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UNESCO: Rio de Janeiro is world heritage site

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) ― Rio de Janeiro’s iconic landscape, marked by soaring granite facades that drop into the ocean and white-sand beaches that go on for miles, is now an official world heritage site, the UNESCO announced Sunday.

The UN’s Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization gave Rio the title in recognition of the unique way its exuberant natural setting blends with the urban landscape. Rio has great waterfront open spaces, and one of the world’s largest forested areas encompassed entirely within an urban setting: the Tijuca National Park. 
In this file photo from May 30, 2011, the statue of Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain make up part of the iconic landscape in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP-Yonhap News)
In this file photo from May 30, 2011, the statue of Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain make up part of the iconic landscape in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP-Yonhap News)

The designation mentioned several key features that have shaped and inspired the city’s development: the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado mountain, the Botanical Gardens, established in 1808 by the Portuguese emperor, and Copacabana, a vast bay bracketed by granite hills and hemmed by a white-sanded beach.

These elements “have contributed to the outdoor living culture of this spectacular city,’’ UNESCO said, adding that “Rio de Janeiro is also recognized for the artistic inspiration it has provided to musicians, landscapers and urbanists.’’

Some of the elements mentioned in the decree have been well kept, but others, such as Botafogo Bay, at the foot of Sugar Loaf mountain, have been degraded by pollution over decades.

The designated sites in the city will now benefit from preservation efforts, Hollanda said.

“All the places mentioned in the candidacy will now be monitored by UNESCO, and we’re going to provide them with reports on the work being done,” she said. “We’re going to honor this commitment to UNESCO.”
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