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Top 10 African countries on the UNESCO World Heritage sites list

Africa is blessed with an abundance of cultural and natural sites, with many recognised by UNESCO. These sites often represent major tourism opportunities. Here, bird story agency lists the top ten African countries with the highest number of protected World Heritage Sites.

SPECIAL REPORT | BIRD AGENCY  |  A UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site has cultural, historical, scientific or other forms of significance and is protected under an international convention.

43 African countries have at least one World Heritage Site and Ethiopia has 11. Here is a list of the African countries that boast the most of these must-see sites:

Ethiopia (11)

Bale Mountains National Park – an Afroalpine area that is home to the Ethiopian wolf – is the most recent addition to Ethiopia’s UNESCO list. Other World Heritage sites include the rock-hewn churches in Lalibela, the obelisks of Aksum, and the lower reaches of the River Omo, making for an almost overwhelmingly rich list of natural and cultural sites, all of them drawcards for local and overseas tourists. UNESCO is currently assessing and incredible seven more sites for potential inclusion..

South Africa (10)

South Africa ranks second on the continent, with 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites, comprising five cultural, four natural, and one mixed: the Maloti-Drakensberg Park. The country’s diverse geography (with a mix of savannah, mountains, coastal plains and deserts, surrounded by two of the world’s great oceans) and climate (ranging from sub-tropical to desert, montane to Mediterranean), offers a wide range of natural heritage sites, while its well-documented recent and ancient history offers a clutch of cultural sites. The UN is also evaluating two more sites: the Pleistocene occupation sites and the Nelson Mandela legacy sites.

Tunisia (9)

Tunisia boasts nine UNESCO World Heritage sites. These are predominantly cultural (8), with the Ichkeul National Park being the sole natural World Heritage site in the North African country. Currently, 15 sites are in consideration for inclusion, a fact which is likely to keep Tunisia atop the UNESCO list for years to come.

Morocco (9)

Morocco, renowned for its cultural wealth and diverse heritage, has nine cultural sites listed on the UNESCO World Heritage roster as of 2023. An additional 13 sites are in the tentative phase, signalling potential future additions.

Egypt (7)

Egypt has six cultural sites and one natural site on the UNESCO World Heritage List. While the Pyramids are often referred to as one of the wonders of the world, the UNESCO site that includes them is referred to as ‘Memphis and its Necropolis’, and includes both the pyramid fields in the area as well as the Great Sphinx of Giza. The country, positioned as it is between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, connects East and West like no other nation on earth – and has done so for thousands of years. With its astonishing abundance of both natural and cultural sites, it has an incredible 34 sites under review for inclusion.

Algeria (7)

The North African country houses seven UNESCO World Heritage sites, encompassing six cultural sites and one mixed site. Furthermore, six additional sites are slated for inclusion in this esteemed list.

Kenya (7)

Kenya, the newest addition to the World Heritage Committee, hosts seven sites comprising four cultural and three natural treasures. UNESCO is currently evaluating 20 additional sites for potential inclusion, with 15 nominations submitted in 2023 alone.

Tanzania (7)

The East African nation is home to three culturally significant sites, three natural wonders, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, classified as a mixed site. Additionally, six more sites are under consideration for potential UNESCO recognition, aiming to bolster their preservation and protection.

Senegal (7)

Senegal takes the lead among West African nations with seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, primarily cultural, with only two natural sites. Furthermore, the country has eight additional sites under review for potential inclusion in the list.

Democratic Republic of Congo (5)

Ranking 10th, the Democratic Republic of the Congo boasts five entries on the World Heritage List, showcasing its natural wealth, predominantly wildlife reserves and national parks. Three more sites are under review and stand as potential future additions to the esteemed World Heritage List.

Outside the top 10

Uganda, has 3 sites.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
Rwenzori Mountains National Park
Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi


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