UNESCO adds 21 new properties to its World Heritage list

Your travel bucket list just got a little longer.

UNESCO announced 21 new additions to its World Heritage List in July. The committee made the decision during the 41st annual World Heritage Committee session in Krakow, Poland. Now a whopping 1,073 cultural and natural properties of "outstanding universal value" dot the world.

This year's new entries span from ancient cave art in Germany from over 43,000 years ago to a verdant Polynesian island ringed with coral that is the last part of the globe to be settled by humans.

As with all of places that have received the UNESCO accolade since 1972, these locations are unique and exemplify the best of Earth -- not just individual nations. If they were to disappear through decay, then the entire world would lose an important part of its ancestry. Sites that successfully apply for UNESCO protection are often better funded and preserved than they would be if they depended solely on the nation they are located within.

There are currently 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites within the United States, with a nearly even split between cultural and natural sites.

Notably, five properties this year fall into the category of "significant modifications to the boundaries." For instance, a UNESCO World Heritage Site inscribed in 1996 consisting of Bauhaus properties in Germany was altered this year to include more buildings that fit this revolutionary style.

Only two properties ever have been removed from the World Heritage List. Dresden in Germany was deleted from the list in 2009 after a four-lane bridge in the heart of the city destroyed the 'outstanding universal value as inscribed.'

The Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman was delisted in 2007 after the nation reduced the size of the protected area by 90 percent, thus putting the creatures at risk.

Click above to see the UNESCO World Heritage Sites recently added or significantly altered.