Going as far back in time as Noah's ark, the lack of a yardstick was not a serious drawback. Most measuring was done by one craftsman completing one job at a time, rather than assembling a number of articles piecemeal to be assembled later, it didn't make much difference how accurate the measuring sticks were or even how long they were. Generally, it doesn't make much difference how long is a mile, yard or inch or how heavy is a pound or ounce. What is really important is that everyone means the same thing when referring to each unit of measurement. Measurements must be standard to mean the same thing to everyone.

The cubit of Noah's time was the length of a man's forearm or the distance from the tip of the elbow to the end of his middle finger. Many times this was useful, because it was readily available, convenient, and couldn't be mislaid. However, it was not a positive fixed dimension or a standard.

While the cubit is no longer used as a unit of measurement, there are many customary standards that originated in about the same way. Our foot-rule started out as the length of a man's foot. So, in the early days of history, the foot varied in length, sometimes as much as 3 or 4 inches. Once the ancients started using arms and feet for measuring distance, it was only natural that they also thought of using fingers, hands, and legs. They also may have discovered that some surprising ratios existed in body measurements. What is now called an inch originally was the width of a man's thumb. It also was the length of the forefinger from the tip to the first joint. Twelve times that distance made a foot. Three times the length of the foot was the distance from the tip of a man's nose to the end of his outstretched arm. This distance very closely approximates what is called the yard. Two yards equaled a fathom which, thousands of years ago, was the distance across a man's outstretched arms. Half a yard was the 18-inch cubit, and half a cubit was called a span, which was the distance across the hand from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger when the fingers were spread out as far as possible. A hand was half a span.

For thousands of years, this was the way people measured comparatively short distances. Each succeeding civilization added to mankind's knowledge, building an accumulation of measuring standards and techniques. Some contributed weight measures. Others showed us how to measure time. Still, others gave us methods for surveying big areas of land and establishing boundaries.

In techniques for measuring weights, the Babylonians made important improvements upon the invention of the balance. Instead of just comparing the weights of two objects, they compared the weight of each object with a set of stones kept just for that purpose. In the ruins of their cities, archaeologists have found some of these stones finely shaped and polished. It is believed that these were the world's first weight standards.

The Babylonians used different stones for weighing different commodities. In modern English history, the same basis has been used for weight measurements. For the horseman, the "stone" weight was 14 pounds. In weighing wool the stone was 16 pounds. For the butcher and fishmonger, the stone was 8 pounds. The only legal stone weight in the imperial system was 14 pounds.

The Egyptians and the Greeks used a wheat seed as the smallest unit of weight, a standard that was very uniform and accurate for the times. The grain is still in limited use as a standard weight. However, wheat seeds are no longer actually put in the pan of the balance scale. Instead, a weight that is practically the same as that of an average grain of wheat is arbitrarily assigned to the grain. The Arabs established a small weight standard for gold, silver and precious stones which very often were a part of trade or barter deals. To weight the small valuable quantities, they used as a weight standard a small bean called a karob. This was the origin of the word carat which jewelers still use to express the weight of gems and precious metals.

In trading between tribes and nations, many of these methods for measuring weights and distances gradually became intermixed, particularly by the Romans who spread this knowledge throughout the known world at that time, also adding some standards of their own. As the Roman soldiers marched, they kept track of the distance they traveled by counting paces. A pace was the distance covered from the time one foot touched the ground until that same foot touched the ground again, or the length of a double step.

Seeking a Standard of Measurement in World History

When the Roman Empire passed into history about six hundred years after the time of Christ, Europe then drifted into the Dark Ages. For six or seven hundred years mankind generally made little progress with regard to standardizing measurement. Sometime after the Magna Charta was signed in the Thirteenth Century, King Edward I of England took a step forward. He ordered a permanent measuring stick made of iron to serve as a master standard yardstick for the entire kingdom. This master yardstick was called the "iron ulna", after the bone of the forearm, and it was standardized as the length of a yard, very close to the length of our present-day yard. King Edward realized that constancy and permanence were the key to any standard. He also decreed that the foot measure should be one-third the length of the yard, and the inch one thirty-sixth. King Edward II, in 1324, reverted back to the seed concept of the ancients and passed a statute that "three barleycorns, round and dry," make an inch. However, seeds, as well as fingers and feet, were no match for a world that soon was to emerge from the ignorance and unrefined practices of the Dark Ages.

In 1672, Sir Isaac Newton presented the world with new ideas on the nature of light and color. He had noticed that when two flat pieces of glass were pressed together, he could see circular bands of rainbow-like colors. These were called Newton's Rings. Actually, Newton had come upon a very precise method of measurement, but he didn't recognize it as such at the time. Later, other scientists were to build on Newton's seminal findings and establish a new branch of science called interferometry . Today, this method of using a ray of light as a measuring stick enables man to measure distances within millionths of an inch or a millimetre.

As the scientists were experimenting in their laboratories, practical tradesmen were making themselves permanent standards. In 1793, during Napoleon's time, the French government adopted a new system of standards called the metric system, based on what they called the metre. The metre was supposed to be one tenth-millionth part of the distance from the North Pole to the Equator when measured on a straight line running along the surface of the earth through Paris. With the metre now determined as the basis of the metric system, other linear units of the system were set up in decimal ratios with the metre. With this system, all units are in multiples of ten: ten decimetres in a metre, a hundred centimetres in a metre, and a thousand millimetres in a metre. In the other direction, there are ten metres in a dekametre, a hundred metres in a hectometre, and a thousand metres in a kilometre. Compared to the yardstick, the metre is just a little longer: 39.37 inches long.

The metric system also has volume, liquid capacity, and weight measures. The litre is the basic measure of liquid capacity. It corresponds roughly to a quart. For weight, the basic unit in the metric system was at first the gram; now it is the kilogram. The gram was a very small unit, for it takes a thousand grams -- or what is known as a kilogram -- to equal about 2.2 pounds.

The French government thought it had an infallible system of weights and measures that would be easy to use and would be embraced by everyone. But people were accustomed to thinking in terms of yards, inches, pounds and quarts. At first the new metre as a measure of length proved confusing. Most Frenchmen thought in the old familiar terms, doing some mental arithmetic to convert one quantity into another and, after nineteen years, Napoleon finally was forced to renounce the metric system. However, in 1837, France again went back to the metre, this time for good, hoping to make it universal throughout the world. Today almost all of the countries of the world use a modernized metric system called the SI metric system.

While France was evolving the metric system, England also was setting up a more scientifically accurate determination of the yard. Where the French relied on the assumed constancy of the earth's size as a basis for the permanency of their standards, the British turned to the measured beat of the pendulum. Galileo already had learned the secrets of a pendulum. He found that the length of time it took for a pendulum to complete a swing depended upon the length of the pendulum itself. The longer the pendulum, the slower it swung. He also found that a pendulum a little over 39 inches long would swing through its arc in exactly one second. Since a pendulum always behaves exactly the same way under the same conditions, here was another unchanging distance upon which to base a standard measurement.

In 1824, the English Parliament legalized a new standard yard which had been made in 1760. It was a brass bar containing a gold button near each end. A dot was engraved in each of these two buttons. These two dots were spaced exactly 1 yard apart. The same act that legalized this bar as the standard for England also made the provision that, in the event it was lost or destroyed, it should be replaced using the pendulum method to determine its length. A few years copies of both the English yard and the French metre standards were brought to the United States. The English system of measuring was almost universally adopted in the United States.

Measuring Systems in the United States

Since colonialists brought with them the measuring methods of their homeland, confusing and contradictory measuring systems came to America. For instance, the imperial gallon used in England did not come to America. The U.S. gallon is a smaller one, and was called the Queen Anne wine gallon by the British. Today this difference in size between the Imperial gallon and the U.S. gallon causes confusion when converting to the metric system.

The law of 1792, under the new Constitution of the United States, provided for fractional coinage and for the decimal system. The adoption of the decimal system for coins shows that the American leaders recognized the advantages of the simple decimal system. In 1795, France tried to convince the United States to use the metric system, but Congress did nothing. In 1821 John Quincy Adams wrote a comprehensive report for Congress based on a four-year investigation. His report dealt with the metric question and the modernization of our measurement system: An excerpt of the report follows:

"Weights and Measures may be ranked among the necessaries of life to every individual of human society. They enter into the economical arrangements and daily concerns of every family. They are necessary to every occupation of human industry; to the distribution and security of every species of property; to every transaction of trade and commerce; to the labors of the husbandman; to the ingenuity of the artificer; to the studies of the philosopher; to the researches of the antiquarian; to the navigation of the mariner; and the marches of the soldier; to all the exchanges of peace, and all the operations of war. The knowledge of them, as in established use, is among the first elements of education, and is often learned by those who learn nothing else, not even to read and write. This knowledge is riveted in the memory by the habitual application of it to the employments of men throughout life."

This was the first U.S. metric study. Although three decades earlier, Thomas Jefferson also had written a report for the Congress on the need for modernization of weights and measures, the metric system was no more than a conception in this time, and his report was considered only an alternative not to be entertained seriously by the newly founded United States of America.

In spite of repeated requests in Congress, there was no legal length standard in the U.S. until 1832. More or less authentic copies of the British copies of the yard were used as length prototypes. In 1832, the Treasury Department decided to admit as a legal Yard the distance between the lines 27 and 63 of a certain bronze bar, 82 inches in length, bought in 1813 in England for the Federal Survey Department. When the British yard bar, which was destroyed in 1834, was replaced in 1855, a new bronze copy No. 11 was sent to the United States which became the legal American Yard Standard.

Even though progress was slow, there was an improvement in establishment of the metric standards which all the world recognized. Like the United Kingdom, the Americans found it necessary to define their customary measurements in terms of international metric standard. Our units of length, mass and volume are all stated in terms of the metric standards.

In 1863, the United States was represented at two important international congresses convened to consider matters of weights and measure. The International Statistical Congress in Berlin declared that uniformity in weights and measures was o the highest importance, particularly for international commerce. Recommendations made by the Postal Congress held at Paris resulted in the adoption of the metric system for international postal service.

Congress passed a Bill in 1866 which permitted use of the metric system of measurement in the United States. The value for the metre was given as: 1 metre = 39.37 inches or 1 yard = 0.914 401 829 metre. The metric prototype chosen was a metal bar known as the Committee Meter because it had been guaranteed to conform to the Metre des Archives by the French Committee in 1799. In 1873, metric weights were extended to silver coins. The weight of the half dollar is 12.5 grams; the quarter 6.25 grams; the nickel is 5 grams and the dime is 2.5 grams. In 1875 the United States entered into a treaty with 17 other countries establishing the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. In 1890, the United States received two of the International prototype metres and two of the kilogram artifacts. One of each of these standards was adopted as the National Prototype Metre and Kilogram and as the primary standards for the United States. As such they became the fundamental standards for determining the yard and the pound. The prototype metres and kilograms are preserved at the National Bureau of Standards. In 1896, and again in 1901, bills were introduced recommending the adoption of the metric system for all weights and measures in the United States, but for one reason or another the bills failed to pass. In the years following, many bills have been introduced which recommended establishing the metric system as the legal standard of the United States, however, very little action has been taken.

In 1968, Congress asked for a three-year, sweeping investigation of the metric question because it determined that the world trend toward metric called for a new assessment. The investigation involved public hearings, supplemented by surveys on international trade, business, and industry, education, national security -- almost every activity in our society -- and in 1971, the final report titled A Metric America -- A Decision Whose Time Has Come was released. It consisted of the comprehensive report plus twelve sub-study reports covering all aspects of the study.

Finally, in 1975 Congress passed the Metric Conversion Act. The major provisions of the bill provide for:

  • Adaptation of SI as predominant system of measurement units
  • No specific timetable
  • Voluntary participation
  • A Metric Board
  • Costs of Conversion
  • treat as other costs of doing business
  • no tax credits or subsidies
  • hardship cases to be reviewed by Board

Significant Dates In U.S. Metric History

1791 - "Jefferson Report." Thomas Jefferson described England's weight and measures standards to Congress "on the supposition that the present measures are to be retained," and also outlined a decimal system of weights and measures of Jefferson's conception.

1821 - "Adams Report." John Quincy Adams recommended to Congress that they act to bring about uniformity in weights and measures, and described France's young Metric System as a praiseworthy attempt at uniformity.

1866 - "Law of 1866." Congress made use of the Metric System legally permissible throughout the United States.

1875 - "Treaty of the Meter." On May 20, the United States entered into a treaty with 17 powers establishing the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, and providing for its administration.

1890 - The United States officially received Metre No. 27 and Kilogram No. 20.

1893 - "The Mendenhall Order." The Secretary of the Treasury announced that the International metre and kilogram would be regarded as fundamental standards by the Office of Standard Weights and Measures (which became the National Bureau of Standards in 1901).

1902 - A bill brought before the Congress to make the Metric System mandatory within the Federal Government was defeated.

1957 - In September, a committee of the Organization of American States proposed that the Metric System be adopted throughout the Western Hemisphere.

1959 - Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States adopted common standards for the inch-pound system in metric terms. One inch was made equivalent to 2.54 centimetres and 1 pound was made equivalent to 0.453 592 37 kilograms. (The Coast and Geodetic Survey, which had used a slightly different conversion factor previously, retained their established relationship of 1 inch equaling 2.540.005 centimetres because of the extensive revisions which would be necessary to their charts and measurement records. The resulting foot based on this retained conversion is known as the U.S. Survey foot).

1965 - On May 24, the British Board of Trade announced that the government consider it desirable to adopt metric units in the United Kingdom, with a target date for conversion of 10 years.

1968 - An Act providing for a 3-year program to determine the impact of increasing use of the metric system on the United States was passed by Congress and signed into law by the President.

1969 - New Zealand began an eight-year conversion to metric units.

1970 - Australia announced plans for a 10-year change over to SI metric measurement.

1970 - Canada announced its commitment to metric conversion.

1971 - The comprehensive report on the U.S. Metric study titled A Metric America: A Decision Whose Time Has Come is released.

1973 - The American National Standards Institute established the American National Metric Council with offices in Washington, D.C.

1974 - Congress passed the first official legislation concerning conversion to the metric system as part of Public Law 93-380, to extend and amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Under section 403 of this Act entitled, "Education for the Use of the Metric System of Measurement", it states "the metric system of measurement will have increased use in the United States, and as such, the metric system will become the dominant system of weights and measures in the United States."

1975 - Congress passed the Metric Conversion Act.

1976 - The U.S. Metric Board is appointed.


Beginning December 23, 1975, the U.S., Metric Conversion Act was signed declaring a national policy of encouraging the voluntary use of the metric system. Federal agencies are in the process of making a transition to the metric system for their business-related activities.

Today the metric system, or SI system (Systeme International d'Unites), exists side by side with the U.S. customary system, which dates back to colonial days but is different from the British Imperial System. The debate on whether the United States should adopt the metric system has been going on for nearly 200 years. Today the United States is the only country in the world not totally committed to adopting the system.

The metric system is often considered a simpler form of measurement in that it includes only seven base units for different types of measurement:

The unit of length is the meter
The unit of mass is the kilogram
The unit of temperature is the kelvin
The unit of time is the second
The unit of electric current is the ampere
The unit of light intensity is the candela
The unit of substance amount is the mole

All other metric units are derived from these units. For example, a newton, the unit of force, involves meters, kilograms, and seconds. A pascal, the unit of pressure, is one newton per square meter. Although the metric system was designed to fill all the needs of scientists and engineers, laypeople need know and use only a few simple parts of it.

The metric system is based on the decimal system and follows a consistent name scheme using prefixes. Multiples and submultiples are always related to powers of 10. For example, deka means ten times, hecto means a hundred times, kilo means a thousand times, mega means a million times, and so on; deci means a tenth of, centi means a hundredth of, milli means a thousandth of, micro means a millionth of, and so on.


Tables of Metric Weights and Measures

Linear Measurement
10 millimeters (mm) = 1 centimeter (cm)
10 centimeters = 1 decimeter (dm)
10 decimeters = 1 meter (m)
10 meters = 1 dekameter (dam)
10 dekameters = 1 hectometer (hm)
10 hectometers = 1 kilometer (km)
10 kilometers = 1 myriameter (mym)
Area Measure
100 sq. millimeters (mm2) = 1 sq. centimeter (cm2)
10,000 sq. centimeters = 1 sq. meter (m2)
100 sq. meters = 1 are (a)
100 ares = 1 hectare (ha)
100 hectares = 1 sq. kilometer (km2)
Fluid Volume Measure
10 milliliters (ml) = 1 centiliter (cl)
10 centiliters = 1 deciliter (dl)
10 deciliters = 1 liter (l)
10 liters = 1 dekaliter (dal)
10 dekaliters = 1 hectoliter (hl)
10 hectoliters = 1 kiloliter (kl)
10 milligrams (mg) = 1 centigram (cg)
10 centigrams = 1 decigram (dg)
10 decigrams = 1 gram (g)
10 grams = 1 dekagram (dag)
10 dekagrams = 1 hectogram (hg)
10 hectograms = 1 kilogram (kg)
1,000 kilograms = 1 metric ton (t)
Cubic Measure
1,000 cu. millimeters (mm3) = 1 cu. centimeter (cm3)
1,000 cu. centimeters = 1 cu. decimeter (dm3)
1,000 cu decimeters = 1 cu. meter (m3) = 1 stere




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Memphis and its necropolis - the Pyramid fields from Giza to Dahshur
Ancient Thebes with its necropolis
Nubian monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae
Islamic Cairo
Abu Mena

Ethiopia [Back to Top]

Simen National Park
Rock-hewn churches, Lalibela
Fasil Ghebbi, Gondar Region
Lower valley of the Awash
Lower valley of the Omo

Finland [Back to Top]

Old Rauma
Fortress of Suomenlinna

France [Back to Top]

Mont-Saint Michel and its bay
Chartres Cathedral
Palace and park of Versailles
Vezela, church and hill
Decorated grottoes of the Vezere Valley
Palace and park of Fontainebleau
Chateau and estate of Chambord
Amiens Cathedral
The Roman theatre and its surroundings and the Triumphal Arch of Orange
Roman and romanesque monuments of Aries
Cistercian abbey of Fontenay
Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans
Place Stanislas, Place de la Carriere and Place d'Alliance in Nancy
Church of Saint-Savin sur Gartempe
Cape Girolata, Cape Porto and Scandola Nature Reserve in Corsica
Pont du Gard (Roman aqueduct)
Strasbourg - Grande Ile
Paris, banks of the Seine
Cathedral of Notre-Dame, former Abbey of Saint-Remi and Tau Palace, Cathedral of Reims
Bourges Cathedral

Germany [Back to Top]

Aachen Cathedral
Speyer Cathedral
Wurzburg Residence with the court gardens and Residence Square
Pilgrimage church of Wies
The Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust at Bruhl
St. Mary's Cathedral and St. Michael's Church at Hildesheim
Roman monuments, cathedral and Liebfrauen-Church in Trier
Hanseatic city of Lubeck
Palaces and parks of Potsdam and Berlin
Abbey and Altenmunster of Lorsch
Mines of Rammelsberg and the historic town of Goslar

Ghana [Back to Top]

Forts and castles, Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions
Ashante traditional buildings

Greece [Back to Top]

Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae
Archaeological site of Delphi
The Acropolis, Athens
Mount Athos
Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments of Thessalonika
Archaeological site of Epidaurus
Mediaeval city of Rhodes
Archaeological site of Olympia
Monasteries of Daphni, Hossios Lukas, and Nea Moni of Chios
Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos

Guatemala [Back to Top]

Tikal National Park
Antigua Guatemala
Archaeological park and ruins of Quirigua

Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire [Back to Top]

Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve

Haiti [Back to Top]

National History Park - Citadel, Sans Souci, Ramiers

Holy See [Back to Top]

Vatican City

Honduras [Back to Top]

Maya site of Copan
Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve

Hungary [Back to Top]

Budapest, the banks of the Danube with the district of Buda Castle

India [Back to Top]

Ajanta Caves
Ellora Caves
Agra Fort
Taj Mahal
The Sun Temple, Konarak
Group of monuments at Mahabalipuram
Kaziranga National Park
Manas Wildlife Sanctuary
Keoladeo National Park
Churches and convents of Goa
Khajuraho group of monuments
Group of monuments at Hampi
Fatehpur Sikri
Group of monuments at Pattadakal
Elephanta Caves
Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur
Sundarbans National Park
Nanda Devi National Park
Buddhist monuments at Sanchi

Indonesia [Back to Top]

Komodo National Park
Ujung Kulon National Park
Borobudur Temple compound
Prambanan Temple compound

Iran [Back to Top]

Tchogha Zanbil
Meidan Emam, Esafahan

Iraq [Back to Top]


Italy [Back to Top]

Rock Drawings in Valcamonica
The Church and Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie with 'The Last Supper' by Leonardo da Vinci
Historic centre of Florence
Venice and its lagoon
Piazza del Duomo, Pisa
Historic centre of San Gimignano

Italy/Holy See (each according to its jurisdiction) [Back to Top]

Historic Centre of Rome, the properties of the Holy See in that city enjoying extraterritorial rights, and San Paolo fuori la Mura

Jordan [Back to Top]

Old City of Jerusalem and its walls
Quseir Amra

Lebanon [Back to Top]


Libyan Arab Jamahiriya [Back to Top]

Archaeological site of Leptis Magna
Archaeological site of Sabratha
Archaeological site of Cyrene
Rock-art sites of Tadrart Acacus
Old town of Ghadames

Madagascar [Back to Top]

Tsingy Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve

Malawi [Back to Top]

Lake Malawi National Park

Mali [Back to Top]

Old towns of Djenne
Cliff of Bandiagara (Land of the Dogons)

Malta [Back to Top]

Hal Saflieni Hypogeum
City of Valetta
Megalithic temples of Malta

Mauritania [Back to Top]

Banc d'Arguin National Park

Mexico [Back to Top]

Sian Ka'an
Pre-Hispanic city and national park of Palenque
Historic centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco
Pre-Hispanic city of Teotihuacan
Historic centre of Oaxaca and archaeological site of Monte Alban
Historic centre of Puebla
Historic town of Guanajuato and adjacent mines
Pre-Hispanic city of Chichen-Itza
Historic centre of Morelia
El Tajin, Pre-Hispanic City

Morocco [Back to Top]

Medina of Fez
Medina of Marrakesh
Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou

Mozambique [Back to Top]

Island of Mozambique

Nepal [Back to Top]

Sagarmatha National Park
Kathmandu Valley
Royal Chitwan National Park

New Zealand [Back to Top]

Te Wahipounamu - South West New Zealand (Westland/Mount Cook National Park and Fiordland National Park, previously inscribed on the World Heritage List, are part of this site)
Tongariro National Park

Niger [Back to Top]

Air-Tenere Reserve

Norway [Back to Top]

Urnes Stave Church
Rock drawings of Alta

Oman [Back to Top]

Bahla Port
Archaeological sites of Bat, Al-Khutm, and Al-Ayn

Pakistan [Back to Top]

Archaeological ruins of Moenjodaro
Buddhist ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and neighbouring city remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol
Historical monuments of Thatta
Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore

Panama [Back to Top]

The fortifications on the Caribbean side of Portobelo-San Lorenzo Darien National Park


Peru [Back to Top]

City of Cuzco
Historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu
Chavin (archaeological site)
Huascaran National Park
Chan Chan Archaeological Zone
Manu National Park
Rio Abisco National Park
Historic centre of Lima

Poland [Back to Top]

Krakow's historic centre
Wieliczka Salt Mine
Auschwitz Concentration Camp
Historic centre of Warsaw
Old City of Zamosc

Portugal [Back to Top]

Central zone of the Town of Angra do Heroismo in the Azores
Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belem in Lisbon
Monastery of Batalha
Convent of Christ in Tomar
Historic centre of Evora
Monastery of Alcobaca

Romania [Back to Top]

Danube Delta

Russian Federation [Back to Top]

Historic centre of Saint Petersburg and related groups of monuments
Khizi Pogost
Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow
Historic monuments of Novgorod and surroundings
Cultural and historic ensemble of Solovetsky Islands
The White Monuments of Vladimir and Suzdal

Senegal [Back to Top]

Island of Goree
Niokolo-Koba National Park
Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary

Seychelles [Back to Top]

Aldabra Aroll
Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve

Slovenia [Back to Top]

Skocjan Caves

Spain [Back to Top]

The Mosque of Cordoba
The Alhambra and the Generalife, Granada
Burgos Cathedral
Monastery and site of the Escorial, Madrid
Parque Guell, Palacio Guell and Casa Mila, in Barcelona
Altamira Cave
Old town of Segovia and its aqueduct
Churches of the Kingdom of the Asturias
Santiago de Compostela (Old Town) Old Town of Avila with its extra muros churches
Mudejar architecture of Teruel
Historic city of Toledo
Garajonay National Park
Old town of Caceres
The Cathedral, the Alcazar and the Archivo de Indias, in Seville
Old city of Salamanca
Poblet Monastery

Sri Lanka [Back to Top]

Sacred city of Anuradhapura
Ancient city of Polonnaruva
Ancient city of Sigiriya
Sinharaja Forest Reserve
Sacred city of Kandy
Old town of Galle and its fortifications
Golden Temple of Dambulla

Sweden [Back to Top]

Royal Domain of Drottningholm

Switzerland [Back to Top]

Convent of Saint Gall
Benedictine convent of Saint John at Mustair
Old city of Berne

Syrian Arab Republic [Back to Top]

Ancient city of Damascus
Ancient city of Bosra
Site of Palmyra
Ancient city of Aleppo

Thailand [Back to Top]

Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaseng wildlife sanctuaries
Historic town of Sukhothai and associated historic towns
Historic city of Ayutthaya and associated historic towns
Ban Chiang archaeological site

Tunisia [Back to Top]

Medina of Tunis
Site of Carthage
Amphitheatre of El Djem
Ichkeul National Park
Punic town of Kerkuane and its necropolis
Medina of Sousse

Turkey [Back to Top]

Historic area of Istanbul
Goreme National Park and the rock sites of Cappadocia
Great Mosque and hospital of Divrigi
Nemrut Dag

Ukraine [Back to Top]

Kiev: Saint Sophia Cathedral and related monastic buildings, and Lavra of Kiev-Pechersk

United Kingdom [Back to Top]

The Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast
Durham Castle and Cathedral
Ironbridge Gorge
Studley Royal Park including the ruins of Fountains Abbey
Stonehenge, Avebury and associated sites
The castles and town walls of King Edward in Gwynedd
Saint Kilda
Bienheim Palace
City of Bath
Hadrian's Wall
Palace of Westminister, Abbey of Westminister, and Saint Margaret's Church
Henderson Island
The Tower of London
Canterbury Cathedral, Saint Augustine's Abbey, and Saint Martin's Church

United Republic of Tanzania [Back to Top]

Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and ruins of Songo Minara
Serengeti National Park
Selous Game Reserve
Kilimanjaro National Park

United States of America [Back to Top]

Mesa Verde
Grand Canyon National Park
Everglades National Park
Independence Hall
Redwood National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park
Olympic National Park
Cahokia Mounds State historic site
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
La Fortaleza and San Juan historic site in Puerto Rico
The Statue of Liberty
Yosemite National Park
Chaco Culture National Historical Park
Monticello and University of Virginia in Charlottesville
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Pueblo de Taos

Uzbekistan [Back to Top]

Itchan Kala

Yemen [Back to Top]

Old walled city of Shibam
Old city of Sana'a

Yugoslavia [Back to Top]

Stari Ras and Sopocani
Ohrid Region with its cultural and historical aspect and its natural environment (situated in Macedonia)
Natural and culturo-historical region of Kotor
Durmitor National Park
Studenica Monastery

Zaire [Back to Top]

Virunga National Park
Garamba National Park
Kahuzi-Biega National Park
Salonga National Park

Zambia/Zimbabwe [Back to Top]

Victoria Falls/Mosi-oa-Tunya

Zimbabwe [Back to Top]

Mana Pools National Park, Sapi, and Chewore Safari Areas
Great Zimbabwe National Monument
Khami Ruins National Monument


January -- Australia Day on the last Monday in Australia's calendar

January 1 -- New Year's Day throughout the Western world and in India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand; founding of Republic of China (Taiwan)

January 2 -- Berchtoldstag in Switzerland

January 3 -- Genshi-Sai (First Beginning) in Japan

January 5 -- Twelfth Night (Wassail Eve or Eve of Epiphany) in England

January 6 -- Epiphany, observed by Catholics throughout Europe and Latin America

mid-January -- Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, birthday on the third Monday in the Virgin Islands

January 15 -- Adults' Day in Japan

January 20 -- St. Agnes Eve in Great Britain

January 26 -- Republic Day in India

January-February -- Chinese New Year and Vietnamese New Year (Tet)

February -- Hamstrom on the first Sunday in Switzerland

February 3 -- Setsubun (Bean-throwing Festival) in Japan

February 5 -- Promulgation of the Constitution Day in Mexico

February 6 -- New Zealand Day in New Zealand

February 11 -- National Foundation Day in Japan

February 27 -- Independence Day in the Dominican Republic

March 1 -- Independence Movement Day in Korea; Constitution Day in Panama

March 8 -- International Women's Day in U.N. member nations

March 17 -- St. Patrick's Day in Ireland and Northern Ireland

March 19 -- St. Joseph's Day in Colombia, Costa Rica, Italy, and Spain

March 21 -- Benito Juarez's Birthday in Mexico

March 22 -- Arab League Day in Arab League countries

March 23 -- Pakistan Day in Pakistan

March 25 -- Independence Day in Greece; Lady Day (Quarter Day) in Great Britain

March 26 -- Fiesta del Arbol (Arbor Day) in Spain

March 29 -- Youth and Martyrs' Day in Taiwan

March 30 -- Muslim New Year in Indonesia

March-April -- Carnival/Lent/Easter: The pre-Lenten celebration of Carnival (Mardi Gras) and the post-Lenten celebration of Easter are movable feasts widely observed in Christian countries.

April 1 -- Victory Day in Spain; April Fools' Day (All Fools' Day) in Great Britain

April 5 -- Arbor Day in Korea

April 6 -- Van Riebeeck Day in South Africa

April 7 -- World Health Day in U.N. member nations

April 8 -- Buddha's Birthday in Korea and Japan; Hana Matsuri (Flower Festival) in Japan

April 14 -- Pan American Day in the Americas

April 19 -- Declaration of Independence Day in Venezuela

April 22 -- Queen Isabella Day in Spain

April 23 -- St. George's Day in England

April 25 -- Liberation Day in Italy; ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand

April 26 -- Union Day in Tanzania

April 29 -- Emperor's Birthday in Japan

April 30 -- Queen's Birthday in The Netherlands; Walpurgis Night in Germany and Scandinavia

April-May -- Independence Day in Israel

May -- Constitution Day on first Monday in Japan

May 1 -- May Day-Labor Day in the Commonwealth of Independent States and most of Europe and Latin America

May 5 -- Children's Day in Japan and Korea; Victory of General Zaragosa Day in Mexico; Liberation Day in The Netherlands

May 8 -- V-E Day in Europe

May 9 -- Victory over Fascism Day in the Commonwealth of Independent States

May 14 -- Independence Day in Paraguay

May 31 -- Republic Day in South Africa

June 2 -- Founding of the Republic Day in Italy

June 5 -- Constitution Day in Denmark; World Environment Day in U.N. member nations

June 6 -- Memorial Day in Korea; Flag Day in Sweden

June 8 -- Muhammad's Birthday in Indonesia

June 10 -- Portugal Day in Portugal

June 12 -- Republic Day in the Commonwealth of Independent States; Independence Day in the Philippines

mid-June -- Queen's Official Birthday on second Saturday in Great Britain; Midsummer Celebrations in Sweden

June 16 -- Soweto Day in U.N. member nations

June 20 -- Flag Day in Argentina

June 29 -- Feast of Saints Peter and Paul in Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Italy, Peru, Spain, Vatican City, and Venezuela

July 1 -- Half-year Holiday in Hong Kong; Bank Holiday in Taiwan; Dominion Day in Canada

July 5 -- Independence Day in Venezuela

July 9 -- Independence Day in Argentina

July 10 -- Bon (Feast of Fortune) in Japan

July 12 -- Orangemen's Day in Northern Ireland

July 14 -- Bastille Day in France

mid-July -- Feria de San Fermin during second week in Spain

July 17 -- Constitution Day in Korea

July 18 -- National Day in Spain

July 20 -- Independence Day in Colombia

July 21-22 -- National Holiday in Belgium

July 22 -- National Liberation Day in Poland

July 24 -- Simon Bolivar's Birthday in Ecuador and Venezuela

July 25 -- St. James Day in Spain

July 28-29 -- Independence Day in Peru

August -- Bank Holiday on first Monday in Fiji, Grenada, Guyana, Hong Kong, Ireland, and Malawi; Discovery Day on first Monday in Trinidad and Tobago; Independence Day on first Tuesday in Jamaica

August 1 -- Lammas Day in England; National Day in Switzerland

August 9 -- National Day in Singapore

August 10 -- Independence Day in Ecuador

August 14 -- Independence Day in Pakistan

August 15 -- Independence Day in India and Korea; Assumption Day in Catholic countries

August 16 -- National Restoration Day in the Dominican Republic

August 17 -- Independence Day in Indonesia

August 31 -- Independence Day in Trinidad and Tobago

September -- Rose of Tralee Festival in Ireland

September 7 -- Independence Day in Brazil

September 9 -- Choxo-no-Sekku (Chrysanthemum Day) in Japan

September 14 -- Battle of San Jacinto Day in Nicaragua

mid-September -- Sherry Wine Harvest in Spain

September 15 -- Independence Day in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Nicaragua; Respect for the Aged Day in Japan

September 16 -- Independence Day in Mexico and Papua New Guinea

September 18-19 -- Independence Day in Chile

September 28 -- Confucius' Birthday in Taiwan

October -- Thanksgiving Day in Canada on second Monday; Kruger Day in South Africa during second week

October 1 -- National Day in People's Republic of China; Armed Forces Day in Korea; National Holiday in Nigeria

October 2 -- National Day in People's Republic of China; Mahatma Gandhi's Birthday in India

October 3 -- National Day in the Federal Republic of Germany; National Foundation Day in Korea

October 5 -- Republic Day in Portugal

October 9 -- Korean Alphabet Day in Korea

October 10 -- Founding of Republic of China in Taiwan

October 12 -- Columbus Day in Spain and widely throughout Latin America

October 19 -- Ascension of Muhammad Day in Indonesia

October 20 -- Revolution Day in Guatemala; Kenyatta Day in Kenya

October 24 -- United Nations Day in U.N. member nations

October 26 -- National Holiday in Australia

October 28 -- Greek National Day in Greece

November 1 -- All Saints' Day, observed by Catholics in most countries

November 2 -- All Souls' Day in Ecuador, El Salvador, Luxembourg, Macao, Mexico, San Marino, Uruguay, and Vatican City

November 3 -- Culture Day in Japan

November 4 -- National Unity Day in Italy

November 5 -- Guy Fawkes Day in Great Britain

November 11 -- Armistice Day in Belgium, French Guiana, and Tahiti; Veterans Day in France; Remembrance Day in Canada and Bermuda

November 12 -- Sun Yat-sen's Birthday in Taiwan

November 15 -- Proclamation of the Republic Day in Brazil

November 19 -- National Holiday in Monaco

November 20 -- Anniversary of the Revolution in Mexico

November 23 -- Kinro-Kansha-No-Hi (Labor Thanksgiving Day) in Japan

November 30 -- National Heroes' Day in the Philippines

December 5 -- Discovery by Columbus Day in Haiti

December 6 -- Independence Day in Finland

December 8 -- Feast of the Immaculate Conception, widely observed in Catholic countries

December 10 -- Constitution Day in Thailand; Human Rights Day in U.N. member nations

mid-December -- Nine Days of Posada during third week in Mexico

December 25 Christmas Day, widely observed in all Christian countries

December 26 -- St. Stephen's Day in Austria, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, San Marino, and Switzerland; Boxing Day in Great Britain and Northern Ireland

December 28 -- National Day in Nepal

December 31 -- New Year's Eve throughout the world; Omisoka (Grand Last Day) in Japan; Hogmanay Day in Scotland