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Japan cheers Mount Fuji's World Heritage listing

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June 22, 2013 08:29 AM EST | AP


PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Japan cheered the selection on Saturday of its most iconic landmark, Mount Fuji, as a World Heritage site.

The 3,776-meter-tall mountain has deep cultural and religious meaning in Japan. Thousands of residents in towns around the mountain watched the UNESCO vote live on large screens in public halls and cheered when the result was announced.

A committee of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization selected it in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

More than 960 sites around the world are on the UNESCO list, which recognizes places that are considered to be of exceptional beauty or cultural value.

Another world-famous mountain was put on the list earlier this week: Italy's Mount Etna, known especially for its volcanic activity. China's Xinjiang Tianshan, part of Central Asia's Tianshan mountain system, was also honored.

Another mountainous area designated a heritage site was Tajik National Park, whose landscapes of alpine lakes and glacial fields cover 18 percent of Tajikistan.

Africa's Namibia had one of its natural wonders put on the list for the first time, with the selection of the Namib Sand Sea, described by UNESCO as "the only coastal desert in the world that includes extensive dune fields influenced by fog."

El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve in Mexico was picked for its diverse landscape, and also boasts impressive archaeological holdings.

Also approved was an extension to Kenya's Mount Kenya Natural Park / Natural Forest, the additional area lying "within the traditional migrating route of the African elephant population" of the park.