Two Natural Sites in Martinique Could Make UNESCO World Heritage List


UNESCO experts traveled to Martinique this week to evaluate the possible inclusion of two natural attractions of that French overseas territory, Mount Pelee and the Diamond Rock basalt island, on the agency’s list of World Heritage Sites, The Latin AMerican Herald Tribune reports.

A delegation from the French World Heritage Sites Association, affiliated with UNESCO, is visiting the island with representatives of France’s Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Ministry, to gather information on both natural monuments, according to local media reports published Wednesday.

In 2011, the Regional Council of Martinique – a Caribbean island with a population of roughly 433,000 inhabitants – expressed its interest in having those natural attractions included on the list, and on Feb. 27 the Council officially submitted their nominations.

Mount Pelee, which formed around 300,000 years ago, is known as one of the world’s oldest and most active volcanoes. Its most recent eruption occurred in 1932.

Saint-Pierre, the nearest town to Mount Pelee, is home to about 5,000 people, down from 30,000 residents at the start of the 20th century, before it was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1902.

Diamond Rock is located southeast of Martinique and is considered a symbol of Franco-British colonial rivalry. The geological monument is so-named because of the sunlight that reflects off its sides.

UNESCO’s Web site says that 197 of its 1,007 World Heritage Sites are natural attractions.

The Caribbean has 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, five of them natural attractions: the Central Suriname Nature Reserve, Dominica’s Morne Trois Pitons National Park, St. Lucia’s Pitons Management Area, and Cuba’s Desembarco del Granma National Park and Alejandro de Humboldt National Park.

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