Micronesia, Palau seek first UNESCO honours

Beauty spots and cultural treasures in 37 countries are hoping for UNESCO world heritage status, with Micronesia and others seeking their first listing, at the UN body's gathering from Sunday.

UNESCO announced the shortlist for its top heritage honour ahead of its June 19 to 29 World Heritage Committee meeting in Paris, naming Barbados, Jamaica, Congo and the United Arab Emirates among the first-time contenders.

Micronesia and Palau, another tiny Pacific archipelago, are also looking for their first UNESCO world heritage listing, a valuable tourism-boosting asset, the 187-nation body said in a statement.

Among the 37 sites spread over as many countries, other natural beauty sites in the running are the Ningaloo Coast in Australia and Wudalianchi National Park in northeastern China.

Sites in the separate cultural treasures category include Bridgetown in Barbados, home to a historic garrison, and a joint entry from linked prehistoric sites in Palau and Micronesia.

UNESCO's meeting also updates its list of endangered beauty spots. UNESCO officials said delegates are expected to discuss the threat of mass visits to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru.

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