From one of the world’s oldest skeletons to the largest known cave chamber on the face of the planet, Malaysia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites are sure to take your breath away...
Gunung Mulu National Park
UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000
According to UNESCO, ‘heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations’.
From the very first moment you set eyes on Borneo’s Gunung Mulu National Park, you can’t fail to understand why this precious region was recognized as a World Heritage Site back in November 2000.
To qualify for world heritage status a park must: provide an outstanding example of the world’s geological history; represent the ongoing evolutionary process; contain a significant amount of natural habitat that promotes biological diversity and the protection of threatened species; and last – but by no means least – be exceptionally beautiful.
Gunung Mulu National Park excels in all of these areas. Its concentration of caves and geomorphic structures help us to better understand the earth’s history; it provides numerous opportunities to study the origins of cave faunas to aid us in our understanding of ecological processes; it boasts an incredible range of plant and animal diversity both above and below the ground; and it offers outstanding scenic values, including the natural phenomenon of millions of bats and swiftlets leaving and entering their caves.
This 52,864-hectare park contains some 17 vegetation zones, exhibiting some 3,500 species of vascular plants. It is dominated by Gunung Mulu, a 2,377-metre-high sandstone pinnacle, which is home to the most studied tropical karst area in the world. The Sarawak Chamber, which measures 600 metres by 415 metres and stands 80 metres high, is the largest known cave chamber in the world.
UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000
Geologically, Borneo’s Kinabalu Park is a granite intrusion formed 15 million years ago and thrust upward one million years ago by tectonic movements.
The park covers an area of 754-sqare-kilometres, which are made up of Mount Kinabalu, Mount Tambayukon and the foothills.
The altitudinal range in the park – from 152 metres to 4,095 metres, offers a wide array of habitats, from rich tropical lowland and hill rainforest, to tropical montane forest and sub-alpine forest. Ultramafic (serpentine) rocks cover about 16 per cent of the park.
Dominated by Mount Kinabalu, which at 4,095-metres-tall is the highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea, Kinabalu Park boasts an exceptional array of naturally functioning ecosystems. Half of all Borneo’s birds, mammals and amphibian species and two-thirds of its reptiles live in the park.
The park has been designated as a Centre of Plant Diversity for Southeast Asia and is exceptionally rich in species, with examples of flora from the Himalayas, China, Australia, Malaysia, as well as pan-tropical flora.
Melaka and George Town
UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008
Melaka and George Town, the historic cities of the Straits of Malacca, have developed due to more than 500 years of trading and cultural exchanges between east and west over the 805-kilometre stretch of water between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
From an economic and strategic perspective, the straits are one of the most important shipping lanes in the world, forming the main shipping channel between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.
As a result, the influences of Asia and Europe have endowed the towns of Melaka and George Town with a unique multicultural heritage. These two remarkable examples of historic colonial towns constitute an architectural and cultural townscape unlike anywhere else in Asia. They are the most complete surviving historic city centres on the straits and they are drenched in the history of the trade routes from Great Britain and Europe through the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and the Malay Archipelago to China.
The development of both cities over the centuries was based on the merging of diverse ethnic and cultural traditions, including Malay, European, Muslim, Indian and Chinese influences. All this resulted in a cultural tapestry of languages, religious practices, gastronomy, ceremonies and festivals.
With its government buildings, churches, squares and fortifications, Melaka demonstrates the early stages of this history, originating in the 15th-century Malay sultanate and the Portuguese and Dutch periods beginning in the early 16th century; while George Town represents the British era from the end of the 18th century.
Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley
UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2012
Situated in the lush Lenggong Valley on the Malay Peninsula, this site is made up of four archaeological sites in two clusters that span close to a staggering two million years.
The open-air and cave sites along the Perak River span all periods of hominid history outside Africa from 1.83 million to 1,700 years ago. The number of sites found in the relatively contained area suggests the presence of a fairly large, semi-sedentary population with cultural remains from the Palaeolithic, Neolithic and Metal ages.
The Archaeological Gallery of the Lenggong Valley is located in Kota Tampan. The gallery houses 'Perak Man', the oldest human skeleton found on the Malaysian Peninsula. The skeleton is dated from the Palaeolithic era and identified as Australomelanesoid, a hominid type occupying the western part of the Indonesia archipelago and continental southeast Asia at the end of the Pleistocene and early Holocene.