Wednesday, September 5, 2012

World Heritage - Africa

To view high resolution images, click on the images above.
On 5 September 2012, UNPA issued a set of six commemorative stamps on the theme “World Heritage – Africa”.

45 cents United Republic of Tanzania: Kilimanjaro National Park
$1.05 Mali: Old Towns of Djenné
F.s. 0,85 Democratic Republic of the Congo: Virunga National Park
F.s. 1,00 Tunisia: Amphitheatre of El Jem
€ 0,62 Kenya: Kenya Lake System
€ 0,70 Morocco: Medina of Marrakesh
*Copyright for stamp photographs: Age Fotostock and Corbis 

Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural heritage and our natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. What makes the concept of World Heritage exceptional is its universal application. World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972. For this year’s stamp series, the United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) has chosen six World Heritage sites in Africa.

Special First Day Cancellations
On 5 September 2012, special first day hand-cancellations for the “World Heritage - Africa” stamps were made available at United Nations Headquarters in New York; the Palais des Nations, Geneva; and the Vienna International Centre. The same can be seen in the scanned FDCs' above.

Stamp Specifications
The stamps, in denominations of 45 cents, $1.05, F.s. 0,85, F.s. 1,00, € 0,62 and € 0,70, measure 50 mm horizontally by 36 mm vertically, perforation to perforation. Perforation: 13.1.

The Desginer
The stamps were designed Rorie Katz (United Nations).

The stamps were printed in offset by the Lowe-Martin Group (Canada).

About the Issue

45 cents - United Republic of Tanzania: Kilimanjaro National Park
Kilimanjaro National Park, established in 1973, covers an area of some 75,575 hectares. At 5,895 metres, Kilimanjaro is not only the highest point in Africa, but also one of the largest volcanoes in the world. This volcanic massif stands in splendid isolation above the surrounding plains, with its snowy peak looming over the savannah. The mountain is encircled by mountain forest. Numerous mammals, many of them endangered species, live in the park.

Mount Kilimanjaro has three main volcanic peaks, Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. The mountain has five main vegetation zones from the lowest to the highest point: lower slopes, montane forest, heath and moorland, alpine desert and summit. The whole mountain, including the montane forest belt, is very rich in species, in particular mammals; however, many are critically endangered or near extinction.
Threats to the property include increasing and cumulative stress from sources such as adjacent land use, downstream effects of air and water pollution, invasive species, fire and climate change. Kilimanjaro National Park was designated a World Heritage site in 1987. 

$1.05 - Mali: Old Towns of Djenné 
Djenné, chief town of the Djenné Circle is one of the oldest towns of sub-Saharan Africa. Inhabited since 250 B.C., Djenné became a market centre and an important link in the trans-Saharan gold trade. Its traditional houses, of which nearly 2,000 have survived, are built on hillocks (toguere) as protection from the seasonal floods.

The cultural site “Old Towns of Djenné” is a property comprising four archaeological sites, namely, Djenné-Djeno, Hambarkétolo, Kaniana and Tonomba, along with the old fabric of the present town of Djenné. The property, which covers an area of 48.5 hectares and is divided into ten districts, is an ensemble that over many years has symbolized the typical African city. It is also particularly representative of Islamic architecture in sub-Saharan Africa. 

The property is characterized by the intensive and remarkable use of earth specifically in its architecture. The mosque, which is of great monumental and religious value, is an outstanding example of this. The town is renowned for its civic constructions, with the distinctive style of verticality and buttresses as well as the elegant monumental houses with intricate facades. 

The property “Old Towns of Djenné” still retains the archaeological, historic and religious outstanding universal values which justified its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List (1988).

F.s. 0,85 - Democratic Republic of the Congo: Virunga National Park
Virunga National Park, covering an area of 790,000 hectares, lies in the north-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the border with Uganda and Rwanda. It comprises an outstanding diversity of habitats ranging from swamps and steppes, savannas and lava plains, lowland and forests, to high-altitude glaciers and mountain peaks. It was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979.

Virunga National Park presents some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in Africa. The rugged Ruwenzori mountains with their steep slopes and valleys culminate in snowcapped peaks above 5,000 metres. The Virunga Massif with its densely forested slopes and active volcanoes are areas of exceptional natural beauty. 

The great diversity of habitats harbours an exceptional biodiversity of plants and animals, including endemic as well as rare and globally endangered species, such as the mountain gorilla. It is home to an exceptional variety of wildlife, including elephants, buffalo, antelope, lions and various monkeys. Large numbers of pelicans occur in the lower valleys and some 20,000 hippopotamus, the highest concentration in Africa, live along the shores of the rivers.

F.s. 1,00 - Tunisia: Amphitheatre of El Jem
The Amphitheatre of El Jem, located in a plain in central Tunisia is undoubtedly the most impressive Roman monument in Africa. This third century monument stands 30 meters high, with a diameter of well over 100 metres, almost as large as the Colosseum in Rome. Its size and its capacity, judged to be around 35,000 spectators, make it without a doubt among the largest amphitheatres in the world.

The impressive ruins of this large colosseum, is built entirely of stone blocks, with no foundations and is free-standing. In this respect it is modelled on the Colosseum of Rome. Its facade comprises three levels of arcades of Corinthian or composite style. Inside, the monument has preserved most of the supporting infrastructure for the tiered seating. The wall of the podium, the arena and the underground passages are practically intact. 

This architectural and artistic creation built around 238 A.D. constitutes an important milestone in the comprehension of the history of Roman Africa. The Amphitheatre of El Jem also bears witness to the prosperity of the small city of Thysdrus at the time of the Roman Empire. Although it has been renovated over time, the monument has preserved many of its architectural and architectonic components. It was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2010.

0,62 - Kenya: Kenya Lake System
The Kenya Lake System in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya is comprised of three interlinked, relatively shallow lakes, namely, Lake Bogoria, Lake Nakuru and Lake Elementaita. These lakes, which cover an area of over 32,000 hectares, are found on the floor of the Great Rift Valley, where major volcanic events have shaped a distinctive landscape. 

Some of the world’s greatest diversities and concentrations of bird species are recorded within these relatively small lake systems. The property is home to 13 globally threatened bird species and some of the highest bird diversities in the world. It is the single most important foraging site for the lesser flamingo anywhere, and a major nesting and breeding ground for great white pelicans. For most of the year, up to 4 million lesser flamingos move between the three shallow lakes in an outstanding wildlife spectacle. The property also features sizeable mammal populations, including the black rhino, Rothschild’s giraffe, greater kudu, lion, cheetah and wild dog.

Surrounded by hot springs, geysers and the steep escarpment of the Rift Valley with its volcanic outcrops, the natural setting of the lakes provides an exceptional experience of nature. A natural property of outstanding beauty, the Kenya Lake System was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2011.

0,70 - Morocco: Medina of Marrakesh
The Medina of Marrakesh, located in central Morocco is an old Islamic capital originating from the eleventh century. The city owes its original splendour to the Almoravid and Almohad dynasties, which made Marrakesh their capital. 

Founded in 1070–1072 by the Almoravids, Marrakesh remained a political, economic and cultural centre for a long period. Its influence was felt throughout the western Muslim world, from North Africa to Andalusia, and played a decisive role in the development of medieval planning.

Marrakesh has several impressive monuments. The famous Koutoubiya Mosque, with its 77 metre minaret, was built during the twelfth century under the Almohad dynasty. It is a splendid monument of Muslim architecture and is one of the important landmarks of the urban landscape and the symbol of the city. Other monuments are the Kasbah, the Bandiâ Palace, the Ben Youssef Madrasa, the Saadian Tombs, several great residences and Jamaâ El Fna square, an amazing open-air theatre. 

Marrakesh remains a vibrant city steeped in history, with its maze of narrow streets, houses, central square (Jamaâ El Fna), markets (souks), traditional crafts and trade activities. Inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1985, it has retained many of its historic cultural and natural properties that illustrate its outstanding universal value.