Culture Culture

28/03/2020 - 07:17

The overall picture of current world heritages

According to UNESCO data, by January, 2020, there are 1,121 heritages recognized as World Heritages, including 869 Cultural Heritages, 213 Natural Heritages and 39 Cultural and Natural Heritages (often called Mixed Heritages).

Hue Imperial Citadel belongs to Hue Monuments Complex, which was recognized by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage site in 1993

Looking at the World Heritage map, it is clear that European countries are still the leading countries in terms of the number of recognized heritages, especially countries with a long history and a tradition of protecting and honoring culture, such as Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Russia, Greece, and etc. In Asia, the countries famous for their long-standing civilization are also the leading countries in number of heritage recognized, such as China, India, Japan, Iran, and Turkey. Similarly, in the Americas, they are the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and etc.

In Southeast Asia, the leading country in the number of world heritages is Indonesia with 9 heritages; Vietnam ranked second with 8 heritages (5 cultural heritages, 2 natural heritages and 1 mixed heritage). Followed by the Philippines with 6 heritages, Thailand with 5 heritages, Malaysia with 4 heritages, Laos with 3 heritages, and Singapore with 1 heritage.

Regarding Intangible Cultural Heritage, in 2001, UNESCO started to register intangible heritage with the title: Masterpiece of intangible cultural heritage and oral tradition of mankind (since 2008, renamed as Intangible Heritage); and right in this first phase there were 19 heritages recognized. In 2003, the Intangible Heritage Convention was adopted and promulgated; in the same year, an additional 28 intangible heritages were registered.

To date, 213 intangible world heritages have been recorded in the list, of which the Asia-Pacific region leads with 102, Europe and North America have 57, Latin America has 30, Africa has 17 and Arab countries have 11 heritages.

Vietnam currently owns and co-owns 13 intangible heritages, including 12 representative heritages and 1 heritage in need of urgent protection (Ca Tru).

Niagara Falls, Canada, world natural heritage

Since 1994, UNESCO has launched the Memory of the World Program to recognize documentary heritages. So far, hundreds of heritages of this type have been recognized. Vietnam now has 7 documentary heritages recognized by UNESCO at 2 levels: the world and the Asia-Pacific region (3 World Documentary Heritages are the woodblocks of the Nguyen Dynasty, the King red marked documents of the Nguyen dynasty, and Van Mieu Thang Long stone stelae of doctorates; 4 Asia – Pacific Regional Documentary Heritages are: woodblocks of Buddhist scriptures of Vinh Nghiem Pagoda - Bac Giang, Poetry on Hue imperial architecture - Thua Thien Hue, Phuc Giang School Woodblocks - Ha Tinh, and the map “Hoang Hoa Su Trinh Do” - Ha Tinh).

If not taking into account other titles also recognized by UNESCO such as Global Geopark, World Biosphere Reserve, Vietnam now has 28 heritages of 3 types (tangible heritage, intangible heritage and documentary heritage) recognized by UNESCO, including 8 tangible heritages, 13 intangible heritages and 7 documentary heritages.

Hue currently owns and co-owns 7 heritage titles recognized by UNESCO, including 1 tangible heritage (Complex of Hue Monuments, 1993), 3 intangible heritages (Nha Nhac - Vietnamese court music, 2003; The practice of Tam Phu Mother Goddess worship, 2016; and The art of Bài chòi singing, 2017), and 3 documentary heritages (Woodblocks in the Nguyen Dynasty, 2009; Red Marked Documents of the Nguyen Dynasty, 2014 ; and Poetry on royal architecture Hue, 2016).

Thus, Hue ancient capital accounts for a quarter of the total UNESCO heritages in Vietnam, and is worthy of being the land of culture and heritage. On December 10, 2019, the Politburo issued Resolution No. 54-NQ / TW on Construction and Development of Thua Thien Hue to 2030, with a vision to 2045 which states: Building Thua Thien Hue to become a municipality on the basis of preserving and promoting the value of the ancient capital's heritage and Hue cultural identity, with characteristics of culture, heritage, ecology, environment-friendly and smart urban landscape. This is a great opportunity for Hue Capital to build and develop on the basis of preserving and promoting its massive cultural and natural heritage treasures.

By Phan Thanh Hai, PhD.



- Vietnam National Cultural Heritage Council: Report on activities of the National Cultural Heritage Council in 2019.