Incredible UNESCO Sites in Danger of Disappearing

By Lianna Trubowitz
11/21/2013 11:05:11 AM

Of the 981 properties included on UNESCO's World Heritage List, some 44 are categorized as in-danger, for reasons ranging from political instability to irresponsible tourism.

IAN BOTTLE / ALAMY

BELIZE BARRIER REEF RESERVE SYSTEM

Why it's special: This is the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere-visit for the coral-made islands; more than 500 species of fish; and the "Great Blue Hole," a famed diving spot that's nearly 1,000 feet deep.

Why it's in danger: In addition to development in the area, extensive mangrove cutting has removed food sources and shelter for marine life.

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DAVE STAMBOULIS / ALAMY

THE OLD CITY OF JERUSALEM

Why it's special: The city's home to more than 200 historic monuments, including the intricately decorated, gold-capped Dome of the Rock; the Jewish Quarter's Wailing Wall, which dates back to the 19th century B.C.; and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the home of Christ's tomb.

Why it's in danger: The political strife and religious violence are just part of the problem. Urbanization and the crowds of tourists also pose a threat.

MARKA / ALAMY

THE ANCIENT CITY OF BOSRA, SYRIA

Why it's special: Once an important stopping point along the caravan route to Mecca, the city retains a noteworthy second-century Roman theatre and some of the oldest surviving mosques in Islamic history.

Why it's in danger: UNESCO added Bosra to the list in June due to increased military conflict.