According to the tourism bureau of the Philippines, the country of islands is the third largest English-speaking nation in the world. The Philippines combine Asian, European and American cultural influences. Throughout the country you can find landmarks designated as World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Education Scientific Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park
One of the two natural Philippine landmarks designated by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park consists of two atolls and an emergent coral cay. The site has a pristine coral reef with 350 species of coral and 500 species of fish. The site is also home to an important collection of seabirds. Whales, dolphins, sharks, turtles and Napoleon wrasse are found there. The area is free of human habitation. The park is in the center of the Sulu Sea, where a team of rangers stations the reef year round. Divers can visit from March until June.
Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park
The Subterranean River is unique because it flows directly into the sea and is subject to tidal influences. The river also runs through a cave on its way to the South China Sea and is known to be the world's longest subterranean river. Given its uniqueness, it is a habitat of significant biodiversity. The entire park area encompasses an ecosystem with mountains, sea and one of the most important forests in Asia. Formations of stalactites and stalagmites can be found in the park along with several large chambers.
Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras
According to the UNESCO declaration of the Rice Terraces as a World Heritage Site, they represent the blending of the physical, socio-cultural, economic, religious and political environment of the Philippines. For 2,000 years the high rice fields followed the contours of the mountains up to 4,900 feet in height. The cultivation of them has been handed down through the generations. The terraces are still in use by local farmers, so visitors can see how the intricately designed systems of dams, channels and bamboo pipes keeps the terraces flooded.
The Historic Town of Vigan
Located on the island of Luzon at the delta of the Abra River off the coastal plain of the China Sea, the town is known for being founded by Spanish Conquistador Juan de Salcedo in 1572 as a trading area. Considered the best-preserved example of a Spanish colonial town in Asia, it has a historical checkerboard street plan. Vigan differs from other Spanish colonial towns in Latin America because of the Asian cultural influence in its construction. Given its age, the town is considered to be in extraordinary condition.
Baroque Churches of the Philippines
There are four Baroque churches across the islands of the Philippines built by the Spanish in the late 16th century. The four churches are San Agustin in Manila, La Asuncion in Santa Maria, San Agustin in Paoay and Santo Tomas in Miag-ao. The designation of these buildings as World Heritage locations by UNESCO considers the interpretation of the European Baroque architecture by Chinese and Philippine workmen to have had an important influence on other churches built in the region.
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