Palau’s Rock Islands Southern Lagoon has been added to the World Heritage list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
According to UNESCO’s website, the islands are a mixed site for both cultural and natural properties.
The Rock Islands Southern Lagoon covers 100,200 hectares and numbers 445 uninhabited limestone islands of volcanic origin. Many of them display unique mushroom-like shapes in turquoise lagoons surrounded by coral reefs.
The aesthetic beauty of the site is heightened by a complex reef system featuring over 385 coral species and different types of habitat. They sustain a large diversity of plants, birds and marine life including dugong and at least 13 shark species.
The site harbors the highest concentration of marine lakes anywhere, isolated bodies of seawater separated from the ocean by land barriers.
They are among the islands’ distinctive features and sustain high endemism of populations which continue to yield new species discoveries.
The well-known biodiversity of the Republic of Palau lies in the marine and terrestrial environment of the Rock Islands where important habitats threatened and endangered species are situated. The significant aesthetic and culture values of the landscape of the Southern Lagoon are integral to the identity of the State and the island nation.
Located in the westernmost corner of Micronesia, Palau is an archipelago of more than 586 islands with about 20,000 inhabitants. Consistently ranked as one of the world’s best dive destinations, Palau has spectacular water features and beaches as well as the Rock Islands and Jellyfish Lake. With 1,450 species of fish and 500 species of coral, some have identified Palau as “One of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World.”