This week, the Big Island's Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its designation as a World Heritage site with two events: an "After Dark in the Park" presentation and a roundtable talk, both focusing on World Heritage site status and the 40th anniversary of the international World Heritage Convention. Today, there are 21 World Heritage sites in the United States, including two in Hawaii.
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World Heritage Hawaii Volcanoes National ParkWorld Heritage Hawaii Volcanoes National Park contains two of the most active volcanoes in the world, Mauna Loa (4,170 m high) and Kilauea (1,250 m high), both of which tower over the Pacific Ocean. Volcanic eruptions have created a constantly changing landscape, and the lava flows reveal surprising geological formations. Rare birds and endemic species can be found there, as well as forests of giant ferns.
The Park contains Mauna Loa and Kilauea, two of the world's most active and accessible volcanoes where ongoing geological processes are easily observed. This property serves as an excellent example of island building through volcanic processes. Through the process of shield-building volcanism, the park's landscape is one of relatively constant, dynamic change.
In addition to Hawaii Volcanoes, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument — the largest single area dedicated to conservation in the United States — was dedicated as a World Heritage site two years ago. Both were cited by the World Heritage Convention, which is operated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for "superlative attributes of universal value important to the common heritage of humanity." There are more than 960 World Heritage sites around the globe, ranging from Australia's Great Barrier Reef to the Great Wall of China.
Browse All UNESCO World Heritage Sites in United States of America.