As Kazakhstan seeks to boost its profile as an eco-tourism destination, it is looking to see how UNESCO’s World Heritage List can raise international attention. Kazakhstan has been a member of UNESCO since May, 22 1992, while UNESCO’s office in Kazakhstan has been operating since December 1994. The office has regional status on issues pertaining to education and communications in the Caucasus, Central Asia, Iran, and Mongolia. Kazakhstan has an active policy to strengthen cooperation with UNESCO and is party to the World Heritage List. As of March 2012, 189 states have ratified the World Heritage Convention. The list includes 936 sites around the world deemed to have outstanding universal value. Between 1998 and 2010, Kazakhstan applied for 15 sites of global natural and historical value to be included in the World Heritage List, and so far it has been successful with three.
MAUSOLEUM OF KHOJA AHMED YASAWI, TURKESTAN
Built between 1389 and 1405, the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi is one of the largest of its type built in the Timurid period, and the largest and best-preserved construction of this era. It hosts the largest dome in Central Asia. While constructing the mausoleum, Persian master builders developed architectural and structural solutions that they later applied in the construction of Samarkand, in modern day Uzbekistan, the capital of the Timurid Empire. The Mausoleum entered the World Heritage list in 2003 as it is a significant reference in the history of Timurid architecture. Additionally, its contributions to the development of Islamic religious architecture and building technology and its representation of Central Asian culture make the Mausoleum a key part of world heritage.
PETROGLYPHS WITHIN THE ARCHEOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE OF TAMGALY
These rock carvings are located around the Tamgaly Gorge in the Chu-IIu Mountains, around 120 kilometers northwest of Almaty. The petroglyphs, which a number more than 5,000, date from the second half of the second millennium BC to the early 20th century. UNESCO describes the images as “testimonies to the husbandry, social organization, and rituals of pastoral peoples from the Bronze Age to the present day.” The site also has a number of ancient tombs and altars, with a high concentration of engravings possibly used for rituals.
SARYARKA STEPPE AND LAKES OF NORTHERN KAZAKHSTAN
Spread over a total area of 450,344 hectares, the Saryarka Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan consists of the Naurzum State Nature Reserve and Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve. These reserves feature wetlands that are key stopover points and crossroads on the Central Asian migration route of birds from Africa, Europe, and South Asia to Western and Eastern Siberia, where they breed. Among these birds, there are threatened species including the Dalmatian pelican, the Siberian white crane, and Pallas’s fish eagle. The area is also a refuge to more than half of the species of the region’s steppe flora and the critically endangered Saifa antelope, according to UNESCO.
TO BE CONFIRMED
Kazakhstan has submitted 12 more sites to UNESCO for inclusion in the World Heritage List, including the Western Tien-Shan mountainous region, Aksu-Zhabagly state natural reserve, the oasis of Otrar, a number of Paleolithic sites, and the geomorphology of the Karatau Mountains. Only time will tell if the individual sites can meet one of the 10 criteria for inclusion.
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