UNESCO Patrimony
UNESCO Patrimony
  • In their combined tiny 523.000 km2 of surface area, the seven countries of Central America offer seventeen sites that have been declared Patrimony of Mankind by UNESCO. These include national parks, colonial cities and living cultures that you really must visit. Tiny corners of our planet that are replete with the beauty, inherited from the past, to be cared for and enjoyed in the present and to be protected and transmitted for the appreciation of future generations.


    There is also a living patrimony, recognized by UNESCO, which is expressed through the traditions and oral expressions, the arts displayed in public spectacles, social habits, rituals, festive activities, artisan techniques and many other media.

Nature Conservancy

If you are seeking jewels of nature among the UNESCO listings, you will find four reserves and four national parks in Central America.


The reserves are:

The Reef Reserve in Belize, a destination for divers from all over the world, who are attracted to the crystalline waters of the Caribbean Sea and the wealth of wildlife in the coral reef; The Friendship Reserve, shared by Costa Rica and Panamá, covering a broad area of forestlands that several indigenous communities call home; The Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, in Honduras, captivating for its extensive biodiversity of ecosystems, comprising swamplands, mangroves, savannahs and pine forests, tropical rainforests and dwarf forests; and the Isla de Ometepe Biosphere Reserve, on Lake Nicaragua guarded by two perfectly formed volcanoes.

If we speak of the National parks, we will find two in Costa Rica: Isla de Coco National Park, an oceanic territory teeming with biodiversity, and the Guanacaste National Park, created to protect the tropical forests on the slopes of the  Orosi and Cacao Volcanoes. The other two parks are: Darién National Park and Coiba National Park in Panamá. Darién is the largest park in all of Central America and  Coiba is a zone for the protection of marine, insular and coastal ecosystems.


Conservation of Cultural Sites

Central America is noteworthy for its fusion of cultures and when speaking of World Cultural Patrimony, we are referring to archaeological sites, parks, ruins, cities and fortifications.


If you are interested in Maya culture, you are invited to visit the archaeological site of Joya de Cerén in El Salvador, the Tikal National Park and Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quiriguá, both in Guatemala, where you will find some of the most important remains of this ancient civilization. Finally, the city of Copán, in Honduras, is the most extensively studied and best conserved of all Maya settlements.

Should your interest lie in the heritage of the colonial times, Nicaragua has the Ruins of Old León, belonging to one of the colonial Spanish settlements, and the Cathedral of León, Nicaragua where Rubén Darío was laid to rest. In Panamá you can visit the Fortifications of Portobelo and San Lorenzo used in the defence from the attacks of such famous pirates as Capt. Henry Morgan and other corsairs, and the archaeological site of Panamá Viejo. And let us not forget, la Antigua Guatemala, a city cloistered in the central mountains of the country, famous for its well-conserved Spanish Renascence architecture.


Conservation of Living Patrimonies

These are traditions passed down from generation to generation, constantly re-created by the communities, which reinforce a sentiment of identity and promote respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.


This classification as Non-material Cultural Patrimony, sample of the diversity and conservancy, Central America has four cultural manifestations included on the list: Language, the music and dance of the Garifuna, the theatrical dance tradition of the Rabinal Achí, the Güegüense and the tradition of the  Ox man and Ox carts.