With about 50 field offices located all over the world, UNESCO is a specialized agency within the United Nations. It is responsible for promoting peace, social justice, human rights, and international security by promoting international collaboration in education, sciences, and culture.

A short time after the United Nations was established, delegates of 44 different countries decided to form an organization that will help prevent another World War. Thirty-seven countries of the participating ones founded UNESCO, and on the 4th of November, 1949, the constitution of the UNESCO came into effect.

The foremost goal of UNESCO was to rebuild schools, libraries, museums, etc. in Europe that has been spoiled during World War II.

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UNESCO Full Form

UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. In French, it is written as Organisation des Nations Unies pour l’éducation, la science et la culture.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites:

When back in 1954, Egypt and Sudan requested UNESCO to help their countries protect their endangered monuments and sites. This led to the Director-General of UNESCO launched an excavation project supported by contributions of 50 countries. The success of the project led to other safeguarding campaigns and an initiation of a draft to protect cultural heritage all over the world.

The World Heritage Sites can be any landmark or area that has cultural, historical, scientific significance.

The total number of heritage sites all over the world is 1121and. These are from 167 countries from all of the five continents, namely, Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. China and Italy rank highest in several World Heritage Sites.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India

India comes 5th amongst the highest number of World Heritage Sites, with 38 of them. Here’s the list of the 38 sites sorted by form of significance:


  • Taj Mahal, Agra
  • Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
  • Hampi, Karnataka
  • Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra
  • Ellora Caves, Maharashtra
  • Bodh Gaya, Bihar
  • Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha
  • Red Fort Complex, Delhi
  • Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh
  • Chola Temples, Tamil Nadu
  • Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
  • Humayun’s Tomb, New Delhi
  • Jantar Mantar, Jaipur, Rajasthan
  • Agra Fort, Uttar Pradesh
  • Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh
  • Rani Ki Vav, Patan, Gujarat
  • Group of Monuments at Pattadakal, Karnataka
  • Elephanta Caves, Maharashtra
  • Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University), Bihar
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus), Maharashtra
  • Mountain Railways of India
  • Qutub Minar and its Monuments, New Delhi
  • Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, Gujarat
  • Hill Forts of Rajasthan
  • Churches and Convents of Goa
  • Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh
  • The Victorian and Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai
  • The Pink City – Jaipur
  • The Historic City of Ahmedabad
  • Capitol Complex, Chandigarh


  • Kaziranga Wild Life Sanctuary, Assam
  • Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal
  • Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh
  • Manas Wild Life Sanctuary, Assam
  • Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan
  • Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks, Uttarakhand
  • Western Ghats
  • Kanchenjunga National Park, Sikkim


  • Khangchendzonga National Park

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Top 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

It is quite challenging to list out the top 10 or 10 best sites among over 1000 beautiful World Heritage Sites. However, this is a list of 10 highest-rated and popular World Heritage Sites you can go through and plan to explore through them.

  • Machu Picchu: Located in Peru on almost 8000ft mountain ridge, Machu Picchu is a 15th century Inca citadel. It was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1983 and also voted for one the Seven Wonders of the World by an internet poll. 
  • Easter Island(Rapa Nui): Located in the continent of Oceania, this island is known for green meadows, volcanic crates, beautiful beaches, and mysterious 1000 Moai statues. Easter Island became a World Heritage Site in the year 1995.
  • The Great Wall of China: As its name suggests, this a series of fortification systems exists towards Northern China. Historically build to protect Chinese states and empires from various nomadic groups, today, it is considered as the most impressive architectural feats in history. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1987.
  • Colosseum: Known as the largest amphitheater build during roman times, Colosseum lay in the center of Rome, Italy, and was declared a World Heritage Site in the year 1990. 
  • Stonehenge, England: United Kingdom’s popular tourist attraction, Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument. It became a World Heritage Site in the year 1986.
  • Terracotta Army: This is a group of army sculptures of more than 8000 soldiers found in some parts of China. It became a World Heritage Site in the year 1987.
  • Mayan Ruins of Tikal: One of the largest archaeological sites, Tikal is a ruin of an ancient city, found in Guatemala, and was declared World Heritage Site in the year 1979
  • Taj Mahal: Popularly known as the symbol of love, the Taj Mahal is the excellence of Mughal architecture built on the banks of Yamuna River and became a World Heritage Site in the year 1983.
  • Pyramids of Giza, Egypt: One of the oldest 7 Wonders of the World, the pyramid of Giza is the largest of three pyramids of Giza in the year 1979.
  • Acropolis of Athens: This is an ancient citadel located in the city of Athens and has several ancient buildings and was declared a World Heritage Site in the year 1987.

The logo of UNESCO consists of three parts:

  • The temple which includes UNESCO acronym
  • The full name of UNESCO, which can be in any of the six official languages of UNESCO
  • A dotted line in a logarithmic progression

The logo has no hidden interpretation, and the logo block must not be used alone in any case.

UNESCO Headquarters

The headquarters of UNESCO is located at Place de Fontenoy in Paris, France. UNESCO has 50 field offices in 5 different regions, namely, Africa, Arab States, Asia and Pacific, Europe and North America, and Latin America and the Caribbean.


India became a UNESCO member in the year 1948 and worked with UNESCO as partners to build a more sustainable and peaceful world. India has contributed much to UNESCO and the world, among which are an exercise of soft power on its ancient culture and civilization. Among the contributions are heritage sites, biosphere reserves, and many other resources.

UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in India

Here’s a list of 18 biosphere reserves in India and their locations:

1Nilgiri Biosphere ReserveIn parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, South India
2Nanda Devi Biosphere ReserveUttarakhand
3Gulf of MannarTamil Nadu
5SundarbansWest Bengal
8Dihang-DibangArunachal Pradesh
9Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve
Madhya Pradesh
10Achanakmar-Amarkantak Biosphere ReserveMadhya Pradesh
11Great Rann of KutchGujarat
12Cold DesertHimachal Pradesh
14Agasthyamalai Biosphere ReserveKerala, Tamil Nadu
15Great NicobarAndaman and Nicobar
17Seshachalam HillsAndhra Pradesh
18PannaMadhya Pradesh

UNESCO Members


The Director-General of UNESCO is Audrey Azoulay, who is a French civil servant and politician. She is the 11th Director-General of UNESCO and 2nd French UNESCO Director-General.

UNESCO Founders

The founding countries of UNESCO are as follows:

  • India
  • United States
  • China
  • Turkey
  • Mexico
  • France
  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Greece
  • Saudi Arabia
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Lebanon
  • Dominican Republic
  • Denmark
  • Czechoslovakia

UNESCO Careers and Jobs

UNESCO, being a highly specialized international agency, focuses on empowering highly skilled, committed, and knowledge-based professionals. With over 50 field offices in various regions over the year, more than 2000 employees are known to work for UNESCO at various posts and from 170 different countries.

Careers in UNESCO are categorized as:

  • International Professionals
  • General Service 
  • National Professional Officers
  • Project Appointments
  • Temporary Assignments
  • Internships and Volunteers


UNESCO MGIEP is an educational research Institute based on New Delhi, established by UNESCO, with support from the Government of India. It focuses on achieving the Sustainable Development Goal and first and only category 1 Research Institute in the Asia Pacific. The full form of MGIEP is Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development and is an integral part of UNESCO. It was launched in the year 2012 by the former Director-General of UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova, and the former President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee.


The flag of UNESCO is also one of the official symbols of the organization. The flag consists of the logo/emblem of UNESCO in white in a blue background, and both the colors, blue and white, are official colors of the United Nations.

UNESCO Functions

  • Prospective studies: Exploring forms of educations, sciences, culture, and communication for the future society 
  • Standard-setting action: The preparation and adoption of international norms and standards.
  • Exchange of specialized information: Sharing and transferring of specialized knowledge and information most based on research and training activities.
  • Expertise: Providing assistance and advice to member states for their development policies and projects.

UNESCO Contributions

UNESCO contributes to various causes, for example, to World Heritage Sites, Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund, and arrears to permanent delegations, Observers, and NGOs.

UNESCO Creative Cities Network

Creative Cities Network project was launched by UNESCO in the year 2004 to promote cooperation among and with cities. These cities are known for identifying creativity as a major factor for sustainable urban development. 

Some of the projects of Creative Cities Network are:

  • City of Films: 18 City of Films spanning 12 countries
  • City of Literature: 39 Cities of Literature, spanning 28 countries
  • City of Music: 47 Cities of Music, Portugal being the only country to have three-member cities 

UNESCO Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela is the largest congregation of pilgrims on the earth. During this peaceful gathering, devotees bathe in the Ganges and believe that the bathing will free them from their sins.

In the year 2017, during its 12th session being held at Jeju, South Korea, UNESCO inscribed Kumbh Mela on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

US withdrawals from UNESCO

In the year 2019, the United States of America has officially withdrawn from UNESCO. The first announcement of withdrawal was initiated after UNESCO identified the old city of Hebron in Palestinian World Heritage Site against efforts of resistance by the United States and Israel. The city of Hebron harbors relics, cultural and religious sites, etc. Both the United States and Israel accused the UN of engaging in Anti-Israeli bias.

After Palestine was voted for a UNESCO member state, both the US and Israel stopped paying funds. Although the withdrawal won’t affect the World Heritage Sites in the US and greatly impact UNESCO financially, it, however, might affect UNESCO in some other ways. 

Best Currency in the world by UNESCO

In the year 2016 or maybe in 2017 also, a wave of news started circling the country that UNESCO has declared the new Indian pink 2000 rupees note as the best currency in the year. This news has been circulated among WhatsApp and other social media platforms. However, this news has been later debunked, disproved, and later was proved as a hoax. 

UNESCO Best Prime Minister Award

A few years ago, a lot of news had been forwarded in social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, etc. about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared the best Prime Minister in the world. This news was later proved to be a rumor/hoax. Among these fake news, one other saying Indian national anthem was declared Best Anthem in the World by UNESCO was getting a lot of attention too.


✅ Can I visit the UNESCO?

A: You can make a reservation, and you will earn a one and half hour tour in over seven languages.

✅ What are the official languages of UNESCO?

A: Same as United nations, namely, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.

✅ When was UNESCO founded?

A: 16 November 1945

✅ What is UNESCO World Heritage Site?

A: Landmark or an area marked by UNESCO that has cultural, historical, religious, etc., significance.

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About the Author

Piyush values education and has studied from the top institutes of IIT Roorkee, IIM Bangalore, KTH Sweden and Tsinghua University in China. Post completing his MBA, he has worked with the world’s # 1 consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group and focused on building sales and marketing verticals for top MNCs and Indian business houses.

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