Blog WHS website
In what probably will be my last big effort this year to structurally improve the website, I took on the country pages last week. They always have been far less information-dense than the individual site pages, but I see them as essential landing pages. These are the pages to start from when preparing a WHS-focused trip, to get answers to questions like where are its WHS located, what is their nomination roadmap, and what itineraries were used by other community members. Below is what I changed in the content and structure of the country pages.
In the WH lingo, countries are known as States Parties: ”countries which have adhered to the World Heritage Convention”. 194 states so far ratified this convention. I have now also added to the website an additional 4 countries which did ratify but are not active yet. They are Brunei, the Cook Islands, Niue, and Somalia.
This Missing Countries topic on the Forum gives an excellent overview of the discrepancies between what is considered a country by the different UN bodies, and what the activity level of a country is concerning WHS. It is worth noting for example that of the 193 UN members, 3 countries (Liechtenstein, Tuvalu, and Nauru) have not signed the World Heritage Convention. On the other end, 4 states (Palestine, Cook Islands, Niue, Holy See) have, but are not full members of the United Nations.
Country Forum topics
The first point of orientation on the new country page is the country's forum topic. In 2018 we decided that every country was to have its own ‘corner’ at the Forum where all discussions take place. It is meant for community members to share itineraries and tips after returning from a trip. Also, it's the place to post updates on the country’s WHS roadmap.
Of the 194 states, 105 now have such a forum topic. Surprisingly, popular countries such as Austria and Jordan do not have one yet - maybe they just are too easy? Some, like Zambia & Zimbabwe and Senegal & Gambia, share their topic for practical travel reasons with neighbouring countries.
The main block continues with a link to blog posts about the country. These include the Top Tips I usually write after a more substantial trip. But also Interviews with a single country focus, such as Iraq and China.
Furthermore, there are external links to relevant websites and news articles about the country's WH position. We had a number of them already from 10-15 years ago; I verified them all and added a few more. These links often address disputes (Thailand-Cambodia, Japan-Korea). But they also announce new Tentative Lists that are in progress before becoming officially registered with UNESCO. And they provide background reading such as “The Future of WH in Australia”.
We do have some links to the responsible authority for world heritage management here too. I did not look for additional ones (they often are very poor) but kept what we had. Overall, many countries still are poorly represented but they will grow organically by adding anything worthwhile in the coming years.
The country pages now also have a block with 'official info', similar to the site pages. It includes:
- the country’s full name – where applicable, at this website we use a shortened one for easier use in the list boxes: so it's Bolivia instead of 'Plurinational State of Bolivia';
- the region it belongs to - regions are "defined by UNESCO for its activities, and do not necessarily reflect the actual geographical location of countries"; thus determining to which region a country belongs is not intuitive;
- the year in which it hosted the WHC: in total, only 29 different countries (out of 194) have been the organizer of the yearly WHC meeting; it was held in Paris many times in the early days. 2023 will be the 2nd time for Thailand, and the city of Brasilia has already been the venue twice;
- the years in which it was a member of the WHC.
I have left out very specific UNESCO details such as the country's year of ratification of the WH convention, as well as a link to the official UNESCO country page, as I personally find them not too helpful. But I can be convinced otherwise of course.
Is there something that you’d like to see added to the country pages?
Els - 28 August 2022
Els Slots 3 September 2022
Not "intended", but it is because I added them only earlier this year. Sorting by date is a bit difficult, as all the ancient reviews have no date at all. It will go away by itself, as people keep on adding new reviews and mine will disappear from the shortlists.
Joel Baldwin 2 September 2022
Looks great, nice work!
Just a minor thing, I think there's a bug with the "Recent Reviews" box. It displays a couple of the most recent reviews and then a bunch of yours (even when they're quite old!). For example the Brazil page has two recent reviews, then the rest are your reviews from 2004 - is that intended behaviour?
Durian 28 August 2022
Maybe list of top 3 most/least visit WHSs of each country, or after country info a collage of photos of that country that maybe borrow from 5-6 latest reviews?