Sunday, January 2, 2011

Natural Wonders of the World

Mount Sanqingshan National Park

China's Mount Sanqingshan National Park is one of eight new members of the World Heritage List, a United Nations accounting of the world's most beautiful and extraordinary natural and cultural sites. (The other seven new inductees follow.) Mount Sanqingshan's forested and fantastically shaped granite pillars and peaks can be appreciated by visitors from suspended walking trails.

Joggins Fossil Cliffs

Canada’s Joggins Fossil Cliffs have been termed the “coal age Galápagos” and are the world reference site for the Coal Age, which is about 300 million years ago. The site bears witness to the first reptiles in Earth’s history, which are the earliest representatives of the amniotes, a group of animals that includes reptiles, dinosaurs, birds, and mammals.

The Lagoons of New Caledonia

The tropical lagoons and coral reefs of France's New Caledonia form one of the three most extensive reef systems in the world. They are home to an exceptional variety of coral and fish species and have intact ecosystems with healthy populations of big fish and top predators.


Surtsey is a new Icelandic island and was formed by volcanic eruptions in 1963-67. It has been legally protected from its birth and, as such, provides the world with a pristine natural laboratory, free from human interference. It has provided a unique scientific record of the process of colonization of land by plants and animals.


Saryarka is a largely undisturbed area of Central Asian steppe and lakes in the Korgalzhyn and Naurzum State Nature Reserves in Kazakhstan. These are key stopover points for globally threatened species and provide feeding grounds for up to 15-16 million birds. They are also home to the critically endangered saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica).

Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona

The Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona, which includes the Glarus Overthrust, shows how mountains were formed through continental collisions and it has been studied since the 18th century.

Socotra Archipelago

The Socotra Archipelago, of Yemen, has been dubbed the Galápagos of the Indian Ocean. It is especially rich in flora and fauna. About 37% of Socotra’s plant species, 90% of its reptile species and 95% of its land snail species cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve

The three core zones of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve protect eight overwintering colonies of the monarch butterfly in the oyamel fir forests of central Mexico. Perhaps a billion monarch butterflies overwinter here in close-packed clusters every year after a 2,100- to 2,800-mile journey. Witnessing this unique phenomenon is an exceptional experience of nature.