A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place listed by UNESCO as being of notable cultural or physical significance – these sites range from national parks to ancient architecture to whole towns or cities. Sites are classified as ‘cultural’, ‘natural’ or ‘mixed’ sites.
There are currently 1073 UNESCO World Heritage Sites around the world, but which country has the most? That’s the question we asked upon launching our ‘UNESCO Uncovered’ project.
Keen to find out more about the UNESCO World Heritage sites which enrich our travel experiences, we researched where to find every UNESCO World Heritage Site around the world. We analysed how many UNESCO Sites every country has, and the best countries to visit if you want to see as many UNESCO sites as possible. We also looked specifically at the countries with the most ‘cultural’ and ‘natural’ World Heritage Sites.
As part of our ‘UNESCO Uncovered’ project we have also created an interactive map, where you can view every UNESCO Site around the globe, find out more about each of these sites, and see which ones you’ve visited yourself.
Countries with the Most UNESCO World Heritage Sites
When launching our ‘UNESCO Uncovered’ research, our key goal was to find out the best countries to visit if you want to see as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites as possible.
From our research we found China to be the country with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites, boasting a total of 52 sites.
Close behind is Italy, which has total of 51 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Other countries packed full of UNESCO World Heritage Sites include Spain with a total of 46 UNESCO sites, France and Germany both with a total of 42 sites, and India which has 36 UNESCO Sites.
You can view the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites every country has in the full results table below:
|Country||Number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo||5|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||3|
|Central African Republic||2|
|Antigua and Barbuda||1|
|Papua New Guinea||1|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||1|
|United Arab Emirates||1|
|Republic of Congo||1|
We also had a closer look at which countries have the most cultural UNESCO Sites and which countries have the most natural UNESCO Sites. Cultural sites include landmarks such as castles, museums and churches while natural sites include natural beauty such as national parks, coastlines and islands.
Of course some travellers are more interested in cultural sites while others are more interested in natural sites, and so we looked at these categories individually to help travellers find the countries with the most UNESCO Sites that match their interests.
If you’re a culture vulture you’ll want to head to Italy, which is the country with the most cultural UNESCO Sites, boasting a grand total of 48 cultural UNESCO Sites. Also ranking highly for cultural sites are Germany and Spain, which both have a total of 40 cultural sites, followed by France which has 39 cultural sites.
Those who are most excited by exploring the world’s natural beauty should head to Australia, China and the USA which all came in top for natural sites, each with a total of 12 natural UNESCO Sites. Also at the top end of the scale for natural UNESCO Sites are Russia and Canada, which have 11 and 10 natural sites respectively.
You can view the highlights of the results of our ‘UNESCO Uncovered’ research in the infographic below:
Browse Every UNESCO Site Around the World
Using the data which we gathered on every UNESCO site around the world, we have created an interactive UNESCO map which allows you to explore every site in further detail.
You can search for specific sites using the name dropdown menu or the search bar. You can also filter sites by country, category and whether the site is flagged on the ‘in danger’ list. UNESCO sites which are on the danger list have been marked as requiring major assistance to conserve the site due to factors such as natural erosion, climate change or manmade interference.
You can find out more about every UNESCO Site plotted on our map by clicking on the resource link, which will direct you to a blog post or information page we have selected as being a helpful reference for visiting this site.
You can also view every site up-close and personal by selecting the person icon at the bottom right-hand corner of the map and dragging and dropping this on to the plot you wish to see.
Now, get exploring!
To conduct our research we used official data from UNESCO and the World Heritage Convention, listing every UNESCO World Heritage Site around the world. We then calculated how many sites were in each country and ranked these from highest to lowest. Using these rankings, we created a coloured scale which we used to shade the map.
The official data we gathered from UNESCO and the World Heritage Convention listed which sites were cultural and which sites were natural. We looked at each of these categories individually and analysed where each of these sites were located. We then calculated which countries had the most cultural sites and which countries had the most natural sites and ranked these accordingly.
To create our interactive map, we plotted every site from the list of all UNESCO World Heritage sites onto a map using the geo-coordinates provided. We scoured the web to find useful resources with further information about every site and added a link to these on every map plot.