands.
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DeAgostini/Getty Images

Source: UNESCO


This more than 250,000 square-mile region near Antarctica is known for housing a diverse array of wildlife, including King Penguins, yellow-nosed albatrosses, seals, and more.

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King Penguins of the French Southern Lands and Seas.
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Etienne Pauthenet/Shutterstock

Source: World Wildlife Fund


Like the more famous Galapagos Islands, the French Southern Lands and Seas are extremely remote and thus serve as a “well-preserved showcases of biological evolution and a unique terrain for scientific research,” according to UNESCO.

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Sea-elephants on the Possession island of the Crozet archipelago.
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SOPHIE LAUTIER/AFP/Getty Images

Source: UNESCO


Next on UNESCO’s list is another natural site: Vatnajökull National Park in Iceland.

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A waterfall in Vatnajökull National Park, Jokulsa a Fjollum, Iceland.
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Creative Travel Projects/Shutterstock

The volcanic region, which covers nearly 14% of Iceland, is home to beautiful cliffs, rivers, waterfalls, mountains, and glaciers.

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A glacier in Vatnajökull National Park.
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b-hide the scene/Shutterstock

Source: UNESCO


Explorers can navigate stunning, bright blue ice caves in Skaftafell Glacier.

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Skaftafell glacier in Vatnajökull National Park.
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Bill45/Shutterstock

When one of Vatnajökull National Park’s 10 volcanoes erupts within range of a glacier, the interaction sometimes results in jökulhlaup, or a glacial flood.

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Jökulhlaup.
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Brendan Howard/Shutterstock

Source: UNESCO


Paraty and Ilha Grande in Brazil is the only natural and cultural site of the five added to the list of World Heritage sites.

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The islands in Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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NiarKrad/Shutterstock

The tropical location is home to both exotic wildlife and a historic, 18th-century town.

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City center in Paraty, Brazil.
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Tupungato/Shutterstock

Source: UNESCO


Animals like jaguars, white-lipped peccaries, and woolly spider monkeys live in the region.

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A jaguar.
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marktucan/Shutterstock

Source: UNESCO


The town, meanwhile, was the end point of the Gold Route, which is how gold was shipped to Europe in the 1600s. It also was an entry point for slaves who were forced to work in the mines.

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A cannon used to fight off pirates from the Gold Route.
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DC_Aperture/Shutterstock

Source: UNESCO


The Ancient Ferrous Metallurgy Sites of Burkina Faso, a recent UNESCO cultural site selection, are where people dating all the way back to the 8th century BC made tools through iron ore reduction.

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A furnace in Burkina Faso.
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Sébastien Moriset/UNESCO

Source: UNESCO


Even though today’s blacksmiths no longer obtain iron from ore, many of the village blacksmiths in Burkina Faso continue to supply tools and participate in ancient rituals.

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Furnaces in Burkina Faso.
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Lassina Simporé/UNESCO

Source: UNESCO


Finally, the ancient city of Babylon in present-day Iraq became a UNESCO World Heritage cultural cite.

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The ancient city of Babylon.
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Homo Cosmicos/Shutterstock

The ancient metropolis, which developed into one of the world’s largest and most prominent cities under Hammurabi’s rule, was once the capital of the hulking Babylonian Empire.

Source: NPR


After the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, troops constructed a military base on the ruins of Babylon. According to UNESCO, the base caused “major damage” to the archaeological site.

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Ruins of Processional Way in ancient Babylon.
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Homo Cosmicos/Shutterstock

Source: UN


Still, the ancient city is home to many authentic archaeological feats that visitors have been able to explore since the site reopened to tourists in 2009.