Tuesday, October 12, 2010

UNESCO World Heritage Sites Found In Panama

Guest post By Tyler Ramos

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Created by the United Nations in 1945, it is tasked to perform a number of important functions. One of these is to identify UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and to publicize and otherwise support these sites. We are going to be looking at some of the five identified Sites located in Panama.

UNESCO selects locations to be designated as World Heritage Sites based on either their cultural or natural significance, or both. Panama has a total of 5 recognized sites. It has been blessed with not only natural points of interest, but with cultural and historical ones as well.

Besides designating the sites, UNESCO supports them in several ways. The designation itself has great publicity value as the selection process is recognized as having integrity. Worldwide there are only 890 designated sites, so making the list has some significance. UNESCO also provides funds for conservation as appropriate.

The initial Panamanian World Heritage Site was Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo, which received recognition in 1980. Portobelo and San Lorenzo were both forts established by the Spanish to strengthen their defenses. During this period, the 17th and 18th centuries, there were a number of attacks and counterattacks.

Archaeological Site of Panama Viejo and Historic District of Panama was added to the list in 1997. It includes the site of Panama Viejo, the first European settlement on the Pacific Ocean. It was established in 1519 and abandoned after it was destroyed by the privateer Henry Morgan in 1671. Some call him a pirate, he seemed to favor attacking this area, perhaps because of the wealth present.

Darien National Park was added to the list in 1981. It is the largest national park in the country and one of the most important in Central America. It includes an incredible variety of habitats. It is large enough to provide a viable protected habitat for a number of endangered species. Two Indian tribes still live in the Park.

After this, the city was rebuilt in a safer location, where it remains today. The Historic District of Panama, also known as Casco Viejo de Panama, is where the city was rebuilt. It is central to the much larger city that it has become.

Panama has the Canal and that is what most people associate with it. The fact that it has these five World Heritage Sites shows the error in this. This small country has plenty of things to see. Tourism is a major factor in the economy. It sounds like an exciting place to tour.

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